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Truman Yields to Price Demands
of Big Business

Huge Inflation Is Planned to Rob Labor of Pay Gains

(16 February 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 7, 16 February 1946, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A gigantic price steal is being engineered behind the scenes in Washington to rob the workers of the benefit of any wage gains won during the present great strike struggles.

An unprecedented inflationary increase in prices will be unleashed in the interests of the profiteers and monopolists, according to all indications from the capital.

The Truman administration last week revealed that it is preparing to settle the steel and other current major strikes on the basis of granting the corporations most of the scandalous price increases they have been demanding.

Another Formula

This policy, it appears, will be wrapped up in some new “wage- price stabilization” formula which will leave the door wide open for unrestricted prices while attempting to fix wages at some new frozen level.

That the administration is seriously contemplating such a policy was indicated last week when William Green. AFL president, following a conference with Truman revealed that he had heard reports of a new “Little Steel” formula in the making. Green stated that labor “could not acquiesce in another wage formula like the Little Steel formula” which would become “both a maximum and a minimum.”

What the administration is preparing to do to aid the price steal long planned by Big Business is indicated by the recommendations of the government’s “fact-finding” panel in the meat-packing case.

The panel on February 7 proposed a 16-cent instead of the demanded 25-cent wage increase for the packinghouse workers whose national strike was halted by government plant “seizures” several weeks ago.

These wage increases are not to come from the staggering profits of the meat trust. Only five cents is to be “absorbed” by the meat barons who enjoyed the greatest profits of their history during the war and who plan to continue and better them. The other 11 cents is to be paid out of price Increases and government subsidies, which the people pay indirectly through taxes.

Steel Holds Out

The steel corporations are continuing to refuse to settle the steel strike and pay the 18½- cent increase the government recommended, unless they also get the outrageous prices they have been demanding.

Although the OPA originally rejected any price increase over $2.50 a ton, the administration subsequently offered $4 and is now reported to be agreeing to between $5 and $8 a ton price increases for the steel industry. Such price increases would not only absorb any proposed wage increases but would actually provide profits on a scale never before reached by the steel moguls.

The administration’s readiness to yield to the hijacking demands of the steel and packing bosses has been an open invitation for every big corporation in the country to blast away at the already wide breach in the price-control dike. Among the corporation big-shots in behind- closed-door sessions with Truman last week was General Electric’s C.E. Wilson, who declared his corporation would make no wage increase offer to settle the CIO United Electrical Workers strike because “the price consideration is the one hurdle we can’t get over.”

The forces behind this concerted assault on price ceilings and workers’ living standards are revealed by nationwide full- page ads appearing this week, in which the National Association of Manufacturers threatens that “full production isn’t possible” because of “frozen prices” and “price ceilings limit production.”

Unable to break labor’s strike struggles for higher wages to meet the wartime inflation already imposed on the wage-earning consumers, Big Business aided by the capitalist government is heading for all-out inflation under what one correspondent called Truman’s contemplated “Big Steal Formula.”

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Last updated: 16 October 2018

Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 October 2018