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Jack Wilson

Rubber Workers Took Big Step
Forward at Akron Convention

(31 September 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 39, 21 September 1935, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A tremendous step forward in the direction of organizing workers in basic industries was taken by rubber worker delegates at their convention which formed an international union through the far-reaching consequences of their actions.

The rubber workers repudiated by an overwhelming majority the antiquated craft union, class collaboration policies of the A.F. of L. bureaucracy as represented by Wm. Green and the executive council.

They broke the stranglehold of the officialdom over the rubber workers’ unions which had virtually ruined the trade union movement in the rubber industry and reduced once powerful unions into mere skeletons.

The rubber workers did what the auto workers and other unionists bad not succeeded in doing – cleansing their ranks of the Clahertys and other misleaders who only lead them from one defeat to another.

Adopt Militant Program

The rubber workers adopted a militant program for organizing through drives the rubber industry – one of America’s leading open shop industries.

The rubber workers, through fighting successfully for the election of their own officers, smashed Green’s avowed intention of appointing their officers and gave him a blow which will have even great er repercussions at the coming national convention of the A.F. of L. for the rubber workers are prepared to fight with other progressives for industrial unions and thus wipe out the craft base for the present bureaucracy.

Officers were picked whose personal honesty is beyond question who have the confidence of the rubber workers, who are earnest, sincere and continually learning the meaning and significance of the class struggle. The president is a man who already is rallying the ranks of the deserted rubber workers around the banner of the autonomous international with immediate increases in membership.

Learning Through Struggle

This much they have done. In addition the rubber workers learned much through fighting. They tore away the illusions from their own eyes of the “greatness” of Green and his cohorts.

Workers in all unions who have been fighting desperately against efforts of the bureaucrats to curb them can and should take heart from this notable victory against reaction in the labor movement.

There are many reasons why the rubber workers have been able to win, so far, in their struggle for self-control with its consequent favorable possibilities.

The lessons of the auto workers’ convention aroused the Akron delegates to a boiling point of indignation which made them sensitive to every move the bureaucrats attempted at the convention.

The crime of the auto workers’ international brought home sharply the truth of the ideas constantly pointed out to them by a small group of progressives that the bureaucracy would do anything to keep in power and they must organize to fight against such reaction with its fatal effects on the unions.

Behind this immediate cause lies the long and hard work of forces like the Workers Party to point out the correct road to the rubber workers in their search for paths which would lead to a strong union movement. Efforts of progressives who arose from the working class itself without stimulation but through bitter experience with Claherty and Green, came to a climax at the convention.

The result of the convention attests once more to the fact that only through careful education and work along class struggle lines can the working class prepare itself to march forward to increasing victories.

The rubber workers have won a victory, but that is only a start.

Every local must have its progressive bloc carrying on a daily struggle for the ideas accepted by the convention so that those delegates who stood by the bureaucracy go down defeated and exposed to their fellow-workers.

Organization Plans

The resolutions on organization call for special efforts to bring the workers back within the fold of the union. Sentiment for rejoining the unions is strong in Akron and throughout the country since the hated bureaucrats went down in defeat. No time should be lost to take advantage of this fact.

Special plans must be made to unite completely with progressives throughout the country so that a solid bloc will confront the A.F. of L. executive council and its antiquated ideas at the forthcoming national convention so more workers in basic industries and elsewhere can be made free from the stranglehold of the present leadership.

No Compromise with Misleaders

An uncompromising struggle must be waged against the misleaders in the future. The seven craft unions in the rubber industry must become amalgamated in the new international. Demand that the next national A.F. of L. convention grant that right. The clause in the new charter confining membership only to rubber workers engaged in production of rubber products must be eliminated so all employees in the rubber shops can join in one great union.

The Workers Party has continually served in the past as the beacon light for leadership in the struggle to build a powerful labor movement in the rubber industry. It first warned the workers of the coming spring betrayal. It first called for building a progressive bloc to rally all forces at this convention against the hold of the bureaucracy. It pledges itself in the future to do everything in its power to aid the workers in their fundamental battles for uniting themselves into a powerful movement.

We will do everything possible to make the United Rubber Workers of America a stronghold of the working class against any onslaughts of capitalism or any of its agents.

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