From the Minneapolis Labor Review
First Published: May 18, 1934
Source: Minneapolis Labor Review, May 14, 1934, Volume 28, No. 405. Official organ of Minneapolis Central Labor Union and Hennepin County, the Minneapolis Building Trades Council, the United Card and Label Council, and the Minnesota Pipe Trades Association .
Online Version: Marxists Internet Archive, 2004
Transcribed/HTML Markup: David Walters for the Marxists Internet Archive History section. Originally transcribed by the Labor Review Archive Project, in PDF format, initiated by the The Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council and the Minneapolis Labor Review.
Bosses Mass In Effort To Break Strike
Minneapolis is gripped with the most powerful and far reaching strike in its history. Five thousand Truck Drivers and Oil Station Attendants, members of General Drivers’ Local Union No. 574, are on strike and motor vehicle transportation is at a standstill.
What will the outcome of the strike be? You as a member of organized labor will be a very important factor in deciding that question.
That is why the streamer headline in the biggest type obtainable requests all Unionists, regardless of what organization they are affiliated with. to report at the strike headquarters of General Drivers Local union No. 574 at 1900 Chicago avenue for picket duty at once.
What is at stake in the strike? Serfdom or industrial freedom. The question of whether the branch banks that have looted and debauched the worker a of the city for the past several years at the same time contributing handsomely to the Citizens’ Alliance shall continue with this racketeer industrial organization to dictate that the let of the workers of Minneapolis shall be poverty and misery.
This is not a battle between the : owners of transfer companies and the General Drivers’ union. If they were the only parties to the controversy, the matter would have been settled . without a strike. The owners of the : transfer companies are forced into this strike by the breach hankers and the Citizens Alliance who represent the control of finance that is in a position to dictate to the transfer cam. Panics.
Don’t think for a minute that the owners of the transfer companies are going to light this question out single handed. They are going to have all the aid that the branch bankers, the Deckers and the Wakefields, and their puppet organization, the Citizens Allance, can bring.
That is why the big headline urges you to join in assisting the Strikers in their picketing. The General Drivers’ union cannot he left to combat all the beasts of the Minneapolis industrial jungle single-handed.
It is up to every Trade Unionist and to every member of every Trade Unionist family who is big enough to assist in the picketing.
We said the question at stake was serfdom or industrial freedom. Indus trial freedom that comes only with the right to organize. Serfdom or industrial freedom not just for the members of the General Drivers’ union but for every man and woman who works in the city.
With fine courage the General Drivers’ union has up to the present declared, conducted and carried out the strike. They have held the line. They have done their part nobly. It Is now for all of organized labor to rally to their support and change Minneapolis from a plague spot of industrial slavery and serfdom to a place of economic freedom where the right of a worker to join a trade union is completely established.
Transfer company owners could have prevented the strike when the Union at the last meeting with the employers waived the contention for the closed shop and substituted instead an agreement in which the employers simply stated they would not discriminate against present or future members of the union.
The Employers didn’t sign this. They didn’t sign It because Minneapolis industry remains in control of a few individuals who are probably on their way but who should have been in Leavenworth long no.
Victory far reaching for all organized labor awaits in this situation It you will do your part in assisting in picketing. It you don’t fight now on this picket line you will have to light soon with your basic against the wall when the branch bankers and the Citizens’ Alliance open the attack to smash your Union as they are planning to smash all Unions.
This war that the branch bankers and Citizens’ Alliance are making on the General Drivers In In tact a war against the government. It Is a jab at tying up the recovery act. It is the attempt to squeeze down purchasing power, and so It is an attack on every small merchant of the city.
In carrying on the strike the committee In charge realizes that some hardship will be entailed for many in order that the strike be completely effective. There will be no discrimination Whatever hardship there may he should be shouldered willingly.
Despite all the allied employer Interests that may be allied against the Strikers they will sweep on to victory with your support. Give it to them liberally and generously and enthusiastically. Don’t wait. Start now for the headquarters. There is a place for everyone on the picket lines.
The publicity committee for the Strikers has issued the following statement:
In answer to the statement of the employers appearing in the daily newspapers of May 16, the General Drivers’ Union makes the following statement:
“The contention of the employers that this is a needless and unsjustified strike is a complete misstatement of facts. In proof of the fact that this strike is a Justified and necessary action, we have only to sight the facts.
“The scale of wages paid in tlie’ majority of the industries that are affected by this strike have reached a new low level where it becomes simply an impossibility for the workers to exist.
“The union. In conducting a survey of wages and working conditions In the driving industry of Minneapolis, has uncovered facts that are startling. We have found wages from nine to 18 dollar per week for a week’s work that comprises at times ninety hours. The union has called upon the employers repeatedly to correct these abuses. The employers have not only failed to correct these conditions but have consistently maintained an attitude that there would be no abuses to correct.
“We called upon the Regional Labor Board for redress. The Labor Board readily made attempts to secure a meeting between officials and employers and when finally a meeting was held tile employers in the presence 0! the Regional Labor Board made certain promises to the Union Committee which they failed to carry out. The Employers have refused in each and every one of the meetings that have been held between the Union and themselves to correct even one of the abuses that exist.
“ The workers in the Driving Industry have only one weapon to compel the employers to correct an intolerable condition and that is by strike. The employers statement that many of their employes do not wish to become members of the General Drivers’ union is not borne out. There are now over 40000 of their employes enrolled in the General Drivers’ union. The influx of workers into the Union is a living demonstration of the fact that they do have grievances that they insist be corrected. The employers’ contention that they wish to protect this tiny minority of employes who are not members of this Union, also has a hollow sound.
“It they are so desirous of protecting, the independence and the welfare of the minority, then the General Drivers’ union suggests that it they are honest and sincere that they pro(vet the interest and welfare of the vast majority of the employes by raising wages and betterment of working conditions and a guarantee that these reforms will he permanent.
“It is true that the closed shop is an ]ssile’ in this controversy. For the benefit of thousands of people who do not understand the issues involved between the open and closed shop an explanation is proposed necessary:
“A closet] shop contract between the employers and the union is the only guarantee that can be given that whatever advances are made by the empiyes will he guaranteed to them. We demand a closed shop because. first-it has been our experience over a long period of time that an open shop agreement is only an invitation to the employer to commence a campaign of discrimination and intimidation pointing towards breaking of the union organization and the tearing down of the economic advances of the workers, Second, an open shop agreement is, in reality. another agreement. The enforcement of the scale of wages and of the working conditions is taken out of the hands of the workers and placed in the hands of the employer,
“If we could concede that all employers were honest and sincere in their dealings with their employees there would be no need of agreements or guarantees of any sort. Unfortunately. the reverse is true and we contend that the enforcement of agreements covering wages and working conditions must be placed in the hands of their organization for their protection.
“It is true that in the tow conferences we were able to have with the employers we insisted upon discussing first on what basis the settlement would be made and what guarantee we would receive as to its permanency. Is it any more than right that when we propose entering into an agreement that we first wish to find out the intention and the ability of both parties to keep such contract? When nations end wars they sign treaties first and discuss reparations and settlements afterwards.
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