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B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(14 July 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 50, 14 July 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Victory for organized labor in this W.P.A. battle can mark the beginning of a real offensive against the wave of reaction that gathered strength in the past two years.

This fight should serve as an inspiration for the unemployed and project workers throughout the country. Unless the Workers Alliance, and this is doubtful, can completely divert the energy of the workers.

Strong attention to the need of organizing all W.P.A. and unemployed workers has been brought on by this strike.

Life or Death

To the A.F.L. unions involved this battle is virtually a life and death struggle. Unless union scales are maintained on W.P.A. projects, the door would be opened for a nationwide employers’ drive against the building trade union contracts.

Considerable dissatisfaction already exists among the building trades rank and file unionists. The C.I.O. has been exploring the possibility of entering that field.

Reports from Washington indicate that top A.F.L. leaders are already looking around for the scapegoat in the situation. Mathew Woll, prominent in legislature lobbying, it has been hinted, was responsible for the fact that the A.F.L. didn’t put up a fight against the Woodrum bill.

The A.F.L. simply can not afford to lose this strike, and the top leaders apparently know it.

The whole problem of the unemployed and project workers has received a nation-wide spotlight because of the current strike wave. Never again will it be easy to hide it on the last pages of the newspapers.

Victory in this battle brings the possibility of further struggles and victories for the unemployed and project workers. Just as the first C.I.O. strike victories became a national trend, an A.F.L. victory now should serve as a powerful stimulant for all labor.

Up to Unions

The value of organized labor taking up the problem of organizing the unemployed and the W.P.A. workers has been clearly demonstrated by the present situation. Contrast the “Right to Work Congress” of the Workers Alliance and all its phoney ballyhoo, to the militant action of the A.F.L. building trades unions. The Workers Alliance served simply to fool the unemployed and project workers into a false sense of security “by trusting our friend Roosevelt.” It weakened the will to struggle of the workers.

The A.F.L. building trades not only have showed themselves as more militant than the Alliance but more capable of putting up a fight for its rights.

And when one reads the Northwest Organizer, organ of the Minneapolis teamsters movement, on the real fight and victories of the unemployed section of the truck drivers union, one sees again the tremendous value and vital necessity of organized labor directly handling the problems of the unemployed and project workers.

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Last updated: 6 March 2016