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Full text of "How the Auto Workers Won"

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HOW THE AUTO WORKERS WON 






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1^X17^7 ^.ly worn; 

35 Eoil 12th St.*ol 



FULL STEAM AHEAD! 
UNIONIZE ALL AUTO SHOPS! 

By WILLIAM 2. FOSTER 

Chairman, Communist Party, USJl. 

In the fight to organize the army of workers in the mass 
production industries the C.LO. has won the firs* round The 
settlement of (he auto strikers undoubtedly constitutes a sub- 
stantia] victory for the workers. Despite its youth and weak- 
ness, the union has made a break in the fortifications of the open 
shop and thus laid a basis of the struggles that arc- yet to 
come before the auto industry is fully organized. 

The aim of the bosses and their newspapers in playinc 
down the importance of this strike victory is clear; they wanl 
to sow confusion among the workers and thus prevent the unions' 
growth. It is not surprising that William Green of the A F of 
L. Executive Council is following the same line. During "the 
strike his role was that of breaking the strike and now he noes 
along the same road by trying to rob the Auto Workers Union, 
trie L.I.U., and John L. Lewis, of the victory. 

The auto strike is fated to play a very important part in 
American labor history. It is the sign of the new era that is 
rtawnnuj in the trade union movement in this country. It is the 
beginning of the end of the horsc-and-buggy form of craft 
unions so dear to the hearts of Mr. Green and the employers. 

, The cue for the Auto Workers' Union is to consolidate its 
victory by organizing the masses of workers in the auto industry 
and also by stimulating the organizing campaign in steel. Full 
steam ahead to the unionization of the great auto plants. 

This article first appeared in the Daily Worker, Feb. 13, 1937. 













G. M. OPEN SHOP HEART HAS BEEN 
PIERCED 

By WILLIAM WEINSTONE 
Secretary, Michigan Communist Parly 

FLINT, Mich., Feb. n.— The C.I.O. policy of militant 

industrial unionism has triumphed today, Armed with the sit- 
down as a weapon, backed and siipported by great masses, 
infused with a flaming courage and fiery determination, the G, M. 
workers have blasted an opening in the open shop wall surround- 
ing the auto industry. 

Not everything has as yet been gained. The economic 
demands are still to be met. The industry is still 60 he organized 
in the majority of plants. But the heart of the G. M. open 
shop— Flint — has been pierced, and the conditions created for 
wresting a better livelihood from die greedy grip of General 
Motors. 

The auto workers smashed the injunction, withstood and 
repulsed the violence and provocations of the G. M, 1 tarjyoration 
and left the plants of their own will only when their terms had 

been met. They have plaeed upon the labor movement their 
own indelible mark of militancy, firmness and, determination 
which will affect profuondly the coming struggles in other auto 
plants in steel and coal. 

The auto workers have cleared the way to planting the flag 
of unionism over the giant factories of tin's country. History 
will record with pride that the aulo workers, and above all the 
workers of Flint, struck the blow which shattered the shackles 
of open shop tyranny. 

This article first appeared in the Daily Worker, Feb, J2 f 1917. 



4 



THAT IS WHY THEY WON 

AN EDITORIAL FROM THE DAILY WORKER 
February, 13, 1937 

/. A SIGNIFICANT VICTORY 

Joy reigns through the automobile centers this morning, and 
with good reason. 

After days and nights of heroic battle, the auto strikers have 
gained a significant victory. 

We greet the settlement as one that drives a big wedge into 
the Open Shop, which has kept so many thousands of American 
workers in bondage. 

That settlement— wrung from the powerful and unscrupulous 
General Motors Corporation— is a tribute to the (laming courage 
of the Sit-down strikers at Flint. It 15 a tribute to the determina- 
tion of tlie Committee for Industrial Organization and its leader, 
John L. Lewis, to organize the mass production industries. It is 
9 tnumph for the policy of militant industrial unionism. 

Under the agreement made and the supplementary tetter 
which as part 01 it. Che United Automobile Workers International 
has won: 

Sole collective bargaining righto, for at least six mouth, 
in the seventeen struck plants of the General Motors Cor- 
poration. 

Recognition as collective bargaining agenc-v for the 
union members in the other $2 plants uf the corporation. 

The guarantee that then 1 wilt be no discrimination be- 
cause of union membership or because of participation in the 
strike. 

The agreement that collective bargaining on hours, 
wages, limitation of the Speed-Up, former discrimination 
and other conditions of work — covered in &e union's letter 
of Jan. i—witt begin Iwiwecn the United Automobile 
\ porkers and the corporation on Feb. 16. 

The dismissal of the injunctions in Flint, Mich., and 
Cievefandj Ohio, 

The union members to hare full and free leeway to 
extend the scope of their organisation, through the wmnino 
of new members. 

5 



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These terms, vigorously enforced from today On by the 
union, will open the way for the definite and complete organ* 
itataon of all General Motors plants. They bring courage to all 
automobile workers. They pave the way for the triumph of 
unionism throughout the industry. 

The hurried "granting" of a 10 per cent wage increase by 
the Chrysler Corporation is an indication of the deep reverbera- 
tion of the General Motors battle. 

The chief citadel of the G. M. Open Shop— Flint— "hw 
been pierced," declared William Weinstone. secretary of the 
Michigan Communist Party ysterday, "and the conditions cre- 
ated for wresting n better livlmood from the greedy grio of 
General Motors/* * 6 K 

During the six months of exclusive collective bargaining in 
the seventeen struck plants, the United Automobile Workers In- 
ternational Union, by the same alert and aggressive policy which 
characterized the strike, can establish its roots beyond destruc- 
tion in the industry. 

When the sit-down strikers left the plants yesterday, under 
this agreement, they left voluntarily. They marched out to the 
applause and jubilation of their fellow-workers. They came oui 
like a conquering army, of their own free will, in spite of two 
sweeping injunctions against them, Tin; have shown, by th-ir 
heroic solidarity for hV 4., d;iys of tin- Mi-down, the path that 
other workers can take in the basic industries- to win union 
recognition on an industrial basis and the union conditions 
winch go with such recognition. 

There is good cause, then, for the jubilation which is taking 
place today among the thousands of workers of the general 
'Motors Corporation. 

For even broader reasons, tins victory has a deep significance. 
it represents the first time in American labor history that a 
central organization of the trade unions entered directly into 
the fight of an affiliated organization and became a decisive force 
in the- struggle. 

The C.I.O. stands out, in the auto strike, in splendid contrast 
to the past record of the American Federation of Labor The 
A. F. of L. leadership has shamelessly allowed, as a matter of 
custom, local unions and individual national unions to carry on 
their battles alone. The center has never directly participated in 
the battle. 

- T1 ?* ?•■« °' ' m tljc Gcner ^ ! Motors struggle, followed an 
entirety different course of action. It threw its full resources 
into the fight. The chairman of the CLO., John L. Lewis, joined 
with Wyndham Mortimer, vice-president of the union in the 



working out of the final settlement For days, first with President 
Homer Martin and then with Mortimer, Lewis fought for the 
rights of the auto workers against the giant corporation. 

What has token place in the General Motors battle represents 
a distinct fnwnfh for industrial unionism, 

The colossal struggle within the A. F. of L. during the past 
two years has centered around this question of industrial 
m "°" ,sm ' The craft union policies of the reactionary leadership 
of the A. F. of L. have proved impotent to organize America's 
35.000,000 unorganized workers. They have made not the 
smallest headway in the giant trustified industries through their 
policy of selling unionism to the employers and not to the work- 
ers, and through their division of the workers into small, warrine 
craft unions. 

And yet, these reactionary A. F. of L. leaders have fought 
tooth and nail against industrial unionism, resorting even to the 
suspension of the C.I.O. unions rather than admit the effect- 
iveness of this principle of action, 

Now, we have had the first big test of the value of industrial 
unionism in the mass production industries. In that test, this 
form of organization has shown beyond all doubt its smashing 
value to the workers 111 the mass production industries. They 
have not stood, divided, before the united and powerful forces 
of the General Motors Corporation. They have acted as one man 
through the United Automobile Workers— and that has been 
the source of their great strength against such great odds and 
«uch powerful enemies. 

Out of Flint and the other auto centers comes clearly this 
message; It ts through industrial unionism alone that the mass 
prodttction workers can win freedom from the \oke of the occn 
shop/ ' J r 



The Worker's Cry of Freedom 

The Women* s Auxiliary Theme Song 
{Tunr; Marching Tlira Georgia) 

Tho men arc in the factories silting in a 

strike we kunu 
Holding down pro duel ion so that we nan 

gel more dough, 
The Union's organizing, and we'll see that 

it i» so, 
Shouting the Union forever! 

Chorus ; 
Hurrah, Hurrnh, The Union makes us 

free 
Hurrah, Hurrah, It's all for you and me 
Organize your brothers and we'll win 

the fifiht you'll see 
Shouting the Union forever! 

— 2— 

The women got together and they formed 

a miplily throng 
Every worker's wife, mill mom and sister 

will belong 



BtUUi4~G. M. Dividends for th< fr or k*n 



By £!lis 



\ 




They wi]t fight beside the men to help ihr 
cause along 

Shouting the Union forever! 

—3— 

Homer Martin i* the leader of this mighty 

band. 
And we'l] stand behind him for the future 

of the Innd; 
Wc won't give up the battle "till we get 

our just demands 
Shouting ihe Union forever! 




rYmn /fem,-(Now York. Feb. 2— Ground Mount yesterday d«- 
clarcd dividends of 25 i*eni» n share on common Block ami the 
regular quarterly dividend of $1.25 cm pi-clrrm-d— anil »hot down 
nine df j|p. Chevrolet workers in Flint. 



We Had a Hot Time in the Old Town Last Night 

(Tune: ThtnVIl he s Hut Time in the. Old Town Tonight) 



When the bailie's over and we're buck 

lf> ffpxk OaCe more, 
There will not be a single scab inside the 

factory door; 
The men will wear their buttons nml the 

bosses won't get sore 
Shouting tin- Union forever! 



I 

Cheer, boys, cheer, 
For we ore full of fan; 
Cheer, boys, cheer. 
Old Pirki-r's on the run; 
Wo li.nl a GrIh In si nlie 
■Vml I Cell you, boys, we won, 
We Imd o hot llrno in the old 
hut nite, 

II 



lowil 



III 

The police *ro sick 

Their bodies they are sore 

I'll hcl they'll never 

Fight u* any more; 

Decerns o they learned last nitc 

Thai we had ( quite n corps, 

We had a hot lime in the oh] town 

last nitc. 



h 



Tear gas bomb* 

Were flying thick and fast; 

The loaty police. 

They knew they couldn't Inst. 

Because, in nil their livns ihcy never ran 

so fast, 
As in that hnt time in this old town ]ttst 

nilr, 



Negotiant Writ. Start tho Works— Sloan By Burck 



Now llii* scrap in o'er; 
Tho hoy* arc sticking foal 
Well ImJd our prniiu I- 
And iifiht here to the Ian 
And when this strike is o'er 
We'll hiivn our contract fast, 
WV1I have n hot time In the old 
Unit niic! 

(Reprinted from the United Automobile Worker) 



i a w n 




TMins Through /fit Hat 



By Burck 



II. HOW WAS THE VICTORY IVONf 

How was such a significant victory won by the automobile 
workers ? The reactionary Liberty League press of the country 
and the Genera! Motors Corporation try hard to minimize the 
victory. The Tory press does this in its editorials and also in its 
news columns. On Thursday night the New York Sun, a chief 
organ of the Liberty League, rani these headlines: "Union to 
hargain for members only ; Green charges surrender by Lewis," 

This headline, false through and through, indicates wlutf 
these reactionaries are up to. They fear the effect of the auto- 
mobile victory on the workers in the other mess production 
industries — in Meet, rubber, textiles and the like. 

William Green comes forward, also, to join in the chorus 
of the reactionary press. At every stage of the fight, Green has 
given aid and comfort to the General Motors Corporation. 
When that corporation said, "Everybody must bargain with us," 
as a cheap means of preventing bargaining by the sole organ- 
ization of the workers, the United Automobile Workers, Green 
likewise echoes: "Everybody must bargain with General Mo- 
tors." Now, the reactionary press tries to give the impression 
that exclusive bargaining rights have not been won for the 17 
struck plants. Green in typical Man Friday fashion, also cries 
out: "The Automobile Workers have surrendered the right to 
exclusive collective bargaining in the struck plants. 

Such a statement is absolutely false. The United Automobile 
Workers Union, instead of "surrendering 1 exclusive bargain- 
ing rights, has begun to establish these rights for the first time 
in the auto industry. That is in sharp contrast to the methods 
of Green and Co., who had miserably failed for years to estab- 
lish anything at all in the automobile industry. 

Why does Green engage in such false statements? Not 
only in order to weaken the C.I.O. by such unfounded and 
strikebreaking assertions. He wants also an open hand to aid 
the big trustified corporations in the future, in strike-breaking 
ventures. 

The liberal capitalist press has another version as to how 
the victory was won. They realize its significance. They greet 
it as such. And then, they give the credit for its outcome to 
President Roosevelt. 

The New York Post is a case in point. It declares that to 



TO 



Roosevelt is "due the lasting honor and respect of all parties." 
To that it adds: "In this particular strike it was Roosevelt who 
applied pressure, remote but none the less effective, for the 
present settlement" 

That is, likewise, an incorrect assertion. Roosevelt's criticism 
of John L. Lewis gave distinct support to the General Motors 
Corporation at a critical moment in the strike. Had Roose- 
velt's plan of settlement been accepted by the C.I.O. or the 
workers, it would have been seriously injurious to the strikers 
and helpful to the corporation. 

AH of these "explanations" of the capitalist press are efforts 
to obscure the real reason for the victory, winch came out of 
the solidarity and the intelligent tactics of the workers them- 
selves, encouraged by their union and the C.I.O. leadership. 

The outcome of the General Motors battle is due, from 
first to last, to the nczv and progressive- trade union policies and 
tactics used by the workers in that fight. 

The workers themselves devised the tactic of the sit-down. 
It grew out of their mass production experience. They _ organ- 
ized it carefully and carried it through with that discipline and 
determination which made for its success. It proved to be a 
tactic which can be particularly effective for workers on the 
Belt. That is why they won. 

The workers did not only remain in the plants hut held 
their positions in spite of police, injunctions and the National 
Guard. They began definitely to develop class struggle tactics, 
in place of the old A, F. of L. tactics of class collaboration. 
That is why they won. 

From the outset, the strike took on a highly political char- 
acter. The General Motors Corporation was in complete con 
trol of the local agencies of government. It called upon tht 
courts under its control to issue sweeping injunctions against 
the strikes— two in Flint and one in Cleveland, Ohio. It called 
upon the police forces, controlled by its henchmen in (he city 
governments, to attack the strikers. The solidarity of the work- 
ers was so great, in the face of this campaign of force and 
violence, and the support so widespread, that the corporation 
could not apply the injunctions it had received. The workers 
openly defied these injunctions. That is why they won. 

The United Automobile Workers, the city central bodies in 
the auto areas and unions in many other places supported the 
sit-down strikers and gave them militant cooperation, The auto 
union leadership encouraged the sit-down strikers to "hold the 
fort," giving them strength through the organized mass picket 

11 



Lines of their fellow-workers and through delegations from 
nthcr cities. That is also why the workers won. 

Such militant and progressive attitudes are in distinct con- 
crast to the defeatist and reactionary policy of the A. F. of L> 
leadership, toward this battle and toward the struggles of the 
auto workers in the past. 

The role of the A. F. of L. leadership, in the General Mo- 
tors battle, was a strikebreaking one from the beginning of 
the strike. That fact stands out definitely and decisively. 

Early in the strike, President John P. Frey of the Metal 
Trades Department, continued his rote of "prosecutor" of the 
C.LO. by writing a letter lo the General Motors Corporation, 
with a view of giving then) aid and comfort. With a life-or- 
duath struggle on in the General Motors plants, Frey out- 
rageously stabbed the sit-down strikers in the back Isy declaring 
that men connected with the building trades and metal trades 
departments of the A. F. of L. would not join the strike and 
were satisfied with their conditions of employment at Genera! 
Motors. In this declaration he was joined by President Arthur 
Wharton of the Machinists and President J. W. Williams of 
the Building Trades Department, stooge for William L. Hut- 
rlK'sr.n »i the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. 
This was a strikebreaking move, pure and simple. These 
A. F. of L. leaders had nut men worth mentioning in their 
unions from the General Motors plains. They had never Wn 
able to organize them successfully and had shown no inclini Li in 
toward doing so. 

Later, Secretary Morrison granted an interview to the 
Liberty League organ, the Nezv York Sun, declaring that the 
Unitetl Automobile Workers are an "outlaw" union and nub 
eating that the strike should be defeated. Frey continued his 
attacks upon the strikers, dubbing the sit-down tactic as "Mos- 
cow made." 

Finally, President William Greer shamelessly tried \c 
weaken the effectiveness of the General Motors settlement by 
his strained misinterpretation of what the agreement calls for. 
At every Step, the A. F, of L. leadership Bought to smash 
the si rike rather than to rallv the trade unions totts support for 
the insurance of victory. The auto workers rejected all these 
strikebreaking efforts of the A. F. of L. leadership— fruit of 
rlu» hankrtintcv class collaboration DoIicifiS, The auto workers 



the bankruptcy class collaboration j 
persisted, instead, in pursuin; 
struggle. Thot w why thty won. 



pcrsistedi instead, in pursuing the new policies and tactics of 

/ w why 



[II. THE TASK AHEAD 

When we look at the forces in this General Motors battle, 
we can appreciate what the outcome signifies to labor. 

Here was a new union, which had not yet completed its 
organizational plans. Overnight it found itself forced into a 
bitter strike by the General Motors Corporation. Despite that 
partial preparedness, the United Automobile Workers was 
successful in planting itself in the industry. 

The nature nf the victory can be further appreciated when 
we consider the nature of the General Motors Corporation, This 
creation of the Morgan-do Pont interests is one of the verv 
chief citadels of the Rulers of America, the great finance capi- 
talists. It stands out above all other corporations, in the auto- 
mobile industry, with more assets than its three largest rivals 
put together. Ic is interlinked with the Steel Trust, the Rubber 
Trust and the other domimn: *-■■:■ = 1 »=: i ;t : wns y.\kI:y the control 
of the House of Morgan and of the death-dealing family of 
du Pont. 

The auto workers have been thus engaged in battle with the 
most powerful and vicious industrial enterprise in the entire 
world, with profits exceeding those of the United States Steel 
Corporation. 

Th$ extent of the victory will depend upon the follcw^up 
which the United Automobile Workers carries through 
to insure that the selttcmvut becomes the sounding board 
for a great organizational drtvo in the industry* Tfn: union 

is called upon to be on guard day and night, with the 
same vigilance and persistence that was maintained in 
the battle. 

The United Automobile Workers will be required to rally 
all its forces to the immediate building and broadening of the 
union. It will not be a matter of surprise if such an unscrupu- 
lous outfit as the General 'Motors Corporation will not seek, by 
chicanery and fraud, to injure the union and to break the con- 
d!tlona of the settlement. The chief safeguard against such 
schemes is the immediate strengthening of the union, in every 
plant ai the General Motors Corporation. 

It is essential, also, that the union show the greatest concern 
and greatest determination in the winning of substantial gains 



12 



33 




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^J?f/!»'' Wr "*********, ab ™' *° open. The company ha* 
granted ft 5 cents per hour increase in wages, as a result of 
™t! " n u . h . as,cncd "> do this, in order to weaken the 
union. It will seek in every way, to prevent further gains from 
bean; made for the workers. It will try to continuV the dis- 
criminations against the active unionists who were discharged 
m the past. Against such attempts the union is certainly called 
upon to fight to the finish— in order that the settlement gained 
may result m immediate concrete benefits in the lives and home* 
of the auto workers. 

The General Motors battle lias not only been for the wel- 
fare of the auto workers. It has been watched with eagerness 
ny fe steel workers, preparing for a show-down with the 
powerful Steel Trust over the same issues of unionism and 
improved conditions. The outcome to date will give courage 
to t hese steel workers. It should serve to spur on the great 
steel union drive in order that the Steel Trust may be com- 
pelled to deal with its union employes as the Auto Trust has 
l>ccn made to do. It will give great impetus to the great strug- 
gles ahead for the coal miners, also facing the Coal-Steel Trust 

What has occurred in the General Motors battle should 
WTO to advance the unity of th* American labor movement, 
so urgently needed at this crucial hour. The victory of the 
auto workers will serve to speed the organization of thousands 
of unorganised workers in the auto centers into the craft unions 
1 lie continued struggle in automobiles and the giant battles 
about to take place a the giant steel industry, in the coal fields 
am 311 other basic industries deserves the wholehearted support 
and cooperation of the trade unions everywhere. 

Let the unions express thrir appreciation of the hvroic 
struggle put up by the auto sinkers.' Lit dm rally to 
their aid and to that of the other mass production workers 
Let them speak out and declare thai m a united labor move- 
wnt on the. basis of industrial unionism for the mass 
production industries, lies the road to progress and victory 
for the Amsncon workers. 



14 





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