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David Coolidge

Stalinists Doublecross
GM Auto Strikers

(18 February 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 7, 18 February 1946, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Stalinists (Communist Party) have done it again. They have evidently discovered that the UAW workers on strike against General Motors were “German agents” and “Japanese spies” during the war. Evidently these workers striking against GM are “union wreckers.” Or perhaps the strike of these workers is a well-organized plot to murder Stalin? At the very least, all of these striking GM workers must be “Trotskyists.”

These observations are prompted by the fact that the Stalinists have settled the strike of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers against General Motors behind the backs of the UAW without letting the UAW know what was going on and for less than the UAW strikers are demanding. The Stalinist leadership of the UE settled with GM for 18½ cents an hour increase while the UAW workers are demanding 19½ cents increase.

It was all done in secret. James Matles, the Stalinist director of organization for the UERMW, crept into Detroit secretly and held secret meetings with General Motors in the same building in which the UAW was conducting negotiations with GM. The result of these secret meetings between Matles and GM was an agreement to take 6½ cents an hour less than the UERMW had originally demanded, and one cent less than the UAW was demanding from the same corporation.

Thus the “Communist” Party leadership of the UERMW not only betrays its own membership, but at the same time stabs the UAW workers in the back and acts as scabs and strikebreakers. This from the party which only a few months back “turned left,” went back to “Marxist- Leninism,” according to its “new” program. This is the outfit which beat its breast all over the country last year and wailed and moaned that Browder had led the organization into the wilderness of “revisionism.” Foster was resurrected from the ashcan to which he had been consigned by Stalin and Browder and put at the head of the resurrected “Marxist-Leninist” organization which henceforth was to lead the workers in “militant struggle.”

Now they have demonstrated what their militant struggle is to be: strike-breaking, scabbing and wage-cutting.

The Stalinist leaders of the electrical workers never wanted a strike.

They were ready to settle with the employers without any struggle whatsoever if the employers would consent to any small wage increase. They announced in the beginning that they would settle for whatever wage increase the steel workers would win. That is, these bureaucrats were willing to let the steel workers do the fighting for the UERMW.

This has been their policy all along. It was their policy during the war. They had such a reactionary position that the question of opposing the nostrike pledge could not even be raised in that international with any degree of realism.

Of course, this most recent sell-out of the Stalinists will not be put to the membership of the UERMW for a vote. This leadership does not function in that manner. Fitzgerald, the president of the UERMW, who is only a dummy president, says that the GM settlement should pave the way for the settlement of the strike of his union against General Electric and Westinghouse. We agree. Betrayal of labor by labor leaders as a rule paves the way for the settlement of strikes. The Stalinists are experts at that kind of a settlement.

Why can’t the UERMW workers reject this agreement made secretly between Matles and GM? Some worker or workers in every UE local should introduce a resolution condemning this action, rejecting the “settlement” and expressing their solidarity with the UAW General Motors strikers. This is the least that they can do to demonstrate that they do not support the scabbing tactics and principles of their Stalinist leadership.

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