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Walter Jason

UAW Vets Outline Program

(28 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 43, 28 October 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT – The first of a series of regional veterans Conferences of the UAW-CIO was held here last week, as a preliminary to a national conference to be held in Washington, D.C., in January.

Over 100 Michigan delegates held a one-day session discussing veterans problems as union men, and outlining a program for adoption at the national meeting.

Seek Bonus

Even though Meyer Bernstein, national CIO veterans director, was opposed to the idea of demanding a federal bonus, the delegates unanimously re-affirmed the position of the UAW-CIO calling for a wage readjustment of $3 a day for each day served in the states, and $4 daily for overseas duty. A demand that any federal grant be paid from war profits and the fortunes of America’s Sixty families was included in the resolution on the question, of how the bonus was to be financed.

On housing, the program adopted calls for seizure of half of all hotel space by government decree, as an immediate step to relieve the housing shortage. Likewise, seizure of idle mansions was advocated.

The many deficiencies and inadequacies of the GI bill came in for criticism, and appropriate resolutions calling for amendments, etc., were adopted.

Perhaps the highlight of the conference was the virtual debate between Walter Reuther, UAW president, and some delegates from Pontiac, who accused him of not fighting for veterans vacation pay rights at GM. Reuther answered their arguments and proved they were either mislead or misinformed. It was a give and take proposition in this debate, in the democratic tradition of the UAW-CIO.

Oppose Conscription

Some debate took place on a resolution against militarism, and conscription. Almost unanimously the delegates opposed conscription but some disagreement on naming the causes of war occurred in discussing the whereas of the resolution. As a substitute for the resolution a motion condemning compulsory military training and pledging a struggle against all forms Of it was adopted.

Since Michigan voters have before them the question of approving a state bonus, this question occupied considerable attention at the conference. The whole idea of a state bonus arose from UAW-CIO ranks, and the fight for it has been almost exclusively a struggle of the union veterans. Here, too, the conference demanded that any payment of a state bonus must come from corporation and high income taxes, and under no circumstances from a sales tax.

Although every wing of the UAW-CIO factions seemed to be represented at the conference, there was little evidence of genuine factional lineups, for the adoption of a satisfactory program for veterans seems to be an easy thing.

Political Resolutions

The key question of how that program should be achieved, namely the matter of building a labor party to make possible a real solution of “veterans” problems, wasn’t before this conference. However, the question was brought up when one delegate asked Reuther why he wasn’t for a Labor Party, Everyone seemed amused at Reuther’s answer about “being practical, .and the time is not ripe.”

A mild Stalinist attempt to introduce a resolution in support of Henry Wallace got nowhere, when Emil Mazey, veterans director of the UAW-CIO and conference chairman, suggested that such resolutions properly belong in the union meetings as a whole, rather than at conferences called for working out a specific veterans program. The Stalinists withdrew their suggestions for such a resolution. In the resolutions committee, according to a report, four of the five members voted against support of Wallace and his foreign policy, but no resolution came from there in view of Mazey’s outline of the purpose of the conference.

The UAW-CIO plans a national vet conference in January at which the resolutions adopted here, and other conferences will be discussed and adopted, and a fight made for this program at the next session of Congress, according to Mazey.

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