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Walter Jason

Wage Fight Sharpens in Detroit

UAW Strike Notice on Chrysler

(13 April 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 16, 21 April 1947, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT, April 13 – Two major events in the auto industry this past week hastened the long-delayed showdown between the UAW-CIO and the auto industry over, wage increases to meet the inflationary cost of living.

The union filed a 30-day strike notice against the Chrysler Corporation, following a series of futile negotiations that have dragged on since last October, At the membership meetings of various Chrysler locals in this area, the decision was backed by the rank and. file, which showed signs of dissatisfaction and a mood of militancy. Minor walkouts have flared up recently in some of the shops.

GM auto workers were expected to turn down a proposal of the corporation for a “temporary 10-cent hourly wage increase,” which GM proposed to the union negotiating committee that began its negotiations last Thursday.

Walter P. Reuther, UAW-CIO president, denounced the company offer as inadequate and slated it was obviously a feeler advanced for bargaining purposes.

Chrysler Proposes Wage Cut

In contrast to the GM offer, the Chrysler Corporation proposed to reclassify thousands of workers, cutting their wages from five to twenty cents an hour!

Chrysler also proposed to strengthen the company-security provisions, giving them a bigger hold over the stewards, and had the effrontery to propose that the union pay the stewards, instead of grievances being handled on company time!

The Chrysler union department, headed by Norman Mathews, had no recourse after such an arrogant attitude on the part of the company than to call for a strike vote.

In view of the failure of the union leadership to obtain an agreement bn retroactive pay from the termination of the last contract, January 26, the company has been saving millions of dollars In wages simply by stalling negotiations!

Another disturbing feature of the Chrysler situation is the apparent agreement between the company and the union to keep the “differences out of the public press,” which means that the union is gagged from presenting its case to the people.

At Chrysler Local 7, a motion was passed by the membership urging the International Executive Board meeting in New York City this week to plan a nation-wide walkout of the auto workers.

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