Mary Bell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Mary Bell

Goodyear Workers in Sitdown Strike for 14 Hours

(April 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 16, 19 April 1942, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AKRON, April 10 – The first sitdown strike since Pearl Harbor, like a flash of sudden lightning, exposed the cracks and chinks in the labor-management co-operation plan now being instituted throughout the country.

The strike, provoked by a speedup and wage cut, occurred at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., one of the cradles of pre-war sit-down strikes and CIO organization. Goodyear, a “cooperation-loving” corporation, recently speeded up work on the neoprene fabric 40 per cent and rubber fabric 50 per cent in its spreader room. Its profits rose accordingly, while the men lost at least $1.50 per day. Two complete shifts and part of a third, consisting of 330 workers, stopped work in protest of the cut in pay for 14 hours on April 7 and 8.

Thus the labor-management scheme as practiced by Goodyear. Corp. is revealed as a profiteering device: The speed-up, the company claimed, was in the interest of efficiency for all-out war production. “Efficiency,” to the company, means: speed up the machines, speed up the men, speed up the profits – and cut wages.

The myth of “efficiency” is further exposed by the fact that it is common knowledge that the wastage in the spreader room is tremendous, Great quantities of defective material have been turned down by the Army and Navy. Increasing the speed of the machines, and consequently of the operations of the workers, could only result in increased wastage and inefficiency.

The primary lesson for union men and women to draw from this strike is, as Labor Action has pointed out, that labor-management plans are primarily a company move toward speed-up. The big shots continue to manage and maintain full control of their plant and production planning. Labor is supposed only to co-operate.

Union for More Efficiency

Union members are FOR increased efficiency, planning of production and maintenance of work – but not in the guise of speed-ups and wage cuts. The only genuine planning for use – as opposed to thi stupid bungling and wasteful planning for profit that now goes on – will begin under workers’ control of production.

The Goodyear strike only emphasizes the obvious fact that the big shot industrialists are making a mess of things today with their labor-management scheme. The misdirected support which labor leaders everywhere are giving to this plan shows that they recognize in their way the inability of the capitalists to plan, and realize that labor must take a hand. But the only real answer is – WORKERS CONTROL OF PRODUCTION!

The Goodyear strike shows that labor militancy is far from dead, in spite of the war, the no-strike agreement, the official disapproval of the URWA leadership and social opprobrium directed against striking workers at this time. The first striking shift turned down a plea to resume production by a U.S. Air Corps representative. Only when Sherman Dalrymple, president of the URWA, ordered the men back to work, did they go.

They and their sweated brothers all over the country perform all the operations of production except management. The labor-management plan is only holding them off until the day when the workers will manage production themselves for the benefit of society as a whole!

Mary Bell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 18 September 2014