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David Coolidge

With the Labor Unions – On the Picket Line

(18 November 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 3 No. 32, 18 November 1940, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“National Unity” Campaign Is a Fraud

The election is over and labor papers and organizations are rejoicing over the fact that “labor” was responsible for the defeat of Willkie and the Roosevelt “landslide.” The workers and their leaders are calling the election a victory for them; democracy has been saved and the workers are secure in their rights.

Labor, organ of the railroad brotherhoods, however is constrained to add a word of caution.

“It would be a great error however to draw from Tuesday’s verdict the inference that the American workers have approved all the President has done; that they believe he has done all he might have done; or that they have blindly followed him in the past or will do so in the future.

“Quite the contrary, Many of the workers workers did not like the third term idea: some feared the President was leading us toward involvement in foreign wars; others were painfully aware of the fact that millions of men and women, willing an anxious to work, are still ‘standing idle in the market place’.

If any labor leaders or labor editors – with the exception of John L. Lewis – had any ideas of this kind in their heads prior to the election they certainly did not let the workers know them. the workers who were standing idle in the market place may have been painfully aware that they were there, but as far as we could read we never discovered that the leaders of labor had any such awareness. (Lewis seemed to have had such awareness but his cure was far worst than the disease, as Labor Action pointed out after Lewis made his support Girdler-Willkie speech.)

What the workers may expect from the most reactionary section of the ruling class was explained by the New York Sun the day following the election. This gang, as explained in the Sun has no intention of yielding. They will carry on the fight for their ideas and principles. The New York Times announced on Saturday that “Willkie Men Plan Strong Opposition To Curb New Deal.”

“The verdict of the people is given” says the Sun, “but that verdict does not deprive the minority of its continuing and undying right to fight on for the basic principles which Mr. Willkie and his followers supported ... This was the Battle of America ... it is lost for the moment, because of the billions in money that the winner spent ... if in this hour the twilight of our ancient and honored gods seems to descend upon us, let us remember that night has not yet fallen ... if zeal, if honest anger at injustice, if enthusiasm for decent principles could have counted at the polls, yesterday would have been a victory for Willkie.”

The Issue Remains: Class Against Class

These are fighting words from the 60 Families, from Wall Street, from the Chambers of Commerce, from the Girdlers, Morgans, Fords: from the real masters of the country. They have lost for the moment because “decent principles” did not count at the polls. With real class consciousness they intend to carry on against this “scum of the earth” that re-elected Roosevelt.

What are these “ancient and honored gods” in whose cause the gang represented by the Sun will continue to struggle? They all can be summed up in two words: capitalism and imperialism. They will continue the struggle for the highest possible profits and the lowest possible wages. They will continue their fight against relief to the unemployed and WPA. They will fight against the unions. They will continue to demand the right to hire scabs, spies and armed thugs. They will continue to fight for complete and direct control of the government, in the name of their clique. Even if Roosevelt makes an effort to preserve the labor legislation, this gang will never consent, nor will it submit.

Here is the chief danger for the workers. They cannot trust Roosevelt to protect their interests now, anymore than they could the past seven years. Roosevelt too is a child of Wall Street and will remain so. He will bow to the will and the demands of the 60 Families. They are the masters of this country, not Roosevelt and the little “New Dealers” like Ickes, Wallace and the rest. It is the 60 Families that own and control the land, mines, mills, factories and banks. They will have their pound of flesh and all the Roosevelts in the land cannot prevail against them.

“The twilight of our ancient and honored gods seems to descend upon us” says the Sun, but “night has not fallen yet.” No; not yet. The bringing of night to this gang and the complete destruction of the ancient and honored gods is the task of the working class. This was the workers’ job before the election, it remains their main job after the election. It’s not Roosevelt’s job and he won’t do it. He will stay with his class and defend their interests.

The workers must stand guard now as never before. they did not break from the two old parties. It is not too late to assert our class independence. The main issue is the war. Keep an eye on Roosevelt and Willkie. Don’t trust a single member of the ruling class. They are all for entry into the war. Not one of them can be depended on to fight for our interests on any front. Only the workers can do that.

Don’t listen to the national unity talk. Learn from the ruling class as they have expressed themselves in the Sun editorial. They say “to hell with national unity.” They are correct. They know that “national unity” is a fraud. They know that there can be no reconciliation between the workers and the bosses. The 60 Families know that the class struggle must go on, that they must continue to fight the working class.

The only “national unity” permissible for the workers is unity of the working class on a national and world scale. Unity of the workers against exploitation, against capitalism, against the imperialist war.

Out of Workers’ Toil Came Huge Boss Profits

The total dividends paid by about 1,000 corporations, banks and insurance companies for the first ten months of the four years, 1937 to 1940, amount to $11,119,910,487. That is, for 40 months of 1937–40 workers produced enough wealth so that people who don’t work might get eleven billion dollars. This is what workers were voting for when they re-elected Roosevelt.

Fourteen rubber companies had profits of $37,000,000 in 1938 and $62,000,000 in 1939. In 1938 these 14 companies paid dividends amounting to $15,000,000. In 1939 these same companies paid $24.000,000 in dividends.

The workers of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company and the Inland Steel tolled and sweated so well for their bosses that these companies were in a position this year to pay a five dollar dividend instead of repeating last year’s $4.00 dividend.

Roosevelt said in his Brooklyn speech just before the election that he was a firm believer in “free enterprise.” And what is “free enterprise”? It is the kind of social order that grudgingly grants the workers who produce the wealth a starvation wage while it at the same time gives the idle rich owners eleven billions in four years. This is what the workers perpetuated when they voted for Roosevelt.

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