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Susan Green

American Bosses Plan Vicious Anti-Labor Drive

(15 December 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 50, 15 December 1941, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The 46th annual convention of the National Association of Manufacturers – which came to a close on the very eve of America’s becoming a full-fledged participant in this war for world domination – underlined in red the irreconcilable character of that other war, the war between capital and labor.

The undisputed hero of this convention of America’s bosses was Representative Howard W. Smith, whose vile bill aiming to cripple working class power was recently passed in the House of Representatives. When this arch-enemy of labor entered the convention hall in the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, the 2,000 boss delegates sprang to their feet and applauded. The applauses continued while Smith proceeded to the platform and for some minutes before he was permitted to speak.

This poll-tax, lynch-law Democrat hastened to assert that his anti-labor bill was not a move on behalf of the manufacturers but on behalf of “all Americans who believe in good and fair government.” However, the actions of the bosses spoke louder than Smith’s words, judging not only by the enthusiastic reception he received but also by the anti-strike resolution passed by the convention. It endorsed in every detail the oppressive measures of the Smith Bill.

At the same time that the convention urged the regimentation of labor in, true Hitlerian style, it protested against the seizure of plants by the government as “state socialism and a form of totalitarian government’ – the very kind of government this nation is arming to oppose.” From which the conclusion is inevitable that, as the bosses see it, this nation is not arming to oppose the kind of government that uses totalitarian methods against the workers.

Knudsen Chimes In Against the Workers

King-boss William S. Knudsen, director general of the OPM – very much at home among the fellow-members of his class – falsely minimized the whole labor problem by characterizing the workers’ necessary struggle for organization and the closed shop as “foolishness.” Said Mr. Knudsen: “I can’t for the life of me understand how in a period of national emergency such foolishness like this can go on.”

No matter what the subject before the convention, and no matter who the speaker, the basic enmity of the bosses for the workers stood out in bold relief. Specifically this translated itself into the desire of the assembled profit-makers to pass the burdens of the war onto the shoulders of labor.

Thus, speaking on the subject of rising costs, Alfred P. Sloan, chairman of General Motors, declared: “Economically prices must eventually increase if cost factors like wages increase, or profits must ultimately be eliminated.” Since statistics prove that wages form only an infinitesimal factor in cost increases, the Sloans apparently want to swell their profits both by the high prices and by freezing wages.

On the question of taxation to pay for the more than $150,000,000,000 war program undertaken by the government, the boss convention came but for “widely spread taxation,” for “borrowing the remainder out of the savings of the country, not from the banks,” and for “a general federal sales tax.” This is a warning to labor that the full propaganda and lobbying power of the NAM will be turned on to get Congress to lower still further the income tax brackets subject to taxation, to authorize compulsory loans to be taken out of the pay envelope as in England, and to put a tax on everything the worker buys – but not to increase taxes on profits.

Want to Amend Wage-Hour Acts

A resolution passed by the convention calls for the amendment of the Wagner and Wage-Hour Acts, against the interests of the workers. Another resolution opposes the extension of social security. A third urges “government economies in non-defense expenditures to the extent of $2,000,000,000 and the return of relief to states and municipalities” – meaning still further cutting of WPA and everything else that may benefit people in need.

A feature of the convention was an after-dinner speech by Thurman W. Arnold, assistant attorney general. This noted trust-and-monopoly-buster, whose anti-labor bias must make him a bit cross-eyed, sees trusts and monopolies mainly in the ranks of organized labor. After wining and dining on the best of everything – surrounded by the favored of the nation, who always wine and dine on the best of everything – he chimed in with the general purpose of the convention – TO MAKE LABOR THE GOAT. Said Arnold: “Labor conspiracies in many large cities are preventing consumers from having cheaper houses, cheaper transportation and cheaper distribution of the necessities of life.”

The real monopolists of the nation listening to him must have been laughing up their sleeves.

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Last updated: 26 August 2014