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David Coolidge

Against: Company Security,
Price Rise, Wage Fixing!

(4 February 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 5, 4 February 1946, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

While the CIO bureaucracy, led by Philip Murray, organises mass retreats for the million CIO workers now on strike, the capitalist ruling class employers continue and intensify their drive against the working class and organized labor.

“Steel Parleys Go on in Secret in Washington,” the capitalist press reports. What are these “secret” steel discussions? They are conversations between Fairless of U.S. Steel and the federal government over granting an increase in the price of steel of from $4.00 to $6.25 a ton before the steel companies accept the “demand” of Truman that the steel workers be given an increase of 18½ cents an hour.

The steel manufacturers and their government negotiate behind closed doors and in secret while the steel workers wait and while, according to the press, “Mr. Murray himself ... was silent.”

Murray is silent. The 700,000 steel workers wait. But the steel companies do not wait. They fight for the increase in the price of steel so that they can be assured that even the slightest increase in wages will not disturb the profits, the dividends and the interest payments to bondholders.

The capitalist employers are not only conspiring with the executive branch of their government in Washington, but also with the legislative branch against labor. They have caused dozens of anti-labor bills to be introduced into THEIR House of Representatives and into THEIR Senate. Every one of these dozens of anti-labor bills is aimed at placing the trade unions in shackles. Truman is the sponsor of one of these bills, which calls for the establishment of “fact-finding” committees to have authority similar to the authority of the old WLB.

It’s an Old Pattern

The capitalist employers, with the assistance of THEIR CONGRESSMEN and their President at Washington have constructed what is called a new pattern for the “control” of strikes. But this “new” pattern is cut from the same cloth and with the same aims as the old pattern used during the war. The new procedure is the Truman “fact-finding” committees, which are in fact wage-fixing committees.

It was this so-called fact-finding procedure which determined the Chrysler and Ford “settlements.” These settlements had no relationship whatsoever to the original demands made by the unions. The settlements were not negotiated in any genuine collective bargaining between the unions and the capitalist employers. The agreements were the result of shadow-boxing between the union and the employers after Truman’s “fact-finding” committees, had recommended that wage increases amount to around 1914 cents an hour. The only struggle which took place between labor and the employers was one to inveigle the capitalist employers into accepting a recommendation made by THEIR capitalist government.

The capitalist press hailed the Ford and Chrysler “settlements” as setting the pattern for future settlements. This is nothing more than nonsense or mere journalistic trickery. The pattern was set by Truman’s “fact-finding” committees. Ford and Chrysler only decided to accept this proposal made by their government. The UAW had already accepted this scheme for settlement of the GM strike. Murray had accepted for the steel workers. The packinghouse workers had already been sent back to work by their leaders, with the naive statement that “our strike is not off.”

“Company Security”

Not only is the capitalist ruling class continuing its offensive through pressure on the White House and its Congress but it presses its demands on the unions for “company security.” A security clause is written into the Chrysler agreement. It reads as follows: “The union agrees that it will not oppose the discharge or discipline of anyone who instructs, leads or induces another employee to take part in any unauthorized strike.” While this “security” clause is not so drastic as that agreed to by Richard Leonard for the Ford workers, it is just as much a betrayal of the interests of the workers. This clause should be rejected by the Chrysler workers. They should insist on the opportunity to vote for or against this clause. If a company wants to fire one of its employees for whatever cause, that is the company’s affair. It is the business of the union, however, to handle the case under the grievance procedure and see that justice is done both the employee and the company.

The union is, or should be, the representative of the worker ONLY and the protector of HIS interests. To do justice to the union member, therefore, is not the same thing as to do justice to the company. Over a million workers are rendering justice, but only partial justice, to the capitalist employers and the capitalist ruling class today through the strikes which are taking place. It is not the business of the labor movement and the working class to grant security to the capitalist ruling class. Let the capitalists protect themselves – if they can.

President Truman comes over to the side of his capitalist masters openly with the statement that capital and labor are both striving for power. He added something about the public interest and that labor and capital would have to get. together in the interest of the public welfare. This statement must have evoked a few chuckles in the ranks of the NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Which Way to Power?

These capitalists know that they already have the power. Truman knows this also. They have power because they are the owners of the land, the mines, mills, factories and banks. They have economic power, social power and political power. They only have to strive to retain this power. That is what they are concerned with today. That is what Truman is also concerned with: to see to it that the capitalist ruling class retains its economic, social and political power. That is what Congress is concerned with. That is the reason for Truman’s “fact-finding” committees. That is the reason for the dozens of anti-labor bills in Congress. That is the reason for court injunctions against strikers. That is the reason why the police charge into workers’ picket lines all over the country.

The working class is not striving for power. Not yet, Mr. Truman. We of the working class are only beginning to understand that we ought to be striving for economic, social and political power. But for that the working class needs and must have a POLITICAL GENERAL STAFF. Right now a Labor Party: a mass party based on the trade unions, independent, militant and with a program based on the struggle of the working class against the capitalist ruling class.

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