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Jack Wilson

Bosses Try to Blackmail Labor
at Washington Confab

(December 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 51, 22 December 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The conference of labor and industry called by President Roosevelt this week in Washington meets in an atmosphere surcharged with antagonisms arising from the conflicting interests of the participating forces.

Roosevelt seeks to obtain by voluntary agreement a “truce” between the labor movement of the employers of America, which, in effect, will hogtie the union movement completely to the war machine.

The National Association of Manufacturers denounced even the calling of a conference between union representatives and themselves or their representatives, since they desire to see the Smith slave labor act passed and become a law.

The NAM seeks cleverly to bludgeon the labor movement into surrender by saying in so many words: “Don’t antagonize us by any serious proposals or we’ll walk out; of the conference.”

AFL Blind Sheep

The AFL representatives, headed by William Green, will participate in the conference as blind sheep, having adopted by formal vote of the AFL executive board a peace at any price policy, which appeasement is certainly welcomed by the NAM and by Roosevelt.

The CIO delegation, headed by Phillip Murray, has as its major aim to press for the adoption of the so-called Murray Industrial Council Plan to settle production and labor problems.

Inclusion of John L. Lewis in this delegation is considered especially significant and everyone is watching closely to see what role Lewis has cut out for himself in the near future.

Having Julius Emspack of the Electrical Workers Union and Joe Curran of the Maritime Union on the committee likewise created a surprise since they indicate how closely the Stalinists are now working with the Roosevelt Administration, and what prominence is attached to their role!

Out of such a conglomeration of figures and conflicting interests, only a patchwork program can be expected, but one which may operate against labor’s interests.

Most ominous proposal before the conference is one which will receive both AFL and the manufacturers’ Support, and the CIO has to be on guard against it.

The proposal is to freeze present union relations and organization in all industries. This means that the CIO would promise to give up organizing the unorganized, especially in the South. And would also give up its efforts to obtain a union shop in the war industries.

This freezing order wouldn’t bother the AFL as much since it already has closed shop agreements in fields vital to its present form of existence. Labor unity proposals, too, if from the AFL, also will be made only to put the CIO behind the eight-ball.

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