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B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(21 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 89, 21 November 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Chrysler strike assumes greater and more significant proportions with every new development.

Last week, a CIO endorsed candidate defeated the incumbent Mayor Reading, labor-baiter, creating quite a stir in Detroit, center of the strike.

Of course, the new mayor is no labor man, and a raw deal can be expected from him in the long run, but the demonstration of labor’s potentialities at the polls had a good psychological effect on the strikers and the entire union movement.

Coughlin’s Move

This week interest was focused on the arrogant intervention of Father Coughlin, fascist demagogue, in the situation through a radio appeal to the strikers.

He had the nerve to suggest that the auto workers, after these many weeks of struggle, go back to work and let the sell-out artists of various mediation boards settle the dispute!

Of course Coughlin painted a glowing picture of the hardships of the unemployed, etc. but instead of blaming the Chrysler Corp. for its anti-union policy, Coughlin seeks to divide the union ranks, ruin the morale of the strikers, and turn the men into anti-unionists.

Coughlin revealed himself to be a 100 percent strikebreaker, scab, and fascist demagogue, once again by this latest move.

New Strikebreaking

It is very significant that the Chrysler Corp. had to use Coughlin as a stooge for its nefarious plans. First of all it demonstrates the power of the auto workers against all previous attempts to defeat the strike.

All the old baloney against strikers no longer gets anywhere in a city like Detroit with its many great struggles and experiences of the recent years.

The big industrialists have to turn to new and other means to smash labor – fascist methods and a fascist movement.

Today, Coughlin incites all those who listen to him against the union movement. Tomorrow, he will urge storm troopers to march through the picket line.

Coughlin’s attempt to foment religious hatred and utilize religious differences among the strikers received an immediate setback when the Detroit Branch of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists challenged his statements.

Estimates have been made that the strike now involves over 150,000 workers, as the complete shutdown of Chrysler plants brought the closing of related parts plants, etc.

The “Union Shop” remains one of the major issues of difference, along with the many grievances of speed-up, etc. Under the “Union Shop” the employer may have the right to hire a non-union man but that after a 30-day probationary period the employee must join the union. Union men should insist that the “Union Shop” remain a cardinal point in neg0tiations, and resist every attempt to trade it away in negotiations.

* * *

Names to Remember

In reporting the action of the Canadian CIO to support the British and Canadian governments in the imperialist war, we did not publish the names of the people involved because they were reported in the last issue of the CIO News and they should be remembered by anti-war militants.

The Canadian national council of the CIO which made this sellout decision consists of: Silby Barrett, chairman; C.H. Millard, secretary; Sol Spivak, Amalgamated Clothing Workers; Harry Hunter, Steel Workers Organizing Committee; C.S. Jackson, United Electrical and Radio Workers; George Burt, United Automobile Workers; Tom Church, Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers; Joseph Mackenzie, United Rubber Workers; and Roger Irwin, Newspaper Guild.

D.W. Morrison, president of District 26 of the United Mine Workers represented the unions in the maritime provinces, and Robert Livett, International Board member of the UMWA represented those from western Canada.

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