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Trade Union Notes

(22 June 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 25, 22 June 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Anthracite Bosses Fold Up in 9 Days

After stalling for nine days, just long enough to give the 76,000 striking anthracite coal-miners in Pennsylvania a well-deserved vacation, the hard-coal operators conceded the major social and wage demands of the AFL United Mine Workers. An agreement was reached on June 7.

This agreement includes not only an 18½ cent hourly wage increase, with time and a half after 35 hours a week and seven hours a day, but welfare and safety concessions similar to those previously won in the bitter strike of the 400,000 soft coal miners.

The contract includes an operator-financed health and welfare fund of five cents on each ton of coal produced, expected to amount to about $2,500,000 annually. The control of the fund is vested In a three-man committee, two from the union, and one from the operators. This is an even better agreement than secured by the soft coal miners, whose fund committee consists of one each from the union and operators, and a third jointly acceptable to both.

By their successful struggle for far-reaching social, as well as wage, demands, the miners have set an example for the rest of labor to follow in the battles ahead.

* * *

Whitney’s Plea to Truman and Congress

If a man bumps his head against a stone wall once, it’s probably an accident; twice, it may still be an accident; a hundred times, and he’s just a damn fool.

That’s the thought that comes to mind in reading the big advertisements by A.F. Whitney, head of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, published in metropolitan newspapers last week. Headed, Strikes Can Be Prevented, the ads contain a plea by Whitney for Truman and Congress to “stay on the job” and “prevent strikes” by “action to remedy the conditions which cause American workers to strike.”

“A President and Congress wanting workers to ‘stay on the job’ must themselves get on the job. The Congress must not be allowed to adjourn without taking positive steps to eliminate the causes of strikes,” says Whitney.

No decent-minded person can possibly oppose social legislation to better the conditions of the American workers. But to direct a plea to THIS Congress to “stay on the job” in the interests of labor is like banging your head a hundred times against a stone wall.

Instead of pleading with the Big-Business Congress, Whitney would have done far better to have spent the Trainmen’s money for advertisements calling on the workers to organize a labor party, run labor candidates and boot the whole gang of Wall

Street politicians out of Washington. Labor’s slogan should be not “Congress Must Stay on the Job,” but – KICK OUT WALL STREET’S CONGRESS! ELECT A WORKERS’ AND FARMERS’ CONGRESS!

* * *

Tobin’s Warning on AFL Southern Drive

Daniel Tobin, head of the AFL Teamsters, is finding employer opposition very tough down below the Mason and Dixon Line, where the AFL, like the CIO, is engaged in a big organizing drive.

Hence, his magazine, The International Teamster, in its June issue presents a view point quite unique for his publication, in an article entitled, AFL Starts to Organize the South, Tobin’g magazine states:

“Under the pretext of ‘saving the South from Communism,’ the Ku Klux Klan is preparing to inject itself into the struggle to maintain the open shop. Every union organizer will probably be branded a ‘Communist’ as the Klan attempts to ride the crest of a wave of patriotic prejudice to organize the South itself and promote the sale of cotton fabrics woven into the hoods and shrouds of its official costume. Thus the southern industrialists will profit both ways. They will keep wages low and sell cotton to the nightshirt cavalry.”

We can but welcome Tobin’s timely warning against the Southern reactionary red-baiters and the anti-”communist” agitation of the open shoppers. But it is well to keep in mind that Tobin’s opposition to red-baiting is still confined to a limited field – and only when it hits him and his organizers over the head.

We are still waiting to hear from Tobin any criticism of AFL President William Green and other AFL big-wigs, who launched tne AFL Southern drive with a bid to the employers to sign up with the AFL before the “communistic” CIO organizes the workers. The AFL leaders themselves have been lending red-baiting ammunition to the Southern bosses – and the latter are shooting it at the AFL as well as the CIO.

In addition, we would be doing less than our duty if we overlooked Tobin’s own record of red-baiting – and specifically his attack on the progressive and militant leadership of Minneapolis Drivers Local 544. Tobin not only conducted an unprecedented red-baiting drive against the Trotskyists and militants, but he collaborated in a conspiracy with Roosevelt to frame-up and imprison 18 Local 544 and Socialist Workers Party leaders during the war.

Red-baiting is indeed a sinister and treacherous weapon. Those who use it within the labor movement only help the bosses. And sometimes, as Tobin has found in the South, are apt to find it may explode in their own faces.

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