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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(23 June 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 25, 23 June 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Open-Shop Victory

One of the most dangerous assaults against the trade unions is the campaign throughout the state legislatures for laws banning closed shop contracts. Two states, South Dakota and Florida, already have such measures.

Last week, on June 12, a three-man federal court in Tampa, Florida, dismissed a temporary injunction secured by the AFL and 56 of its affiliates against enforcement of the closed shop ban. The court ruled that such an anti-labor restriction was “constitutional.”

The big business interests are pushing laws banning the closed shop under the misleading title of “right to work” bills. They don’t mean the. right of the worker to be protected from arbitrary dismissal by the employer. They mean the “right” of the bosses to tear up existing closed shop contracts and hire non-union men to bust the unions.

The federal court decision in the Florida case is being immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the AFL. This latest court ruling is already inspiring new and greater efforts by the open-shop corporations and their political agents to use reactionary state legislatures to impose the open shop by law.

* * *

Scandal of Willow Run

There is growing resentment in the ranks of the CIO Automobile Workers against the conduct of President R.J. Thomas and other top officials following the closing of the Willow Run bombing plant and the firing of 21,000 workers. Thomas has put forward as his “solution” an appeal to the war profiteer, Henry J. Kaiser, to secure he government-owned plant for a song and “give” the workers jobs,

An article in Spicer Unit News, organ of Spicer Unit, Toledo Local 12, UAW-CIO, comments:

“One of the planks in the program of the UAW Veterans Administration calls for the government ownership and operation of these government owned war plants. Why is not this solution brought forward by the International Board today? Or was that plank put in the program because it sounded pretty rough and might serve to convince a few people that there was fight in the old boys yet? The call for government operation with the full weight of the rest of the union pledging support to the displaced workers of Willow Run, demonstrations of solidarity with a program of fight, would place the blame squarely where it belongs. The government in spite of the pressure of its business ‘advisers’ would be forced to take action. The scandal of Willow Run and its thousands of cast-aside workers should be broadcast till it scandalizes the nation.”

* * *

Truman’s Plant ‘Seizures’

Since President Truman assumed office, he has ordered four plant “seizures.” In each case, the immediate issue was long-standing company non-compliance with WLB directives. And in each instance, the “seizure” was ordered only when workers went on strike because the government took no effective action over months, and even years, to enforce its own orders against powerful employers.

There is no evidence that these “seizures” have had any effect other than strikebreaking, as was the case with Montgomery Ward, which has successfully defied WLB rulings for years. What is equally significant is the admission of the WLB that there are still pending 102 cases of employer non-compliance with its directives. Some of the cases go back more than two years.

How quickly and harshly the government acts to crush workers on strike against unjust rulings of the WLB! How slowly and cautiously it moves against employers who defy the government by refusing to concede even the meager gains for workers that the WLB in a few instances has yielded under pressure.

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