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B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(16 June 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 42, 16 June 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

With lengthy negotiations over a period of five months dragging into a state of ineffectiveness, the Teamsters’ Unions in Ohio felt forced this week to set an absolute deadline for final acceptances or rejection of their proposed contract by employing truckers in this area, Edward Murphy, international representative of the union, announced.

Action in establishing the deadline of June 17 was taken by the Ohio Highway Driver Council at a special meeting held last week in Columbus, O., attended by union representatives from all parts of the state.

Speaking for the council, Murphy stressed the fact that the proposed contract was in line with other wage agreements for the same type of employment in other sections of the country through which the same companies operate, and that further delays would be unreasonable.

The proposed contract in no way varies from other similar agreements and there is no real reason why the employers should not sign it, Murphy added.

Terms of Contract

Demands made upon the employers are only that a pay rate of approximately 75 cents an hour be established; pay for over-the-road drivers is to be based on a mileage basis of 3½ cents per mile for single units, and 4½ cents a mile on double units, and the straight 75 cent per hour rate is only paid when the trucks are halted for checking, spotting, breakdowns, etc.

However, Murphy points out, a single unit driver would have to average 22 miles per hour to receive 75 cents under the “rolling” rate – a difficult task with the huge single and double trailer outfits.

Where the driver owns his own equipment, the proposed agreement sets forth that in addition to the amount he receives for operating this equipment, he also be paid at the union rate.

It seeks to guarantee that all drivers be permitted one off day in every seven days and that no driver be called upon to work more than 60 hours in any one week period, according to Murphy. Establishment of seniority rights is included in the terms.

Around 30,000 truck drivers in Ohio were represented in the Council through representatives of their unions when the contract was proposed and the deadline set.

Among the prominent Ohio truck drivers officials present at the council meeting were: Paul Lave, secretary and business agent Akron Local 348; B.V. McGriff, business agent of Cleveland Local 407, who is also president of the Ohio Highway Drivers Council; Harry Card, business agent of Toledo Local 20, who is secretary of the Council; and the following members of the Council’s executive board which includes Lave, David T. Finn, business agent of Dayton Local 957; Leonard Newmaker, president of the Columbus Local 413; Sam Butcher, business agent of Cincinnatti Local 100, and Thomas Oakes, business agent of Canton Local 92, and president of the Canton Federation of Labor.

In general this development follows along the lines of the Over-the-Road contracts which were negotiated in the nine-state area during the past year under the direction of a special Teamsters’ committee set up in that section of the country with official sanction of the International Union.

* * *

On Labor Spies

Unionists throughout the country should pay the closest attention to the latest public findings of the LaFollette Civil Liberties Committee which were released on June 11. They concern spies in labor organizations.

A prominent member of Goodrich Local, United Rubber Workers of America, was accused in the report of being an agent of the Corporation’s Auxiliary Company of Cleveland.

He is John Grisby and has denied being a spy.

Conclusive evidence was introduced, however, that Percy Booth, former corresponding secretary of the Akron Central Labor Union, an officer in the Machinists Union, and later very active in Goodyear Local, U.R.W.A., was on the payroll of the spy agency. Booth is reported being in California now.

William O’Neil, former president, business agent and onetime secretary of the A.F. of L. Retail Clerks Union was also named. He skipped town two years ago with a large sum of union funds and went to Pennsylvania.

H.D. Hanna, prominent in the Diamond Match Local Union and in the Barberton Central Labor Union was declared to be a paid spy. He is reported to be in Michigan now.

In listing the spies active in the Akron area, the LaFollette report says they are based on a confession of the chief director of the Corporation’s Auxiliary, and the names are taken from the 1935 payroll of the company.

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Last updated: 16 January 2016