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Susan Green

Leviton Strike Case Before Labor Board

But Men Know Strikes Are Not Won at Hearings

(7 October 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 26, 7 October 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Sept. 30 – Parked in front of the strike headquarters in Greenpoint this evening stood a tremendous truck entirely covered with placards setting forth the strikers’ case against the Leviton Mfg. Co. Every evening, with a band to attract attention and illumination so that people can read the placards, this truck is driven through the streets to arouse public sympathy in favor of the strikers.

Some of the placards read: “When Leviton girls lose their fingers at his machines, they lose their jobs.” – “Can Mr. Leviton tell us how human beings can live on coolie wages of $11 and $12 a week.”

In the headquarters, Mr. Broach of the International Union of Electrical Workers, Local 3, spoke to me about the hearing today before the Labor Relations Board. He was puzzled by Leviton’s attitude. He said that the man is either the dumbest ass imaginable or else a wise old fox. Leviton acts as it he doesn’t know what it’s all about, is afraid of the court procedure, doesn’t answer questions, and appeals to his lawyer to take him out of it all.

The workers testifying at the hearing acquitted themselves very well, according to Mr. Broach. They were enjoying their boss’s discomfiture. Some of them thought he should go to the union school to learn something about unionism in 1940 and such things.

Mr. Leviton is before the Labor Board charged with firing workers for union membership and in other ways interfering with the unionization of the plant. The hearing is to continue.

At the strikers’ cafeteria an addition has been made to the menu of coffee and sandwiches. A nutritious stew is now being served.

I met Kitty, one of the girls who organized the Leviton workers. She is a member of Local 3, working in a unionized plant. She gladly gave her evenings to further the cause of unionism among the exploited Leviton workers. She said that nearly all the organization work was done by volunteers from the union, workers who had benefited tremendously through the union.

Such is the power of unionism and so great the bosses’ fear of it that Mr. Leviton has, since his Greenppint employees went out. given a slight wage increase to the workers in one of his out-of-town plants, as a sop.

The Greenpoint plant is still at a complete standstill. As in the first weeks of the strike, an occasional truckload is moved out, especially on Wednesdays when the strikers all come to headquarters for their strike benefit. But this stage setting does not bother them. Four weeks of strike has made veterans of them.

About the hearing, a union man commented: “A strike is never won at a hearing.” By which he meant it is up to the strikers themselves.

There is nothing wrong with these strikers.

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Last updated: 21 July 2014