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Jack Wilson

UAW Strikers Stand Firm!

But Leaders Make Shameful Retreat at Ford

Mass Picketing at GM; Solidarity of Steelworkers

(17 December 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 51, 17 December 1945, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The CIO pressure against General Motors corporation increased heavily this week with the rejection of President Truman’s strike-breaking proposals and with the fresh threat of a nation-wide steel strike.

Any hope General Motors had last week of smashing the strike was dashed to pieces when the UAW ranks and leadership stood firmly against President Truman’s strike-breaking move.

The knowledge of this union solidarity forced General Motors to retreat somewhat from its arrogant attitude and to renew negotiations.

Continued negotiations with the Ford Motor Company also offered a possibility that the UAW would make a dent in the industrialists’ united front against the UAW demands for a living wage for the auto workers.

In announcing January 14 as a strike date deadline unless wage demands were met satisfactorily, the United Steelworkers of America-CIO placed the power of 700,000 steel workers into the battle against the Wall Street corporations.

A contribution of $100,000 was given to the UAW strike fund by the USA policy committee, emphasizing the close relationship between the unions and their struggle.

The steel union’s rejection of President Truman’s proposals, as well as the attack of all organized labor on his congressional program, gave further strength to the position of the UAW strikers this week.

Instead of backing the strike wholeheartedly as he did in 1937, John L. Lewis took the present opportunity to cast doubts on the wisdom of a strike now, although he likewise blasted the Truman program.

Men Are Firm

Among the GM strikers confidence remained high as a result of these major developments and a series of mass demonstrations took place over the weekend reminiscent of the good old days. Mass picketing was employed in a one-day demonstration in Detroit. Elsewhere, parades were held by the strikers.

In the midst of these favorable developments, the proposal of the UAW leadership to give the Ford Motor Company “security” represented a serious retreat that can have repercussions in GM.

No sooner did GM hear of this unprecedented concession to Ford than it canceled its contract with the UAW , until a similar concession was given it.

The UAW leaders’ proposal to Ford – and the whole UAW leadership supported it – provides the company with a weapon against union militants in the shop and weakens the union, even though the check-off and full union recognition accompany it. The power of Ford to fire unionists without union intercession endangers the position of the shop stewards.

Unable to defeat the UAW on the picket lines, and this is a real tribute to the power of the strikers, the auto companies are forced into flank attacks against the UAW. They want to accomplish in negotiations what was impossible on the streets: weaken the union.

However, the UAW ranks time and again have stood as a powerful corrective force to any would-be maneuvers or blunders of the leadership. The voice of the ranks will be decisive again.

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