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Auto Union Paper Tells How Corporations
Scorn ‘Peace Charter’ Signed by the CIO

(12 May 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 19, 12 May 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The capital-labor “peace charter” which Philip Murray and William Green signed with Eric Johnston, Chamber of Commerce president, “finds no warm response among the owners and management heads of the automobile industry.” That is the admission which recent events in the country’s largest industry have wrung from the top leaders of the CIO United Automobile Workers. It is contained in the May 1 issue of the union’s official organ, United Automobile Worker.

On the contrary, states the paper of the largest union in the country, “the auto industry, spearheaded by the Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, General Motors and Chrysler Corporations, are fighting the peace pact and rallying other employers for an all-out war with labor.”

In addition, the article concedes a portion of the truth about the real nature and intent of the Murray-Green-Johnston “peace pact.” The auto barons oppose the pact “despite the general view that the agreement is exceedingly generous toward management.”

In exchange for “recognition” of collective bargaining rights “which is the law of the land,” the article points out, “the labor signers ... recognized the justice of the ‘free enterprise system,’ granted management’s traditional ‘prerogatives’ in the plants and expressed opposition to needless government ‘interference’ in industry.”

Aims of Auto Barons

The basic intent of the agreement is the “minimizing of strikes and lockouts.” That is, keeping labor tied hand and foot while the owners can enjoy their “prerogatives” of exploiting the workers and controlling the productive resources of the nation for their own profit and privileges.

What is the real program of the automobile moguls ? It is contained says the article in the “five-point declaration of war on labor,” drafted jointly by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce. This is the legislative program revealed recently by B.E. Hutchinon, Chrysler corporation vice president and a NAM director. It would outlaw strikes permanently, safeguard strikebreakers, illegalize the closed shop and impose government compulsory arbitration even in peacetime.

This program, states the UAW paper, “seeks a return to the old system wherein labor organizations were illegal conspiracies and participation in unions was punishable by jail sentences.”

“The attack on the proposal for post-war industrial peace fills out a pattern which the auto industry has been weaving for months. Coincidentally with its legislative drive on unionism, the industry is striving to stir up differences between labor and returned veterans. Unable to provide full employment for ail workers, the industry is trying to conceal its failure by making it appear that union seniority clauses will be responsible for failure of returning soldiers to obtain jobs.”

That is, the auto corporations are already carrying out their union-busting program in action.

Learned Nothing

At the conclusion of the article, there is a summary of the prewar record of the corporations and a description of how the UAW repeatedly fought them “to a standstill” by militant strike actions. But the hope of the UAW leaders that the auto corporations “had learned by experience” has not been fulfilled. “Present indications are that the industry has learned nothing.”

The UAW paper might have added: Neither have any of the other industry owners learned anything. The steel, rubber, shipyard, textile, aircraft, oil, lumber, meat packing and other capitalists are just as hard-bitten, anti-labor reactionaries as the auto bosses. It is sheer deception and treachery for Murray, Green and their lieutenants to seek to disarm labor with their unconditional surrender “peace charter.”

The UAW article concludes that if industry will not learn the “peaceful way” it will “be taught the hard way.” That’s just blustering talk so far as the UAW top leaders are concerned. They too, like the employers, have “learned nothing.”

For months now, the auto corporations have been engaged in a concerted drive of provocations to undermine and crush the UAW. This has included wholesale firing of local union officers and committeemen. Over 100,000 Detroit auto workers have gone on strike during the past two months.

UAW Leaders

The UAW leaders, instead of mobilizing for the defense of the local unions, have rained all their blows on the striking workers and their local leaders. While the corporations are openly engaged in cutting the local unions to pieces, the UAW leaders wring their hands in print, deplore the fact that the corporations don’t want “peace” – and frantically attempt to enforce the no-strike pledge.

The UAW international representatives have rushed into every strike situation to act as cops for the corporations and government. They have tried to herd the workers back on the job without any gains. They have passed international executive board resolutions Condemning and threatening union locals and their officers which have had the guts to stand up and fight for their rights.

Thus, while they cast suspicion on the “peace charter” IN WORDS, they enforce it upon the workers IN DEEDS.

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