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David Coolidge

With the Labor Unions – On the Picket Line

(28 October 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 29, 28 October 1940, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

You See, There Are Ways and Ways of “Helping”

Along with many of the rich and powerful who shed tears of gratitude over “our brave boys who have come to the defense of our way of life.” Governor Lehman of New York added his bit. “All of us can help in some way. We can encourage our sons in meeting their responsibilities willingly and cheerfully ... A law creating a selective service and training system has been adopted by Congress and signed by the President after full discussion and consideration. It is a thoroughly democratic system. It plays no favorites. It gives equal responsibilities to those in every walk of life ...”

A few days before the governor made this speech it was revealed in the U.S. Senate that the Lehman bank, of which the governor is a partner (of course he “resigned” when he took office), had bought thousands of shares of stock in big steel corporations. The Lehman bank bought 10,000 shares of Bethlehem, 6,000 shares of Republic Steel, 10,000 of U.S. Steel and 4,000 of Youngstown Sheet and Tube.

To be sure the governor is anxious to “insure this nation from becoming a victim of aggression.” He wants the workers in the army to protect those 30,000 steel shares. The workers created that wealth for the governor while slaving in the steel mills. Now he is anxious that they go to war and protect it. The governor and all his kind have their patriotism securely tied to their pocket books and “we who are about to die” are bamboozled into believing that we are going to war to fight against fascism and for democracy.

This speech of Lehman’s is an insult to every man in the draft and every other worker. “All of us can help in some way.” That’s right. We can go to the army for $21 a month and get butchered. Those of us who remain at home can be kicked around in the factories or in the bread lines. That’s the way we can help. Governor Lehman and his class will help too. Yes Sir. They will make millions of dollars out of the war, out of “defense,” out of the “American Way of Life.”

The conscription act was adopted “after full discussion and consideration.” Who discussed it and who considered it. Who signed it making it a law: the masses of the workers? Not these, but the rich and their stooges in Congress and the White House. The workers are against conscription and the war. They have no interests whatsoever in protecting Lehman’s 30,000 steel shares.

The Thirteen Families will agree with Lehman. He and Roosevelt are their spokesmen. Here they are and the wealth the workers hove created and permit them to keep.












Hartford (A & P)


Harkness (Oil)


Duke (Tobacco)


Pew (Oil)


Pitcairn (Glass)


Clark (sewing machines)


Reynolds (Tobacco)


Kress (Dry Goods)


This is not all of the wealth of these “robber barons” but only the “value” of the stock owned by these families in the corporations they control. Their total wealth in land, buildings and bank deposits is many many millions of dollars more. It was for the benefit of these scoundrels that Lehman made his insulting speech to the conscripted workers

Let LaGuardia Go Chase a Fire Engine!

Last week we commented on the affairs of Local 32A. Hotel Service Employees Union (AFL). The international president, McFetridge, asked Mayor (Hop-a-Long) LaGuardia to name a “receiver” for the local and removed the officers. The officers of the local have advised Mr. LaGuardia, in polite language, to attend to his own business and keep out of the union’s affairs. We don’t know anything about the merits of this union situation. We don’t know whether or not removal of its officers was warranted or whether or not a “receiver” was necessary. But we do know that it is none of LaGuardia’s affair. The union should tell him this in such positive terms that even he would refrain from this type of meddling and confine his publicity seeking to attendance at fires, Canada and shouting for Roosevelt. We don’t have to be acquainted with the inner affairs of the union to understand that we do not turn to ruling class politicians to settle quarrels within our ranks.

These Boys Do All Right – Without Working

Big corporations are beginning to report on their “earnings” for the past nine months. Patriot Tom Girdler’s Republic Steel “earned” $12,633,333 the first nine months this year, over against $3,898,651 the same period last year. Libby-Owens-Ford Glass Co. “earned” $7,314,781 this nine months against $3,902,516 last year. American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (Bell System) “earned” $204,093.251 for the 12 months ended August 31, 1940. This is $27,956,344 over last year’s profits. AT&T sent out dividend checks amounting to $48,045,287.

The profit of AT&T for each of the 18,686,794 shares was $10.92. The regular dividend rate of this corporation is $9.00 a share.

In order to befuddle workers and to cover itself, the AT&T puts out a fake story that no one owns more than one per cent of the corporation’s stock. Perhaps so, but what does this mean? There are 18,686,794 shares outstanding. One half of 1% therefore would be 93,233 shares. Even one fiftieth of 1% of the total shares would be about 3,737 shares.

These simple figures illustrate what a fake this corporation attempts to put over. They try to make it appear that the company is owned by hundreds of thousands of people including employees of the company. Of course there are thousands of people who own a few shares of AT&T. There are many people who own a hundred, 200, 500 shares. The fact is however, that AT&T is owned and controlled by the few people who own twenty-five, fifty and 75 thousand shares each. Furthermore, these big stockholders are the bandits who pocket nearly all of the forty-two millions in dividends just paid.

A workers government and a workers army would destroy this racket. The wealth created by the workers would be returned to them in wages, houses, schools, hospitals, parks, theatres, etc. They would get enough to eat and clothing to wear. Not a damned cent would be paid out in dividends and interest to the 13 Families, the “60 Families” or the “200 Families.” If they got anything to eat, or a house, or clothing they would have to work like any other human being.

Hijacking – By the Best Means and People

As an illustration of the manner used by the ruling class to accumulate wealth without working for a living we call attention to a bond issue on which New York City is forced to pay interest until the year 2147.

A community that was later absorbed by New York City issued 7% bonds in 1867 amounting to $278,000. These bonds are now an obligation of New York City. By “law” the bonds do not mature until 2147. The securities found their way to the strong boxes of some of the “old families” and today are held by their their estates and descendants.

The total interest payments on these $278,000 worth of bonds will amount to $2,468,435. This amount of money goes to the “old families” and their estates. The “people” can do nothing about this piece of fancy hijacking. The “law” says the city must pay interest for 206 years longer.

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Last updated: 22.10.2012