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Jack Wilson

Workers Pay for Tire War Report Shows

(7 January 1936)

From New Militant, Vol. II No. 2, 11 January 1936, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AKRON, Ohio, Jan. 7 – Even a government fact finding hoard in the rubber industry was forced to criticize policies of the rubber barons which have brought layoffs, longer work hours and less pay for rubber workers, as indicated in a report released by the labor department this week.

The report showed that every warning printed in the New Militant three months ago telling of the plans of the rubber companies to lower real wages so that a tire price war would be paid for by workers were correct in every respect.

The board which worked under the direction of Frances Perkins, labor secretary, made its finding specifically against the Goodyear tire company which returned to an 8-hour day last fall after having been forced on a six-hour day in 1930.

Nationwide in Scope

That this move was part of a nationwide employer drive against workers as we pointed out long ago, the board admitted in saying, “the opinion appears to prevail that if Goodyear with its large production capacity lengthens hours, other tire manufacturers will follow a similar course.”

The board, which was naturally conservative in its findings, declared that, “an average of 36 hours per week would mean reducing the working forces by approximately12 per cent.” Actually a 40-hour week work prevails so it can safely be said that at least 15 per cent of Goodyear’s 15,000 employees have been layed-off permanently!

The basic reason for these offensives against the already poor standard of living of the workers can be extracted from a single paragraph hidden in the middle of the 99-page report.

It reads:

“Goodyear management states to the board that one of the motives in changing from six to eight hours is to effect a reduction in costs. This objective appears to be to increase income. It would be better to approach such a problem from the standpoint of marketing methods and elimination of price-cutting warfare than by decreasing wage rates and increasing hours per day of workers.”

Workers Shoulder Costs

The relentless forces of competition drive rubber companies to gain market control at any cost and this cost has been thrown on the workers every time. Since the rubber industry has been in a growing state of decline along with industry in general under capitalism, it has been wracked by tire price wars of increasing intensity in the past ten years.

That this war will continue in the future in even greater intensity is an indisputed fact as shown by the report from Detroit this week that DuPonts have ordered the United States Rubber Co. to break the temporary price agreement in an effort to take markets away from Goodyear, Goodrich and Firestone.

Facing these facts squarely and constantly explaining them to the rubber workers is an elementary duty of the United Rubber Workers officials for only as more workers realize that they can fight the companies best through the bona-fide unions will the unions grow.

The ills of the rubber industry can be cured permanently only by removing the basic cause of them, which is capitalistic control for profit instead of workers’ controlled industry for use.

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Last updated: 15 March 2018