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Dubinsky Deals Stab-in-Back
to Labor in Taft-Hartley Fight

ILGWU Bureaucrats Peddle Own Anti-Strike ‘Substitutes’

(3 January 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 1, 3 January 1949, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

While basking in the sunshine of swanky Miami Beach, Fla., the well-heeled bureaucrats on the general executive board of the AFL International Ladies Garment Workers Union announced on Dec. 26 details of a proposed “substitute” for the Taft-Hartley Act that has promptly been dubbed the “Dubinsky-Taft-Hartley Bill.’

ILGWU President David Dubinsky – whom the Big Business press has frequently praised as the “most responsible” and “statesmanlike” union leader in the country – is the chief author of this first “substitute” anti-labor bill put forward by any major union. But it is widely know that Dubinsky and other AFL top leaders held a secret meeting with Truman in the White House several weeks ago at which the AFL heads made far-reaching commitments on a new labor-control law.

Dubinsky’s “substitute” law would go beyond even what Truman is reported to be seeking in the way of union-curbing legislation. It would foist on all American labor a law modeled on the notorious Railway Labor Act that has hamstrung the railroad workers since the first World War and driven them from first to 20th position in comparative wages with other industries. It would give the capitalist government exceptional powers to interfere in internal union affairs, regulate the unions, break strikes and otherwise fulfill the aims of the Taft-Hartley Act itself.

Major Features

The major feature of Dubinsky’s proposed stab-in-the-back at American labor is the provisions for blocking strikes in so-called “vital” industries through compulsory “cooling off” periods and “fact-finding” government boards. These are standard procedures now employed by the Truman Administration, under both the Taft-Hartley Act. and the Railway Labor Act, for stalling off union demands and halting militant union struggle.

This proposal is all the more treacherous coming at the very time one million members of 16 non-operating railroad unions are being stalled by a “cooling off” period after months of fruitless negotiations, climaxed by a dirty deal handed them by the government’s “fact-finding” board? This board rejected all the unions’ basic demands. For instance, when the unions asked for a 40-hour instead of the present 48-hour week, with premium pay, for Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, the board offered a 40-hour staggered work week, without premium pay on week-ends and holidays – to be put into effect September 1, 1949!

It is with this type of procedure that Dubinsky wants to shackle all the unions.

Dubinsky also wants to give the government power to settle “jurisdictional” disputes through a board nominated by the Department of Labor. This board could rule out of existence a militant union in favor of a conservative union or even a disguised company union. He likewise favors a ban on so-called “unjustifiable” secondary boycotts – a perfect legal weapon to force unions to handle goods made by scabs during a strike of a sister union. Such a provision in the Taft-Hartley Act has- blocked efforts of the ILGWU itself to organize scab clothing contractors.

Yellow-Dog Oath

The “Dubinsky-Taft-Hartley Bill” would go even beyond the present law in requiring non-communist affidavits and financial statements. It would require a yellow-dog oath not only from all elected officers of a union, but from all paid functionaries of the union. To make this restriction on labor more “equitable,” Dubinsky wants it extended to all employers – a pretty tough restraint on the capitalists, to make them swear they’re riot “communists”!

Another Taft-Hartley clause that Dubinsky wants incorporated into his “substitute” bill would continue to permit employers to petition for collective bargaining elections where “a bona fide question” exists as to which of two or more unions is entitled to represent the workers. This has already been widely used by employers as a pretext for refusing to negotiate with long-established unions, particularly when they go on strike, and for bringing in rival and company unions.

The ILGWU president announced that his executive board had even voted to “thank” the 80th Congress for one provision of the Taft-Hartley Act – the ban on the use of union funds for political campaign purposes. Because of this ban on labor’s political rights, Dubinsky explained, the ILGWU bureaucrats had the pretext for keeping their huge treasury intact while squeezing an additional $275,000 for Truman’s campaign out of “voluntary contributions” from the membership.

With these proposals, Dubinsky has now assumed the dubious honor of spearheading the drive of the AFL moguls for revision of the Wagner Act along anti-labor and anti-industrial union lines. Dubinsky has spelled out the text of the law implied, but not specified, in the AFL convention resolution adopted in November.

Helps Reaction

The effect of Dubinsky’s traitorous proposals will be to intensify the efforts of the Truman administration and the Democratic and Republican labor-haters in Congress to retain as much of the Taft-Hartley Act restrictions as possible in any “substitute” law. Having already yielded so much in advance, the “labor statesmen” will now be called on to agree to further “reasonable compromises” when repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act is actually under debate in Congress.

The treachery of Dubinsky and others of his stripe is all the more vile because he and the other Trumanite labor leaders called on the workers to vote for Truman with the assurance that “Injunction Harry” would work for unconditional repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act if elected. Since the elections, Truman has made clear, he intends to advocate his own anti-labor bill, including some of the most vicious features of the present law.

These union leaders are not only trying to cover up for Truman’s dishonest repudiation of his promise of unqualified repeal of the Slave Labor Law. They actually like certain features of the Taft-Hartley Act! They find the yellow-dog oath procedure a weapon in their raids on noncomplying unions. They welcome the red-tape 6f “cooling off” and “fact-finding” as a means of curbing the militancy of their members.

For Wall Street War

Dubinsky has a special aim in mind, moreover. He is seeking to establish himself as the most “reasonable labor statesman” in the eyes of the U.S. State Department, ever ready to sacrifice labor’s interests for the sake of Wall Street’s war preparations against, the. Soviet Union. He is one of the ambitious Social Democratic-type liberals in the labor movement who are playing for government recognition as the most reliable agents of U.S. imperialism inside the unions.

Dubinsky’s move to split and betray the fight for unconditional repeal of the Taft-Hatley Act comes as a direct repudiation of the workers’ demands? expressed in their overwhelming vote to oust the Taft-Hartley Congressmen and Senators. The workers want full and unqualified smashing of the Taft-Hartley Act. And their further slogan is: “Accept No Substitutes!”

Labor has just demonstrated its power. It does not have to go begging hat in hand. Mobilized in united action, placing no reliance on Truman or any other capitalist politician, using its own independent organized strength, labor can compel Congress to grant its demands on Taft-Hartley repeal, housing, civil rights and all other progressive measures.

What is needed is a National United Congress of Labor, such as the AFL International Typographical Union proposed and the National Maritime Union and many local union bodies have endorsed. This Congress of Labor should be convened in Washington, with rank and file representation of all unions, to confront the 81st Congress with labor’s demands and labor’s mighty power on the day the new session opens.

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