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Walter Jason

Brophy Backs Reuther
in UAW Tilt with Thomas

(17 February 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 8, 24 February 1947, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT, Feb. 17 – The attempt of R.J. Thomas, UAW-CIO vice-president, to make Walter P. Reuther, union president, the scapegoat for the critical situation in the Allis-Chalmers strike, began to boomerang this week.

For John Brophy, as personal representative of Philip Murray, president of the CIO, directly took issue with Thomas on the vicious charges made by Thomas against Reuther.

Besides which, Reuther himself sent a detailed report of all negotiations and actions in the Allis-Chalmers situation. This report presents a devastating case against Thomas!

Charges Refuted

The two major charges which Thomas hurled at Reuther by means of statements to the capitalist press were: (1) Reuther violated the union constitution by conferring with the Allis-Chalmers management without the presence of the local union officers; (2) Reuther had made a secret and unsatisfactory agreement with the Allis-Chalmers management and tried to shove it down the local union’s throat before the recent election to determine bargaining rights!

In reality, these charges are what Thomas and his Stalinist brain-trusters HOPED Reuther would do. Not the least of their bitterness and chagrin flows from the fact that Reuther didn’t fall for that kind of trap in the Allis-Chalmers strike.

Instead, as Brophy testifies in his letter, and as substantiated by the minutes of the Policy Committee of the UAW-CIO. every action that Reuther took in the strike was with the approval of the Policy Committee.

Is it a wonder that Thomas ducked away from a meeting with President Philip Murray, Walter Reuther and the other top officers of the UAW-CIO held last week! In every action and in every meeting that Reuther had with management, Brophy was present, representing Murray, who could not come.

As for the second charge about a secret deal, Brophy categorically denies this. Similarly, Reuther presents evidence to show that every “exploratory talk” with the company was made with the full approval of the Policy Committee, was reported in detail beforehand and afterward to the Policy Committee, and that Brother R.J. Thomas was in full agreement!

But to return to the first charge again. The policy that Brophy and Reuther would meet alone with the company, if the company refused to meet with Robert Buse, president of the Allis-Chalmers Local, was agreed to in advance by Thomas and Buse! John Brophy has challenged Thomas to deny this fact!

On the second charge, Brophy in his letter to all UAW-CIO locals says:

“At no time did we make any agreement with the company on any point whatsoever, and in particular we reached no agreement on anything being done about the local situation. Our function was to explore the position of the company and report to the Policy Committee. This was done, and nothing more was done. No agreement was reached even to recommend any company proposals to the Policy Committee.”

But this is only part of the story. The eleven pages of single-spaced writing in the Reuther and Brophy letters give full details on the Allis-Chalmers situation in the past two months, and they provide ample evidence that once again Thomas has hurled “false, malicious and irresponsible charges,” made first in the capitalist press before taking them to the proper union bodies!

Another interesting aspect of this situation, and one which caused a real boomerang against Thomas in his own Local 7 in Detroit, was the fact that on the very day the Allis-Chalmers vote was being taken, one of his chief assistants in Milwaukee, who should have been busy on the Election Day campaign, came to Detroit, appeared suddenly at the Local 7 meeting and read a vicious attack against Reuther issued by Thomas!

What irritated the large membership meeting even more was the fact that only a few days before Local 7 had been asked to send, and did send, two men to Milwaukee to help in the campaign, “because we need everyone possible”!

This latest outburst of Thomas is part of his campaign to regain the presidency as the candidate of the Stalinists and the George Addes-R.T. Leonard bloc. The almost unbelievable lengths to which this bloc has already gone against Reuther, the recklessness of their campaign, testify to the fact that the UAW-CIO is in for its stormiest period.

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