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Gertrude Shaw

How the Government Serves Its Class

Bosses Get Preferential Treatment

(30 August 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 35, 30 August 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

According to the figures of the War Production Board, there has been a dropping off in the production of airplanes and war materiel.

The Rickenbacker gang takes this as an occasion again to lambaste “absenteeism” – whether it exists or not. Other super-patriots willy-nilly shout about the shortage of labor, for the need of a labor draft, for the drafting of fathers, or for whatever is their pet panacea.

However, some scribes of the capitalist press – in their effort to get more for the class that hires them – have come out with the truth concerning the curtailment in production of airplane engines and of other war goods.

Reactionary Upholds Business

Thus David Lawrence in his column in the New York Sun gave as one reason for the drop in production the displeasure of the war materiel manufacturers with the indictments and criminal proceedings following the Truman Committee reports on the sale to the government of defective engines and parts. THE BOSSES WANT TO BE PAY-TRIOTIC IN THEIR OWN PECULIAR WAY – OR NOT AT ALL!

In a later column, Mr. Lawrence gave an additional reason for the falling off in production!

“Management strain,” he says, “and the destruction of incentive, particularly the government’s failure to set up a termination of war contracts solution that will not discourage management during the war.”

Ralph Hendershot, financial editor of the New York World-Telegram, supports this view that the bosses lack “incentive” – poor things! THEIR WAR PROFITS RUN ONLY ALL THE WAY UP TO 2,400 PER CENT!

Says Mr. Hendershot:

“And one of the chief reasons is that the government has not made adequate provision for payment adjustment when contracts are cancelled ... It is only natural that the corporations should weigh future possibilities ... They know they will have need of all their capital to reconvert to a peacetime basis after the war, and they cannot afford to take too many chances.”

What chances are the bosses taking, with the government providing them with modern plants free, gratis and for nothing – with plenty of operating capital from Jesse Jones’ treasure chest – and with 1943 profits mounting above the 1942 bonanza?

What do all these reasons for slowing down production of planes boil down to? Just this: THE BOSSES HAVE GONE ON A SIT-DOWN STRIKE!

Bosses Are Fighting Mad!

They don’t like to be prosecuted for being merchants of death and passing off defective war materiel. Presto! They slow down production. They don’t like the government’s delays in adopting a policy regarding cancelled contracts. Presto! They cause production to fall off, thus putting pressure on their own government conducting a war caused by their own capitalist system. They keep an eye and a half cocked on peacetime business and profits – and don’t worry too much about the boys over there.

Yes, the bosses go on their own kind of strike when, as and if they choose. They did so right at the start of the war when the auto industry refused to convert to war production until they got their juicy cost-plus contracts.

They strike now when they don’t like government regulations – even the kid-glove OPA kind, as happened when boss slaughterers refused to take care of a large shipment of steers, thus depriving the consumers of thousands of pounds of precious meat. They are striking now by slowing up the production of planes arid other war goods because they don’t like the Truman Committee, because they want advantageous contract adjustments and because they are already anticipating post-war profits.

Yes, the bosses strike when, as and if they want to. And nobody calls them unpatriotic. Nobody shrieks about sabotaging the boys in the foxholes. Congress does not stampede to pass an anti-strike bill against the bosses.

Standards for Worker and Business

Quite the contrary! These “grievances” of the war-fattened exploiters are, most naturally, “just” ones and must be alleviated. By all means! Mr. Lawrence thinks that “within the next fortnight there ought to be some constructive suggestions for the handling of the problems that have brought such a serious setback on the airplane production front.” And Mr. Hendershot states: “It would seem, therefore, that some definite provision should be made at this time to correct the situation. And Congress is probably the only agency that can get the job done.”

And what is the job Congress is to do? See to it that the Truman, Committee doesn’t pry into the unscrupulous production methods of the bosses. See to it that the government adopts a pleasing, profit-yieldihg policy regarding cancelled contracts. See to it that post-war business and profits are given WARTIME consideration.


For the workers there are no-strike pledges and a Connally-Smith anti-strike bill. For the workers there are invectives of the vilest kind from the whole capitalist press and from every radio commentator directly or indirectly linked to the National Association of Manufacturers.

Are not the grievances of labor as legitimate as those of capital? Of course not – NOT IN THE EYES OF THE CAPITALIST GOVERNMENT AND NOT IN THE EYES OF ALL THE SERVITORS OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS. For the grievances of the bosses pertain to the harvesting of profits – always legitimate under the profit system; while the grievances of labor pertain merely to the needs and desires of human beings – AN ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT PROPOSITION.

Where the Administration Stands

The discontent of labor has to do with grievances over conditions and wages which have been buried in the graveyard of the War Labor Board for months and even years.

The anger of labor has to do with the infamous Little Steel formula, which holds wages down while prices and profits go skyrocketing.

The demands of labor are, for instance, those of miners wanting an adequate wage for their dangerous work and portal-to-portal pay as miners all over the world get.

The grievances of labor pertain to such things as union recognition – a democratic right – for which labor is euphemistically assured this war is being fought.

To these grievances of labor the Roosevelt Administration has responded by using troops to break strikes. Congress has responded with the Connally-Smith anti-strike bill. Another “solution” offered for the discontent of the workers is to impose a military regime on them as in the Army, namely, the labor draft. And, lo and behold, as further means of restraining workers from giving expression to their just grievances, the genial friend of labor in the White House has come out with an executive order, to withhold dues from unions involved in strikes.

Yes, there is a double standard – one for the bosses and quite a different one for the workers. But it is to be expected that the ruling class will be the favored class – UNDER CAPITALISM THE CAPITALIST CLASS IS THE RULING CLASS, THE PRIVILEGED CLASS.

Labor cannot rely on any supporters of this system which inevitably favors the bosses – not on the Roosevelts, Wallaces, Willkies, and not on the no-strike pledgers in its own ranks who really serve the capitalist class. The working class itself must blaze its path to a better life. It must fight against the no-strike pledge and against the Connally-Smith anti-strike law.

Only by using their economic and political might can the workers improve themselves. They must struggle not only for a decent living standard – but for all the PLUSES of life. And they must realize that the working class .must make itself the governing class under a workers’ government marching on toward socialism.

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