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Gertrude Shaw

Workers, Block Passage of Connally-Smith Bill!

Congress Is Hell-Bent to Put Shackles on Workers

(14 June 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 24, 14 June 1943, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

If a man is held up by gangsters, ambushed, beaten and robbed, it might be said that it’s his own fault for not staying home where he belongs.

Only by virtue of such cock-eyed and distorted reasoning can it be claimed that the strike of the miners is responsible for the Connally-Smith anti-strike bill. On this sinister anti-labor measure the Senate and House are almost in complete accord, and they are now hell-bent to pass it before June 20 – the deadline set by John L. Lewis for a new miners’ contract.

The congressional ganging-up against labor has been well prepared. The master minds have had the Connally-Smith bill in readiness for many a month – waiting for the best opportunity to spring it on labor. The golden opportunity has now come, but not through the action of the miners. That kind of action or the threat of it, would do more to stop anti-labor legislation than a million pious speeches. The opportunity has come to the labor” haters as a result of the weakness of the labor leaders. These weak-kneed labor leaders justified their appeasement of the bosses partly on the ground that it would halt threatened anti-labor legislation. Well, they appeased the bosses, yielded labor’s rights. Result: the reactionaries did not retreat before this sign of weakness; they pressed forward.

Every fascist-like restriction that their fertile minds, inspired by hatred for labor, could conceive, has been included by the senators and representatives in this repressive bill which is now before a joint conference committee for final agreement.

With the passage of the measure, a $5,000 fine and a prison, term of one year would be the penalty meted out to any worker or labor leader advocating a strike. Not only that, but any worker having anything to do with such an erring fellow worker or labor leader would be subject to like punishment.

The House sought a make a distinction between privately-operated plants and government-operated plants by allowing workers in the former to take a secret ballot strike vote and then “cooling off” for thirty days. But the Senate emphatically says nothing doing – no voting – no “cooling off” – JUST NO STRIKES.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill recognize the graveyard of the War Labor Board as the place for burying labor’s grievances. The pro-boss contingent likes the washed-up WLB.

The House would furthermore take away from unions every vestige of independence, would require them to register and to submit financial statements, and would even prevent unions from using their money as they wish.

Not satisfied with such crippling provisions, the most extreme anti-labor boys both in and out of Congress want this golden opportunity used to put a work-or-fight clause into the anti-strike bill – which, in fact, the President has openly threatened.

Naturally, congressmen, the boss press, syrupy radio commentators and the National Association of Manufacturers, whose agents the foregoing all are, wrap themselves in the flag, beat their chests with patriotic ardor, and swear that an anti-strike law with sharp teeth in it must be passed so that no more strikes can hold up war production.

But these pay-triots lie in their teeth. They are not interested primarily in war production – BUT IN WAR PROFITS. As witness their machinations and delays to get the last ounce of fluid gold out of their cost-plus war contracts.

Is Congress purely and simply interested in war production? Then why not pass a law abolishing the Little Steel formula and restoring collective bargaining? This is what the workers now want and must have to enable them to cope with high prices. That is why they are restless. That is why they are striking.

But such a just solution would result in the bosses parting with some of their war profits and in workers being able to buy the wherewithal to live. Better try coercive legislation on the workers than place them in a position to make inroads on “the rewards of private enterprise.”

In the bitter class struggle of the miners, who want a wage to enable them to live against their bosses, who bulge with order books and a new high in profits, the President, Congress and every government agency have revealed themselves in their true class alignment. None of them tells the bosses to take their posteriors off their money bags long enough to give the miners their just and modest demands. All of them are against the miners and other striking workers. Their enmity for the working class is expressed in the Connally-Smith anti-strike bill. This outrageous measure, camouflaged as a war measure, is, however, designed to restrict labor and serve the bosses after the war also.

In their militant actions, the miners, rubber, auto and other fed-up workers have asserted the inalienable , right and the basic power of workers to strike. No mere law on the statute books can kill that right, or take away that power. Even the Nazis, masters of labor suppression, have not been able entirely to prevent strikes of discontented workers pressed beyond endurance.

But an anti-strike law, like the one now being railroaded through Congress, can make a lot of trouble for the workers and their unions. Organized labor must oppose, the Con-nally-Smith anti-strike bill. PROTEST, DEMONSTRATE, FIGHT AGAINST ITS PASSAGE. IT IS NOT BY A SHOW OF WEAKNESS BUT BY A SHOW OF STRENGTH THAT THE CONNALLY-SMITH BILL WILL BE DEFEATED!

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