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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

Two UAW-CIO Specialists in Deceit

(20 January 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 3, 20 January 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

If the CIO auto workers need any additional arguments for discarding the policies of their top leaders, who are heading the campaign for retaining the nostrike pledge in the current referendum, let them turn to page 29 of the Wednesday, September 13, 1944 Proceedings of the Ninth Annual UAW-CIO Convention. There they will uncover an argument provided by UAW Secretary-Treasurer George Addes in the wind-up of his speech pleading with the delegates not to scrap the pledge.

“I say to this convention,” Addes exhorted, “that if we go out and do the job on November 7th we will be able to secure from this Congress all of those things that the workers are entitled to. If we fail, if we mislead the American public by revoking the No-Strike Pledge, I am convinced in my mind we will have failed to elect a friendly Congress.”

This statement contained two deliberate deceptions. One was that the workers would help to elect a “friendly Congress” by retaining the no-strike pledge. The other is that, if they elected a pro-Roosevelt Democratic Congress, they would secure “all of those things that the workers are entitled to.” Then, of course, the workers would not “need” the strike weapon.

Events since the election have made Addes’ lies – which were also those of the whole labor bureaucracy – much more transparent. That new Congress hailed by the “triumphant” CIO-PAC leaders as a “progressive Congress” has gone into action.

Its very first “friendly” deed was to establish a permanent anti-labor Dies Witch-Hunt Committee. Before the opening week of the new session was ended, a flood of anti-labor bills was already pouring into the legislative hoppers. This “friendly,” this “progressive” Congress looms up today as one of the most brazenly reactionary ever to convene under the Capitol dome. The pro-Roosevelt labor flunkies themselves are wailing: “Who won the election?”

Yet this is the very Congress the CIO-PAC. campaigned for and even boasted of electing. Addes beat the UAW convention delegates over the head with the argument that they dared to revoke the no-strike pledge only under pain of not electing this very Congress. He trumped this argument – how fantastic it must seem now to every auto worker who heard him! – with the claim that by renouncing the strike weapon and electing the Congress now in session “we will be able to secure from this Congress all of those things that the workers are entitled to.”

The UAW leaders used this now obviously false political argument as a primary reason for advocating that the auto convention continue the no-strike policy. Now these leaders must substitute other and even cruder lies for those pre-election ones which they would be grateful to have left buried and forgotten. For Addes and his henchmen would be laughed out of court if they reminded the auto workers how they were once more swindled into giving up their most powerful economic weapon, the strike, in return for receiving the present PAC-elected "friendly” Congress.

Thus, the UAW leaders perpetrated one more little fraud in the truly monstrous swindle used to put over the no-strike policy from the beginning – the promise that the War Labor Board would “impartially” protect the workers’ interests, that the corporations would “bargain in good faith” and refrain from provocations, that Roosevelt would enforce “equality of sacrifice” from the rich and “take the profits out of war.”

* * *

The labor bureaucrats, who have been correctly called the “labor lieutenants of capitalism,” frequently employ “Judas goats” to help lead their memberships into policies which are against the workers’ interests. These “Judas goats” use “left” phrases in order to gain leadership over the militant ranks. At the crucial moment on every decisive issue, the “Judas goat” leaps openly into the camp of reaction, luring some of his followers with him and leaving the rest disoriented, leaderless and disorganized.

This special role of “Judas goat” in the UAW-CIO has been played traditionally by Walter Reuther, one of the two vice- presidents. Under cover of the bitter unprincipled factionalism and power politics among the leadership, Reuther has posed as a “militant.” But on every key issue in the struggle of the militant ranks against the bureaucratic officials, Reuther has always wound up in an embrace with his “opponents” and voted with them in support of sell-out policies.

The latest struggle in the UAW over the no-strike pledge proves to be no exception. Now that the referendum has posed for decision the basic question – for or against the no-strike surrender policy? – Reuther has leaped nimbly into the united front of reaction within and outside the union which is trying to browbeat the auto workers into retaining the no-strike pledge.

As usual, Reuther waited until the very last moment before revealing fully his treachery. This was done to permit the militants he has lured behind him no time to reorient and reorganize themselves. When the ballots for the referendum finally were being sent through the mails, then Reuther was compelled to take a position. He lined up publicly with the entire top leadership and called on the auto workers to vote “Yes” on the referendum motion to reaffirm the no-strike pledge.

Together with UAW president R.J. Thomas, Addes and Richard Frankensteen, another vice-president, Reuther last week spoke over a Michigan radio hook-up and told the auto workers to vote for the no-strike pledge. This radio program was sponsored by the Stalinist-organized and dominated UAW Committee for Retention of the No-Strike Pledge.

Subsequently, Reuther gave a special demonstration of hypocrisy. Having solidarized himself with the position of the Stalinists on the referendum and spoken under their auspices, Reuther self-righteously sought to disassociate himself from their committee because it contains “communists.” By descending to the sewer-level of red-baiting, he took a factional thrust at those he joined in principle, thereby still hoping to differentiate himself from more forthright reactionaries.

He added hastily, however, “I still support the no-strike pledge” even if “I won’t be associated with such people.” Reuther prefers to associate himself only with their policies of betrayal!

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