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Walter Jason

Ford Workers Slap T-H Act,
Vote Solid for Union Shop

(19 July 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 29, 19 July 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT – If the results of the election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board at the Ford plants throughout America had been different, the news would have been plastered all over the front pages of the capitalist newspapers.

But the fact that 98 per cent of the Ford workers who turned out to vote approved the union shop was not a pleasant fact for the capitalist press. And the fact that over 90 per cent of the eligible voters participated in the balloting also was something the anti-labor forces didn’t like to admit.

The vote for the union shop put the Ford Motor Company right behind the eight-ball in negotiations. John Bugas, personnel director of the Ford company, didn’t like it. The whole strategy of the Ford company was collapsing.

Vote of Confidence

The UAW-CIO has a real vote of confidence among Ford workers. That, is the significance of the terrific vote for the union shop. It is emphasized by the circumstances of the election. Ford would not permit it on company grounds. The voting booths were inconveniently arranged. But the workers poured out in mass to show they want unionism of the kind that the UAW-CIO symbolizes.

Of course, the UAW-CIO leadership rejected the first offer made by Ford, as reported recently in Labor Action. Negotiations are continuing this week with a deadline of Thursday, when a national delegate conference of Ford workers will have the final say on a strike vote.

This week Walter Reuther, UAW-CIO president, personally entered negotiations, right arm in cast, bodyguards around; and he served notice on the company that a satisfactory offer had better be made or Ford would face a walk-out.

The excellent response of the Ford workers to the union campaign reflects the growing confidence that began with the GM and Chrysler settlements.

Another important aspect of the Ford vote on the union shop is that it dealt a blow to the Taft-Hartley law and its anti-union originators. The theory behind this part of the law was that if only workers had a secret ballot they would vote against “union shop and union bosses.” The workers in the shop demonstrated by their vote, just as they used to do under the provisions Of the Smith-Connolly wartime law, that they are solidly union-conscious and ready to advance along those lines.

Ford Is Unhappy

One little incident that occurred recently shows how the UAW-CIO is seizing the opportunity offered it. Ford company negotiators were late one morning at the conference table. Ken Bannon and the other union negotiators didn’t wait for the Ford big-shots to arrive. The union negotiators met the Ford men at the entrance as the unionists were leaving and the Ford men arriving. “We’ll see you at 2:00 p.m. at the regular session. We have things to do now,” Bannon informed the Ford men. We understand the company men haven’t been late since then.

The Ford Motor Company is also unhappy about the fact that the union won’t release joint progress statements with them. And Mr. Bugas almost blew his top when Nathan Weinberg, UAW-CIO research director, made his analysis of Ford’s wages and the union’s just demands. “Socialist crap,” were the words Bugas used in describing Weinberg’s factual report.

Things just aren’t going according to the Ford Motor Company schedule. Nor are the anti-Reuther cliques within the UAW-CIO finding much good fishing in the troubled waters.

The UAW-CIO is determined to get a substantial gain from Ford, and it is off to a good start.

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Last updated: 26 May 2018