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Full text of "The great sit-down strike"

WILLIAM WEINSTONE 



TH E GREAT S.T-OOW* STRIKE-BV WILI.IAM «ONE, 
SECRETARY OF THE MICHIGAN DISTRICT OF THE 
COMMUNIST PARTY, U.S.A. 



PUBLISHED BY WORKERS LIBRARY PUBLISHERS, INC. 

P. O. BOX 148, STA. D, NEW YORK CITY. MARCH, U5l 

SECOND 1'MNTINC, APRIL, 1937 



Library 

University of Te*ae 

Austin, Texas 



The Great 
Sit-Down Strike 



^ 

x 



J_ he first major battle in the auto industry has just been 

fought and won. It was unquestionably a great strike, a 

truly militant battle, waged with a vigor and passion which 

fc will place this strike side by side with the greatest strikes 

^ ^ in American labor history. 

It was a significant struggle because it was the first time 
<^ inTquarter of a century ,lhelirsMime since the appearance . 
of the auto industry, that one of the giants of the motor 
monopolies, the biggest of the three automobile companies, 
was challenged by organized labor. It was significant 
because the battle was spread oyer fourteen states, involved 
150,000 workers, affected more than sixty plants, and was 
fought against a corporation worth one and a half billion 
dollars. It was significant also because it was the oj>ening 
battle in the awaited struggle to organize the mass produc- 
tion industries and was fought by the newly organized 
International Union of United Automobile Workers, led by 
the Committee for Industrial Organization. And, finally, 
it was of the greatest importance because for the first time 
on a large scale American labor has employed a new 
wea p 0n — the sit-down strike — and has wielded this weapon 
with startling success. That is why the strike aroused nation- 

3 



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624134 



wide attention and was followed with the most intense 
interest and concern by millions of working people in all 
parts of the nation. 

The struggle ended with a victory for the auto workers. 
In what does the victory of the auto workers consist? 

It consists in the fact that the union was able completely 
to paralyze production for forty-four days, to prevent the re- 
opening of the plants and as a result to wring from General 
Motors the recognition of the right to organize (a right 
which has been stubbornly and tenaciously denied by this 
open shop corporation), won formal recognition as the 
collective bargaining agency for its members in all 
the plants and as the sole collective bargaining agency in 
the plants shut down by the strikes. By this achievement the 
auto workers struck a powerful blow at the open-shop 
system in American industry. It also won wage increases 
for the General Motors workers and increased wages for the 
auto workers of other plants and it won an agreement to 
open negotiations between the union and the corporation 
for the demands on wages, hours and working conditions 

The victory of the union consists furthermore in the fad 
that it was able to withstand and repel a series of violent 
efforts to dislodge the sit-down strikers, who left the plants 
as victors when their terms were met, who twice smashed 
the injunctions issued against them and finally caused them 
to be scrapped. 

It consists finally in the fact that the policy of indus- 
trial unionism, of militant unionism and progressive lead- 
ership, based upon rank-and-file democracy, has proven 
to be the only correct form of organization which can 

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effectively meet and defeat the corporations of big capital. 
A test has now been made on the field of battle of the 
craft union versus the industrial union form of organization 
for the mass production industries and in this test industrial 
unionism has been entirely and triumphantly upheld. 

Let us consider the outcome of the struggle a little more 
closely. 

The union fought for the right to organize the plants. 
This right was conceded by General Motors in words and 
denied in deeds by the discharge of workers for joining 
the union and dismissing of those wearing the union 
button. These were the issues which caused the strikes in 
Atlanta and Kansas City. General Motors has now agreed 
that the workers may organize and that they may wear 
their union buttons. 

The union demanded a national conference for collective 
bargaining. General Motors refused this demand and re- 
ferred the unions to the individual plant managers. As a 
result of the strike, such a conference was held and a written 
agreement between the union and the corporation was signed 
before the shop could be reopened. Now a conference begins 
to consider the demands of the union. 

The union demanded recognition as the sole collective 
bargaining agency for all the workers. General Motor? 
declared that it would grant no such recognition, holding 
that to be an inviolable and sacred principle of the corpora- 
tion. General Motors has now agreed to deal with the 
union as the exclusive bargaining agency for a period of 
six months (the exact form of the agreement is only a face 
saver for General Motors). 

General Motors in refusing the request for negotiations 

6 



declared that it was paying the highest possible wage in the 
industry but as a result of the strike, it has already declared 
a five-cent hourly increase in wages. 

General Motors in its application for an injunction 
declared that the stay-in strikers were no longer employees 
of the company but at the end of the strike, as a condition 
for resuming operations, General Motors has agreed to 
return all workers to their former positions without 
discrimination. 

General Motors had said that it would not discuss any 
questions with the union until its plants were evacuated 
and its "unlawfully seized plants were restored", but 
General Motors finally backed away from this position, 
and entered into discussion with the union and entered into 
an agreement, and not until it was signed did the workers 
leave the plants. 

That is why the outcome of the struggle has encouraged 
the workers everywhere and raised them to a high pitch 
of enthusiasm. That is why the auto strike is giving direct 
nourishment and impetus to the drive to organize the unor- 
ganized workers in the country. That is why, as a result 
of the struggle, a new wave of strikes is beginning in auto, 
and other factories, and that is why the Wall Street Journal 
now cries out against the strike that "its effectiveness was 
obtained by illegal means". 

Comrade William Z. Foster is indeed correct when he 
says that the "auto strike is fated to play a very important 
part in American labor history" and that "it is a sign of 
the new era that is dawning in the trade union movement 
in this country". 

7 



How Was the Victory 
of the Union Achieved? 

J. N the first place, the victory was won because the workers 
used and perfected the sit-down tactic of striking which we 
shall describe later along. 

In the second place the victory was won because of the 
fighting determination and profound solidarity which pre- 
vailed among the auto workers. The General Motors work- 
ers in practically all the states affected by the strike, but 
particularly in Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Norwood, and 
above all in Flint, operated as a single unit, as an army 
which responded to every critical situation and to every 
danger. Toledo and Norwoed workers came to Flint in 
the first days of the strike and greatly strengthened the 
fighting lines. General Motors, Dodge, Kelsy-Wheel, Mid- 
land, Chrysler and other workers from Detroit and also 
from other cities came spontaneously and repeatedly to the 
battlefront at Flint and were ready to move to Anderson 
and Saginaw to lend a hand in beating back armed thugs 
and vigilantes. Workers in Detroit and Toledo shut down 
the departments of their plants and left for the Flint 
battlefront. In Flint itself on a number of occasions, the 
workers on the outside, responding more to the prompting of 
8 



class instincts than to organized calls, came to the plants, 
appearing practically from nowhere to protect the workers 
on the inside. 

Special importance attaches to the great activity of the 
women workers who organized "women's emergency bri- 
gades" in Flint and who were assisted by women's brigades 
from other cities, who participated directly in the struggles, 
making up a vanguard of the fighting divisions which added 
great strength and solidarity to the workers' ranks and 
cemented their unity. One reason for this mobility and 
militancy is to be found in the fact that the auto industry. 
is composed largely of young people and these people were" 
on the side of the strike. Another and more basic reason 
for this militancy is the fact that the auto workers had made 
several attempts in the past to strike the plants and win the 
right to organize and were held in check, were deceived and 
betrayed by the A. F. of L. officialdom and by the President's 
agreement of 1934. The workers now gave vent to their 
accumulated hatred and expressed their determination that 
this time matters would be changed. All of which reveals 
the fact that in the last years, particularly since the crisis, 
the workers have grown in class consciousness, militancy 
and solidarity. 

Third, the victory was won because of the firm and 
united leadership provided by the C.I.O., which brought to 
the struggle that degree of aid and unity so essential to 
large-scale battles and which has been lacking in the past 
in strikes where craft union divisions prevailed. The C.I.O. 
under the aggressive leadership of John L. Lewis made it 
possible to maneuver with success the ending of the glass 







I 



strike at a timely moment so as to exert the greatest pressure 
upon General Motors. It also helped to work out the strategy 
of utilizing the competition between General Motors and 
Chrysler and Ford to the benefit of the strike. The C.I.O. 
unions sent organizers into the strike, sent delegations and 
speakers, helped in picketing as, for example, the steel 
workers in St. Louis and other cities, and gave moral and 
material aid to the auto union. 

Fourth, the victory was won because the craft unions in 
sections of the labor movement outside of the C.I.O. gave 
their support notwithstanding the treachery and the sabotage 
of the Greens and the Freys, as, for example, the support 
rendered by the Detroit and Flint Federations of Labor, the 
Michigan State Federation of Labor, and for a time the 
Cleveland Federation, and numerous craft unions and 
unionists. This proves that among the A. F. of L. unions 
there is a strong discontent with the policies of the Executive 
Council and that it is possible to work hand in hand with 
the craft unionists against the Executive Council and secure 
the unity so essential at the present time in the important 
fights which the C.I.O. and also craft unions will develop 
in the near future. 

Fifth, the victory was won because of the progressive 
leadership of. the international union nationally and be- 
cause of the progressive and militant leadership in the most 
important areas of the strike. The existence of numerous 
rank-and-file leaders especially within the plants gave a 
powerful backbone to the strike because here were people 
who did not falter or run before the first blows of the 
enemy. It was because the old Green-Dillon clique had 

10 



been cleaned out or pushed into the background, especially 
at the most critical points of the struggle in Flint, Detroit 
and Cleveland, and a new, fresh, militant leadership had 
taken its place that the strike could be carried on with such 
vigor and success. 
-.Sixth, the victory was won because the union carried out 
modern progressive mass methods of fighting. It engaged 
in demonstrations and mass picketing; made use of mass 
agitation through bulletins and special newspapers, made 
successful use of the sound car; introduced mass singing of 
labor solidarity songs, and employed the labor theater as 
a medium of agitation and education (although on a limited 
scale) ; organized mass strike committees based on rank- 
and-file representation ; formed relief committees and fought 
for state aid, and committees to ferret out spies, held fre- 
quent mass meetings and gave reports on all developments; 
carried on educational classes; established solidarity of 
men and women and unity of Negro and white; and en- 
listed and welcomed the support of all sections of the 
labor movement. The union appealed to and received the 
support of the middle class sections, pointing out the ad- 
vantages to them of a victory of the workers and stressing 
the common interests of the workers and small business 
men in weakening the power of this gigantic trust. It is to 
be regretted that the union did not fight for and make better 
use of the radio as a means of agitation. Special emphasis 
must be laid upon the use of the sound car, which has proven 
an indispensable instrument in such fights and should be 
introduced everywhere. Care must be taken immediately to 
thwart any attempts to restrict its use by laws, attempts 

11 



which are being made by stealth in auto and steel areas. 
These methods, as against the isolated, restricted, narrow 
and bureaucratic forms employed by the old Green-Dillon 
officials, have proved the only correct methods to be used 
in strikes which involve large masses of people. 

And, seventh, the victory was won because the union 
did not hesitate to use political as well as economic weapons 
of struggle. It fought against and exposed the company - 
controlled sheriffs, prosecuting attorneys, judges, and po- 
lice. It demanded the removal of the share-holding Judge 
Black and strike-breaking Chief of Police Wills of Flint, 
and laid a demand for the impeachment of the judge before 
the Michigan State Legislature and the governor. It de- 
manded and secured the deputizing of union men as special 
police in Anderson. It called upon and secured the aid of 
the La Follette Committee on Civil Rights, which had the 
effect of tempering the ruthless violence of the company- 
dominated local authorities. It demanded full protection 
of the civil rights of the workers and the right of collective 
bargaining from the governors of the states, from the De- 
partment of Labor, and from the President of the United 
States, and in that way fought and to a certain extent suc- 
ceeded in offsetting the one-sided use of the state power, 
which has always been employed as an agency of strike- 
breaking. It cooperated with civil rights conferences, draw- 
ing on all sections of the labor movement and middle class 
people. 

The Michigan Conference for the protection of civil 
rights, as well as the American League Against War and 
Fascism, proved of inestimable value in promptly organ- 

12 



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izing local and national protests against company terrorism. 
In Cleveland the People's Conference for the Protection of 
Civil Rights also served a useful purpose toward the same 

end. 

Special mention must be made of the role of the Flint 
workers and their leaders. Flint was the main battlefield 
because it is the heart of the General Motors industry and 
for that reason the struggle there was most acute. Special 
tribute must be paid to the workers and leaders of the 
sit-down strikers in the plants, the leaders and rank-and-file 
workers, and its chief organzer, who spread the struggle 
to the Chevrolet plant and held firmly to their positions in 
the Fisher Body plants to the very last day of the struggle, 
notwithstanding the violence, the provocations, and the 
attacks carried out against them. The Flint leaders ably 
prepared for the strike by the development of a shop 
steward system, carried out persistent recruiting, exposed 
and eliminated stool pigeons, and understood the importance 
of the strike of the bus drivers, which occurred several 
weeks before the auto fight, rendering them every aid and 
making the strike their own, and in that way organizing 
favorable sentiment in the city for unionism. In return they 
were well rewarded for their efforts by the assistance ren- 
dered them by this small but important body of workers. 
Had the old group of leaders that belonged to the Dillon 
clique and that worked hand in hand with the General 
Motors Corporation remained in control in the Flint situa- 
tion, the outcome of the strike against General Motors would 
have been entirely different. 
14 



The Attitude of the 
Government 

J? inally, but of first-rate importance among the reasons 
for the victory, must be considered the attitude of the gov- 
ernment. By the government I mean in this case the attitude 
of the Governor of the State of Michigan and of President 
Roosevelt. The defeat of the reactionaries in the last election 
created more favorable conditions for the winning of the 
strike, for it gave encouragement to the workers and was 
the signal that the moment was ripe to start the battle. It 
brought into office in Lansing and Washington, administra- 
tions that were committed to the continuation of the demo- 
cratic form of government and which had promised to 
assist the workers in obtaining improved standards of living 
and the right of collective bargaining. Had the Landon 
Republicans come into office they would have taken the 
usual hard-boiled Tory attitude on labor unionism and 
strikes. 

Lenin has noted two methods of rule of the capitalist 
class. He says: : 

"The bourgeoisie in all countries in practice inevitably elabo- 
rates two systems of governing, two methods of struggle for its 
interests and for the defense of its domination, and these two 
methods now replace one another and interlace in different 
combinations. These are, first, the method of violence, the 
method of refusing all concessions to the labor movement, the 
method of supporting all ancient and dying institutions, the 
method of uncompromising rejection of reform. . . . The second 
method is the method of 'liberalism', of steps toward the de- 

15 



velopment of political rights, of reforms, of concessions, etc, 
"The bourgeoisie passes from one method to another not 
through the malicious design of individuals and not by acci- 
dent, but by force of the basic contradictoriness of its own 
position." 

This is the type of government which rules today in 
Lansing and Washington. And the contradictoriness which 
Lenin notes in such a position was present even in the short 
period of the strike. 

The policies of Murphy and Roosevelt were to seek a 
compromise in the struggle, to avoid a sharpening of the 
conflict, and to terminate it as early as possible, not only 
because of the militant mood of labor and the danger of 
the struggle passing over to other sections of the labor 
movement, but also because of the pressure of a section of 
the capitalist class which found the strike harmful to its 
interests. The government had to face the outcry of the 
reactionaries, the big capitalist interests, that the sanctity 
of private property was being violated, and Governor Mur- 
phy was called upon to uphold the Constitution, "to defend 
private property", to support the courts, and to use the 
National Guard to evacuate the plants. There was the ever- 
present danger that this pressure would succeed. At one 
time the National Guard established virtual martial law 
around the Chevrolet and Fisher No. 2 plants and virtually 
imprisoned the sit-down strikers there. 

If the National Guard was not used it was due to the fact 
that both Governor Murphy and President Roosevelt faced 
a stiff resistance of the workers and because they realized 
that the use of violence with the danger of killing many 
worki vs would have aroused the working class of the 

16 



entire country, would have meant a sharp break with their 
labor support, would have meant a shattering blow to the 
Democratic Party, and would have led to a tremendous 
development of the movement for the independent political 
action which asserted itself in the last election campaign 
although on a restricted scale. 

Consider the forceful position taken by the union. The 
telegrams of the sit-down strikers addressed to Governor 
Murphy and President Roosevelt are classical not only be- 
cause of the passion and self-sacrifice which they expressed, 
but also because they voiced the insistance of labor that 
history shall not repeat itself and the promises made in 
the last election broken. Let us quote from one of these 
telegrams to the Governor of Michigan : 

"We feel it proper to recall to you the assurance you have 
many times given to the public that you would not permit force 
or violence to be used in ousting us from the plants. Unarmed 
as we are, the introduction of militia, sheriff or police with 
murderous weapons, will mean a blood bath of unarmed work- 
ers. The police of Flint belong to General Motors. The sheriff 
of Genesee County belongs to General Motors, and the judges 
of Genesee County belong to General Motors. . . . It remains to 
be seen whether or not the governor of this state also belongs to 
General Motors. We have decided to stay in the plants. We have 
no illusions what sacrifices this decision will entail. We fully 
expect that if violent efforts are used to put us out, many of us 
will be killed. We take this method to make it known to our 
wives, our children, and to the people of the state and country, 
that if this result follows from the attempts to eject us, you 
are the one who must be held responsible for our death" (Em- 
phasis mine — W. W.) 

It was because of this forceful position of labor, and it 
was because of the growing movement for independent 

17 



political action, that any compromise was prevented that 
would injure the interests of the strike and the union. 



Did the Union Win 
Its Full Objective? 

\3 ID the union win the full objective which it set for 
itself? No, the union did not win completely its major 
demand of becoming the sole collective bargaining agency 
nor was it able to achieve the negotiations of its economic 
demands while the strike was still in progress and the plants 
still shut down. It is not to be expected that in the first 
round of battle, all the demands can be won, because of the 
huge wealth of the corporation, its entrenched position in the 
local communities, its strong political power and the back- 
ing which it received from the steel and financial magnates, 
and on the other hand the youthfulness of the union. General 
Motors proved a ruthless enemy which did not hesitate to use 
every means, foul or fair, to achieve its end of breaking 
the strike. 

It is clear that such a corporation can be fully defeated 
and brought to its knees only by bending the full energies 
of the union, only by demonstrating the greatest strength, 
and only by succeeding in organizing the largest numbers 
of workers into the union before the battle begins. The 
union did not prove strongly enough organized to reach 
this goal. 

18 



What are the facts about organization? At the outset 
of the strike the union succeeded in organizing a majority 
of workers within approximately twenty plants. It was 
where the plants were organized to any considerable ex- 
tent that they were shut down by strikes. The facts are that 
not all the plants were well organized in Flint, Detroit, 
or in Michigan, generally, the most strategic centers of 
General Motors, and that such strongholds as Pontiac, Sag- 
inaw, and Grand Rapids, were practically unorganized. 
It is true that the union shut down the strategic Fisher 
Body plants in Flint and Cleveland and that this worked 
greatly to the advantage of the union in paralyzing the 
industry. The very audacity of the union in challenging a 
corporation which held undisputed sway encouraged the 
workers and brought many thousands into the union dur- 
ing the strike, but still this was not enough for an industry 
employing hundreds of thousands and indirectly affecting 
the jobs of a million. The union attempted to widen the 
sphere of the strike but its forces were too weak to achieve 
success. The union was therefore confronted with the di- 
lemma of having carried through a general shutdown with- 
out having carried through and declared a general strike 
in all the plants. While some 40,000 to 50,000 were af- 
fected directly by strikes, another 100,000 workers were 
thrown out of work. This gave General Motors the pos- 
sibility of crying "that a minority was attempting to dictate 
to the majority", to make the struggle appear as a battle 
between union and non-union workers, to keep a large 
number of workers on the sidelines, and to create to a cer- 
tain extent a popular mass cover for the usual strong-arm 

19 






methods. This they did through such organizations as the 
Flint Alliance, through petition campaigns (obviously in- 
spired by General Motors and carried through by coercion 
but nevertheless successful because of the lack of organiza- 
tion in such places), through organizing mass meetings of 
"loyal workers", and by staging what might be called a 
"pro-company rebellion", through sending delegations to 
the governor of the state, and in general creating the danger 
of a strong back-to-work movement. This enabled General 
Motors also to raise the cry that it was serving to protect 
the rights of non-union members. 

The A. F. of L. officialdom did its bit in helping this 
movement of the corporation along, especially since these 
officials fell in with the tactics of the corporation which 
claimed that other workers were opposed to the union as 
the sole collective bargaining agency. But basically, the op- 
position to the strike and the counter-movement attempted 
by the corporation had its foundation in the company 
unions which were practically untouched in the prepara- 
tions of the strike. This insufficiency of organization and 
weakness in failing to break into new territories at one 
stage of the struggle gave the offensive to the side of Gen- 
eral Motors, which seriously threatened the outcome of the 
strike. It was at this moment that the Flint workers and 
their leader, Robert Travis, conceived and executed a bril- 
liant move in achieving the sit-down in the Chevrolet As- 
sembly Plant No. 4 which once again gave the initiative 
into the hands of the strikers and which virtually put an 
end to the back-to-work movement started by General 
Motors. It was at this moment, too, that the Flint workers 

20 






, 



stopped a bogging of the strike and a weakening of the 
ranks as a result of the defeat suffered at Anderson, where 
the leadership was driven out by vigilantes and also because 
of a mistake made in calling off the Saginaw meeting. 

The insufficiency of organization must be attributed to 
the fact that while the union had planned to attack Gen- 
eral Moters and to develop a general strike, actually there 
was a more or less spontaneous outbreak of the struggle. 
The fight against General Motors began at Atlanta with the 
strike on November 18, followed several weeks later by the 
strike at Kansas City, and towards the last week in Decem- 
ber there took place the sit-downs at Cleveland, followed 
the next day by sit-downs in Fisher No. 1 and No. 2 at 
Flint. A contributing factor here was the glass strike which 
threatened to shut down the auto industry and which made 
many feel that it was advisable to hit the blow before such 
a shut-down occurred. But there is no doubt that General 
Motors allowed the strike movement to develop in order to 
bring matters to a head, thinking that the union was en- 
tirely unprepared and would be defeated. 

General Motors had expected to win. It thought that the 
armed force which it could put into action against the 
strikers through its complete control of the local authori- 
ties would enable it to end the strike in double quick 
time. Why then did the calculations of General Motors 
prove false? It was because General Motors did not reckon 
with the leadership of the C.I.O. and the militancy of the 
workers and because it was entirely unprepared for and 
unable to meet and overcome the new tactic of the workers 
— the sit-down strike. 

21 



Sit-Down Strike Tactics 

he big corporations know how to deal with a walkout 
strike but General Motors did not know how to deal with 
the sit-down strike. The attempts to use the usual methods 
of securing an injunction, illegalizing the strike, and break- 
ing up the picket lines by armed force, as they attempted 
to do in Flint and in the battle before Fisher No. 2 (now 
named the "Battle of Bulls Run", because the police did 
the running on that day) failed miserably and only en- 
hanced the prestige of the union while arousing the in- 
dignation of the masses. The attempt to cut off the heat 
and food proved likewise to be a boomerang. The General 
Motors workers and especially the Flint workers developed 
this weapon to the highest degree in the following ways: 

First of all they strategically locked themselves in, mak- 
ing it difficult to dislodge them without the use of consider- 
able force and numbers, while at the same time, by taking 
over the gates, they obtained the possibility of freely com- 
ing and going and thereby relieved the strain which they 
would otherwise have found a serious factor in their "vol- 
untary imprisonment". Thus, by coming and going in shifts, 
they were able to hold out for a long time and thereby 
improved the methods of continually staying in the plants 
which was the practice in the Midland Steel, Kelsey-Hayes, 
American Aluminum and other Detroit auto strikes. 

Second, they developed a complete and efficient organiza- 
tion within the plant, establishing a strike committee, and 
various sub-committees, and captains, including health and 

22 



, 



sanitation, patrol and policing, trial committee (kangaroo 
court), and by means of such organization exercised the 
greatest vigilance and control, developing fully both the 
strategy and the means of defense against any attacks. The 
workers virtually barricaded themselves within the plants 
and prepared themselves to use all devices available (but 
emphatically barred firearms) within the plant to hold 
their positions. In the Fisher No. 1 Plant in Flint, the sit- 
down strikers covered the windows with bullet-proof metal 
sheets through which fire hoses could be put out to meet 
any gas or firearm attack. They organized and drilled 
squads in the use of the water hoses for quick and efficient 
service. They organized a police patrol which made the 
rounds at given hours to detect any untoward movement 
of people in adjoining wings of the building occupied by 
the office help so as not to be caught by surprise attacks, 
etc. 

Third, they combined the method of sitting down within 
the plant with a system of outside car picket patrol, which 
was supplemented by the union by daily outside meetings 
through a public address system, carried on by the use 
of sound cars. This was further supplemented by large- 
scale demonstrations arranged by the union to meet any 
critical situation, such as the threat ef evacuation on the 
basis of the injunction. Such a combination of an inside 
strike with outside mass mobilization and support rend- 
ered the use of the sit-down most effective. It was because 
of this organized mass support that the corporation wai 
frustrated in its efforts to dislodge them. For example on 
the day when the evacuation was expected, following the 

23 



issuance of the injunction, about 3,000 workers formed a 
picket line before Fisher No. 1 at Flint, and many thou- 
sands more were present and ready to pitch into the battle 
if the evacuation were attempted. 

Fourth, they worked out the strategy of organizing a sit- 
down in the face of the massing of numerous company 
guards who were ready to use firearms to prevent the occur- 
rence of a sit-down. This they did in connection with the 
sit-down in Chevrolet Plant No. 4. The move executed 
by the Flint strike leadership consisted in arranging a sit- 
down strike of the workers in Plant No. 9, sending outside 
union men and women to give them support, and in thai 
way engaged the attention of the company thugs of Plant 
No. 9 and those of other plants, and while the battle raged 
here, organized a march from Plant No. 6 to Plant No. 4, 
which was the better organized and the most strategic plant 
because it produces motors for all Chevrolet cars, and ef- 
fected the successful sit-down in this plant. Thus they com- 
bined a march from other plants as reinforcements for the 
main point of attack. 

We must properly evaluate this new tactic of the workers. 
The sit-down strike has arisen spontaneously from the ranks 
of the workers and is a new weapon forged to meet the 
problems of struggle against the big corporations. It is a 
tactic, however, which is already being employed in small 
as well as large factories, in industrial as well as other 
plants. It is becoming the principal form of strike struggle 
at the present time and for that reason must be paid the 
closest attention in order to impart to this method the great- 
est consciousness and efficiency. Experience shows what the 

24 



great teachers of the working class movement, Marx and 
Lenin, have emphasized many times, that new forms of 
struggle will inevitably arise as special conditions change, 
"forms hitherto unseen by active people in the movement". 

The sit-down strike is not the old syndicalist tactic of 
the folded-arms strike, nor the application of the theory 
of the militant minority (the idea that a small group of 
resolute people can impose its will upon large masses and 
by their sheer determination drag them along irrespective 
of their sentiments and convictions). While the number ac- 
tually sitting within the plants was a minority of the work- 
ers of the factory, nonetheless, the sit-down strike was suc- 
cessful because these workers represented and were sup- 
ported by a big majority of the workers of the shop. There 
is no doubt that the sit-down strikes of the French work- 
ers have had the most profound influence in introducing 
this instrument among the American workers, but the 
changed conditions within the country have favored the use 
of the sit-down strike here. 

What are these conditions? At first sight is the experi- 
ences of the workers in their struggle against the big in- 
dustrialists in which they found themselves beset by brutal 
force, the breaking up of the picket lines and use of hired 
strike-breakers and other acts of violence. It must be re- 
membered that in 1930, the picket line of Fisher Plant No. 
1 in Flint was broken up and driven out of the city en 
masse by the chief of police. This lesson was not lost upon 
the Fisher Body workers. 

Secondly, the last elections and the defeat of the eco- 
nomic royalists have given to the workers the feeling that 

25 



the government was on their side, would protect them 
against the big corporations, and would not so readily 
come out against them as a strike-breaking agency. Thirdly 
is the growth in consciousness and understanding of the 
workers of their strategic importance in the mass produc- 
tion set-up, the inter-dependence of departments and plants, 
and thus their ability to match the strength of the corpora- 
tion by their power to interrupt and stop the whole pro- 
cess of production by stopping the movement of the belt. 

But the use of the sit-down, the "occupation" of the 
plant property, reveal that deeper forces have been at work 
in the course of the last years. 

Let us consider the question of property and property 
rights. General Motors and the ruling class press every- 
where set up a howl against the sit-downers, that they had 
taken over the factory, and were trespassing upon the rights 
of the owners. Mr. Sloan spoke about "holding the factory 
for ransom". And the pretentious quack scholar, John P. Frey 
of the American Federation of Labor, followed in his 
footsteps with talk about the occupation of the fac- 
tories. Editorials were written about the sit-down becoming 
a daily habit in the life of the people. "How would you 
like it if a stranger came into your house and squatted in 
your dining room and refused to leave." Such was the theme 
of the editorials and new articles turned out in reams by 
the capitalist writers. This was intended to shake the morale 
of the workers, to scare the small property owners and 
turn them against the strike, and to bring pressure upon 
the authorities — "sworn to uphold property rights and the 
constitution". But matters did not turn out that way. The 
workers did not sit down in the factories in order to take 

26 



them over and dispossess General Motors, They did not 
carry out "expropriation", but instead carefully guarded 
the property and in fact prided themselves that they took 
care of the property and machines "far better than the 
plant guards". They declared their readiness to leave the 
plants if they were given the assurances and were guar- 
anteed that the plants would not be put into operation until 
a settlement was reached. The workers did not at all feel 
themselves strangers in another man's home. As the Flint 
Auto Worker pointed out, the workers of the plant were 
part and parcel of the factory. They spent more days, weeks 
and years in them than did the owners, many of whom have 
never seen the factory and have not spent a single day 
within its walls. And thus the workers were not motivated 
by revolutionary aims in occupying the plants but were 
limiting themselves to a form of pressure to achieve their 
immediate economic ends. 

They were encroaching upon the rights of the capitalists 
—capitalist rights — the right of unlimited exploitation 
and ruthless oppression, and were asserting labor's rights, 
the right to a decent livelihood under human conditions 
of work. But does this not happen in a walk-out strike, 
when workers cease to labor and stop the working of the 
machinery (the property of the capitalists), stop the hir- 
ing of scabs and interfere with the "sacred right" of the 
capitalists to make profits, just as long as they ignore the 
needs of the working people? And has this not always 
been the cry of the capitalists against strikes? Only here, 
to be sure, we have a more advanced form of this "inter- 
ference" with the sacred and let it be said tyrannical prop- 
erty rights. 

27 



Nonetheless, in this action, we see the maturing of the 
idea among the workers that the factories are not merely 
the sole property of the owners to do with and to handle 
as they see fit, but that there are human rights to be safe- 
guarded and that these rights must take precedence over 
property rights. Here we see the greater consciousness of 
the position of the workers as wage slaves. Here we see 
the emergence of the working class as a class. Here we see 
the sharp alignment of the classes within the country — a 
development which is finding and will find its expression 
on the political field. An epochal change is taking. place in 
the mentality of the working class. The years of the de- 
pression and crisis have shattered the old relationships, have 
lowered the prestige of the ruling class and have raised the 
independence and self-assertedness of labor. It is this new 
strength of the working class which General Motors and 
their henchmen encountered in Flint and other General 
Motors strongholds; and it is this strength which they tried 
to break through the organization of the Flint Alliance, a 
combination of foremen, superintendents and local business 
men, dependent upon General Motors. It was because of 
this strength that the local authorities began to deputize 
loyal citizens and threatened to go down to the plants to 
"shoot it out". Had it not been for the cool-headedness of 
the union leadership, a local civil war could have been 
precipitated by the guardians of law and order. 

The big corporations in meeting with sit-down strikes will 
undoubtedly repeat the tactics of General Motors. The cry 
against alleged expropriation will continue. This attitude 
of the corporations will make the strike struggles extremely 

28 



acute. For that reason, in sit-down strikes, the union must 
see to it that the aims of the strike are clearly set forth 
to the whole population, that it imparts to the middle class 
— the merchants and professional people — clear knowledge 
of the purpose of the strike and in that way align the mid- 
dle elements on the side of the union and the strike, and 
that the union leadership hold firmly to their rights and 
do not waver before the propaganda onslaughts of the cor- 
poration. 



Special Advantages 
of the Sit-Down 

▼V herein are the special advantages of the sit-down 
tactic? Observation of a number of strikes leads me to 
think that the following are among the most important rea- 
sons for the introduction of this tactic: 

Sit-down strikes give to the workers a greater feeling of 
strength and security because the strikers are inside the 
plants, in the solid confines of the factory, at the machines 
which are the sources of their livelihood, instead of away 
from the plant, moving around in "empty space", on the 
sidewalks surrounding the factories. 

Sit-down strikes give to the workers greater sureness that 
there are no scabs within the plants and no production is 
being carried on and makes it difficult to run in scabs. For 

29 






example, in the walkout strike, the great problem is that 
of picketing. Mass picketing — throwing of large masses 
around the factory gates — is of the utmost importance if 
scabs are to be kept out but even then the problem is ex- 
tremely difficult in view of the size of the factory and the 
numerous entrances. Take the Fisher Body No. 1 plant at 
Flint, This takes up an area of one-half mile around 
and requires large masses concentrated at a great number 
of points throughout the day and night. With the sit-down 
strike the problem of picketing is reduced for, with the 
workers sitting in, a relatively smaller picket patrol (this 
is absolutely essential so that the workers inside know what 
is going on outside) is sufficient to guard against the in- 
filtration of scabs. 

The sit-down strike furthermore makes it difficult to re- 
sume operations even partially where scabs have gotten in 
because by holding down one section of the plant it is hard 
to begin operations. 

The sit-down strike affords strikers greater possibility 
of defending themselves against the violence of the police 
and company men because they are inside the plants and 
are able to bar the way of the attackers and also are able 
to organize means of defense and when an attack does oc- 
cur, the public understands clearly who are the attackers. 

The sit-down strike makes for a greater discipline, group 
consciousness and comradeship among the strikers because 
of the very position in which they find themselves and there- 
by enhances the militancy and fighting spirit of the 
workers. 

Finally, the sit-down strike arouses the widest sympathy 

30 







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and support among the working population because of the 
courage of the workers in taking "possession" of the fac- 
tory and because of the self-sacrifice and hardship which 
such action entails. This is particularly the case of indus- 
trial communities where the factory is the center of every- 
thing. 

Of course, the sit-down strike creates its own set of dif- 
ficulties and problems. The question of sleeping within the 
plant, of contacts with the families, of feeding the work- 
ers, of holding the workers within the plants, of keeping 
out company men, of guarding against provocations, of the 
danger of the stoppage of heat and food, of organizing sets 
of inside and outside strike committees, the timely switch- 
ing from an inside to an outside strike when the lines do 
not hold, etc., all require careful study in order to readjust 
the methods of strike organization to the problems of the 
sit-down. 

The use of the sit-down method of strike does not do 
away with the general tactics and strategy in the operation 
of strike struggles, that of the necessity for adequate mass 
preparation of the strikes, of the building up of the union 
as the basis of the strike, or of achieving the largest amount 
of mass support among the workers of the plant — all fea- 
tures of good strike organization which have generally been 
employed in the walkout tactic. I have in mind, of course, 
the features of an organized strike. 

The sit-down tactic caught the corporations unprepared 
but already they are developing counter methods to defeat 
it. These methods include the enlargement of company 
police, the organization of special groups of "loyal work- 

32 



ers" forcibly to eject sit-down strikers, to organize their 
plants in such a way as to make an approach to the fac- 
tory more difficult and thereby isolate and starve out the 
workers. 

The sit-down strike is not an exclusive method of strike. 
It does not replace the walkout strike tactic. Both will be 
used but we must state that the sit-down tactic is now part 
of the arsenal of weapons which unionism is using, will use 
and can use in the struggle against the exploiters. 



Tasks Now Facing 
the Union 



X he position of the United Automobile Workers has been 
greatly strengthened as a result of the strike, but it has still 
before it the task of the negotiation of an agreement on 
the question of wages, hours and working conditions. It 
has won an agreement but the agreement has only the value 
of the organized strength behind it. General Motors will 
contest every inch of the ground in order to prevent the 
union from capitalizing on its enhanced prestige and to 
prevent it from becoming the only union in the industry. 
It will therefore require the utmost vigilance on the part of 
the union and continuous activity in order that it may win 
a satisfactory settlement of. its demands. Strong-arm meth- 
ods used in Anderson and other places show that General 

33 



Motors is not yet going to abandon the field to the union. 

The most important thing is to consolidate the newly 
gained membership and to entrench itself firmly within the 
plants. Consolidation means above all the establishment of 
an efficient shop steward system. Through the establishment 
of a department shop steward system the union will have 
the forces to carry on recruitment, to defend the condi- 
tions of the workers in the shop, to take care of the griev- 
ances, and to bar the way to the company men who will 
seek to create confusion and steer the workers away from 
the union. The establishment of a strong shop steward sys- 
tem requires the carrying through of elections, department 
by department, plant by plant, instructing the shop stew- 
ards in their tasks, and above all, securing shop stewards 
who have proven themselves to be militant and active men, 
who have demonstrated their loyalty and reliability in the 
course of the strike. In the election of shop stewards, non- 
union members as well as union members should have the 
right to participate, and in that way the shop stewards will 
truly represent all the workers of the department. 

The necessity for a vigorous recruiting campaign is obvi- 
ous, particularly in those strategic places in which General 
Motors held out against the union. It is also essential be- 
cause General Motors will carry through maneuvers to 
build up a competing union. The ineffectiveness of the com- 
pany union will undoubtedly compel General Motors to 
seek to build up an independent organization which will 
remain a creature of the company. Here the American Fed- 
eration of Labor will be more than ready to help out the 
corporation and to provide an apparent independent front 

34 



for a company union set-up. Already in Cleveland, there 
are signs that the American Federation of Labor intends 
to move in and use whatever membership the company 
union elements can provide it in order to establish a rival 
organization. It will be necessary to expose this move and 
to show up the American Federation of Labor as coming 
in only with the object of dividing the ranks of the work- 
ers and destroying the effectiveness of the International 
Auto Workers Union. But at the same time, the union must 
be prepared where its own ranks are too weak within cer- 
tain departments to send forces into such a set-up with the 
object of wresting away the leadership of such independent 
union and in that way disrupting the tactics of the com- 
pany. 

The consolidation and development of the union requires, 
furthermore, the continuation of the labor papers that have 
been issued by the union during the strike and the estab- 
lishment of papers of the union where none have existed, 
and the building up of sports groups, athletic teams, glee 
clubs, dramatic groups, educational classes, the enlarge- 
ment of the women's auxiliary — all of which will power- 
fully reinforce the union's strength. 

Nor can the union ignore the challenge which has been 
issued to it by the local authorities who have shown them- 
selves to be tools of the company. And in such places as 
Flint and other industrial communities controlled by Gen- 
eral Motors as well. as in Detroit, the union must consider 
the question of electing union men into political office, to 
oust the General Motors politicians, and to build up local 
tabor parties in order to achieve that aim. 

35 



i 



The General Motors strike has set the ball rolling. Other 
plants are stepping into line. Strikes are growing in the 
independent as well as in the plants of the other big corpora- 
tions. The question of an agreement with Chrysler is now 
being placed upon the order of the day. The question of 
the organization of Ford is not a far distant question. The 
union should discuss the lessons from the General Motors 
struggle in order to fully prepare itself to tackle these 
points. 



Activities of the Communists 
in the Auto Strike 



/Vmong the auto workers there are former miners and 
others who have had many years of labor experience. Their 
experience made for added solidarity and discipline. In 
this strike and the union there were also radical-minded 
workers and among this group, in the first place, must be 
mentioned the work of the Communist members of the 
union as well as the work of the Communist Party itself. 

What were the activities of the Communists? The Com- 
munists and the Communist Party gave the most loyal back- 
ing and support to the strike, to the aims, policies and ac- 
tivities of the union and the C.I.O. The Communists worked 
ardently and earnestly in helping to build up the union and 
tried in every way possible to properly prepare the strike 

36 



so that it would rest upon a strong foundation. In the strike 
itself the Communists sought to imbue the strikers and the 
workers generally with the greatest discipline, organization 
and persevcrence. There is no doubt that where the 
Communists were active and took an outstanding part, par- 
ticularly at the most decisive points of the struggle, 
there the strike was strongest, and this made for the success 
of the whole battle. The Communist workers combated any 
tendency to waver in the face of the sharp blows of the 
enemy and helped to keep the ranks as firm as possible. 

The Party members, not only in the areas of the strike 
but in various parts of the country, gave moral and material 
aid, helped to collect food and funds, arranged solidarity 
meetings, helped the union in the distribution of its ma- 
terial, and gave practical assistance in other ways. The Com- 
munist Party early recognized and sought to impress upon 
every one the decisive importance of Flint as the main battle- 
ground of the struggle, and in that way aided in keeping 
the eyes of the entire country upon Flint so as to render 
that front the greatest assistance. 

The Daily Worker contained many columns of news 
about the strike, editorials and articles, which pointed out 
the problems of the strike struggle, which tried to foresee 
and warn against the many dangers that lurked ahead in 
the battle. It issued a special supplement of 25,000 copies 
each and a total of 150,000 copies, which was undoubtedly 
of aid to the strike, and in such places as Cleveland, the 
Communists in the strike issued a special shop paper which 
dealt with the problems of the strike at the Fisher Bod) 
plant. 

37 



1 



The existence of groups of Communists within the shops 
was undoubtedly of great help because thereby a core of 
experienced people were in the shops to help in the solu- 
tion of the new problems connected with the sit-down. The 
shop form of organization, the shop groups (units), has 
more than justified itself. Where the Party organization 
paid attention to these units, there the efforts of many years 
of work were fully rewarded. The shop unit form of or- 
ganization and the attention to the shops are of even greater 
importance today with the development of the sit-down 
strike methods. 

There were some who raised objections to the distribu- 
tion of the Daily Worker in the shops among the strikers, 
but quite generally the workers welcomed the paper and 
did not interfere with the right of the Communist Party to 
distribute its material. The "Red scare" which was raised 
at times although timidly and mostly by company men did 
not take effect because the workers had learned that where 
such scares are created against Communists and where dis- 
crimination occurs against the activities of one section of 
the labor movement, there the company succeeds in divid- 
ing the ranks, there the strike becomes weakened and there 
it is easiest for company men to get the upper hand. Where 
democratic policies prevail and the opinion of all group? 
is allowed, there the consciousness of the workers is high- 
est and the greatest unity and militancy obtain. The more 
united the struggle, the better the fight and the greater the 
success. 

Can it be said that everything was done by the Com- 
munists and the Communist Party that was possible to help 

38 



the strike? No, this cannot be said. Not all Party organiza- 
tions or all Party members participated in assisting the 
strike struggle, a fault which shows that the Party is not 
yet sufficiently mobilized for joining in the economic fights 
and that sectarian tendencies which keep Party members 
away from this most vital task are still prevalent. But this 
is also related to the insufficient connection and leader- 
ship of the county and state committees with the branches 
and membership. The lack of Party organization in such 
places as Pontiac, Anderson and Saginaw made it impos- 
sible for the Party to render assistance at these places, a 
situation which must be corrected in the near future. 

The rise of a new labor movement in the auto centers, the 
growth of strike struggles, place before the Party more 
acutely than ever before the necessity for making the fac- 
tories and trade unions the center of its attention, in order 
that it might be of greatest assistance. The distribution of 
the Daily Worker and Sunday Worker, of literature, must 
center chiefly around the shops and the unions, for the 
workers are now ready and willing to hear all points of 
view with respect to the problems and tasks of the labor 
movement. The organization of a speakers' bureau and the 
enlargement of the work of agitation and education are also 
badly needed, so as to impart to the working class move- 
ment a knowledge of the workings of the labor movement 
and of the social and political problems confronting it, 
and in that way aid in planting the flag of trade unionism 
firmly over the giant factories of the country and to en- 
large and strengthen the social and class vision of the 
workers. 

39 



i 



It is especially urgent to put on a real recruiting drive, 
to win to the Party the ranks of active people, and in that 
way enable the Party to root itself in the shops, to enlarge 
its contacts, and to strengthen itself as an organization 
which is influential among the mass of auto workers. But 
of great urgency is the necessity of showing to the work- 
ers the face of the Party, to show the workers what the 
Party is doing so that it may have a full appreciation of the 
importance of the activities of Communists in the working 
class struggle. This was by no means done to any sufficient 
extent during the strike. 

So much for the activities of the Communist Party and 
the Communists in the struggle. 

It is also interesting to discuss the activity of other work- 
ing class groups, particularly that of the Socialist Party. 
Members of the Socialist Party carried on creditable activity 
during the strike and their activities were of help to the 
union. Several members of the Socialist Party performed 
outstanding work. These were Socialists who were not 
infected with the poison of Trotskyism or influenced to any 
large extent by the sectarianism of the "militant Socialists", 
but followed a true course of mass struggle. In the strike 
the Communists cooperated with these Socialist Party mem- 
bers (although not on the basis of any formal pact) and 
such cooperation proved fruitful. 

But the same cannot be said of the line of policy pur- 
sued by the Socialist Party through the columns of its lead- 
ing organ, the Socialist Call. While devoting considerable 
space to the strike its policies were by no means free from 
sectarianism. Take for example the article of Frank Trager 
in the Socialist Call of February 6. Here he states that the 

40 




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offensive wliieh took place in Flint during that week "was 
under the spirited leadership of the Socialist leaders". This 
statement is not only guilty of unjustified boasting but, 
what is worse, separates the leadership of Flint from the 
general leadership of the union and the C.I.O., and also 
dismisses the leadership of militants who occupied the most 
strategic points in Flint and who are by no means Socialists. 
But the harmful sectarianism is to be found in another 
part of his article in which he states that the offensive 
took place because "the Flint auto workers discarded the 
futile strategy of long conferences and round table negotia- 
tions". The inference here is that the leadership of the 
union was wasting its time in useless negotiations (while 
the workers were favoring action) and thanks to the So- 
cialist Party they finally received it. This is a complete dis- 
tortion of the situation and what is more, reveals a lack of 
understanding of the tactics of strike leadership. This ap- 
parent emphasis upon "action" and scorn for "talk" appear 
indeed very revolutionary and are the latest fad of some 
leaders of the Socialist Party. But any knowledge of the 
situation shows that the action in Flint in taking Chevrolet's 
Plant No. 4 became ripe only with the rise in union mem- 
bership during the strike and also followed on the heels 
of the discrediting of the General Motors officials due to 
their very failure to enter into negotiations in Washington, 
followed the rebuke which Secretary Perkins administered 
to Mr. Sloan, which raised the morale of the workers and 
sharpened their militancy and determination without which 
it would have been difficult to have carried through such 
a sharp battle and such tactics as were involved in the sit- 
42 



down in Chevrolet No. 4. Thus we see the worthlessness and 
lack of reality contained in such high sounding statements 
reported above. In general it must be said that the negotia- 
tions carried on by the union leadership and the C.I.O., in 
contrast to the negotiations of the old Green and Dillion 
group, set a new mark in the practice of labor leaders in 
making use of negotiations and conferences not to injure 
but to aid the work of the men and women on the picket 
lines. 

Nor can we dismiss the comment made by Norman 
Thomas in his column of January 30 on the question of 
the sit-down. On the one hand, he endorses the sit-down 
strike as a weapon which has obvious advantages for the 
workers "beautifully demonstrated in Flint where the spirit 
and discipline of the workers have been remarkable". On 
the other hand, he remarks that because "the sit-down strike 
properly used is a powerful weapon for the workers — it 
does not follow that it has no dangers", and says, "if it 
is used for the advantage of some small group rather than 
for the advantage of the whole body of workers, if it is 
used without discipline; if it is used so as to create public 
hostility, then the sit-down strike is not an advantage". 

It must be remembered that this was written at the very 
moment when the General Motors Corporation was publish- 
ing full-page ads and the entire press of the country was 
crying out that a small group was keeping large masses out 
of work, at a moment also when the capitalists were try- 
ing to give the impression that the public was aligned 
against the sit-down strike method. Of what use is moraliz- 
ing on the sit-down and discussion of its disadvantages at 

43 



1 



such a moment? Such a moment requires unqualified, un- 
conditional support, and emphasis upon the importance of 
the new weapon, so that the workers may master and hold 
firmly to it, for any wavering or doubt as to its useful- 
ness would only have assisted in weakening the resistance 
to the intended evacuation. What conclusions did Norman 
Thomas draw from these remarks? He drew the moral "that 
the all important thing is not the particular kind of strike 
but the kind of union which the workers build". Here is 
the essence of the underestimation and wavering upon the 
question of the sit-down which the above remarks revealed, 
for in fact the particular kind of union that was being built 
depended upon the very success of the kind of strike which 
was being used, and contrary to Thomas the all important 
thing was the most effective use of the "particular kind of 
strike" which the workers were carrying through. 

This statement of Thomas is typical of the course re- 
cently followed by the leadership of the Socialists of evad- 
ing a concrete answer to concrete questions and seeking 
refuge in balanced statements which are both here and there, 
and in "revolutionary" phrasemongering — a phrasemonger- 
ing which conceals true revolutionary deeds. 

And lastly, a few remarks upon the disruptive activity of 
a little sect of Trotskyist followers in Detroit known as the 
Revolutionary Workers Group — a split- off and variant of 
the main Trotskyist body. This group at the height of the 
struggles, at the very moment that the vigilantes were seek- 
ing a pretext to attack and when the workers had organized 
a formidable demonstration of their strength, issued a leaf- 
let the substance of which was to warn the workers "against 

44 



the C.I.O. disarming them and to call for the formation of 
'workers' guard". Such propaganda, which was emphati- 
cally condemned and repudiated by the workers and by the 
Communist Party, was just the very thing which the com- 
pany needed to reinforce its campaign of violence. Such 
activities and propaganda have not the slightest semblance 
of any revolutionary activities, although the name of the 
group has a revolutionary title, and has far more in com- 
mon with the type of work which enemies of the labor 
movement would conduct — the work of little reactionaries 
and disrupters parading as a section of the labor move- 
ment. 



1 N conclusion, the strike of the automobile workers re- 
veals the new forces that are at work within the country, 
forces which are driving toward an extension and strength- 
ening of the labor movement and which are welding also 
the unity of the working class and of all progressive-minded 
people, a process which is giving rise to the growth of a 
real people's movement— a real people's united front — a 
movement which will embrace also the most aggressive 
revolutionary-minded section of the working class — the 
Communists and the Communist Party. The full effects of 
the great and dramatic auto strike of 1937 will be felt in 
the coming struggles ahead of us. It will prove to be a 
landmark in American labor history. 



45 



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Other Pamphlets on the World Situation 

MURDER AT THE KEMEROVO MINES 

Ernst Fischer . . . 05 

Trotskyite Plotters at Work. 

HEROIC CHINA— P. Miff . 15 

The Struggle for Unity Against Japanese Imperialism. 

THE SPANISH REVOLUTION— M. Ercoli . .05 

The Class Character of the War in Spain. 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE PIATAKOV- 
RADEK TRIAL— William Z. Foster . . . .10 

The Significance of the Trial of the Trotskyite Wreckers. 

THE PACIFIC COAST MARITIME STRIKE 

William Schneiderntan 05 

How the Great Maritime Strike Was Organized and Won. 



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