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David Coolidge

Fight: For March On Washington,
24-Hour Down-Tool Action!

(16 June 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 25, 16 June 1947, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Philip Murray made a fighting speech at the CIO rally in New York to protest against the Taft-Hartley Bill. Murray was mad.

The week before, Bill Green made a fighting speech in the same place and against the same bill. Bill Green was mad, too.

The mayor of New York City (O’Dwyer) was a speaker at these rallies and he is also mad.

Everybody on the platform at both meetings was making fighting speeches and getting madder and madder. This all took place in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

While all these fighting speeches were being made in New York City, the Taft-Hartley Bill was on the President’s desk. It had already been passed by Congress and was waiting Truman’s signature or his veto. That was what the meeting was about: to petition Truman for a veto.

The puny descent of a few dozens of labor bureaucrats on Washington was over. Writing “a post card to your congressman” was over. Hundreds of thousands of post cards and letters, unread and unopened, had gone into the paper baler in the Capitol basement for sale as waste paper.

The new slogan was "write to the President.” “Demand that President Truman veto the Taft-Hartley Bill.” These, too, will go into the paper baler to be sold as waste paper. All that will be accomplished by this mass letter and postal card writing is an increase in the revenues of the Post Office Department and local post offices.

What Comes Next?

Suppose Truman does veto this bill. What will the labor leaders do then? Recommend a new campaign of writing "to your congressman?” Resume their feeble lobby on Capitol Hill? Will the CIO and AFL call another meeting at Madison Square Garden in New York City? To make more fighting speeches? To show how mad they are? )

That’s the weakness of this whole procedure. Murray and Green got mad in New York and made their fighting speeches away, from the place where Congress does its dirty work. They didn’t call the labor movement out to march on Washington while the bill was in Congress. They didn’t call the labor movement out for a 24-hour work stoppage. All they did was twiddle their thumbs, moan about "slave labor” and wait for a Truman veto.

Should Truman veto the bill, things are back where they were before the bill was passed. The Republican and Democrat hatchet-men will demand passage of the bill over the veto. They have the votes to do this. But labor has the power to stop them in their tracks.

Labor can’t do this, however, by remaining at work in the factories, or yelling ourselves hoarse in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

If Truman vetoes the bill, labor should do its demonstrating at the Capitol in Washington where the capitalist Congress will be doing its axe work on the labor movement.

That’s the place to stop the bill from being passed over a Presidential veto.

A Way of Action

Thousands of workers can start moving on Washington as soon as the bill is vetoed, if it is vetoed. They can fill Washington and make it burst at the seams. They can camp on the Capitol lawn, on the steps and inside the building: thousands of them. The AFL and the CIO can demand that Congress meet in joint session and hear what labor has to say. Green and Murray can tell these scoundrels not to pass that bill; that labor will not submit to this bill even if it is passed. It’s about time that the labor bureaucrats begin taking steps to earn their big salaries. It’s about time they really placed themselves at the head of the thousands of militant workers to let the capitalist congressmen and the capitalist employers know, without a shadow of doubt, that these labor leaders really represent labor and its interests.

While thousands are assembled in Washington millions can be demonstrating outside every factory and in the streets for 24 hours. Down tools for 24 hours! Let the machines remain idle for 24 hours! Let the workers in the fields and on the plantations stop their labors for 24 hours! Let the ships remain at anchor in the harbors for 24 hours! Not a ton of coal or a bar of steel for 24 hours! Not a tire, not an automobile nor any other product for the period of the 24-hour stoppage!

That’s the way to defeat the Taft-Hartley Bill. That way will defeat this bill. That’s the way to make the capitalist bosses and their government at Washington understand. That’s the kind of education the whole capitalist class needs today. They are on a rampage. This whole class of profit-bloated exploiters and parasites are engaged in an all-out political offensive against the working class: Republicans and Democrats alike. They have already extracted their pound of flesh. Now they want an extra pound. Later they will demand another, and another. Labor must stop them now.