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Jack Wilson

Auto-Rubber Alliance in Akron

(March 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 14, 23 March 1935, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AKRON, Ohio, March 8. – A significant turn with far-reaching implications was made by the American Federation of Labor here today with the establishment of an alliance between the auto and the rubber workers’ unions to work together in the current campaigns for recognition and the “threatened” strikes in both industries.

Suddenly changing previous plan to bring John Lewis, U.M.W.A president, here, the A.F. of L. had Francis J. Dillon, chief auto organizer speak at a mass meeting of all rubber workers unions here and pledges were exchanged to aid each [other].

Thus the A.F. of L. was finally forced to admit the close relationship between these two basic industries. Rubber tire production depends primarily on sales to the auto manufacturers and they have admitted that a strike in the auto industry, if begun, must likewise be met with a similar strike in rubber as a tie-up of the auto industry would automatically close Akron factories.

This latest move can best be interpreted as an attempt of the A.F. of L. to bolster its weak position in the auto industry and its rapidly weakening role in rubber by building prestige through this vague “united front” It is also an attempt to display a strong front to manufacturers in the vain hope of thereby obtaining recognition without resorting to strikes.

However, Dillon told the rubber workers that April 1 was the date set for action in Detroit and this was followed by a speech of Coleman Claherty in which he said rubber manufacturers would be given one week to begin negotiations or a strike would be called.

That the workers mean to take these two organizers at their word was shown by the tremendous applause which greeted them whenever militant tones were adopted in their speech and especially when threat of a strike was made. The Goodyear, Goodrich and Firestone locals are sending committees to try to begin negotiations this week with the manufacturers. A strike has been threatened if manufacturers refuse.

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