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B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(9 June 1933)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 40, 9 June 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Threat of a strike by the powerful teamsters union in Cleveland, O., this week swiftly brought employers to their knees and won considerable concessions for the truck drivers in a signed two-year contract.

The new agreement provides for a five-cent hourly wage increase, effective immediately, for nearly 3,500 union truck drivers and loading dock workers. It provides for a 48-hour work week, with a three-hour leeway in case of necessity, making maximum hours 51 per week.

Under the new wage scale loading dock workers will get 67½ cents an hour and helpers 62½ cents an hour. Drivers of ordinary cartage trucks will receive 80 cents an hour, while drivers of the truck and trailer outfits used in local hauling will receive 88 cents an hour. Heavy machinery drivers will get 95 cents an hour.

Crack Boss Unity

But Local 407 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters of which Ed Murphy, powerful Cleveland labor leader, is president, broke the employers’ united front by reaching an agreement with the Cleveland group of Certified and Permit Motor Carriers, an organization composed mainly of long-distance haulers. The Cleveland Draymen’s Employers Association knuckled under following this development.

Murphy announced that representatives of all truck drivers unions in the state engaged in long distance hauling would meet this week in Columbus, O., to formulate a state-wide contract for the over-the-road haulers.

The Cleveland contract is another impressive step forward of the Teamsters Union in the mid-west area.

Clay Workers

The United Brick and Clay Workers Union, affiliated to the American Federation of Labor, announced in Canton, O., this week that it had obtained a one-year contract with 32 clay products plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

It was a compromise agreement calling for a continuation of the present 58 cents an hour basic rate of pay and the 40-hour week. The union had asked for a 12 per cent pay increase while the employers demanded a 10 per cent reduction.

The clay industry was the scene of long and bitter strike struggles especially from 1934 to 1937 in this area. One of the chief objectives of the union during that time was to obtain an area pact. It has succeeded.

* * *

Spontaneous action by fifty W.P.A. workers on a project in Youngstown brought expected results. The men stormed into W.P.A. offices demanding that an order to drop their project be rescinded.

The men won their demand and decided to form a permanent organization of W.P.A. and unemployed workers to protect their interests. It has been named the Federal Workers Union. Shop steward systems were set up on various projects and over 1,000 workers enrolled. All this has happened in little over a month. A few militant unionists did this good work. It shows what can be done.

Drivers Celebrate

Akron truck drivers are soon to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the formation of their union. Dan Tobin, International President of the Brotherhood of Teamsters, is scheduled to speak.

Local 348, which is sponsoring the celebration, has something worth talking about. Besides reducing hours from as high as 100 a week for over-the-road drivers down to 60, and from 70 and 80 to 40 for local drivers, the union has raised wages from 25 to 100%. With all but two firms vacations with pay are in signed contracts.

Milk drivers, coal drivers, bakery drivers and newspaper drivers have been organized and given separate local charters. Local 348 still has over 2,000 dues paying members left. It has aided the United Rubber Workers Union in situations like the Goodyear strike last year.

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Last updated: 16 January 2016