B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Jack Wilson

Akron Workers Set for Siege in Rubber

Bosses Import 3 Thousand Hired Thugs as Union Girds for First Test in 20 Years

(March 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 15, 30 March 1935, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


AKRON, O, March 28 (By wire) – Big three unions are delaying strike action pending approval from A.F. of L. on overwhelming strike votes at the Goodrich and Firestone plants.

The Goodyear has been granted the right to take a strike vote this Sunday.

3,000 deputies have been sworn in by the companies and organized into Vigilante committees. The bosses are preparing for a long siege.

AKRON, March 24.Akron’s rubberworkers’ unions were swiftly mobilizing their growing forces this week for a walk-out on Monday, April 1, in what promises to be the most bitter struggle of labor for its rights since the great strikes of last spring and which should mark the rise of a great strike wave this year.

Unions at Goodyear, Goodrich and Firestone plants, the big three of the tire industry, have made strike plans and are preparing to be the spear-head of an industry-wide fight against the arrogant and notoriously open shop robber barons.

The unions are demanding recognition, abolition of the company unions and a 30 hour week. These have been insolently turned, down by Goodyear. Firestone and Goodrich are expected to follow.

A simultaneous strike is expected to begin at Los Angeles, Cal., where the big three companies maintain their most important plants outside of Akron.

Scabs Ready

The companies have already hired thugs from strike-breaking agencies in Youngstown, Ohio, supplied the sheriff with a large stock of tear gas bombs, and are planning to run in scabs, if necessary to smash unionism once and for all, company spokesmen have admitted.

Although the peak production season of the tire industry has passed and hundreds of workers have been laid off, the unions are determined to make a stiff resistance to any attempts to smash them and it is openly predicted by spokesmen that the battle will be a real one.

The fact that the unions have not more than fifty percent of the 30,000 workers involved in the three factories in their membership is expected to be overcome when the walkout is begun since the plants work in three shifts and militant pickets can prevent anyone from entering on the second or third shift with the picket lines being established on the first shift at 7 A.M.

City Tense and Expectant

The city is tense. The entire city, predominantly union labor in character, can be swung to firm solidarity with the strikers if a determined and militant course is pursued by the strike leadership.

Highly-bribed “company union” scabs will try to work and will be guarded by the out-of-town thugs. A call for National Guards is felt to be a matter of a day or so after the strike is called. And this will aid in crystallizing resentment against the companies. The memories of Toledo, not over 100 miles away, are still fresh in Akron workers’ minds.

A rapid increase in membership has heartened the onions and given them much additional strength. While they are still far short of the number they had last year (over 70 percent of the workers were in the A.F. of L. then), the long-promised action is finding a warm welcome among the workers. One local alone reported 626 new members in the last two weeks.

Support of the organized auto workers has been pledged and union leaders declare that the A.F. of L. unions in Detroit will walk out at the same time. Along with this, the rubberworkers will need the backing of all organized labor throughout the country in the forthcoming struggle. A victory at Akron would greatly strengthen unionism throughout the country.

It is the duty of class-conscious workers everywhere to do their utmost to help win this strike. Our party at Akron has been prepared for the strike and will be in the forefront of the struggle.

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 13 November 2014