Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

Whom Do They Represent?

“Democracy” on Parade – Labor Haters Trot Out Their Bills

(7 April 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 14, 7 April 1941, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Representative Sumners, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, rose in the House and declared that his committee would not hesitate “a split second” to enact legislation to send STRIKERS “to the ELECTRIC CHAIR.”

What people does this “representative of the people” represent?

Not the 87 per cent who, according to government figures, cannot afford to buy a normal amount of the consumers’ goods produced for sale in this country!

No, not this 87 per cent who have to put up a fight for a little more in come when the cost of living rises so much that they can buy even less than their usual sub-normal amount of the necessities of life!

These are the people from whose midst the striking workmen come. These are the people Representative Sumners proposes to treat as murderous criminals fit for the electric chair. Definitely Mr. Sumners does not represent the underpaid 87 per cent of the people:

Neither does Representative Boren of Oklahoma, who wants to outlaw strikes, thus taking away from the 87 per cent their only means of fighting the bosses for more money.

Neither does Representative Johnson of Texas, who wants labor to “realize the error of defense strikes.”

Nor Representative Dies – he of the un-American activities – who came out with the brazen lie that the Allis-Chalmers’ strike vote was fraudulent.

Nor Representative Ford of California, who wants to discredit the militant CIO by calling its leadership a “racketeering” and “profiteering” outfit, and proposes a bill making strikes punishable by 25 years’ imprisonment or by death!

None of these members of the House of Representatives represent the 87 per cent.

Same for Senators

Now let us listen in on the Senators, those other “representatives of the people.” Do they perhaps represent the exploited 87 per cent? Are the worthy senators championing the workers’ right to stroke?

Senator Ball introduces a bill proposing “a cooling-off period” which would not take away from the workers the right to strike – oh no – merely the right to strike when they have a chance to win.

Senator Bailey of North Carolina is “for whatever measures may be necessary to eliminate all possibility of strikes or sit-downs.” And he wants speed in stripping the 87 per cent of all power.

Senator Byrd is good at arithmetic when it comes to making out a case against the 87 per cent. He figures out that 500,000 man-days will be lost during March as the result of strikes. But he does not mention that the strikers live on their daily pay and would not give up 500,000 days’ pay without a damn good reason.

To all these “representatives of the people,” the have-not 87 per cent who MUST strike in their struggle to live are not THE people to be represented.

Their True Colors

The strike wave has once more forced Congress to show its true colors. THE people Congress represents are to be found among those whose profits have already mounted from 100 per cent to 3,000 per cent – due to their intensive “pay-triotism.”

There is no hew and cry in Congress against these exploiters of labor. No law is offered to make them increase wages in proportion to profits.

No congressman proposed the electric chair for Packard Motor and the other companies who refused to take government orders until they were assured of profiteering profits – and a tax rate that would leave the profits with THEM – not with the government. Packard is among the represented.

Nor did any congressman propose the electric chair for those who sent an armored car into the strikers’ ranks at Allis-Chalmers.

You, will find THE people represented by Congress in the columns of the Wall Street Journal where it publishes a survey showing the many “defense” industries whose war profits now FAR OUTRUN excess profits taxes.

Nobody in Congress raised his voice against the attempt of Knox and Knudsen to force the Allis-Chalmers workers back to work. The injustice there is flagrant. Hillman and Knudsen had promised the workers that if they accepted the OPM formula for an agreement, the company would be made to accept it too. The workers accepted – the company did not. But coercion was attempted AGAINST THE WORKERS.

Congress very conveniently did not “notice” this injunction. The Allis-Chalmers Co. is THE people Congress represents.

And in the States

Most certainly the present strike wave has brought “democratic institutions” out on parade. Every worker can see what they look like.

And this is true not only of Congress. The big parade extends all over the country.

The Oklahoma Senate hurried to pass a bill making it a PENITENTIARY OFFENSE to organize workers on “defense” projects and to collect fees from persons working on “defense” projects. The impoverished 87 per cent is not represented by the Oklahoma Senate that takes away from workers the right to organize.

The Texas House of Representatives pushed through a bill making it a PENITENTIARY OFFENSE to interfere with persons doing lawful work. Thus the bosses are very well represented in the Texas House which makes picketing a criminal offense.

New York Senator Stokes wants the New York State Senate to get Congress to provide for the immediate induction into the army of men exempted because of employment in “essential industries,” if they strike or even participate “in any manner of labor dispute.” Starve or fight, you working stiff! You belong to the 87 per cent that are UN-represented!

And to complete this picture of "democracy at work," that great idealist Stimson presents himself, foaming at the mouth and calling for the swift organization of home guard units by the States to curb labor disturbances. History shows, said Stimson, that when a nation goes into great production effort such as the arms program, price structures go up and “there are likely to be disturbances between capital and labor.”

Thus Stimson is on the job to make sure that a generous “democracy” will hand out to WORKERS trying to keep up with the expected high cost of living not bread, but – TEAR GAS AND BULLETS.

Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 19 August 2014