B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(13 June 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 41, 13 June 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Long-Haired Boys

That this country needs a good five-cent cigar and glass of beer to make union leaders reasonable, evidently is the assumption upon which the American Economic Foundation, a super-super union-busting organization, is founded.

The purpose of this outfit is to pour oil on the troubled waters of the class struggle, to bring peace and quiet and normalcy back to communities which have been torn by labor trouble and “to restore workers’ faith in the capitalistic system.”

Now there is nothing new about this faith-healing. Joe Hill, who immortalized in song the militancy of the American workers, once wrote about “long haired preachers” who promise “pie in the sky” – to which Joe thundered “that’s a lie!”

What is interesting is that the faith-healers and economic medicine men should employ their methods of gentle suasion in an age when the class struggle is more and more being waged in the streets and not in a labor-management conference over some nickle stogies.

In the Backroom

The American Economic Foundation chose three American cities in which to conduct their experiment – Terre Haute, Indiana, Massilon and Akron, Ohio.

Its methods are simple, almost insulting to one’s finer sensibilities. In Terre Haute, scene of general strikes, pitched battles between the workers and the state militia and seething cauldron of the class struggle, the bosses found that much of their trouble could be eliminated by being “nice” to the labor leaders. Instead of calling in the militia, they called in certain union officials. They retired to Mike’s bar, and over a couple of beers and cigars, the dispute was settled.

Fortune magazine, which records these touching incidents, fails to say how the rank and file is faring in this new era.

Billy Sunday of Business

The Foundation has now moved in on Akron in the person of one, Alfred Haake, Ph.D. and one-time official of the American Liberty League.

At the moment, he is conducting his moral rearmament program through the various luncheon clubs and American Legion, the latter of which has been in ill repute since the Socialist Workers Party in Akron held a counter-demonstration to one of its flag-waving rallies.

One of Dr. Haake’s buddies on-the-firing-line is Deloss Walker, associate editor of Liberty magazine and self-christened “Billy Sunday of Business.” In a former Akron appearance, Walker jumped on a table, threw off his coat and threatened to bust anyone in the jaw who said he couldn’t get a job. (He must embarrass the bourgeoisie.)

In Massilon, where the little-steel strike was fought to a bloody finish, the Foundation has set the milk and honey of class collaboration flowing by bringing certain union officials into the “civic organizations.”

Junk Pile, or Else

No worker, of course, can object to creating better cities to live in or to bringing about prosperity. But that can be done only by obtaining a higher standard of living for the laboring masses – by jobs at decent wages. On this problem, the American Economic Foundation is understandably silent.

Capitalism has shown itself incapable of improving the lot of the common people. Our lot, instead, is getting worse. And everyone is realizing it more and more.

And this is where the baloney salesmen come in with their slightly adulterated tripe. They will fail in restoring our faith in their skin-game.

Their outfit must either end in the junk pile with all those that came before it or develop into an open, undisguised strike-breaking, union-busting gang, which it is at heart.

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 January 2016