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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(12 May 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 19, 12 May 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Governor Robert A. Hurley, chief executive of the commonwealth of Connecticut, has, waived the 10 p.m. limit set by law on women’s night work. This will allow the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. of New Haven and the Remington Arms Co. of Bridgeport to establish full night shifts of women workers and, thus make more profits out of the sweat of women in the “national emergency.”

How come that a law passed by the so-called representatives of the people can be so arbitrarily suspended by a governor without the consent of the governed? How come that a law to protect the health of women in industry, forced upon the statute books after long years of hard struggle by the workers, can be nullified by the scratch of a governor’s pen?

Under an emergency provision of another Connecticut law he is empowered to set aside the 10 p.m. limit on night work for women. The emergency now existing is that the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. wishes to increase its weekly output of cartridges from 11,000,000 to 17,000 [sic!] by employing women at night. The Remington Arms Co. also desires to increase its output by using the same method.

So, presto! This emergency provision is taken out of mothballs and put into service.

In the balance of values of capitalists and their politicians, the health of working women has no weight against cartridges and profits.

This attack on labor legislation in the state of Connecticut – only one of many throughout the country – must serve as a warning to all workers, men and women, black and white.

World capitalism, having brought on another murderous war, into which the American bosses want to plunge the nation in order to “get theirs,” a “national emergency” now exists. In every state there is some law somewhere – even though it may be a hundred years old – that can· be trotted out “legally” to suspend hard-won labor legislation.

Every shred of legal protection for labor will be gone in the winds raised by the total war cyclone – unless Labor says NO – and suits its ACTION to its word,

Did you ever hear of William McChesney Martin, Jr.?

You haven’t unless you read the long stories about him and saw the many pictures of him that the boss press was carrying. You wouldn’t have heard of him for the simple reason that you, as working women, don’t have much to do with the New York Stock Exchange, of which Mr. Martin was $48,000 a year president until he was drafted into the army a few days ago.

At the same time William Metrinko, who at the age of 23 is a $16-a-week or $800-a-year page boy at the New York Stock Exchange, was also drafted into the army. His story was combined with Mr. Martin’s – to show how “democratically” the draft law works.

Says who?

Mr. Martin confessed to reporters that he had saved some money – he modestly refrained from saying how much. I would wager my last hairpin that he is a very rich man. To the president of the New York Stock Exchange, the yearly salary of $48,000 is mere pin money. The big dough comes from trading in stocks and bonds, and. from dividends and interest “earned” by the parasite owners of corporations paper – out of the products for which labor is not fully paid. It was also reported that Mr. Martin has plans for the future, involving the purchase of an expensive seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

But what has $16-a-week William Metrinko? Certainly no fat bank account, no stocks and bonds yielding’ him juicy returns. After four years of employment at the same job, he earned only a starvation wage. He told reporters there is no future for him in the work he was doing before the draft got him. He is a poor wage slave without hope of lifting himself above his wretched condition.

Can it be said – WITH TRUTH – that the positions of these two men as draftees in the army are the same?

Mr. Martin definitely has stakes in the boss system. America’s entrance into the war is for him and for his class – as the last World War proved. The army is being built for them. Mr. Martin belongs in the army, as do all the other members of his class. It is THEIR war – let THEM fight it.

But what is $16-a-week William Metrinko doing in the boss army? He. has no stakes in the capitalist set-up. He will get nothing out of the war but a mud-hole in some foreign battlefield. His class will get nothing out of the war but indescribable misery – and more misery in a post-war depression. He does not belong in the army. He is drafted as a SLAVE to serve his masters.

Why do I put this item about two men into a women’s column? I was thinking about the mother of William. Metrinko. I was thinking about the mothers of all the William Metrinkos of the country – for whom the capitalist system holds no future – now about to give up their lives for that enslaving system in a bloody and useless war.

Is it not the human duty of these women to fight the boss system that has robbed their boys of the opportunity for a good life, and now is about to rob them of life itself!

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