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Mary Bell

Akron Incident Proves Need of Labor Solidarity

(20 July 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 29, 20 July 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A fresh, lesson in how economic rivalry for jobs sets worker against worker was obtained in the three-day unauthorized strike at the General Tire & Rubber Co., June 24 to 26.

Last December, amid the war hysteria and as a factor aiding such hysteria, thousands of aliens were removed from their jobs. After a long period of unemployment, social discrimination, subjection to police investigation, arbitrary suspicion of fifth column activity, some of the aliens are just being re-employed. It was with the return to work at General of 25 aliens that the reactionary stoppage of work there occurred.

The reason for the sit-down, according to the strikers themselves, was the fear that some “citizens” would be ousted because the department was not working full time. The returning aliens, union members and union protected, would receive prior ratings.

The bosses and the boss press were panicky because the sit-down disrupted the continuous flow of materials for war. But it is they who bear the direct responsibility for such actions. It was they who fomented distrust of alien workers and aroused the fears of their fellow workers against them. It is the bosses who are responsible, since it is their war for profits, for the disorganization of production, which makes the workers fear from one day to the next a cut in the days worked per week or the loss of their jobs.

The United Rubber Workers Union, because it is committed to uninterrupted production, accidentally found itself on the progressive side of this issue. It supported the return of the alien workers and threatened to remove the strikers from union membership.

The union, however, since it supports the war for profits and all-out production, finds itself hard put to dissolve the antagonisms between citizen and alien workers competing for jobs and wages.

Only the socialists know, but the workers will learn in the lessons of the war, that all workers are brothers – that the problem of one is the problem of all.

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Last updated: 13 September 2014