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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(29 July 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 15, 29 July 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The season is here when the underprivileged children are getting free outings to the country or free boatrides. These children from the slum tenements of the nation are dependent upon public or private charity for a peek at nature and a whiff of fresh air.

Officials, big and little, come into the limelight on these occasions, make speeches and have their pictures taken. Mayor LaGuardia’s picture with a group of children appeared the other day under the heading “Mayor bids bon voyage to slum children off for day’s outing”. These cocks of the roost act as if this charity is something to boast of.

As far back as I can remember, and I am sure even before that, such free excursions were handed out to hundreds of thousands of slum children. And every year the Mayor LaGuardias shamelessly advertise the fact that there continue to be great numbers of parents too poor to live in decent homes, to say nothing of sending their children on a summer vacation to the country.

The poor are always with us. But the nation becomes wealthier and wealthier as the years go by. Some years ago unbiased statisticians made interesting estimates of what the people of this country could enjoy – IF THE WEALTH WERE RELEASED FOR THEIR BENEFIT. It was stated as a conservative estimate that every family of the land could live on a basis equal to a $5,000 a year income.

There is no necessity for slums – nor for poverty nor for charity, They are inflicted upon us by the sixty families who grab most of the wealth of the nation and what is left over they have their boss government waste in wars for their profit. For them and for their lackeys poverty is a good thing – it enables them to stick out their chests and strut about puffed up with their “generosity”, when they throw the poor dog a bone, or a boatride.

At the Democratic Party Convention held in Chicago last week, not a hair-pulling match, but a political fight took place among the women delegates.It was over the adoption of a plank in the party platform, calling for a vote on an Equal Rights for Women amendment to the constitution.

The group in favor of such a plank – which by the way lost the fight – argued that there are still many inequalities between men and women that should be remedied. They pointed out that in Oklahoma women are barred by law from holding important public office; that, in Wisconsin, Minnesota and other states women are prevented from enjoying the same rights as men with respect to making contracts, inheriting property, etc.

It is plain that this group was interested in getting restrictions removed for women of the propertied class. The working woman worries about other things than holding public office, making contracts and inheriting property.

The opponents of this group argued that as a matter of fact an Equal Rights amendment would act as a boomerang against working women. The women trade unionists at the convention were pretty solidly against it. David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, also participated in the dispute. He stated that an Equal Rights Amendment would result in wiping out all existing legislation in favor of women. He went further and predicted that “Wages, work hours and general working conditions, not only of women, but of men as well; would show an immediate deterioration and would tend to depress labor standards in all industries”.

That is absolutely right. If an Equal Rights for Women Amendment were passed, the bosses would waste no time in fighting as “unconstitutional” all existing laws providing some protection to women in industry. Clever well-paid lawyers would get busy showing that “equal rights” does not mean “special privileges”. This crooked procedure was followed by the bosses with the Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution. This amendment was passed after the Civil War to protect the Negro from harmful state legislation. The bosses have ever since been using it to have labor legislation declared unconstitutional.

Yes indeed. The women trade unionists at the Democratic party convention were absolutely right. They know what scoundrels the bosses are.

Since these trade unionists are so wised-up on the nature of the bosses and distrust them so profoundly, they must answer a very important question. WHAT WERE THEY DOING AT A CONVENTION OF A BOSS PARTY? The Democratic party, like the Republican party, is a boss party. The acts of the Democratic administration speak for themselves. It rounded up fourteen billion dollars to prepare for a bosses’ war; it has passed tax laws putting the squeeze on the masses, at the same time making war profits a sure thing for the bosses. It has pushed the movement to enslave labor by compulsory training and conscription. And it is just warming up for further action against the workers.

Trade unions are working class weapons against the class enemy – the bosses. What justification is there for trade unionists joining with the class enemy in politics? Such class collaboration is treason to the cause of working men and women.

Today in Hitler-dominated France the mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, sweethearts of 1,500,000 dead Frenchmen weep. Their tragedy can be traced back to the same kind of class-collaboration treason that trade unionists here are guilty of. In 1936 the workers of France were practically ready to sweep the bosses out of existence. But they listened to the beguiling voice of class collaboration. Instead of forming an independent workers’ government, they joined with the bosses in the Popular Front government. That was their great mistake.

Correct working class politics now will save the working women of America tears later on.

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