Martin Harvey

Intense Fight Against ‘Pledge’
as Vote Nears

(29 January 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 5, 29 January 1945, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DETROIT – The smear campaign against the rank and file auto workers in Detroit in connection with the UAW-CIO no-strike pledge referendum is going full blast. Every conceivable propaganda device is being used to fool of scare the auto workers into voting to keep their infamous pledge.

The arguments that are being used are, of course, not new. They are a stale rehash of everything ever said by the labor-baiters in industry, government and the labor movement. These arguments, from “the boys in the foxholes” to “protect the UAW,” have been reviewed in Labor Action many times and their essential falseness exposed. What every auto worker should examine, whether he has already voted in the referendum or not, is WHO is backing the drive to keep the no-strike pledge.

The Enemies

Most obvious of all in the pro-pledge line-up is the reactionary daily press. The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press have each featured two editorials attacking the rank and file elements in the UAW who wish to see the pledge rescinded. The Free Press reached the height of labor-baiting in a full dress editorial and cartoon attacking Larry Yost, chairman of the National Rank and File Steering Committee, spearhead of the movement to scrap the pledge.

Screaming in impotent rage, the Free Press calls Yost and the Rank and File Committee everything from demagogues and hypocrites to lunatics. The real object of their hate is the Detroit labor movement – the thousands upon thousands of workers who have been forced to take strike action to protect themselves during the war and their union brothers who have rallied to their defense.

The Detroit press – from the Hearst Detroit Times to the self-appointed “liberal” Free Press – have consistently been found in opposition to anything and everything that would benefit labor. From their opposition to the CIO in the early days of industrial unionism to their united support of Dewey and a labor draft, the big business press has been sniping directly or indirectly at the UAW and the things it stands for.

On the other hand, they have never failed to say a kind word for the feudal-minded auto magnates. Ford, Kettering, Knudson, Sloan – all the big and little dictators of industry, the bitterest enemies of the workers of Detroit – receive nothing but praise in the kept press.

The record of the Detroit press is clear: it is against militant, fighting unionism. Therefore, it is FOR the no-strike pledge.

Lined up side by side with the big daily papers is the federal government; lending its power and prestige to the campaign to keep the pledge. The political representatives of big business know who their masters are and act accordingly. Their record, too, is clear.

The Government, Too

The strike-breaking, anti-labor program of the government is not as obvious today as it was in the days of the anti-labor injunction and the use of troops to break strikes. But that is only because the program has been modernized. Today the government goes in for wage-freezing, job-freezing, a War Labor Board stacked against labor, a Little Steel formula and the latest improvement – the labor draft.

It is understandable, therefore, why the Roosevelt Administration should want to keep labor’s straight-jacket, the no-strike pledge. With a no-strike pledge, troops are no longer necessary to do the dirty work of strike-breaking. R.J. Thomas, Phil Murray, Addes, Reuther, Frankensteen – these are now the strike-breakers. It saves the government a lot of money and directs the resentment of the rank and file against their own leaders.

Why, then, this campaign of lies, sponsored and carried out by the government? It has two purposes, both aimed at delivering what they hope will be a death blow at the unions: One is to force through a labor-draft bill. The other is to intimidate the workers into keeping the no-strike pledge.

No-Strike Diehards

In the UAW the Communists and their supporters are running the show for the leadership in trying to get the pledge upheld. Stalinist stooge W.G. Grant, president of Ford Local 600, is heading the Committee to Uphold the No-Strike Pledge and every CPer in the UAW is doing leg-work for him – not least of all Nat Ganley, business agent of Local 155, who is spewing forth in the columns of the Daily Worker about how everyone who strikes or wants to rescind the no-strike pledge is nothing less than a Trotskyite, a Norman Thomasite and a Hitlerite all rolled into one.

The pro-pledge gang began to smell so bad that Walter Reuther, UAW vice-president and strong supporter of the pledge, was forced to refuse an honorary post on Grant committee on the grounds that it was controlled by the Communists.

The allies of the UAW top leaders in their fight to keep the no-strike pledge are powerful and unscrupulous. But their very power will prove to be their undoing. An auto worker has only to look them over to see that he belongs on the other side of the fence. They are not fit company for anyone who calls himself a labor leader and still less for a worker. Their money, their power, their radios and newspapers are all additional arguments for voting to scrap the no-strike pledge.

Last updated on 7 December 2017