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Murray Intervenes to Bolster
No-Strike Policy in UAW Poll

(27 January 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 4, 27 January 1945, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Two sharply opposed forces are locked in bitter struggle as the climax approaches in the CIO United Automobile Workers’ referendum battle over the No-Strike Pledge. The militant rank and file, local committeemen and officers, who daily feel the whiplash of corporation provocations, are mobilizing to scrap the no-strike surrender policy. Arrayed against them is the entire top bureaucracy of the UAW and CIO, backed by the corporations, the Roosevelt administration and the Stalinists.

Exploiting the vast resources arid prestige o£ the CIO, the pro-Roosevelt Murray-Hillman machine is how intervening directly in the UAW struggle. So powerful is the rising offensive of the auto workers against the no-strike policy which has placed them at the mercy of the corporations, that the CIO chiefs have been impelled to rush openly to the aid of the hard-pressed UAW leadership.

CIO President Philip Murray proclaimed his policy of open intervention in the UAW referendum in his letter of January 12 to UAW President R.J. Thomas, declaring that “this is directed through you to the membership of the largest union in the world.” A full-page reproduction of this letter appears in the January 15 CIO News.

Murray’s Lies

Murray resorts almost entirely to the most hypocritical anti-strike propaganda of the corporations and their political agents, who always advance their antilabor policies behind a “boys in the foxholes” smokescreen. He appeals to the auto workers to reaffirm the “sacred pledge made to the soldiers, sailors and marines.” Of course, this “sacred pledge” is the one-sided agreement – originally palmed off as a “three-way commitment between labor, management and government” – handed to Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor by the top labor fakers, who had never even consulted their memberships.

Murray’s flag-waving appeal, which reads as though it were plagiarized from an advertisement of the National Association of Manufacturers, is topped off by a truly fantastic claim. He asserts that the “peaceful pattern of labor relations” was responsible for “a year of progress on the home front.” He has the brass to put into public print the obvious and absurd lies that the labor movement has actually been strengthened because the “CIO helped to re-elect Roosevelt and elect a more progressive Congress. CIO unions, maintaining their no-strike commitments, have scored decisive gains for millions of workers.”

This fiction is dished out to the auto workers as rising wails emanate from the pro-Roosevelt labor leaders themselves asking “Who won the elections?” This “progressive” Congress already looms up as one of the most reactionary in United States history. Its first act was to establish a permanent Dies, Witch-Hunt Committee as a slap, in the face to labor. Since the start of the new session its members have been competing for the “honor” of drafting the most viciously anti-labor legislation.

The past year wound up with Roosevelt turning over the State Department and the leading government agencies to the direct agents of Wall Street. The year concluded with Roosevelt and his brass hats demanding a Nazi-like system of universal forced labor. It was the year during which the War Labor Board turned down all the basic wage demands of labor, most notably of Murray’s own steel union, and hardened the wage freeze. It was the year in which brazen corporation provocations led to the greatest volume of defensive strikes in four years.

Rank and File Talks

But Murray’s absurd arguments and downright lies are being most effectively answered by the auto workers themselves. The National UAW Rank and File Committee to Revoke the No-Strike Pledge is hammering home the truth in an organized campaign inside the shops, supplemented by leaflets, newspapers, radio talks, stickers, meetings, etc. One of the most powerful expositions of the reasons for rescinding the no-strike policy is contained in a typical rank and file leaflet, being circulated by members of Chicago’s huge Chrysler-Dodge Local 274.

Summing up the “balance sheet’’ of the no-strike policy, the leaflet shows:

“LABOR SACRIFICED: The right to strike, that is, the right to its most powerful weapon in the fight against the big monopolists who are ALWAYS working to lower our living standards and crush our organizations. The right to fight for higher wages – because wages were frozen. The right to look for or get another job or a better job – because jobs were frozen and we could move from place to place ONLY by the permission of the employer. The right to have our wages go up as the cost-of-living went up – because our wages were frozen by the 15 per cent ‘Little Steel Formula’ while the cost-of-living has gone up, since January 1941, by more than 45 per cent, according to the figures of our own International, President, R.J. Thomas. The right to collective bargaining – because all demands and grievances went to the War Labor Board, which denies our demands and ignores our grievances, or else buries them in its vaults for months and years.

“LABOR GAINED: Nothing!”

What is the no-strike “balance sheet” for the employers?

“INDUSTRY SACRIFICED: Nothing! Nothing except their comical pledge not to lock out labor at a time when a lock-out meant suicide for them. INDUSTRY GAINED: Land bought for them at government expense. Factories erected on this land at government expense. Machinery placed in these factories at government expense. Raw materials guaranteed to them by a hundred government agencies. An ample supply of labor guaranteed to them by the government, with jobs frozen and wages frozen and strikes frozen and grievances frozen.

“Juicy cost-plus contracts, with profits guaranteed by the government. A War Labor Board, set up by the government, which looks carefully and tenderly after their interests. The highest salaries in history for corporation executives, with NO ‘$25,000 limitation’ as was promised. The corporations moan and weep about the ‘high taxes.’ What are the facts? Let us quote just two simple ones from the statement by CIO President Philip Murray, and remember them well: ‘Corporate profits for 1944, AFTER TAXES, increased 198 per cent over the 1936–1939 peacetime era. Corporate profits for the same year, before taxes, show an increase over the peacetime era of 449 per cent.”

“Boys in the Foxholes”

Indignantly, the Dodge workers ask:

“What about the boys in the foxholes? Who shouts the loudest about this? The corporations chiefs, their spokesmen and tools, their paid editors and scribblers. Their nerve is almost as colossal as the profits they are making. They want to teach US patriotism! They are the same people who would not convert to war production, who would not produce a single airplane, tank, cannon, rifle or bullet for the ‘boys in the foxholes’ until the government guaranteed them their heavy blood-profits.

“Who are the ‘boys in the foxholes?’ They are OUR sons, brothers, OUR sweethearts or husbands, OUR fathers. We are a million times more concerned with them than the ice-hearted corporations who squeeze a brutal profit out of everything those boys wear and everything they use. We are so concerned with them that: We do not want them to come back to open shop conditions ... to low-paid jobs and back-breaking hours ... to smashed or paralyzed unions. When we fight to make our union strong and effective, we are also fighting for THEM!’”

That is the fighting auto workers answer to the spread-eagle and corporation-inspired anti-strike propaganda of the Murrays.

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