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Jack Wilson

UAW Board Meeting Will Discuss Prices

(30 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 31, 5 August 1946, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT, July 30 – Another crucial meeting of the International Executive Board of the UAW-CIO is to be held on August 5 to take up major questions of policy and organizational matters.

Before the board will be two diverging sets of proposals for adoption by the UAW-CIO as its official policy to meet the inflationary crisis in this country.

One rounded-out plan will represent the point of view of Walter P. Reuther, union president, and another will be the program advocated by the Stalinist Party through its supporters on the board, headed by George Addes, union secretary-treasurer.

On the question of wage increases, the Stalinists now are making considerable agitation for reopening of wage negotiations with all big auto corporations.

Reuther’s New Formula

Until this week Walter Reuther was also speaking along those lines, but following a series of conferences with Philip Murray, CIO president, Reuther has virtually abandoned for the moment the GM program of fighting for wage increases without price increases.

The formula which Reuther presented to a caucus meeting and which was accepted enthusiastically by his followers was: “We must make the dollar mean more. We’ve got to keep prices down. That is the main job now.”

This formula is essentially the same miserable policy statement which the national CIO Executive Board issued at its recent session in Washington.

As part of this “strategy,” Reuther issued a call to the auto manufacturers to meet with the UAW-CIO to discuss the problem of full production. No one, of course, thought that the auto barons would take this invitation seriously. Naturally, Reuther has another “plan” to present which is expected again to create nationwide publicity and discussion. What Reuther’s plans are remains to be seen.

The fact that the entire top leadership of the UAW-CIO has gone along with Reuther in his latest moves does not indicate agreement among them, but rather the usual “playing politics,” for the factional struggle in the UAW-CIO is increasing in intensity.

The “militant” demands of the Stalinists now are, of course, a tactic to gain influence and prestige among the rank and file. More exactly, to cut into the widespread support Reuther won on the basis of the real militant GM program that made him president of the union.

In practice, all elements in the union are working together on the struggle to keep prices down by means of buyers’ strikes, special demonstrations, use of flying squadrons to prevent evictions, etc. In some respects, the activities on this problem are healthy competition between the Reuther forces and the Stalinist bloc.

Nor will the dispute in the Executive Board come to a clear difference on wage policy in general. At the national CIO board meeting, the divergent elements agreed on a general statement which means something different to each force in the CIO in concrete practice.

In the UAW-CIO, the burning issue on which ambiguity will be difficult will be the request of the Chrysler conference that wage negotiations be reopened as permitted by the contract, provided a 60-day notice of intention is filed. The decision of the UAW-CIO Executive Board on this crucial situation will indicate the real policy of the union leadership and the factions in the next period.

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