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Jack Wilson

Labor Rallies to Aid of Akron Strike

Solidarity Pledged by Cleveland & Detroit

Intervention of Perkin Threatens to Continue the ‘National Run Around’

(April 1935)

From The New Militant, Vol. I No. 17, 13 April 1935, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Latest Strike Aspects at a Glance

The Cleveland Federation of Labor and the Metal Trades Council have formally pledged their support to the Akron rubber workers’ union.

F.J. Dillon, A.F. of L. auto head in Detroit, announces that “in the event of a strike in, the Akron rubber factories we are prepared to give support”.

Impartial observers,” say press reports, “are practically unanimous that the walkout (in Akron) will be under way before the present week is ended.”

Secretary of Labor Perkins has stepped into the Akron situation, conferring with company officials, in hope of averting the strike of rubber workers.

AKRON, April 9. – Akron’s 30,000 rubber workers stand poised and ready to strike against the provocative attacks of the Goodyear, Goodrich and Firestone companies and establish union recognition. Certain

outstanding facts this week indicate that the rubber struggle is the most important political event for the working class since the New Deal.

The strike is purely defensive in character. Insolent rejection of all A.F. of L. compromises, lay-offs, wage cuts and every other means of antagonizing labor have been used by the rubber barons to provoke a strike.

The National Manufacturer’s Association, pushed by Dillon, Read and Company, the Wall St. bankers, is directing this offensive. The 3,000 armed guards, the barbed wire fences, the sand-bank entrenchments – these are the forces of repression which the capitalists are bringing to play.

Major Battle of 1935

The purpose of the industrialists is plain. They want to smash the union completely and show the working class that the dreaded open shop is here to stay. A defeat for the workers in rubber would have nation-wide effects. It would mean that the capitalist offensive against the workers was succeeding and the American proletariat was being defeated in its first major combat with capital in 1935.

The issue of the Akron situation is the right to organize. The capitalists want to drown this fundamental right in workers’ blood.

Furthermore, the whole future of the American Federation of Labor is involved. Green, having definitely committed himself to a strike, is playing his last card, being pushed by circumstances to such a position. All the A.F. of L. class-collaboration has failed. The capitalists have insisted on class struggle, feeling sure of themselves. Either outright capitulation and ruin in rubber and elsewhere or a fight faces the A.F. of L. and it seems to have chosen to fight. Of course, one or two more maneuvers can be expected. Probably Green will appeal to Roosevelt directly, but it doesn’t seem possible that he can control the rank and file, who want to strike.

Sentiment Militant

The rubber workers are rapidly seeing: the entire political aspect of the situation. “This will be a minor revolution”, is the sentiment of many rank and filers.

Coleman C. Claherty, A.F. of L. organizer in rubber, has himself declared that the key to the entire labor situation is in Akron. If the rubber workers win, it spells the doom of the open shop in steel, auto and other industries. He says the A.F. of L. is concentrating its entire strength behind the Akron workers.

The working class is showing amazing militancy. Flying squadrons, military squads, outlining of strategic spots in the companies’ fortresses – for such the factories are – these and other strike weapons are being utilized and will play a prominent role in the battle. While newspapers and preachers – in particular preachers – cry against the workers, the workers calmly continue to get ready for a stiff battle which can only be described as impending civil war.

The workers’ ranks continue to grow. The strike vote proves that. Scabbing will be done only by few misguided workers, if they can get in. It doesn’t seem likely that they will.

Of course, the A.F. of L. has promised nation-wide support. This promise must be made a reality. Otherwise the struggle of the Akron workers against the entire capitalistic structure will be made more difficult.

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Last updated: 27 July 2015