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Jack Wilson

Akron Rubber Strike Impends

City Tense

Goodyear Vote Overwhelming for a Walkout

(April 1935)

From The New Militant, 6 April 1935, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AKRON, Ohio, April 11. – While Akron, seat of the rubber industry, became more of a war camp daily this week as Goodyear, Goodrich and Firestone tire companies prepared a huge force of deputies to smash any strike, the rubber-workers were gaining strength but were in danger of making fatal errors in their battle against the rubber barons.

A strike vote at the Goodyear local was overwhelmingly for a walkout, according to a survey, and labor was heartened by the large number of workers who voted. Although the local seldom had over 1,000 at the largest rallies, nearly three thousand cast ballots.

The Goodrich and Firestone locals, always considered much stronger than the Goodyear union, are expected to show greater strength in their strike vote this Sunday and should pull out more than half the plants, which have nearly 20,000 workers.

Danger In Strike Delay

The first danger that confronts the Akron workers is the possibility that they will be induced by William Green, president of the A.F. of L., to accept a compromise something like the auto-code agreement. Tactics of the national A.F. of L. chiefs so far have been purely those of trying to club Congress into passing the unsatisfactory Wagner bill through strike threats.

Waiting too long before actually striking in order to fulfill all A.F. of L. constitutional requirements has already seen one important week pass by and more delay will tend to cause a downswing in the rising strike sentiment. Meanwhile the companies ship carloads of tires out and stock all their warehouses in event of a shutdown.

The company tactics continue to be that of provoking labor. Firestone, ordered by the National Labor Relations board to drop the company union, instead orders a strike vote to be taken by the company union.

Company Maneuvers

This follows on the heels of similar moves by the two other companies whose company unions voted “overwhelmingly” against a strike. This was done for propaganda purposes as full page newspaper advertisements claim that only a minority of workers want to strike, according to their ballots!

Two citizens committees have been publicly formed for the purpose of averting a strike. Of course, alleged liberal ministers, and prominent business men head the list of potential strike-breakers.

Union leaders refuse to give any date for the actual walkout on the theory that it would harm labor’s chances, although it could hardly be before April 8. There is danger, though, that this is but a camouflage and no official strike will be called.

Rank and File Restless

In that event, even the rubber companies think that a spontaneous rank and file movement will carry out the plans. In fact, the companies have taken every possible precaution to prevent a spontaneous walkout being effective this week, so restless is the mood of the rubber workers.

The most serious defect of the rubber workers is the lack of experienced strike leaders as time and again good strategy was not used to swing all labor behind the sending struggle. This seems to be overcome by the aggressiveness of the workers.

Issuance of a proclamation forbidding mass picketing, deputizing of hundreds of unemployed including National Guardsmen, erecting of barbed wire fences and other military precautions shows that the struggle will be a bloody one as workers refuse to allow any scabs to work while companies are determined to break the picket lines.

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Last updated: 27 July 2015