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Political Character of Strikes Under N.I.R.A.

(August 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 40, 26 August 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The NRA slave codes of the capitalist class and its effects upon the American working class have been explained in the columns of the Militant and by the Left Opposition ever since the Gillespie Trade Union Conference prior to the act becoming a law. In the meantime, we have been hammering away on the question of trade union policy in the different industries. A correct analysis of the NRA must first be presented in order to present a correct program of struggle against the new capitalist offensive. Within the ranks of the other forces of the labor movement confusion still reigns. The socialists are still fighting within their organization over the question of an analysis of the NRA. Other groups say little or anything except that they are against the NRA. The Stalinists are also opposed to the NRA but have not answered the burning question of how to fight the NRA In every union where they have fought the capitalist and reformers codes, the Stalinists have trailed behind them, not only in demands presented but also in many cases on the demands adopted as a law.

The capitalists projected the NRA in an attempt to solve some of the difficulties confronting them However, the steps taken in this direction have created other contradictions. The most important of these new contradictions thrown to the surface is the one dealing with the trade unions. When the act became a law, it carried with it the outlawing of strikes as soon as the codes become finally adopted. In the meantime, an increasing number of strikes took place. These were not only a continuation of the wave of strikes just prior to the NRA as an effect of the upturn in production and increase in prices but also as a struggle for the right to organize and to bring pressure to obtain better conditions as the codes were being considered.

This wave of new strikes at the time the codes were being considered threatened to upset the NRA, especially the Penna. mines struggle. A special emergency measure was adopted. The establishment of the NRA Adjustment Board, an arbitration board to consider all strikes. The NRA outlawed strikes after the codes were adopted. The new measure outlawed strikes when the codes were being considered.

This means the workers face a new condition, a war measure condition in the trade union field. Trade union struggles of yesterday are now entirely changed – the new contradiction the capitalists themselves have created. Most of the trade union strikes of the past were listed as industrial and economic struggles and only the outstanding strikes took on a political nature of a high degree. Under the NRA EVERY STRIKE BECOMES A POLITICAL STRIKE AT THE VERY START. A strike against the capitalists is a strike against the STATE.

This brings to the surface as the most important working class question and opposition to the NRA – the workers right to strike, the right to organize. The capitalist intend to smother them in class collaboration, in arbitration and by outlawing them. The class struggle cannot be stopped this way. It can only be warped, providing the Communists are not equal to the task.

In other words, the central point of the workers struggle against the NRA revolves around the Communist answer to the trade union question. All strikes against the capitalists now are political strikes against the capitalist state.

Around the fight against the capitalists, the capitalist government and the capitalist labor agent’s NRA slave code, the workers fight for the right to organize, to strike and to live, must be woven the struggle for the other demands of the class at this stage. The stagger plan must be fought by the struggle for the six hour day the five day week with increase in pay. The capitalists relief substitutes must be fought by the struggle for unemployed and social insurance. The question of long term credits to the Soviet union and recognition of the Soviet Union as against the capitalist maneuvers on this question must be brought to the fore. The struggle of the youth to obtain a social solution and recognition for the youth denied a chance to make a living by the “abolition” of child labor.

The trade union question of the working class has now become the central point of the workers struggle against the NRA and the outlawing of strikes. Violators of the codes can be fined and imprisoned. This means strikers. This means trade unionists.

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