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CIO Breaks With Truman!

Need for Labor Party Posed by GM Strike

Now Is the Time to Turn PAC Into a Labor Party!

(10 December 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 50, 10 December 1945, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Philip Murray’s December 4 radio address, in which he announced the first political break in the ten-year alliance between the CIO and the Democratic Party Administration, has added a new significance to the already significant battle between labor and capital.

Speaking on the proposal of President Harry Truman to Congress calling for “fact-finding boards in major industries” accompanied by a thirty-day “cooling off” period, Murray stated the CIO’s case against the Administration and declared flatly:

“The CIO is ... opposed to the basic policies pursued by the Administration.”

Other labor leaders have joined in the denunciation of Truman’s strike-breaking proposal. John L. Lewis called Truman’s program a “fooler bill to straight-jacket American industrial relations” and William Green joined in the unanimous protest.

Murray’s stinging indictment of Truman came as a direct result of the unprecedented kind of strike the UAW is making against the auto corporations.

Labor Action has detailed the new element in this strike: in the UAW’s fight for security and a living wage the union has had to demand a say in the determination of profits and prices of private industry, thus invading the closely guarded domain of the companies.

The answer of the Truman Administration has been to intervene in the auto strike and the pending steel strike as a strike-breaker and to demand coercive legislation to “settle” all labor disputes.

Just as Reuther presented for the UAW ah incontrovertible, damning case against the auto capitalists, Murray has stacked up the evidence against the servants of capital in Washington.

Murray cites the Office of War Mobilization conclusion that industry can raise wages and salaries 24 per cent and still earn more than twice as much take-home profits as it did before the war. Then he charges:

“It [the Federal Administration – Ed.] has completely Ignored human rights. But American industry has been appeased with ever greater opportunities for increased profits at the expense of the American people.

“The Administration has given lip service to, a suggested need for federal legislation that would increase unemployment compensation benefits and acknowledge a federal obligation for full employment. The complete failure to obtain such legislation has proved that the activities have been limited to a mere gesture.

“But at the same time, in the face of the astounding profits of American industry, legislation has been swiftly enacted to eliminate excess-profits taxes so that these profits can become. even more extortionate.

“In addition he Federal Administration tolerates, without adverse comment, a sitdown strike by industry – knowing that the American people are financing industry’s arrogance and making it profitable.”

After continuing his attack on the government, Murray points out that the “sole answer of the Federal Administration is to seek legislation against labor.” For all its show of impartiality, the legislation proposed by Truman can only result in the “weakening of labor unions – the curtailment of the right of free men to refrain from working when they choose to do so” and amounts to the “appeasement of American industry.”

Let us recall that this same Truman Administration is a CIO-PAC-backed Administration. That until the war ended and the post-war struggle of capital and labor began, Murray and all his associates were engaged in a vigorous support of that Administration. Now, Murray makes a ninety-degree turn.

Let us also recall how the auto workers proceeded when they had made their case against the corporations and the latter answered “No.” The General Motors workers took the road of independent, class action. In their organized strength as labor unions, they went on the picket line.

Murray has drawn up his case against the capitalist administration. Truman already has delivered his anti-union, pro-industry answer in his legislative proposal on which he consulted industry representatives, but not a single representative of the organized labor movement which, unfortunately, helped put the Democratic Party in power.

Political Action Needed

What does Murray propose? He has proposed nothing so far. But the conclusion is obvious. Just as labor has had to take independent, class action in the economic sphere, it must take independent, class action in the political sphere. Just as the UAW, in order to attain a living wage, had to demand a voice in the determination of profits and prices and responsibility for the public weal, so organized labor must demand the legislative helm of the country for its own and the public welfare.

It is not a question of “good” or “bad” capitalist politicians, as Murray implies in his address. He says that Truman is making a departure from the policies of President Roosevelt. Not so, Mr. Murray. There have been no more restrictive legislation and policies aimed against organized labor than during the war administration of the late President Roosevelt. Have you forgotten the Smith-Connally Act, which Roosevelt felt was not strong enough, Mr. Murray? You can’t help but remember the recently relinquished no-strike pledge, requested by – Roosevelt.

It is not a question of “good” or “bad” politicians. It is a question of class politics.

Where are you going now, Philip Murray? We hope it is not backward to the old game of supporting a “friendly” capitalist politician as against an “unfriendly” one. We hope it is forward to a definitive, all-time break with capitalist politics and capitalist politicians, forward to a new and genuinely independent political organization of labor, which will usher in a workers’ government. A workers' government representing the backbone of our country, those who toil in the mines and factories, is the only government which can organize our economy democratically and plan for the stated objectives of the CIO – jobs, security, full employment and peace.

There is only one way to go forward – that is by the formation of an independent Labor Party.

Break the PAC from the capitalist parties!

Turn the PAC into a genuine Labor Party!

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