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Walter Jason

CIO Vets for Profit Tax to Pay for Bonus

(22 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 29, 22 July 1946, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

One of the significant developments on the question of a veterans’ bonus occurred least week in Michigan at the special session of the state legislature called to take up the matter of a state bonus for Michigan veterans.

There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that the special session would vote overwhelmingly to approve a state bonus. The Michigan plan calls for a bonus of $10 a month for every month a soldier spent in the states, and $15 a month for each month of overseas duty, up to the maximum of $500 for any veteran. Other provisions take up problems of surviving dependants, etc.

The Michigan plan involves payment of around $270,000,000 or an average of about $280 per veteran. It goes before the voters of the state for approval in November, since the Michigan constitution provides that such an expenditure must be made by constitutional amendment via referendum vote.

Of course, there is nothing new in the idea of a state bonus. Massachusetts and Illinois already have approved of the idea, and the Massachusetts veterans already have been paid.

What is significant in the Michigan state bonus development is the attitude of the veterans organizations and, in particular, the UAW-CIO veterans committees. In other states the cost of the state bonus is financed by a sales tax in one form or another.

An attempt was made in Michigan to propose a sales tax on cigarettes and beer to meet the cost of the bonus.

None of the veterans organizations except the AVC had anything to say on this vital question. The AVC said that it was against any “regressive taxation.”

But the UAW-CIO veterans delegation had plenty of say on the subject. Many speakers at the public hearings denounced any attempt to foist a sales tax on the common people to pay a bonus. Attempts to get the CIO vets to approve payment of the bonus from the present three per cent sales tax failed. The UAW-CIO vets said they were against all sales taxes. George Buckley of the UAW-CIO vets department told the legislators that the CIO wanted to abolish the present sales tax.

UAW Plan

The CIO vets had proposals, however, for financing a “wage adjustment,” as they called the bonus. A tax on corporation profits, on high incomes, and similar taxes to hit the rich were suggested by the CIO veterans.

Naturally the legislators ducked this “hot potato.” The November vote will not include any proposal on the financing of the bonus except that a special bond issue will be made to permit payment of the bonus.

But the UAW-CIO veterans gave every indication that their struggle for a real bonus, not one paid for by themselves or organized labor, or the working people in general, has just begun. The hopes of the Republican and Democratic politicians that they could buy the veterans votes received a serious setback because of the attitude of the UAW-CIO veterans.

In the coming struggle for a federal bonus, in which the UAW-CIO veterans can be expected to play a big role, the skirmish in Michigan is a good starting point and an excellent example for veterans everywhere. Grab the war profits to pay the veterans. That central idea should be the strategic aim in every fight for the veterans.

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Last updated: 6 July 2019