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Toledo Auto Strike Looms

Men Flocking into Chevrolet Union

(April 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 17, 13 April 1935, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


TOLEDO, O., April 9. – Despite instructions from the A.F. of L. to the workers not to participate in the election at the Chevrolet plant in Toledo arranged by the Auto Labor Board, 1,326 men voted for the A.F. of L. and only 508 voted for no affiliation. Only a handful failed to vote at all. Organization sentiment is running high, and the workers are flocking into the Federal union. Action talk is heard everywhere and a strike appears likely in the immediate future.

TOLEDO, O., April 9. – Organization of the production and skilled and office workers in the large Toledo plant of the Chevrolet Motor Corp. is proceeding rapidly following two jammed and enthusiastic mass meetings conducted by the Toledo local of the United Automobile Workers Federal Labor Union.

Over 900 workers have attended the meetings and it is expected that all will be signed up in the union by this Saturday. This is one of the most successful attempts which has been made to unionize a plant of the giant General Motors Corp.

As an evidence of the growing progressiveness in the union, the colored sweepers in the Chevrolet plant were brought into the Federal Auto Union along with the fellow-white workers.

Over 400 of the new union men appeared today in the plant this morning wearing their red union buttons for April. Hundreds of workers from the Willys-Overland plant, are likewise joining the Federal Auto union. With the addition of these two major corporations, the entire auto parts and production industry of Toledo, excepting the Champion Spark Plug Corp., will be unionized.

The rush to the genuine union has followed the calling of an election, by the Detroit Auto Labor Board, in the Chevrolet and Willys-Overland plants on April 9, for the supposed purpose of determining which group the workers wish to represent them in collective bargaining. This election was engineered by officials of the two plants, which up until a few weeks ago were non-union, and the Auto labor Board, in an effort to foist company unionism upon the workers. The real union has publicly repudiated these elections, which it did not call for, and has flatly stated that its members will not participate in them nor abide by their results.

This fake maneuvering on the part of the companies has served as a boomerang against the bosses, because it angered the workers and drove them voluntarily into the federal union. Terrific speed-up, differentials in wages and unbearable working conditions have aided to the workers’ desire for genuine organization.

Jim Roland, Chevrolet employee, who is famous for his “one-man picket line” on the Chevrolet plant last June whereby he compelled the company to reinstate him after he had been fired for joining the union, is the acting chairman of the Chevrolet shop section of the union. Among the union members who have taken an active part in organizing these key plants have been several Workers Party members.

Organization of the Toledo Chevrolet plant is of major importance for the entire motor industry, as this plant produces all the transmission parts for the Chevrolet Corp. Demands for a 6 hour day, 30-hour week, union recognition and wage increases are being drawn up to be presented to the Chevrolet company. It is very probable that the intensive union drive is the prelude to a strike which will break in the immediate future.

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Last updated: 28 July 2015