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Joseph Keller

No Thanks to Philip Murray

(26 July 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 30, 26 July 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Well, the CIO steel workers are finally getting a wage increase – no thanks to Philip Murray. This boost comes after almost every other industry had already granted increases. The steel increase was won by the miners, auto workers, packinghouse workers and others who fought on. the picket lines and broke the back of corporation resistance. The big “labor statesman,” Murray, just managed to sneak the steel workers to the end of the chow line.

Naturally, the steel corporations “give nothing for nothing, and damn little of that.” They’re hiking steel prices $10 a ton, which is several times what the pay increase will cost. So it won’t be long before rising prices will strip the steel workers of their gains once more.

The steel workers can count themselves lucky that they got anything, with Murray’s belly-crawling policy and two-year no-strike surrender in the old contract. If the auto workers hadn’t cracked industry’s front; if John L. Lewis’s miners hadn’t forced the steel companies to kick through with a pay increase in the captive mines, the steel workers would still be the “Little Orphan Annies” of the labor movement.

As it is, they’ve lost three months of wage increases, an average of $65 apiece for 170,000 workers. There is no retroactive clause back to last April, when negotiations began. Murray’s policy has fed $13,000,000 more into the cash balance of the steel barons.

The companies claim the raise is 13 cents an hour. That’s an average. Actually a few of the highest paid skilled workers will get more than a 13 cent raise. But the majority of lower paid workers will get less than 11 cents. Thus, the steel raise is less than in other industries where the workers put up a scrap.

Moreover, the wage reopening date has been extended an additional three months beyond the contract expiration date of April 30, 1949, to July 15, 1949. The new wage rates are frozen for three more months.

In his autobiographical article in the June issue of American Magazine, Murray said he is always ready to step out of his office, if a better man can be found. That’s not a tall order.

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