B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Walter Jason

News and Views from the Labor Front

Ask Special UAW Conference

(7 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 40, 7 October 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT – A growing and powerful movement among the secondary leadership of the UAW-CIO for the calling of an emergency national conference of the UAW-CIO to outline a new wage struggle policy developed this week, following action of Chrysler Local 7, spearheading such a demand.

This movement originated on Sunday, September 22, when the entire leadership of Chrysler Local 7 unanimously adopted a program presented by Nick De Gaetano, chairman of the educational committee.

Offers Program

The key paragraphs of the program were:

“Now with the re-opening of the Chrysler wage negotiations, are we going to assume the same role as the GM workers did by spearheading an automotive strike wave, and thus repeating the mistake of taking the corporations one at a time, causing another cycle of small strikes? I think we should follow the steel and electrical appliance workers’ example by taking up wage negotiations on an industry-wide basis.”

“Therefore, due to the present emergency situation, I recommend that our local union demand that our international union immediately call a special emergency conference to discuss ways and means in making the issue of Chrysler workers, the issue of all the automotive workers. And if strike action is necessary, let that action be on an industry-wide scale.”

The significant thing about the adoption of this program was that it was unanimous, without regard to previous factional lines in the UAW-CIO.

Subsequently, a meeting was called of all East Side local union presidents, and there Reuther forces joined with Stalinists and others in voting to support the demand for an emergency conference.

Arose in Ranks

Budd, local likewise passed a similar motion calling for an emergency wage policy conference.

It is important to understand that this movement arose in the ranks, and is directed, in a sense, against the entire leadership of the UAW-CIO, for the top leadership seemed to be entirely pre-occupied with or paralyzed by the deadly factional struggle.

As a matter of fact, the question of a good program for the situation now confronting all auto workers is posed by the demand for an emergency conference. Here is a golden opportunity for Walter Reuther, or any other top UAW-CIO leader, to demonstrate his ability as a leader, by coming to the fore in this movement, and by presenting a rounded-out program for combatting the inflationary crisis, and concretely, for handling the Chrysler negotiations which are to begin in the middle of October.

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 21 July 2020