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Jack Weber

March of Events

(2 June 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 22, 2 June 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“Stop Fooling with Labor”!

The first period of the NRA has definitely ended. The assistance tendered to the A.F. of L. bureaucracy to help them gain control of the newly organized masses of workers so as to prevent the growth of unions under militant leadership, has been withdrawn under the pressure of big business in the mass production industries. With the revival of business, aided by enormous subsidies, finance capital takes new courage and demands complete “freedom” to amass greater profits. It is in no mood to brook the resistance of labor to the extension of capitalist gains at the expense of the workers’ living standards. “Stop fooling with labor,” says Girdler, head of the Republic Steel Co. Away with all this nonsensical pretence of the NRA! Girdler would rather shut down the factories than treat with “professional” unionists. Irvin, President of U.S. Steel, declares for the open shop and company unionism. He is echoed by Grace, head of Bethlehem Steel. Sloan, chief of General Motors, lays down an ultimatum for the open shop and rallies the entire boss class against tiny half-way measures in the most aggressive speech of all:

“We should more effectively and courageously stand and, if necessary, fight for those things which are just and equitable (the open, shop, against unionism, for company unions, against collective bargaining, against government ‘regimentation’ and control, for profits) ...”

* * * *

Finance Capital to the Attack

Big business thus starts a carefully planned and concerted drive against the working class and its independent trade unions. The pretences of increasing wages and raising living standards become too transparent to be of any further service to the ruling class and the struggle begins to take on a more and more open character. To compete in foreign markets against Japanese competition the American capitalists strive desperately to lower costs of production – by lowering wages. To carry out the program of imperialism the bosses must prevent any vast influx into the trade unions and a brake must be set on the workers’ movement towards organization. Ford, Working Class Enemy No. 1, leads the way. Through his spy system he picks out the unionists and concentrates them in a single machine shop. Recently when about two hundred union members came to work with union badges openly displayed, nothing was done at the time, but gradually all were transferred in small groups to the “union” machine shop. Then this shop was shut down and all these workers laid off. No discrimination there! Simply an economy!

* * * *

“Who Is Bigger?”

Distressed by the openness of the attack on the workers and the callous flouting of bourgeois law by the bourgeoisie, the demagogic New York Post asks editorially, “Who is bigger – U.S.A. or U.S. Steel?” Every day makes clear that Roosevelt and Johnson have been given their new line of march by their masters and they obey orders! The NRA labor section is being dismantled as rapidly as possible. The sham of “collective bargaining” has been exposed by the government’s legalizing of the company union and the open shop and its denial of the right of a majority of the workers to represent all the workers in negotiations (an interesting contradiction of bourgeois democracy which reveals the real nature of that democracy). The working class has had enough experience with the Regional and National Labor Boards to understand their function of betrayal. The personnel is sufficient in itself to dispel any illusions concerning these fake “impartial” boards. What Detroit worker would appeal to H.H. Rice, former president of Cadillac and vice-president of General Motors, now head of the Detroit Regional Labor Board? No, there can be no illusion in the mind of workers as to the nature of the government in relation to the working class. The government is carrying out the will of the ruling class. Events are rapidly posing a far different question: who is bigger – the capitalist class or the working class?

* * * *

The Road to Fascism

The Minneapolis and Toledo strikes are the clearest signs that the workers have learned that they must rely on their own strength and organization to defend their livelihood from the attacks of the bosses. But these militant strikes will infuriate the predatory finance capitalists and will drive them to sterner measures. It is in this struggle that the capitalists will decide whether or not to take the road to fascism.

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