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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(27 March 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 13, 27 March 1944, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

WLB Penalizes Labor for Fighting

The practice of the WLB in rescinding maintenance-of-membership provisions or in penalizing locals in various ways where there have been strikes, only shows what a stranglehold this government outfit has been given by Congress and the Green-Murray union leadership.

In the case of a two-day AFL strike at a Philadelphia plant, the regional WLB penalized the local by limiting maintenance-of-membership rights “only to those who signify in writing their willingness to continue as members of the union.” This means that any backward worker, any scab-minded worker or any company union employee could get out of the union and begin the job of union-busting with the aid of the company.

In another instance the WLB denied maintenance-of-membership rights to a union because it refused to give a no-strike pledge after a strike. The regional WLB said that the union, an independent, was exhibiting a case of “cool, calculated ... short-sighted self-interest.” Furthermore, the actions of the union demonstrated, according to this board, “that its manner of operation was not of a responsible character which would justify ... granting a maintenance-of-membership provision.”

In the case of the Cramp shipbuilding employees, the WLB Shipbuilding Commission acted as a court and fined the workers for the strike. They were fined one month’s retroactive pay on any wage adjustment that would be made.

The WLB chastises the workers for not keeping “their” no-strike pledge. They are called “irresponsible” and violators of a “solemn contractual obligation.” In the shipyard case, John Green and Van Gelder were praised for their “courage” in ordering the men back to work. The board said that the penalty might have been more severe if it had not had the cooperation of these officials.

This is nonsense and the WLB knows it is nonsense. Congress knows it is nonsense, and Roosevelt knows it is nonsense. If the government and the capitalist employers did not have the cooperation of the leaders of the AFL and the CIO, there wouldn’t be any WLB to be “more severe.” Any day the labor leaders get off the WLB and back to their organizations where they belong, the WLB is finished.

Furthermore, if the labor leaders would stop giving “cooperation” to the government and to the captialist employers, and lead the millions of workers who pay them, there would be no Smith-Connally acts and no proposals from Roosevelt for a national service act. The WLB can’t build ships nor planes nor tanks. Congress can pass anti-labor legislation but these loud-mouthed placeholders at $10,000 a year, couldn’t produce a single airplane.


Hutcheson Likes His Kind of Unemployment

William Hutcheson, president of the Brotherhood of Carpenters, has written an article called Labor and the Presidential Election. Hutcheson’s union is the AFL international that has been accused for years of sending in too much in per capita tax. It is said that Hutcheson pays for members he doesn’t have in order to increase the vote of the carpenters at the AFL convention. Hutcheson is also a Republican and is the big guy that John L. Lewis knocked under a seat at the 1935 AFL convention. He is the Republican counterpart of Dan Tobin, who is the Democratic Party’s labor lieutenant.

At any rate Hutcheson has written a political article. There are six points or demands on the two major political parties for the 1944 elections. Hutcheson speaks for all of labor – so he says, and his points are labor’s demands – so he says.

The first point is “the preservation of free enterprise.” He fears that after the elections Roosevelt or Willkie may institute socialism, and Big Bill is against that. He’ll defend “free enterprise” any day against the onslaughts of Roosevelt and Willkie. Bill is for capitalism, because under socialism he would have to go to work. When a man has been away from the saw and hammer for thirty or forty years, unemployment at $20,000 a year is not to be sneezed at.

The second point calls for “the abatement of bureaucracy.” This is too sudden! The president of the carpenters’ international, an AFL craft union, comes out against bureaucracy. He says that “bureaucracy ... is choking our democratic institutions.” Which democratic institutions? The carpenters’ union under Hutcheson? The AFL executive council?

This is enough ... The other four points can be passed by.

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Last updated: 11 August 2015