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Powerful Minority Vote Cast
Against UAW No-Strike Policy

(24 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 12, 24 March 1945, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The militant auto workers have run up a smashing 35 per cent vote for scrapping the No-Strike Pledge in the CIO United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement workers referendum held during January and February, according to the first unofficial returns announced by Ben Garrison, referendum committee chairman.

Approximately 300,000 votes were sent in by mail, according to Garrison, out of 1,200,000 ballots distributed. Over 105,000 were for rescinding the pledge, while 185,000 voted for it, and some 6,000 ballots were voided.

Neither the corporation daily press nor the top CIO and UAW officials take the formal majority for the pledge as a victory for the no-strike policy. On the contrary they correctly view the tremendous minority vote rolled up for scrapping the pledge as the true indication of the trend of the ranks.

As Business Week, a leading mouthpiece for the corporations, commented, the UAW leaders are “embarrassed in making the results public. The vote was counted while more men were on strike in Detroit’s auto plants than at any time since the war began.”

The vote for smashing the nostrike pledge is particularly impressive because it was cast in the face of an unprecedented campaign of pressure and intimidation by a united front of the corporations and their press, the Roosevelt administration, the Murray-Hillman machine of the CIO, the entire top UAW leadership and the Stalinists.

Unholy Alliance

All the reactionary forces inside and outside the UAW combined in an unholy alliance against the auto ranks. The daily press and radio poured out an endless stream of lies and threats. Roosevelt intervened personally with a letter to UAW President R.J. Thomas. Murray issued a special anti-strike edition of the CIO News addressed to the auto workers.

The International Executive Board and top officers of the UAW unitedly appealed to the membership to retain the pledge. They mobilized their large machine of paid functionaries throughout the union on behalf of the pledge. The Stalinists milked the treasuries of the unions under their control and poured huge sums into the reactionary drive.

In addition, there were serious irregularities in the conduct of the referendum. Reports are coming in of large numbers of auto members who received no ballots. Non-members, including corporation officials, as in Lansing, Michigan, were the recipients of ballots.

The militant Rank and File Caucus, initiated only six months before the referendum began, did not have sufficient time, organization or resources to reach a large section of the members. Nevertheless, in the face of tremendous obstacles, it mobilized a powerful minority vote against the pledge.

Events in the past month since the completion of the referendum confirm the real significance of the vote to rescind. The UAW executive board has been compelled to call for withdrawing the CIO members from the WLB. The corporations have launched a savage offensive against the unions. Over 60,000 auto workers have hit the picket lines in Detroit in the past five weeks.

These events fallowing the referendum vote indicate the fighting mood of the ranks. They disclose the substantial base that exists for a powerful caucus that will lead a showdown fight for a militant program and a new, aggressive leadership. The task ahead for the Rank and File Caucus is to make serious, organized preparations to extend and strengthen its forces in the ranks for the coming inevitable battle to reestablish the UAW-CIO as the vanguard union in the American labor struggle.

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