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Sam Adams

F.D.R. Strikes at Labor Through WLB and Draft

(August 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 35, 30 August 1943, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

President Roosevelt’s latest order to the National War Labor Board is a culminating point in the Administration-big business coalition against American labor. It calls for “sanctions” against unions and workers who refuse to accept rulings of the WLB or who strike as a last resort to obtain their just grievances and demands.

The yellow capitalist press fully understood the true significance of the President’s executive order when it heralded his letter to Chairman Davis of the WLB as “sanctions fixed against strikers.” This is interesting, because the letter presumably ordered “action” too against companies which refused to carry out any decision by the same board.

But the New York Times remarked aptly enough that “less drastic sanctions” were authorized in respect to business. The order authorized “control of war contracts, of essential materials and of transportation and fuel,” whatever that may mean, provided it did not impede the war effort.

That is the whole point! Up to now big business gets away with almost anything and everything, because action against big business “might impede the war effort.”

Not so with labor. Against the workers, anything goes.

The President has given the board power to withhold in escrow union dues collected under union agreements where plants have been seized by the government because of a strike.

But the most drastic and dangerous aspect of the President’s order is the authorization given to the Selective Service System to cancel draft deferments of “recalcitrant” workers, i.e., militant workers, who strike in an effort to win their demands from a rapacious, profit-mad boss class.

One WLB official described the order as giving his agency “a lower set of teeth.”

These “sanctions” ordered by the President are in line with the anti-labor provisions of the Smith-Connally Bill, which has now become law. They only add to the penalties against labor provided for in that infamous act.

Thus Roosevelt has put his fine touch to a series of anti-labor actions emanation from Congress and his Administration. These are all in line with wage freezing, job freezing, anti-strike legislation, absence of price control and the unbridled run-away cost of living.

It is in line, too, with the enormous growth in profits of American industry, with the sky-high salaries of the big business men, with the rights which the bosses have to enrich themselves out of the War effort at the expense of the millions of workers in this country.

The first reaction of the labor officials have been in keeping with their craven attitude on labor problems. Some of the labor press, seeking to minimize the effect of Roosevelt’s order, sought to emphasize the fact that it is directed at the bosses, too. But they overlook the fact that the bosses do not have to struggle against the high cost of living, for better wages, for shorter hours, or for better working conditions. That is the lot of the workers.

There is an important political lesson to be gained from the recent Roosevelt action: Labor can have no trust in the parties of big business, no matter who their standard-bearers are!

The WLB has become the graveyard of labor demands. Labor must quit this board.

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Last updated on 13 June 2015