Art Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Art Preis

“Unity” at Last!

(30 August 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 35, 30 August 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We have just read the news that leading representatives of the American unions have recently met and approved “a common proposal ... in the name of united American labor.” But don’t cheer yet.

This announcement appears in the AFL International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union paper, Justice, of August 15, in an article by Jay Lovestone, renegade from communism and chore-boy for David Dubinsky.

The “common proposal” he speaks of has nothing to do with joint labor action in America to fight the Taft-Hartley Act, halt the current, jurisdictional civil war in the unions or build a Labor Party.

His “united American labor” refers to the delegation of U.S. union big-shots sent over to Western Europe and England as unofficial agents of the U.S. State Department to help sell the imperialist Marshall Plan.

“Breakfast in Rome – afternoon tea in London” keeps the U.S. delegation at a “driving pace” writes Lovestone. These harassed U. S. union officials – including Dubinsky of the AFL, George Harrison of the Railway Labor Clerks, Victor Reuther of the CIO auto workers, David MacDonald and Elmer Cope of the CIO Steelworkers, and a spokesman of the United Mine Workers – hardly had time to “unpack” before they went into “caucus” and “hammered out an agreement on fundamental policy.”

Unity at last! But on how to force the British Trade Union Congress executives, then in session, to agree to “the proposal made by Paul G. Hoffman, Economic Cooperation Administrator, for setting up consultative Anglo-American Committees to stimulate and lift production in Britain.”

It seems the British labor leaders were balking. The British workers consider Hoffman’s proposal as nothing but a Marshall Plan export of American-style speed-up. The U.S. union bosses were over there to “put on the heat.” They made “off-the-record” statements in the British capitalist press that “American labor” is demanding “action” from the English workers; that British union leaders are “too slow and timid” in implementing “European recovery”; that “all barriers to increased production” must be broken; and, above all, that the “restrictive practices” of the British unions – that is, the union rules safeguarding working conditions – must be abolished.

How little the British workers welcome this Marshall Plan “aid” – the speed-up demanded by the Dubinskys, Lovestones, Reuthers, etc. – is shown by the strike last week of 17,000 Austin auto workers in Birmingham, England, against what they called “American mass production methods” – the attempt of the company to get a gear-box cutter to finish 360 boxes instead of 280 a day.

Lovestone glowingly reports that in putting the heat on the British union officials, “Averill Harriman, chief of the OEEC, pointed out that it was the tradition of international labor to go across national lines.”

American labor, like the General Motors workers who have been striking against speed-up, will certainly be delighted to learn that American union officials like Walter Reuther’s brother Victor are trying to get workers in other countries to accept the speed-up “in the name of united American labor” and “international labor solidarity.”

Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 October 2022