Martin Harvey

Dodge Strikers Still Stand Firm!

(5 March 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 10, 5 March 1945, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DETROIT – The Dodge main plant of the Chrysler Corporation was shut down by a strike of the more than 17,000 workers which began on Feb. 23. The strikers, members of Local 3, UAW-CIO, were protesting an attempt of the company to reintroduce the vicious speed-up for which Detroit was noted before the advent of the UAW.

The Chrysler Corporation had attempted to raise the production rate in the gear department from 108 to 184 pieces per hour. The workers were unable to meet this rate, and eight employees, including one with twenty years’ seniority, were fired. The walkout was the result.

George F. Addes, acting president of the UAW, immediately entered the picture in his usual role of strike-breaker. Knowing that his words would not affect he results of the recently concluded no-strike pledge referendum, Addes “ordered” the Dodge workers back to work and threatened “immediate action on the part of the executive board of the union” if the workers failed to heed his dictatorial edict.

In contrast to the position of Addes and the international, Mike Novak, president of the Dodge Local, announced that the local executive board was in full sympathy with the striking workers. At a membership meeting held on Sunday, February 25, to consider going back to work, the local voted overwhelmingly to stay out and called out the 600 maintenance men and tool and die workers to add support to the strike.

At this meeting, at which Norman Matthews, Chrysler director of the UAW, represented the International Union, all references to himself and George Addes were heartily booed. The same fate was suffered by the one or two proposals that were made to compromise the issue with the company. The membership was for staying out until their point was won.

In this they had the support of the workers in most of the thirteen Chrysler plants in the Detroit area, all of whom have been victims in recent months of company attempts to speed up production in preparation for auto production. The addition of the interplant drivers to the ranks of the strikers made a further spread of the strike seem likely.

It is impossible to say at this writing what action the International Union and the War Labor Board will take. In past situations of this kind the international has suspended local executive boards for backing up the membership. However, in every case of this kind the international was repudiated and the local board upheld by being voted back into office by overwhelming votes of the membership.

The usual government action, if the strike lasts for some time, is to “seize” the plant. Local President Novak has already asked that the government take over the plant. The danger to the workers in this is that any nominal seizure by the government will be to PREVENT settlement of the grievance. The workers must not accept federal seizure of the plant as a substitute for the elimination of the speed-up; and the reinstatement of the fired workers.

Last updated on 7 December 2017