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Full text of "What means a strike in steel,"

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF TEXAS 

AT 

AUSTIN 



■ 




CHAPTER ONE 

THE PROSPECT FOR A 
NATIONAL STEEL STRIK) 



In 1919, after the steel trust, by the use of troops, 
gunmen, scabs, lying newspapers and mass starva- 
tion, had violently broken the strike of 365,000 
steel workers and lashed these oppressed toilers back 
into the mills, I ventured to forecast in my book, The 
Great Steel Strike and Its Lessons, that "it will not be 
long until they have another big movement under way. 
. . . The great steel strike of 1919 will seem only a pre- 
liminary skirmish when compared with the tremendous 
battles that are bound to come." 

This forecast is now in all probability about to be re- 
alized. Events are fast shaping up for the greatest 
labor struggle in American history, one that will in- 
volve unparalleled masses of striking workers, and 
probably several industries, in the very heart of the 
industrial system, with the steel industry as the storm 
center of the whole movement. Already the beginnings 
of this huge struggle are to be seen, as I write this, in 
the upheavals among the automobile workers. 

The Long Struggle of the Steel Workers 

Ever since the decisive defeat of trade unionism in 
the steel industry during the great Homestead strike 
44 years ago, the steel trust has ruthlessly lorded it 

3 



■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■i 



Other famfhlets by 
WILLIAM Z. FOSTER 

Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry 
5 cents 

Unionizing Steel 
5 cents 

Industrial Unionism 
5 cents 

The Crisis in the Socialist Party 
5 cents 



PUBLISHED BY WORKERS LIBRARY PUBLISHERS, INC. 
P.O. BOX 148, STA. D, NEW YORK CITY, FEBRUARY, 1937. 

209 



over the vast army of steel slaves. The steel barons 
have enforced upon the workers the most ruthless ex- 
ploitation, with low wages, the long day and work 
week, infamous spy systems, boss tyranny in the mills, 
wholesale slaughter by unprotected machinery, etc., etc. 
They have made of the steel towns dirty, miserable, 
poverty-stricken, disease-laden shack communities ruled 
by gunmen and servile company political tools and 
devoid of all culture and beauty. And the national and 
state governments have actively assisted in maintaining 
this outrageous situation. 

The steel workers have waged many fierce and de- 
termined struggles to end their intolerable position: the 
heroic Homestead strike of the Amalgamated Associa- 
tion of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers (A. A.) in 1892, 
the hard-fought battles of the A. A. in 1901 and 1909, 
the brave struggles of the I.W.W. in McKees Rocks in 
1909, the huge national strike of the 24 allied A. F.of L. 
unions in 1919, the bitter strike of the Steel and Metal 
Workers Industrial Union (T.U.U.L.) in Ambridge 
in 1933, the general organization campaign of the A.A 
in 1934 and many other big movements throughout 
the years. During these heroic struggles for liberty, 
company thugs have jailed and murdered many steel 
workers and union organizers, and their martyrdom is 
symbolized by the asassination of the able and coura- 
geous organizer, Fanny Sellins, who was shot to death 
by steel trust gunmen in 1919. 

All these courageous battles of the steel workers were 
lost, that is, lost in the sense that they failed to achieve 
their major goal of unionizing the industry. Some of 



them, it is true, brought a measure of relief to the steel 
workers, such as the great 1919 strike which abolished 
the 12-hour day and seven-day week and established 
generally improved conditions. All of them drove the 
iron of class bitterness deep into the steel workers' 
hearts, but none of them resulted in establishing a solid 
organization in the steel industry. 

The ever-present enemy combination of' the power- 
ful steel trust and the hostile capitalist government, 
aided by the maneuvers of dishonest A. F. of L. labor 
leaders, was always too much for the steel workers. But 
now the steel workers, with better leadership and or- 
ganization, are mobilizing their forces for a new strug- 
gle, for a fresh attempt to secure relief from the out- 
rageous tyranny and exploitation in their industry. The 
Committee for Industrial Organization, comprising 1 5 
unions with a total of some 1,500,000 members and 
headed by John L. Lewis, the aggressive president of 
the United Mine Workers of America, is going ahead 
with determination to organize the half million workers 
in the great steel industry. The field leader of the work 
is Phillip Murray, chief of the Steel Workers Organiz- 
ing Committee (S.W.O.C.) and vice-president of the 
U.M.W.A. 

A Favorable Outlook 

Many factors combine to make the present situation 
very favorable for the success of the C.I.O. campaign. 
First, the steel workers, like the great body of Ameri- 
can workers generally, are in a highly militant mood 
and are determined to force concessions from their em- 
ployers. They are especially strengthened in their new 

5 



morale by the defeat of Landon in the 1936 elections, 
and they feel a new sense of confidence and power. 

Second, conditions in the industry are on the up- 
grade from an economic standpoint and are favorable 
for a drive to organization. Besides, the steel bosses 
are somewhat on the defensive after their big election 
defeat. 

Third, the Roosevelt government is deeply obligated 
to labor and even if it will take no active steps to organ- 
ize the steel workers, it will probably not definitely op- 
pose it, as so many administrations have strenuously 
done in the past. 

Fourth, another favorable factor is that for the first 
time a substantial section of organized labor, the C.I. O., 
realizes the vital importance of organizing steel and is 
pushing forward energetically toward its accomplish- 
ment. The drive also has the support of the Communist 
Party, and other militant and progressive forces. 

Fifth, the organization drive is proceeding on the ad- 
vantageous basis of uniting all the steel workers into one 
industrial union, the A.A., instead of into a couple of 
dozen disunited, squabbling craft unions as in previous 
campaigns. 

A Huge Strike in the Making 

The drive of the steel workers for trade union organi- 
zation will almost certainly result in a big strike, prob- 
ably the greatest this country has ever known. It goes 
without saying that the steel workers will do every- 
thing possible to secure their demands without such 
a struggle j for they well know the toll of suffering that 
that they have to pay in all great strikes. But they 

6 



probably will have no choice in the matter, as the arro- 
gant steel kings will most surely force a strike. They 
will never concede the workers' elementary demands 
for the right to organize, better wages, shorter hours, 
improved working and living conditions, etc., without 
making every form of resistance they can under the 
given circumstances. They made this quite clear at the 
very outset of the steel organizing campaign in the 
middle of 1936, when the American Iron and Steel In- 
stitute, the. central organization of the steel magnates, 
declared in a statement published simultaneously in 
375 national full -page newspaper advertisements at a 
cost of $500,000 that the steel corporations were deter- 
mined to resist at all costs the organization of the steel 
industry. The militancy of the automobile kings and 
coal barons, closely allied with the steel magnates, also 
illustrates the employers' determination to fight to save 
the open shop. 

Nor can the Roosevelt government be counted upon 
to prevent the strike by forcing the steel trust to estab- 
lish human standards in their industry. What is devel- 
oping is a head-on collision between the steel trust and 
their long-oppressed workers. Unless all signs fail, the 
great steel strike of 1919 was only a dress-rehearsal for 
the big battle that is looming up in 1937. 

The Vital Issues at Stake 

The successful outcome of the present organization 
campaign in the steel industry will have wide economic, 
political and social repercussions. It will far outrun in 
significance the building up of the Amalgamated As- 



sociation into a powerful union of 500,000 workers, im- 
portant though this objective may be. It will constitute 
a great victory of the whole working class over the open 
shop policy of American finance capital and it will deal 
a shattering blow to company unionism in all industries. 
It will give an enormous stimulus to trade union organi- 
zation, both in the mass production industries and 
throughout industry generally. In 1919 already we 
understood that a victory of the great steel strike would 
open the doors for organization in many industries, but 
now the unionizing possibilities of such a victory are 
far^ greater. It would prepare the way for the organi- 
zation of many millions of workers and would institute 
a radical improvement in wages and working conditions 
throughout American industry. 

Victory in steel would also have profound effects 
upon the trade union movement as a whole. It would 
definitely establish the principle of industrial unionism, 
not only in the mass production industries, but aid also 
the reorganization of all trade unions upon an industrial 
basis. It would lay the basis for a new and progressive 
leadership in the A. F. of L. and would undermine the 
paralyzing policies and corrupt regime of the present 
clique of reactionaries who have long been a stumbling 
block to the American working class. A successful out- 
come of the steel drive would so strengthen the hands 
of the progressive elements in the trade unions that 
they would be able to carry through the reunification 
of the A. F. of L. in spite of the policy of the Greens, 
Wolls, Hutchesons, Freys, Whartons and other labor 
reactionaries to split the movement. 

8 



The success of the steel campaign would also great- 
ly push labor forward politically. Not only would the 
broad mass movement that must develop around the 
organization of steel result in making the 30-hour 
week, adequate unemployment relief, genuine social 
security, abolition of industrial spy systems, elimina- 
tion of strikebreaking detective agencies, and many 
other demands of the workers, active political issues 
that would have to be granted by the employers and the 
government, but it would also further the political or- 
ganization of the workers. The workers' class conscious- 
ness would be aroused, and volume and speed would be 
given to the movement for a Farmer-Labor Party and 
the eventual development of the People's Front in the 
United States. Nor could such popular advances in the 
United States fail to have favorable effects upon the 
world struggle of the toiling masses In defense of de- 
' mocracy and against hunger, fascism and war. 

On the other hand, a defeat for the workers in the 
present effort to organize the steel industry would be 
a most serious setback to labor generally. The after- 
effects of the 1919 steel strike defeat were disastrous 
for organized labor as a whole, and a defeat of the steel 
workers now would be a worse blow and would give a 
great stimulus to reaction and fascism in the United 
States. Such a defeat must be avoided at all costs. Vic- 
tory for the steel workers must and can be achieved if 
the struggle is carried through aggressively and with 
the systematic mobilization of all of labor's available 
forces. 

The bosses know full well the possibilities and im- 



plications of a trade union victory in steel. That is why 
they are determined to fight militantly and to bring in- 
to play all their battery of forces against it. The Greens 
and other reactionaries of the A. F. of L, also know what 
it means to their antiquated system of craft unionism and 
their fat bureaucratic jobs, and that is why they, too, 
are fighting against the success of the steel campaign, 
even going to the extent of splitting the labor move- 
ment by ousting the C.I.O. unions, in order to prevent 
it. 

When the big steel strike comes, its winning must 
be made the first order of business for every progressive 
force in the United States. A great steel strike would 
be a turning point not only in the trade union move- 
ment, but in American life generally. The fight of the 
steel workers for organization is the cutting edge of the 
struggle of the toiling masses against the whole lineup 
of reaction and incipient fascism in the United States. 



10 



CHAPTER TWO 

STEEL STRIKE STRATEGY 



Whew organized labor goes into such an im- 
portant strike struggle as that evidently now 
looming in connection with the organization 
of the steel industry it must proceed with a definite 
strike strategy, based upon a realistic measuring o£ the 
balance of the opposing class forces and modified from 
time to time as changing circumstances dictate. We may 
be sure that the employers, in their fight to preserve the 
open shop, which is worth billions to them in extra prof- 
its, are going ahead with a highly developed strategy. 

In the following pages, therefore, I shall undertake 
to outline some of the major principles of a sound strat- 
egy and tactics for the steel workers' struggle 5 to de- 
velop a line of policy that is realistic and justified by the 
present economic and political situation and by the gen- 
eral relation of forces between the capitalists and the 
workers. The leaders of the C.I.O. and the Steel Work- 
ers Organizing Committee are, of course, experienced 
strike leaders, and it is not for me to instruct them in 
strike strategy. There remains, however, the task of 
putting into popular form the principles of strike strat- 
egy and strike organization in this very vital situation. 

In the development of any severe strike struggle be- 
tween the workers and their employers the following 
general propositions, among others, should be constant- 
ly borne in mind. 

First, the cultivation of a firm ideological solidarity 

11 



in the ranks of the strikers. The bosses, proceeding from 
the traditional exploiters' principle of divide and con- 
quer, constantly attempt to split the workers along lines 
of skilled and unskilled, Americans and foreign-born, 
Negroes and whites, men and women, employed and 
unemployed, adults and youth, Catholics and Protes- 
tants, radicals and conservatives. This danger is especi- 
ally very acute in struggles in the boss-ridden steel in- 
dustry. 

In 1919, the employers and their tools tried with all 
these means to pit one section of the workers against the 
other and they may be depended upon to do so again in 
1937. As against these disruptive moves the workers' 
leaders must counter by a loyal defense in the interests 
of all these various groups, thus making them all feel 
that they have everything to gain from the success of 
the general movement. 

They must focus the attention of the masses primari- 
ly upon the immediate economic and political demands 
of the steel workers and reject all reactionary efforts to 
divert the workers' attention into abstract discussions of 
race, religion, politics, etc. Especially there must be no 
boss-inspired Red-baiting allowed to take root in the 
steel workers' movement and to disrupt its forces. The 
steel campaign can be a success only if the maximum 
possible ideological solidarity of the workers is achieved 
and maintained. 

Second, another important consideration in the ques- 
tion of developing a successful strike strategy is the care- 
ful cultivation of a high morale among the strikers. 
This is very necessary in fighting such a vicious combi- 
nation as the steel trust, and morale building must be 

12 



gone about systematically. The achievement of the ide- 
ological solidarity previously discussed is an important 
element in developing a good morale among the work- 
ers, but it must be supplemented by various other fac- 
tors, including persistent education of the masses re- 
garding the strike situation and the political meaning 
of the struggle, by cultivating mass participation in 
strike activities and democratic control of the strike, by 
exercising a determined and reliable leadership, by a 
firm but not mechanical discipline, an effective drama- 
tization of the struggle, good strike organization, etc. 

Third, a further elementary question of good strike 
strategy is to proceed upon the general principle of the 
offensive. Workers, like soldiers, fight best on the at- 
tack. A defensive strike is a losing strike. The steel 
workers should never allow themselves to be put on the 
defensive. Every halt must be utilized to organize 
a new attack and every attack by the employers or the 
government must be offset by some form of renewed 
counter offensive. Only when workers are completely 
defeated is such a policy not possible. The steel workers 
must know how to guard their strike reserves and to 
draw upon them when a new forward movement is nec- 
essary. The present economic and political situation 
greatly favors a policy of the offensive. 

These elements of strike strategy — a firm ideological 
solidarity of the workers, a high morale in the strike, 
a strike that proceeds upon the principle of the offen- 
sive — must be constantly borne in mind in developing 
every stage of the coming struggle. But there are many 
other principles of strike strategy, no less important, 
which I shall now proceed to discuss in some detail. 

13 



The United Front 

A unified command is a fundamental principle of 
strategy in all strikes, as well as military operations. 
What is involved in it is the unified action of the fight- 
ing forces. Failure to achieve such a unified strike leader- 
ship, principally through craft divisions, has cost the 
workers many a bitter defeat. Especially is a unified 
command and real solidarity of the workers necessary 
to beat the open shop kings in the steel, auto, rubber, 
oil, etc., industries. 

The industrial form of the C.LO. unions conducting 
the struggle in these industries lays a solid foundation 
for a unified command and the vital strike unity. Nev- 
ertheless a danger threatens from the craft union lead- 
ers of the American Federation of Labor. These reac- 
tionaries, although they themselves for years have done 
nothing to organize the mass production industries, are 
extremely antagonistic towards the Committee for In- 
dustrial Organization doing the job. They assume a 
dog-in-the-manger attitude. It is more than likely, 
therefore, that they will inject themselves into the situ- 
ation and try to inveigle a fringe of the skilled workers 
into their many disconnected craft unions. At the mo- 
ment I write these lines they are following such a strike- 
breaking policy in the General Motors auto strike. 

Such an action would be a crime against the steel, 
auto and other workers, as it would seriously split their 
ranks and weaken their fighting force. But no one fa- 
miliar with the shady history of the reactionary A. F. 
of L. leaders need be surprised to see them adopt such 
a disruptive course. They have done it time and again 
in strikes of independent unions. The danger is all the 

14 



greater inasmuch as the trust magnates, happy to see 
the workers dissipate their strength fighting each other, 
always greet and encourage the craft union leaders in 
their splitting tactics. Nor would such a development 
be unwelcome to the Roosevelt administration as offer- 
ing a prolific source of slippery compromises. 

The introduction of craft unionism into the mass pro- 
duction industries by the A. F. of L. leaders should be 
resisted militantly by every progressive force in the 
whole labor movement as a strikebreaking policy. This 
resistance should be supported by an aggressive cam- 
paign to educate the unorganized masses as to the his- 
torical failure of craft unionism in the mass production 
industries, and by a call to these workers not to join the 
craft unions but to affiliate themselves with the C.I.O. 
industrial unions. 

If, nevertheless, the craft unions should succeed in 
getting into steel by the time the strike takes place, they 
must be dealt with on a united front basis, and 
unity of action sought in this manner. They should 
be drawn into the strike on a full cooperative basis with 
the industrial unions. This means that they ought to be 
allowed and induced to send regular delegates to the 
strike committees, and likewise to their sub-committees 
for relief, defense, publicity, etc., and that they should 
also participate in the mass picketing and other mass 
strike activities. The craft leaders would object to this, 
so it would have to be done over their heads by direct 
appeal to the membership. Only in the unlikely event, 
however, that the craft unions should become real fac- 
tors in the steel industry would it be practical to make 

15 



the resultant trade union agreement of a joint char- 
acter signed by other unions as w&ll as the A. A. 

In the developing great strike movement at all cost 
there must be prevented the shameful but all too com- 
mon spectacle of union strike-breaking, that is, of one 
or more unions striking while the others work. The 
solidarity of labor demands that the craft unions stay 
out 01 the mass production industries and leave the field 
to the industrial unions. For them to enter these indus- 
tries at this time could serve the interests of no one but 
the great trust magnates and reaction generally. 

A Determined Objective 

A good military strategist never forgets his main ob- 
jective, although bad leaders often do so. He refuses 
to allow himself to be diverted from his goal bv the 
feints and tricks of his opponents. And so it is with the 
labor strategist j he, too, must always keep his major 
objective m mind. He must constantly be on the alert 
to keep the employers from sidetracking his whole 
movement into the fatal swamp of delay, disintegration 
and betrayal. Especially is such vigilance necessary 
when the enemy is the powerful and resourceful steel 
trust. 

Up till the present time the central strategy of the 
steel corporation has aimed at destroying the steel cam- 
paign by giving niggardly wage increases to the workers 
and by cultivating the company unions, although their 
great plant supplies of tear gas, machine guns and other 
deadly weapons show that they are preparing for drastic 
violence. The employers have been unable as yet under 
the present circumstances to employ the widespread dis- 

16 



charge of workers, suppression of free speech, terrorism 
of workers and organizers, etc., with which they op- 
posed the organizing campaign in 1919. 

As soon as the movement of the steel workers ap- 
proaches the point of mass action we may expect that 
the steel barons will go into the next stage of their anti- 
union strategy, not only by using more terroristic 
methods, but also by having recourse to the policy of 
seeking to divert the whole thrust of the union away 
from the companies and into a hopeless morass of gov- 
ernmental committees, court action, time-killing media- 
tion, etc. The first real test of the steel workers' 
strength and strike strategy will come when they have 
organized the bulk of the workers and they serve their 
demands upon the Iron and Steel Institute for a con- 
ference to work out a national trade union agreement 
for the steel industry. It is at this point that the steel 
companies will attempt to paralyze or kill off the work- 
ers' movement by bogging it down in a swamp of dis- 
integrating maneuvers. 

This is when the workers must be most acutely on 
guard and when they have to persist most determinedly 
towards their central objective of forcing concessions 
directly from the employers. The steel workers must 
not trust their cause into the hands of the Roosevelt 
government. The government is allied with many great 
capitalist interests, and it cannot be depended upon to> 
force the steel trust to make a settlement favorable to 
the workers. Especially must the steel workers beware 
that Roosevelt's "era of good feeling" policy does not 
result in some sort of a compromise disastrous to their 
movement. If Hearst and other labor haters are en- 



17 



thusiastic over the so-called "era of good feeling" it is 
because they see in it a possible means to check the 
workers' advance to trade union organization and better 
living conditions. 

Still fresh in the minds of the workers are the maneu- 
vers by which the Roosevelt government, the courts and 
the A. F. of L. leaders killed off the Weirton steel strike 
and also the devious means by which they ruined the 
powerful movement of the steel workers in 1934, the 
one being sidetracked into endless court actions and the 
other getting lost in the trickery of a board set up by 
Roosevelt. These defeats of the steel workers through 
the Roosevelt government are in line with those of the 
workers in the automobile and other industries during 
the days of the N.R.A. And Roosevelt's recent whole- 
sale cutting of unemployment relief and. his general at- 
titude of conciliation toward the employers has not in- 
creased the workers' confidence in him. 

Such experience must serve as lessons to the steel 
workers in their present developing struggle. Towards 
the Roosevelt government their attitude must not be 
one of naive reliance, but of mass pressure to preserve 
civil liberties in the steel areas and to force the steel 
trust to yield to the demands of its workers. The steel 
workers must not let their movement degenerate into 
mere court actions to defend their right to organize, or 
long-winded government-controlled elections suppos- 
edly to learn whether or not the A.A. has the right to 
represent the steel workers. These questions must be 
settled by pressure against the employers and, if neces- 
sary, by mass strike action. 

The central aim of the movement should be a direct 



18 



settlement between the unions and the employers, and 
every step taken must be directed to accomplish this 
end. The steel workers should not enter into arbitration 
proceedings or other settlement maneuvers engineered 
by the government unless, first, their major demands 
have been conceded, and the steel trust is most unlikely 
to make such preliminary concessions. These warnings 
are especially necessary inasmuch as the workers still 
have many illusions regarding the liberal policies of the 
Roosevelt government and such illusions can easily lead 
to defeat. 

A Maximum Mobilization of Forces 

Should the employers fail in their inevitable attempt 
to liquidate the steel workers' movement through gov- 
ernment or court action, or through some such phony 
arbitration as employers have so often defeated workers 
in the past, then in all likelihood they will set out to beat 
the C.I.O. and the Amalgamated Association in an open 
strike struggle. Just what kind of a fight they are get- 
ting ready to make may be gathered from the fact that 
they are now storing up their plants with machine guns, 
rifles, tear gas, etc., and are even drilling their thugs 
in preparation for a fierce strike. The steel workers, 
therefore, must base their plans upon the practically 
certain prospect of a great strike against the steel cor- 
porations. 

The perspective of a huge national strike confronts 
the workers' leaders with the necessity of bearing close- 
ly in mind another basic principle of strategy, that of 
mobilizing a full sufficiency of forces to achieve their 
objective. A good strategist never sends a boy to do a 

19 



man s job. This strategic principle may be illustrated by 
an old-time circus story: A boss canvasman was ex- 
plaining to a visitor How vitally important it was that 
the cook-wagon should arrive early on the circus lot in 
order that the men could breakfast, or else they would 
not put up the big top. 

Said he: "No cook-wagon } no breakfast, and no 
breakfast, no work," and he explained therefore, that 
they always used the precaution of having eight of the 
strongest horses to pull the cook-wagon over the muddy 
roads. 

"But," inquired the visitor, "suppose the roads are so 
poor that your eight horses can't pull the cook-wagon 
what then?" ' 

"Oh, then," said the circus boss, "we put on more 
horses, and if they can't do the job we get out old 
Babe the elephant, to push it from behind." 

"Still," persisted the visitor, "suppose the roads are 
so terribly bad that even all these horses and old Babe 
together can't haul the cook-wagon through the mire 
how about that?" 

"Oh hell," declared the boss with finality, "we just 
put on more horses and more horses. The damned cook- 
wagon simply has to go through." 

It is in this spirit of unconquerableness that the work- 
ers' leaders must face the eventuality of a national steel 
strike. They must be prepared to throw more and more 
forces into the struggle until finally they budge the 
'immovable" steel trust. The steel campaign must come 
through and that is all there is to it. Nothing will be 
handed to the workers gratuitously, either by the bosses 
directly or by the government. All they will get is what 

20 



they are willing and able to fight for. The key to the 
winning of the movement of the steel workers is the 
greatest mobilization of labor's forces ever made in the 
United States. 

The Proper Time and Place 

Another major strategic consideration that must al- 
ways be borne in mind in strikes is that of dealing the 
blow at the best time and place. The enemy must be hit 
both at the proper moment and its most vulnerable spot. 
The steel workers, if they keep this point clearly in 
mind, are in a splendid position to win. 

The C.LO. plans to have the majority of the steel 
workers organized by the middle of February, 1937, 
after which the demands of the workers will be sub- 
mitted to the American Iron and Steel Institute and a 
conference insisted upon. This is a practical schedule 
and it climaxes the steel movement at a most favorable 
moment. Undoubtedly by the date set the great ma- 
jority of the workers can readily be organized. Then, 
allowing a few weeks for preliminary negotiations, the 
steel situation should come to a head somewhere about 
the end of March. 

This is just the time (March 31) when the national 
agreement of the 500,000 bituminous miners expires. 
From a strategic standpoint obviously the correct thing 
to do is to link up the struggle of the steel workers 
with that of the bituminous coal miners, and possibly 
also of the anthracite miners, thus developing a broad 
movement of about a million coal miners and 
steel workers. This appears to be the aim of the 
C.LO. and, if so, it is sound strategy. The interests of 

21 



these two basic sections of the workers are bound up to- 
gether. They have largely the same forces of massed 
financial capital to fight, and there is every reason why 
their fight should be combined into one general move- 
ment against the closely allied steel and coal corpora- 
tions. 

A joint strike of the one million steel workers and 
coal miners would exert a tremendous power. It would 
bring to a standstill the two most basic industries and 
tie up other industries far and wide. It would constitute 
by far the greatest strike in American history. In view 
of the favorable situation in industry, with production 
rapidly rising, the combined coal miners and steel work- 
ers would probably be able to secure victory, forcing the 
open shop kings, for the first time, to treat their work- 
ers like human beings. But labor should "make assur- 
ance doubly sure" by hooking still more horses to the 
cook-wagon if need be. There must be contemplated the 
extension of the strike struggle among the vast armies 
of workers in the automobile, rubber and heavy metal 
and electrical fabricating industries, and also further 
if necessary. 

The C.I.O. is now conducting organization cam- 
paigns in these mass production industries. In the 
present situation, so very favorable for organization 
work, its campaigns can easily and should be speeded up 
so that the unions involved (which, as they are led by 
the C.I.O., would not have to depend upon the reaction- 
ary leaders of the A. F. of L.) can also present their de- 
mands to their employers by the end of March, if not 
sooner. The entrance of the workers in the auto, rub- 
ber, aluminum and other highly vulnerable and closely 

22 



interlinked mass production industries simultaneously 
or at approximately the same time into the struggle 
would enormously strengthen the whole movement. 
Such a movement in the key industries would constitute 
a most effective coordination of the strategic principles 
of opportune time, key place, sufficient power, etc. While- 
each of these great groups of workers has its own de- 
mands, the entire movement should be coordinated 
around the central strategic task of winning the de- 
mands of the steel workers. This main objective espe- 
cially must not be forgotten in whatever settlements 
are arrived at in the various industries. 

It may turn out in reality that the steel workers, coal 
miners, automobile workers, etc., will not actually co- 
ordinate their national movements — the auto workers 
especially are running ahead and developing a great na- 
tional struggle of their own. Possibly, in view of labor's 
present extremely favorable position, these great 
groups, acting separately, may achieve their major de- 
mands. It is also possible, although most unlikely, that 
they can secure their demands without great strikes. 
Nevertheless, the foregoing proposed line of strategy, 
the linking together of these big movements, with steel 
as the center, is basically correct. It would be a tremen- 
dous manifestation of labor's power. It is the best course 
to be followed under the present circumstances, the 
policy that would insure the workers' victory most 
quickly and completely in these industries and open the 
doors the widest for a general advance by labor on all 
fronts. 

Every conservative and reactionary influence will be 
exerted to prevent the steel workers, miners and other 

23 



key workers from acting jointly and will seek to defeat 
or half defeat them one section at a time. It is, there- 
fore, the great task of the progressive forces to do all 
possible to link the steel, coal, auto and other workers 
into one great united front fighting movement against 
massed finance capital. 

To what extent it will turn out to be possible to call 
into action labor's heavy first line reserves, both to win 
their own demands and to achieve victory in the steel 
struggle, remains to be seen. But one thing is clear j 
whether the steel workers strike alone, jointly with the 
miners, or in combination with other industries, at least 
they must have substantial support from the railroad 
workers. The latter must refuse to haul raw materials 
into, or finished products out of the steel mills. If the 
conservative leaders of the railroad brotherhoods do 
not agree to prohibit the hauling of cars in and out of 
struck mills the rank-and-file railroad workers must 
be organized not to go through the picket lines into the 
nulls and all this in spite of the wage concessions that the 
companies are evidently preparing to give them to lull 
their fighting spirit. Failure of support from the rail- 
road workers in this elementary respect was a basic 
cause for the loss of the 191 9 strike and it must not be 
repeated. 

Organized labor must be prepared, if necessary, to 
support the approaching steel strike by strike action 
far and wide in many other industries. At all costs the 
steel workers' struggle for organization must be won. 
The fate of the trade union movement is bound up with 
the steel workers, whose movement must needs be car- 
ried through to victory. 

24 



Political Action in the Strike 

A national strike of steel workers, and especially a 
great combined strike of workers in steel, coal and other 
industries, would be highly political in character. It 
would become immediately the central political issue of 
the country. No one would have a keener appreciation 
of this fact than the employing interests of the country. 
In such a situation, we might be sure that they would 
shout revolution in all keys, and try to utilize the gov- 
ernment to stampede the workers back to work in a wel- 
ter of violence and confusion. 

The workers must also be acutely aware of the polit- 
ical character of the developing mass struggle and, as 
good strategists, be prepared to use every political 
weapon at their disposal. In the great general strike 
in England in 1926, one of the worst errors made by 
the conservative union leadership was to ignore the ob- 
viously basically political character of the movement 
and to try to keep the struggle restricted to the eco- 
nomic sphere. This was disastrous, as it prevented the 
workers from utilizing their many political means of 
struggle. Such a mistake must not be made in the great 
struggle that in all probability will develop before the 
organization of the steel workers is conceded by the 
steel trust. 

Let me repeat: political action does not consist in re- 
lying upon the Roosevelt government to win the 
workers' fight against the steel trust. On the contrary, 
the workers must mobilize all their political organiza- 
tions and sympathizers to reinforce the great economic 
strike struggle of their unions by bringing mass pres- 



25 



sure upon the government, local, state and national, to 
prevent the use of troops, injunctions, etc., against the 
strikers and to force a strike settlement favorable to 
the workers. Immediately with the development of 
such a great strike movement as now appears certain, 
Labor's Non-Partisan League, the various Farmer-La- 
bor Party groups, the Socialist Party, the Communist 
Party, the progressive blocs in the national government 
and state legislative bodies, and other political forces 
sympathetic to labor, should all connect up their forces 
to mobilize public sentiment and bring determined po- 
litical pressure against the steel corporations through 
the government. 

._ The occasion of the strike should also be utilized po- 
litically by labor's coming forward militantly with its 
whole legislative program for the preservation and de- 
velopment^ civil rights, for the 30-hour week, im- 
proved social security and unemployment relief, the le- 
gal right to organize, abolition of company unions, pro- 
hibition of scab-herding and spy systems, etc. A victory 
in steel should be accompanied by a general advance of 
labor legislation in every field. 

A great strike in steel, coal and other industries 
would also put immediately upon the agenda of the day 
the question of the political mass strike, and the workers. 
must, from the outset, prepare to use this powerful 
political force. It is certain that in many localities, 
especially where the authorities tried to suppress the 
right to picket and when they used violence against the 
strikers, local general strike movements would or could 
result. Also, on a national scale, should the steel trust, 
supported by organized capital, make a determined ef- 

26 



fort to defeat the strike by violent measures, the ques- 
tion of a national general strike would almost certainly 
become a living issue among the ranks of labor, regard- 
less of the efforts of the reactionary trade union officials, 
the employers and the government to prevent it. The 
political mass strike could have as its objectives the 
withdrawal of troops and the re-establishment of civil 
rights in the strike areas, the removal of anti-labor 
government officials, the advancement of important la- 
bor legislation thrust up by the strike situation, against 
the shipment of strike breakers, against evictions of the 
strikers, for placing of strikers on government unem- 
ployed relief, the release of arrested strikers, and for 
the favorable settlement of the strike. 

During the past several years the American working 
class has gained much experience with the weapon of 
the mass political strike to add to its previous experience 
with the historic Seattle and Winnipeg general strikes. 
It learned very much about this form of political strug- 
gle in the great San Francisco strike of 1934, as well as 
in such local general strike situations as those o,f Pekin,. 
Terre Haute, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, etc. The many 
valuable lessons from these struggles must be used if 
such strikes occur during the approaching labor up- 
heaval. Should the organized employers seriously 
threaten to beat the strike of the steel workers and the 
other mass production workers, the masses of American 
workers generally must defend the right of the steel 
slaves to organize by using, as the situation may de- 
mand, the local or national political mass strike. 



27 



CHAPTER THREE 

STEEL STRIKE ORGANIZATION 



In the previous chapters I have discussed several 
major principles of strike strategy and tactics nec- 
essary to apply in the event of a great strike in 
steel and allied industries. It now remains to consider a 
number of others required to insure the success of such 
a struggle. These include good strike preparations, 
thorough-going strike organization, democratic strike 
leadership, mass participation in strike activities, care of 
the material welfare of the strikers, mobilization of the 
strike reserves, etc. 

In view of the existing very favorable economic and 
political circumstances a national strike of steel workers, 
and especially a great strike of steel workers and coal 
miners combined (and also possibly other industries), 
would create a situation extremely difficult for the em- 
ployers to handle, and would probably be of short dura- 
tion. Nevertheless it would be dangerous simply to 
place reliance in the prospect of a short, quickly victor- 
ious strike. If the employers determine to fight against 
the unionization of the unorganized workers militantiy 
and with all their power, the consequence might well 
be a long and bitter struggle, even where such huge 
masses of workers are involved. 

We must remember that the 1919 steel strike of 
365,000 workers lasted three and a half months j also 
that the national railroad shopmen's strike in 1922 of 
400,000 workers continued for five months, and that 

28 



the great coal strike in 1927, involving some 500,000 
workers, went on more than a year. In fact, as I write 
this, we are now seeing the powerful strike of 70,000 
maritime workers lasting over two months although it 
has shipping completely paralyzed on the entire Pa- 
cific Coast and badly lamed on the Atlantic and Gulf 
Coast. And the glass workers, also, have been on a na- 
tional strike 14 weeks already. 

In any event, whether the employers intend to resist 
to the last ditch or not, the best way to bring about a 
speedy and favorable settlement of the probable 1937 
steel strike, which the bosses are forcing on the workers, 
is to make that strike the biggest, best organized and 
most effective in American labor history. The principles 
of strike organization outlined in this chapter are cal- 
culated to help achieve this end. They are based on 
sound experience and can be applied not only to steel, 
but also to automobile and such other industries as may 
be involved in mass strike movements in this period. 

Strike Preparation 

Fundamental to the carrying out of a good strike 
strategy is a thorough preliminary organization for the 
struggle. This is equivalent to the recruiting and train- 
ing of an army before the battle. Such preparation is 
especially necessary in an industry like steel, where the 
workers have had very little experience in organization 
and disciplined action, and where the power and ruth- 
lessness of the enemy they have to fight are enormous. 
Good preparation gives the workers incomparably 
greater striking power. It is on the same principle that 
drilled troops are far better fighters than raw recruits. 

29 



In strike preparation the first thing to be considered 
is the building of the union itself. This requires that the 
present steel campaign be speeded up so that practically 
the entire body of steel workers are members of the 
union before the actual strike begins. Nor should the 
office workers in the steel plants be left out of the steel 
union in its drive to organization. Under the stimula- 
tion of the great strikes in the auto, glass and other in- 
dustries and with the workers present readiness to or- 
ganize this speeding up can be easily accomplished by 
the application of broader methods of organizing work 
that is, the holding of great series of mass meetings, 
widespread radio broadcasts, vast distribution of litera- 
ture, etc. It should not be difficult, with the use of such 
intense organizing methods, to soon have the workers 
pouring into the union in a great flood. The steel cam- 
paign should aim at solidly organizing every worker in 
the' steel towns, including restaurant workers, building 
trades, retail clerks, etc., into their respective unions. 

The extension, of the union to include all possible 
masses of the steel workers is the main insurance against 
the development of the dangerous back-to-work move- 
ments that are always organized by the employers in 
every great strike and which are now so menacing in the 
automobile strike. It is, of course, vitally necessary to 
organize the most important key plants, but the work 
must not be confined to them. It must take in the whole 
steel industry. 

Can the sit-down, stay-in and walk-out types of local 
strikes which are now so rapidly organizing the workers 
in the auto industry also be used in the preliminary 
stages of unionizing steel? This remains to be 



I 






30 



learned. As the steel movement grows, as the workers 
•feel the union becoming strong, as their morale and 
feeling of power rise, and as they see workers in other 
industries conducting local strikes successfully, the steel 
workers, smarting under long years of injustice, may in- 
cline to try such strikes themselves, at least in the smaller 
independent plants. Whether or not they can do so 
successfully will depend upon whether the employers 
take advantage of such local strikes to force unprepared 
and disastrous partial struggles. In any event, the C.I. O. 
will do well to proceed cautiously in this matter, to 
guard carefully against untimely local strikes and to 
continue its present strategy of subordinating all local 
activities to the development of a great disciplined na- 
tional movement of steel workers. 

It may well be that the method of the stay-in strike 
will be applied to many steel plants in the event of a 
general strike call. Whether or not it will be used will 
depend upon several factors: if the workers consider the 
experience in the automobile industry was successful, if 
the government is hostile and will permit the use of 
gas and other violence against stay-in strikers, if . a 
union feels strong enough to control the plans without 
staying in, if the prospect is for a long or short strike, 
etc. It was the steel workers, in Homestead in 1 892, 
who gave the first and most heroic American example 
of strikers occupying struck plants and it may be fol- 
lowed in the approaching strike. 

Besides signing up the workers it is also necessary, 
as soon as practicable, to set up the new local unions of 
the Amalgamated Association, and to get them func- 
tioning. These locals should be not merely general con- 

31 



glomerations of all the workers from each mill; they 
should be departmentalized, with sub-locals for the 
most important mill departments. New officials should 
be elected throughout the union. The establishment of 
the locals and new officials will do much to raise the dis- 
cipline of the men; it will give them more of a feeling 
of being organized and will increase their confidence in 
each other and in the stability of the movement. Such 
solid organization will double the weight of their blow 
when the strike test comes. 

Good strike preparation also requires that the com- 
pany unions be entirely merged into the A.A. before 
the time the probable strike actually takes place. If not 
the bosses will attempt to use them as strikebreaking 
organizations. The company unions, declaring openly 
for the A.A. and its demands, should from now on 
carry on the most active campaign to mobilize their 
membership into the trade union. And if, when the 
strike does occur, the company unions are not entirely 
absorbed by the A.A., they should join in its strike call 
and then formally merge with the trade union. The 
declaration of the strike must sound the death knell of 
company unionism in the steel industry, if the workers 
have not succeeded in killing it even before that time 

Should there be any A. F. of L. craft unions in the 
steel industry when the strike takes place they should 
be inked up with the A. A. and should join in its gen- 
eral strike call. 

All these organization preparations for the strike 
should be accompanied by a most thorough education 
01 the steel workers on the tasks and significance of the 
coming strike. The union demands should be literally 

32 



/» 



plastered over the entire steel industry, and also pop- 
ularized far and wide throughout the whole country. 
With myriads of bulletins, leaflets, stickers, posters, etc., 
as well as broad radio campaigns, newspaper advertise- 
ments, etc., the workers and the general public should 
be taught the meaning of the struggle and be kept ad- 
vised of its progress. Great mass local, district and na- 
tional rank-and-file conferences and meetings of steel 
workers and as things approach a head, a great mass 
strike vote, should be utilized to educate and organize 
the steel workers for the coming struggle. 

The old adage "Well begun is half done" applies to 
strike strategy as well as to other activities. The first 
blow is often decisive. Usually trade union strikes are 
badly organized, which weakens them from beginning 
to tnd. But this one must be different. It should be 
thoroughly prepared, organizationally and ideologic- 
ally. If this is done, then when the steel workers almost 
certainly strike in 1937, their walkout will be so com- 
plete that "no one. will be left in the mills even to blow 
the whistle". 

Democratic Strike Leadership 

One of the basic means for building a strong strike 
and for the working out of good strategy is the devel- 
opment of a democratic strike leadership through na- 
" tional and local broad strike committees. Usually A. F. 
of L. strikes are managed by small and remote com- 
mittees of bureaucratic officials. These people, whose 
conservative and slippery policies make it necessary 
for them to prevent rank-and-file "interference in the 
strike control", remain quite detached from the working 
masses. They issue arbitrary commands to the workers, 

33 



who haye practically nothing to say about the whole 
strike. Commonly the result is that the latter's high 
qualities of discipline, enthusiasm and fighting spirit 
are but little developed. Thus the entire strike is 

weakened. 

The broad democratic strike committee system, which 
is based on the best strike experience the world over 
is vastly superior to the prevailing primitive A. F of 
L. system of a handful of dictatorial officials running 
the strike as they please. The broad strike committee 
gives the workers the realization that the strike is 
really their affair. It awakens in them an intelligent 
discipline and not merely a blind obedience to orders- 
it raises their morale, avoids the usual mass passivity 
and brings about the maximum mass activity. Above all 
it provides the means for the strikers to contribute their 
intelligence to the shaping of strike policy. The broad 
strike committee system also aids the work of the 
strike executive leaders by connecting them directly 
with the masses. It facilitates their knowing what is 
actually taking place in the strike fields, what tactics the 
bosses are using, what are the workers' moods, etc 

It also provides the mechanization for the swift 
mobilization of the workers for a needed defensive or 
offensive maneuver. This system of broad strike com- 
mittees has been used to a considerable extent in the 
A. b. ot L. needle trades, and other progressive Amer- 
ican unions, but especially by the revolutionary unions 

such as' the I.W W TTTITT ^ j u y 

c ±. w.vv., i. u.u.l,., etc., and by many 

unions in other countries. It has always proven highly 
eitective. The coming steel strike, in keeping with the 
progressive character of the C.I.O. movement, should 

34 




I 



systematically apply the powerful weapon of the broad 
strike committee. 

The democratization of the strike leadership should 
start at the top. The national leading committee of the 
whole strike should consist not only of the national 
union executives but also of striker representatives 
from the various striking areas (and industries, if more 
than steel is involved). This broad committee, with 
proper departments for publicity, relief and defense, 
should deal with major questions of policy. It should 
meet frequently and have a small executive committee 
carry on the strike leadership between meetings. 

Large departmentalized strike committees, based 
upon the regular union officials plus a broad representa- 
tion of mill strikers, should also be organized in the 
respective steel towns and districts, as local circum- 
stances may dictate. Each steel mill should also have 
its own broad strike committee. The mill strike com- 
mittees should conduct their local activities under the 
leadership of the local or district strike committees ; 
the size of the committees varying according to the size 
of the mills, the rate of representation ranging from one 
member for each 25 workers to one member for each 
100 workers. Such mill strike committees should be 
thoroughly representative of all departments, special 
care being taken also to see that Negroes and foreign- 
born workers are fully represented and elected to re- 
sponsible leading posts. The women's trade union aux- 
iliaries should be represented in the strike committees. 

The mill strike committees have a maze of functions. 
Especially complicated are their tasks in the case of 
stay-in strikes. They have to be organized, through 

35 



sub-committees, to attend to picketing, discipline, food, 
sleeping arrangements, medical care, entertainment, de- 
fense, liaison with the local strike committee and other 
struck plants, etc. Consequently, the mill committees 
must be highly responsive to the needs and control of 
the strikers. 

The strike committees, national, district, local and 
mill, should be fully authorized to conduct the strike 
m all its phases, the various regular trade union organs, 
such as national executive boards, district councils, local 
unions, etc., meeting only to transact routine business 
not immediately connected with the strike. The various 
strike committees should be elected on the eve of the 
strike. Before the strike is ended the national strike 
committee should submit the proposed terms of settle- 
ment for a referendum vote by the strikers. 

These principles of democratization and departmen- 
talization should also be introduced into the A. A. struc- 
ture as the union is built. The A. A. constitution is 
obsolete, unfitted for the steel industry and should be 
completely rewritten. 

Mass Strike Activities 

The working out of a good strike strategy requires 
the highest degree of mass participation by the strikers 
in the organized activities of the strike. More than that, 
it also involves drawing the strikers' families into 
these activities, for the strikers' women and children 
are also very effective fighters and morale builders. 
Only by such a general participation of the whole strike- 
bound population and the development cf the highest 
degree of activity possible by men, women and children, 
can the maximum striking power of the workers be 

36 



realized. In this respect again, the coming steel strike 
must be vastly superior to the ordinary A. F. of L. 
strike, in which, because the conservative leaders fear 
the growth of militancy among the rank and file, only 
a small percentage of the workers, not to speak of 
their families, actually carry on the strike, the great 
mass remaining passive. 

In previous pages I have discussed various forms of 
cultivating a high degree of mass strike activity — the 
holding of democratically elected local, district and 
national rank-and-file pre-strike conferences to formu- 
late and popularize the workers' demands and to elect 
the union officials, the taking of a national mass strike 
vote, democratic participation in the broad strike com- 
mittees, general voting upon all settlement proposals, 
etc. To these measures should be added the holding of 
frequent mass meetings during the strike; mass pa- 
rades of strikers j mass marches of men, women and 
children from district to district and mill to mill; the 
sending of small delegations, or flying squads of work- 
ers, from one area or industry to another; the teaching 
of the strikers to sing labor songs in their meetings and 
demonstrations 3 the development of sports activities 
for the youth ; the holding of social affairs, etc. 

But the most important of all forms of mass strike 
activities is mass picketing. Good picketing is a decisive 
factor in every big strike — that is why employers are 
so rabidly opposed to it. Picketing is usually grossly 
neglected in the ordinary A. F. of L. strike, only a few 
of the workers carrying it on, and then merely in a 
desultory fashion. The consequence is a great loss in 
the holding power of the strike. The best way to con- 

37 



duct picketing is on a mass basis. Not only should all 
the strikers be mobilized for picketing, but their women 
and children as well. In addition, prominent liberals and 
others should be brought into the strike areas from the 
outside to march in the picket lines. Where one or more 
industries are striking, joint picketing should be organ- 
ized. The unemployed can play a most important role 
in picketing, and the members of non-striking unions 
should also be systematically drawn into th^ work 
Women's and children's picket lines should be organ- 
ized on special occasions. This system of broad mass 
picketing raises enormously the political level, enthu- 
siasm and resistance power of the strikers. It has been 
used effectively in many I.W.W. and T.U.U.L strikes 
by the more progressive A. F. of L. unions, and by 
many unions m foreign countries. When the 1937 steel 
strike ^mes, the progressive C.I.O. should adopt the 
modern, effective system of mass picketing 

The picket line should be well organized, not mere 
crowds of workers. It should be under the control of 
the picket committee, which is a section of the strike 
committee The picketers should be organized into, 
squads each squad headed by a carefully selected cap- 
tain. All strikers should be required to do their bit at 
picketing. The youth especially should play a big role 
in the organization of the picket lines. The picket com- 
mittee must maintain pickets around the mills at all 
times, whether or not they are trying to operate with 

M E f eClally must there b e great mass picket lines 
on Monday mornings and upon all occasions when at- 
tempts are being made to bring scabs into the mills. 
Urten the difference between bad picketing and good 

38 



picketing is the difference between a lost and a won 
strike. 

Strike Publicity 

The question of a well-organized strike publicity is 
most fundamental to the success of a great strike in 
steel, or a combined strike of steel, coal, auto, etc. In 
such a big strike the capitalists will frantically howl 
that the whole movement is an insurrection, a revolu- 
tion, and they will throw their entire publicity machine, 
the newspapers, radio, etc., into the task of terrorizing 
the public and of driving the workers back to the mills 
in a welter of violence and confusion. In the 1919 steel 
strike they used such a Red scare effectively, with the 
help of the Wilson government. In the San Francisco 
general strike in 1934 they also loudly shrieked revo- 
lution and created a hysteria among sections of the 
population, and they do the same thing to a greater or 
lesser extent in every strike. We may be absolutely 
certain, therefore, that their poison-gas campaign would 
be infinitely worse in the case of the prospective nation- 
wide steel or steel-coal strike involving up to a million 
or more workers. 

To combat successfully this vicious strikebreaking 
propaganda offensive of the employers will be basic for 
the winning of the strike. In order to create a favorable 
public opinion it is necessary that the workers develop 
jt-great publicity counter-offensive of their own. They 
must dissipate the charges of revolution, by centering 
the whole agitation around the immediate economic 
and political demands of the struggle. They should re- 
lentlessly expose the vast riches and profits of the em- 
ployers and the health-destroying, spirit-killing poverty 

39 






of the workers, the terrorization and suppression of 
civil rights by the bosses' gunmen, the great significance 
to American democracy of a victory by the workers, etc. 
The strikers must know how to dramatize their struggle 
by sending women's and children's delegations to the 
state legislatures and to Congress, by securing investiga- 
tions by government and citizens' committees, by cover- 
ing the country with a network of sympathetic mass 
meetings, by staging great mass demonstrations of all 
kinds throughout the strike areas, by monster mass 
picket lines, etc. 

Not the least of this essential publicity work is the 
education of the strikers themselves, who will be sub- 
jected to the fiercest propaganda barrage from the em- 
ployers in attempts to stampede them back to work. The 
striking workers should be systematically taught the 
meaning and implications of the strike through a plenti- 
ful flow of regular bulletins, special leaflets, mass meet- 
ings, radio broadcasts, etc. Especially must they be kept 
informed in detail as to the progress of the strike itself. 
In this connection, in case of a hard strike, among other 
such measures to be adopted, rank-and-file delegations 
should be sent from district to district so that workers 
may be directly informed as to the status of the strike 
from personal observation. In 1919, in the later stages 
o± the struggle one of the most effective strikebreaking 
methods of the bosses was to have fake delegations of 
workers visit various strike districts and then start false 
reports and demoralization among the strikers, both in 
their home towns and other centers. Neglect of the fun- 
damental task of systematic education could easily result 
disastrously in a bitterly fought steel strike. 

40 



To meet these huge educational tasks of creating a 
favorable public opinion and of keeping confusion out 
of the ranks of the strikers, the national strike com- 
mittee should set up a special publicity section, with 
an experienced publicity director in charge. This pub- 
licity department, in addition to building its own im- 
mediate publicity machinery, should systematically 
mobilize the trade union, revolutionary and liberal 
press, as well as friendly radio broadcasters and news- 
papermen working on the capitalist press. All these ele- 
ments cooperating together would constitute a great 
educational force, one that could make the voice of the 
strike heard loudly and clearly in every corner of the 
country. 

Strike Relief 

Strikes, like armies, march on their stomachs, and 
many are the strikes that have been lost through hunger. 
In making ready for a great strike in steel it is necessary 
that all preparations be made to build up a strong sys- 
tem of strike relief, despite the probability of the strug- 
gle being of short duration. In the matter of relief 
work, as in so many other of their phases, usually Amer- 
ican strikes are very weak. Strikes which provide relief 
systems that can serve as types for the coming strike 
were the 1919 steel strike and the 1926 Passaic textile 
strike.* 

The strike relief machinery should be in operation 
not later than two weeks after the strike begins, because 



* See The Great Steel Strike and Its Lessons, by William 
Z. Foster, and The Passaic Textile Strike, by Mary Heaton 
Vorse. 

41 



from the outset there are always emergency cases re- 
quiring attention. The C.LO. general call for a strike 
±und ought to go out immediately upon the declaration 
of the strike. This to be supported by calls from the 

i °r lndlvldual trade uni °ns, state federations, 
central labor councils and other sympathizing organiza- 
tions. Of course, the reactionary A. R of L. leaders will 
either openly or covertly oppose such strike support, 
but their opposition must and can be broken down by 
rank-and-file pressure. 

The striking union or unions should set up an organ- 
ized rehef department as a subjection of the general 
strike committee, with an experienced relief organizer 
m charge. Strike relief work has two general aspects- 
collection and distribution-and there must be created 
special organization for each. On the collection side, the 
organization should consist of: (a) trade union strike 
relief committees in various cities and towns • (b) united 
front relief committees or other workers' organizations 
m the same localities; ( c ) special relief committees of 
liberal professionals, clericals, pacifists, writers, etc All 
hese committees are to be coordinated through the na- 
tional relief department of the strike committee A 

inThel Zf T IleCt ° rS and 0rg — ^ ^ Put 
n the field by the national relief organization. Depots 
should be established in all important centers for'the 
ollection of cash, food and other strike supplies Na- 
tional and local relief conferences ought to be held 
wherever practical. There can be drawninto the rel f 

fuel r* n0t ° nty trade ™> b ^ Ao churches 
l.M.L.A.s^ Negro organizations, fraternal societies 
%mers unions, veterans' organizations, cooperatives 

42 



unemployed workers' organizations and workers' po- 
litical parties. 

The distribution side of the relief is to be handled 
by special relief committees of strikers in the strike 
areas, under supervision of their respective strike com- 
mittees. The relief committees require sub-committees 
to investigate needy cases and to check up generally on 
the distribution of relief. In this sphere, the strikers' 
womenfolk can do very important work. 

At the outset of the strike all efforts should be made 
to get the strikers on the home relief lists upon the 
same basis as the unemployed. This can be accomplished 
in many places with the proper political mass pressure. 

Inasmuch as regular strike benefits could not, in all 
probability, be paid in a national 1937 strike of steel 
workers, the strike relief necessarily takes three major 
forms: (a) distribution of cash for the strikers' special 
expenses; (b) common kitchens where food is pre- 
pared for the strikers and their families, with special 
food for the smaller children; (4) commissaries from 
which families may carry home groceries, clothing and 
other strike relief supplies. 

Money. The organizations forming the C.I.O. should 
place upon themselves heavy strike assessments. Other 
unions should adopt voluntary assessments. This fin- 
ancial income should be supplemented by tag days, shop 
collections, social affairs, special milk funds, etc., or- 
ganized by the strike committees in the various centers. 

Food. Great concentration must be made upon the. 
collection of non-perishable foods by the strike com- 
mittees, house-to-house collections being organized. 
Special attention should be given to collecting strike 

43 



relief supplies in the immediate strike areas and sur- 
rounding territories. The farmers provide a rich source 
for food collection in such big strikes and their organ- 
izations need to be contacted. 

Shelter. This is always a great problem in large 
strikes. It must be attacked in a variety of ways- by 
doubling up the evicted families with others, by mora- 
toriums in rent paying in strike-bound towns,' by ex- 
tension of credit to strikers by landlords, bv court action 
and mass pressure to prevent evictions, etc. Where 
company towns exist, tent colonies and barracks may be 
necessary to take care of the wholesale evictions. The 
shutting off of gas, electricity and water can often be 
stopped by exerting political pressure upon the local 
authorities. In some instances cash is necessary to meet 
rent, water, light and similar expenses. 

Clothing. Systematic collections of all kinds of cloth- 
ing should be made by the relief committees all' over 
the country. Local clothing repair units can be estab- 
lished in the strike towns by sympathetic women and 
tailors. Cobblers should be organized to take care of 
shoe repairs, etc. 

Medical Aid. In every strike center medical units of 
voluntary doctors, dentists, nurses, etc., should be estab- 
lished. Medical units also may be organized outside 
and sent into the strike areas by the relief committees. 
In addition, there should be committees of outside doc- 
tors to visit and to give publicity on conditions in the 
strike districts. 

Relief collection and distribution must be handled 
basically as a political question, not as a matter of char- 
ity. In the strike districts, strike relief should be so 

44 



■ ii > <i i-ji i ww i it ii ww in 



organized as to stimulate mass picketing, each picketer 
being furnished with a card which is punched to indi- 
cate the amount of picketing he has done. The collection 
of relief in the various cities should be utilized to arouse 
the class-conscious solidarity of the workers and to 
draw the broadest masses of workers into active support 
of the strike. The whole relief apparatus, collection and 
distribution, must be utilized to popularize the objec- 
tives of the strike, to prevent the recruitment of strike- 
breakers, to defend the strikers' civil rights, and to 
bring pressure to bear upon the employers and the gov- 
ernment for a favorable settlement of the strike. A 
well-organized relief system can exert a tremendous: 
force in strengthening the strike, both economically and 
politically. 

Strike Defense 

In every strike the question of defending the civil 
rights and personal safety of the strikers and the union 
leaders constitutes an important problem. Especially is 
this problem acute in a great strike against the lawless 
and violent steel barons. Defense activities are not only 
a matter of court action, but especially of mass pressure 
of the strikers and the widest possible masses of strike 
sympathizers against the government and the employ- 
ers. The national strike committee requires a legal de- 
partment which organizes this branch of strike work. 
Here the International Labor Defense can also play an 
important part. A staff of voluntary attorneys should be 
recruited nationally and in the respective strike areas. 

Attacks on the civil rights of the strikers by the em- 
ployers, in whatever manner, must be militantly re- 

45 



sisted. All the-iorces of the strikers, the outside labor 
movement, the strike relief organization and the sym- 
pathetic masses generally should be mobilized to protest 
against such attacks on the democratic rights of the 
workers, through the holding of mass meetings, sending 
of delegations^ to the state legislatures and Congress 
When injunctions are issued forbidding the right of 
tree speech and assembly the strikers should follow the 
traditional American trade union policy of ignoring such 
court orders. When troops are brought into a strike area 
he. strikers must not only firmly insist upon the main- 
tenance of their civil rights, but also know how to fra- 
ternize witk the soldiers and thus win as many as 
possible of them to the side of the strike. 

Vigilant protection must be constantly given to the 
persons of the strikers and their leaders, when either 
striker or leader is arrested for strike activities, he 
should be promptly defended legally and politically 
Where there is danger of violent attacks upon the 
strikers meetings or upon their leaders by gunmen and 
vigilantes, these meetings and leaders must be person- 
ally defended; such protective measures being organ- 
ized by the picket committee and being especially the 
task of the youth. Against the company-controlled vio- 
lators of civil rights and for the personal safety of 
strikers and leaders the strikers should make active use 
of all available political institutions, including the arrest 
and prosecution of the armed thugs; the securing of in- 
junctions against the violators of the workers' civil 
rights; the removal, impeachment and election defeat of 
lawless city and state officials. 

46 




Mobilizing the Strike Reserves 

^ Every good general understands that a basic part of 
his strategy is carefully to mobilize and utilize his re- 
serves, and the need to do this is no less acute in a 
strike, especially in the case of a great strike in steel and 
allied industries. Such a strike would for the outset 
have vast potential reserves, created by the profound 
sympathy the strike would awaken in the toiling masses. 
These masses would realize that not only were the 
strikers' interests involved in the struggle, but also their 
own living standards and democratic rights. The strike 
leadership must know how to organize and make the 
maximum use of this favorable mass sentiment of these 
great reserves. Usually, this kind of work, like the 
various other tasks that go to make up a strong strike, 
are grossly neglected in A. F. of L. strikes. Such must 
not happen in the steel strike, for we may be sure that 
the steel trust will mobilize every reactionary influence 
in the United States behind its cause and the workers 
Will need every possible ounce of support for theirs. 

The question of mobilizing the reserves of a national 
steel strike involves not only developing the solidarity 
of the workers' main forces directly — the support of 
the unorganized masses of workers, of the members of 
company unions, of the unemployed, of the non-striking 
trade unions, of workers' cooperatives and of the work- 
ers' political parties — but also the mobilization of the 
huge masses of semi-proletarian and petty bourgeois 
sympathizers who are actively interested in the winning 
of the strike. This necessitates the development of 
united front committees of youth clubs, fraternal socie- 
ties, churches, peace movements, professional guilds, 

47 



women's clubs, Negro organizations, farmers' cooper- 
atives, veterans' associations, etc, for various strike 

In the preceding pages I have sketched concretely 
some of the ways in which these very vital petty bour- 
geois and semi-proletarian strike reserves can be util- 
ized, mcludmg their participation in publicity work 
technical aid for strikers, defense and relief activities 
and general political work. To facilitate the mobiliza- 
tion of these reserves, a national citizens' committee 
comprising such liberal strike sympathizers-including 
politicians, educators, scientists, writers, artists, etc -I 
should be set up at the commencement of the strike 
1 his liberal committee must work closely with the na 
tional strike committee in political activities in support 
of the strike, and should stimulate the formation of 
local relief committees of liberal strike sympathizers. 
Especially in the strike areas is it necessary to build up 
similar strike citizens' committees of professionals, small 
businessmen, clergymen, white collar workers, office- 
holders and representatives of various mass organiza- 
tions, to offset the strikebreaking activities of the ever 
present and dangerous citizens' committees organized by 
the employers. A national strike in steel and allied in- 
dustries must be made a great rallying issue for the 
major massing of the democratic forces of the United 
states to win the struggle. 



48 



CHAPTER FOUR 

CONSOLIDATING THE 
VICTORY 



It is a fundamental principle of strategy, whether 
military or labor, to follow up the victory by 
pushing back the enemy on every front and to cap- 
ture all possible of his strongholds. In the months ahead 
the C.I.O. leaders, as well as the progressive forces 
generally of the labor movement, must give this stra- 
tegic principle serious consideration. 

Lenin once wisely remarked that we never can have 
real victory unless we also know how to retreat when 
need be. A good general always bears this thought in 
mind. In this situation, however, there need be no per- 
spective of retreat. The strategy must be based on the 
offensive, and animated by a spirit of daring and in- 
domitability. The stage is all set for a great labor vic- 
tory, provided only that the trade union leadership rises 
to the occasion, to the height of its tasks. This victory, 
which can be so readily won, must be realized to the 
full in all its possibilities and implications. In the first 
chapter of this pamphlet I indicated the great impor- 
tance to the working class of a victory in the steel in- 
dustry. Now let us look at this whole matter a little 
more concretely. 

Organizing the Millions of Unorganized 

When, early in 1 936, the workers of France, fighting 
against the rising menace of fascism and organized in 

49 






a great united front of Radicals, Socialists and Commu- 
nists, defeated the reactionary forces and elected the 
present Popular Front government, one of the after- 
maths of their victory was that within a year the French 
trade union movement increased its membership from 
some 1,500,000 to over 5,000,000. This is about 
equivalent to the American trade union movement (con- 
sidering the differences in size and industrialization of 
France and the United States), leaping up from its 
present low figure of about 3,500,000 to a membership 
of 15,000,000 or 20,000,000. A victory in steel in the 
United States, if properly followed up, would un- 
doubtedly give a tremendous stimulation to trade union 
organization in general in this country. It is a question 
whether there will be as great an advance as that which 
followed the victory of the Popular Front government 
in France. But certainly success in the steel industry 
would throw the door wide open for the organization 
of many millions of workers. The extent to which the 
possibilities of the situation will be realized will de- 
pend largely upon the ability and farsightedness shown 
by the trade union leadership. 

Even in the very favorable situation after a great 
victory in steel, the organization of these millions of 
workers can only happen in the fullest measure if the 
progressive forces everywhere in the trade union move- 
ment make the task of organizing the unorganized all 
labor's first order of business. Determined drives must 
be made to begin the unionization of the huge masses 
of unorganized in all fields, the millions of general 
metal and electrical workers ; the mass of textile work- 

50 



ers, the army of truck, bus and taxi drivers ; the great 
numbers of unorganized packing house, metal mining, 
building trades, food workers, lumber workers, agri- 
cultural workers, etc., as well as those in the auto, rub- 
ber, aluminum, oil, glass and other industries now being 
organized by the C.I.O. Nor should there be forgotten 
the masses of white collar workers, teachers, technicians, 
office workers and government employes, who are in- 
creasingly ready for organization. 

Big inroads by the trade unions into these great un- 
organized millions can be made by the labor movement 
if the work is gone about with system and decision. 
Every branch of organized labor Must take up the 
organization work. The C.I.O. should seize upon the 
event of a victory in steel to redouble its own efforts 
to organize the mass production industries and to stim- 
ulate all sections of the labor movement into the greatest 
organizing campaign in the history of American labor. 
The reactionary A. F. of L. Executive Council must be 
compelled by mass pressure to support the growing 
organizing campaigns, or at least not to sabotage them. 
Every international union, state federation of labor, 
city central body and local union should begin organ- 
izing work in its respective sphere. The whole labor 
movement must surge with organization work. This is 
the first task in consolidating a steel victory, by register- 
ing it in the fundamental field of organization among 
the unorganized millions. If this task of organization is 
well conceived and properly carried out, it will mean 
incomparably more power and militancy for the labor 
movement in this country. 

51 



I 



Reorganize the Trade Unions 

The organization of steel and other mass production 
industries, with its establishment of the principle of in- 
dustrial unionism and its smashing victory over com- 
pany unionism, its bringing of millions of unskilled and 
semi-skilled workers into the unions and its giving rise 
to a militant and union progressive leadership in these 
industries, would necessarily have profound effects upon 
the whole trade union movement in many directions. 
It would lay the basis for a far-reaching revamping of 
organized labor's policies, structure, leadership and gen- 
eral outlook. It would provide the workers with a splen- 
did opportunity to free themselves finally from the 
mess of reaction and crookedness that has marked A F 
of L. officialdom for many years past. To consolidate the 
victory in steel especially requires that it register itself 
in rull force in this sphere by a profound reorganiza- 
tion of the trade union movement as a whole. 

The further substantial advance of the trade union 
movement m this country necessitates breaking the con- 
trol of the Greens, Wolls, Hutchesons, Ryans, Freys 
and the other top misleaders of labor, together with that 
or their local understrapper gangsters, racketeers and 
small-time reactionary bureaucrats. These people have 
stood in the way of the workers' progress all too long, 
drawing their enormous salaries and shamelessly play- 
ing the game of the bosses. More and more the workers 
are evidencing a disposition to get rid of them, as is 
shown in such recent elections as those among the New 
1 ork painters, teamsters and longshoremen and in many 
other places. And with a real victory in steel, this ten- 

52 



dency would be enormously strengthened. The workers, 
if given proper leadership, will be ready to make a 
grand sweep of the whole reactionary crew that now 
dominates so many trade unions. 

The trade unions must also break finally with their 
reactionary top A. F. of L. officials' traditional policy 
of class collaboration, and begin to orientate towards a 
policy of class struggle. Fifty years of bitter experience 
teaches that class collaboration, based upon the false 
principle of the harmony of the interests of capital and 
labor, has nothing but defeat to offer the workers. The 
workers can gain nothing by their officials wheedling 
the bosses and adapting the unions to the latter's needs. 
They can only go forward by a policy of struggle. The 
workers can win only what they have the power and 
determination to fight for. It is high time that the trade 
union officialdom was jarred loose from the bosses' 
apron-strings. For the first time in its history the Amer- 
ican trade union movement will stand on its own legs, 
both in the economic and the political struggle. 

A further vital part of the necessary reorganization 
of the labor movement is that the trade unions must be 
thoroughly democratized. The workers should put a 
final end to present baneful conditions of national 
unions that never meet in convention; local unions that 
go on for years without holding meetings, stolen trade 
union elections; officials self-elected for life; expulsion 
of workers because of their political opinions; unions 
controlled by notorious racketeers; trade union agree- 
ments adopted without rank-and-file sanction; corrupt 
leaders furnishing union-card strikebreakers to employ- 

53 



ers open defiance of majority rule by union officials- 
union convenes comprised almost entirely of pad 
officials, efc > «c. The present forward surge of the 
workers, especially in the event of a victoryl steel t 

£££%* f 1 S "T? bW *<*■ >*£ Son- 
2 A y '! r f f ° CraCy m,d cor ™P tio " that has cursed 
rt uT ab J ° 1 ' moveme « fe so many years 
I he badly needed reorganization of the trade nni™ 
movement should also result in nl , 

unions i„ <-„„ j Placing not only the 

u ons m the mass products industries upon an in 
*» ml union basis, but the craft unions genera I as 

"e trait uni°o Ught t0 *, ^ * ^ ^ustry wL" 
me craft unions are established to gradually consolidate 

XronleT^" thr ° Ugh a ™ SS 

cooperation .federation and amalgamation. Practical first 

teps towards this industrial goal are: one gen ral na 

SXrf **?*«*»>* ^ades andf^ 
emng of the railroad federation movement by including 

m nt in theT^ f^ « ^W 
ments ,n the budding trades to expire on the same date ■ 

amalgamation of the metal trades into one Tdustriai 

heifer of /, nationd mariti - fed -^ 

por, ^oS TeH 1 ! ° rgan,zation of a general trans- 
nldW ? federat10 ^ creat '°" °f a federation of the 
needle trade umons; closer affiliation of the printing 
tades ; federation of the food trades unions, etc A I 

would greatly facilitate this advance of the craft uni™, 

years aeo all it *°^>6y agC ' WaS obso1 ^ ™ 
years ago and it is a heavy drag on the progress of the 

54 



working class. h must be superseded .by a modern, 
effective systrm of industrial unionism in all industries. 

Reunite the American Federation of Labor 

The presenl split in the A. F. of L. is a menace to 
the interests of every worker in this country. It leads 
to a weakening of the organizing campaign in the mass 
production industries j it causes craft union strikebreak- 
ing during strikes of the industrial unions (auto, radio, 
etc.) j it divides labor's forces politically, and it weakens 
the working class on every front. 

The split is the rotten fruit of the reactionary Green 
bureaucracy which, fearing that the organization of 
the millions of unorganized, semi-skilled and unskilled 
will jeopardize its rich sinecures, have gone even to the 
extent of splitting the labor movement in order to pre- 
vent the organization of the unorganized and to main- 
tain its own worse than useless leadership. It traitorously 
and illegally suspended C.I.O. unions with over 
1,250,000 members, simply because the latter seriously 
undertook the organization work in the mass production 
industries that the A. F. of L. Executive Council has 
stubbornly refused to do. No one but the employers 
and a handful of reactionary trade union leaders profit 
from such a shameful spectacle. The breach in the 
ranks of labor must be healed. The present situation, 
and especially if the steel workers are victorious, offers 
a splendid opportunity for the progressive forces of 
labor to mend the split in the A. F. of L. on a sound, 
progressive basis. 

It is necessary first of all to prevent the present split 

55 



from spreading. The workers must refuse to unseat 
Ul O union delegates in the state federations and 
central labor unions if ordered to do so by the A F of 
L. Executive Council. They must hold intact the labor 
movement at the bottom, even if it is split at the top 
There must also be no splitting of international unions: 
wherever the question of affiliation to the C.I.O or A 

LZu' T l0PS u thC PHnCiple ° f ma J° rit y ™ le must 
prevail in all such cases. It is important also that the 

CT.O. retain its present status as a national committee to 

carry on organization work in the basic industries, as 

his will prevent the reactionaries from spreading the 

would? a ^ SeCtl ° nS 1 0f the lab - movement, /they 
would do if two rival national labor federations faced 
each other. Meanwhile, while putting these emergency 
metres into effect a unity campaign must be carried 
on far and wide throughout the whole trade union 
movement, to win as many as possible of the trade 
unions to condemn the splitting policy of the A. F of 
L. Executive Council and to give active support to the 
organ^ t work of the Cm Espec J? m ^ ^ 

local A. J. of L. craft unions stand solid with the 
Ul U industrial unions and vice versa in the case of 
strikes, and under no circumstances permit their mem- 
bers to work when strikes are in progress. 

The C.I.O. is based upon the most fundamental sec- 
tions of the proletariat, those in the heavy, mass pro- 
duction industries. It is doing incomparably more vital 
and important work than the reactionary Executive 
Council of the A. F. of L. The latter is a brake on the 
labor movement, while the C.I.O. is carrying on the 

56 



most fundamental work of organization and stimulating 
labor's progress generally. The C.I.O. already clearly 
has the backing of an overwhelming majority of the 
organized trade unionists, as well as of great masses of 
the unorganized workers. And as its work of organiza- 
tion proceeds the mass support of the C.I.O. will in- 
crease by leaps and bounds in all sections of the work- 
ing class. 

It is most vitally important that the C.I.O. organize 
this vast supporting sentiment in the craft unions, so that 
these progressive forces, united on a sound program of 
industrial unionism and the organization of the unor- 
ganized, can break once and for all the deadly grip of 
the Executive Council reactionaries on the labor move- 
ment and throw their full strength into organization 
work. In the present circumstances the victory over these 
reactionaries will not be too difficult, if the C.I.O. will 
give more attention to this matter and take more active 
steps to organize the progressive forces throughout the 
labor movement. 

Under the consequent heavy pressure, the machine of 
the Greens, Wolls and other reactionaries in the craft 
unions would soon collapse and the progressives secure 
the leadership of the labor movement. And in the pro- 
cess the unity of labor could be re-established, despite 
the reactionary opposition. The present great surge for- 
ward of the masses, especially in the event of a victory 
in steel, must result in uniting the forces of labor — A 
F. of L. craft unions, C.I.O. industrial unions, railroad 

brotherhoods and millions of unorganized workers 

into a great united, progressive A. F. of L. based upon 
industrial unionism. 

57 



A victory in steel, with its resultant mass enthusiasm 
and increased fighting spirit, must especially be utilized 
to strengthen the workers politically. It is disastrous 
lolly forthe workers to support and depend upon the 
old political parties. This is true also of the present 
administration. The Roosevelt government is a capi- 
talist government and will of its own volition do noth- 
ing to infringe upon the real interests of the great fin 
ancial rulers of the country, nor has it done so in the 
past. All the real concessions that the workers will get 
ixom the present government is what they have the 
organized power and good sense to fight for. The work- 
ers and other toilers must have their own political party 
and program and give them strong mass support 

The next months should see great political activity on 
the part of the workers, farmers, and lower middle 
class elements. In conferences and meetings they should 
map out united front programs of state and national 
legislative demands and then give them the solid back- 
ing of all their trade unions, farmers' organizations, 
progressive blocs in Congress and state legislatures, and 
of th e porkers' and farmers' political parties. Mean- 
while they should also systematically set up local and 
state Farmer-Labor Parties, wherever there is a suffi- 
aent mass basis. This whole developing political move- 
ment should go m the direction of the formation, as 
soon as possible, of a great national Farmer-Labor Par- 
y, the beginning of a broad People's Front in the 
Umted States, to wage struggle against the growing- 
menace of hunger, fascism and war. 

Clearly, the C.I.O. has a heavy responsibility to fur- 

58 



ther this progressive political work. The reactionary 
A. F, oJ I -. leaders have refused to develop independent 
politicaJ action by the workers and they know no other 
pohtir.il policy than to keep the masses enchained to the 
Republican and Democratic Parties. It is highly dan- 
gerous further to neglect building a great Farmer- 
Labor Party of the toiling masses. These masses are 
more and more showing signs of breaking with the two 
old parties, and if organized labor does not give them 
the lead with .a new party, they are exposed to the 
serious danger of falling under the control of such 
demagogues and fascists as Hearst, Coughlin, Smith, 
Lemke, Townsend, etc. The organization of the work- 
ers in the mass production industries, and particularly 
if there is a victory in steel, will lay sufficiently broad 
foundations for a great Farmer-Labor Party 'in the 
United States and otherwise facilitate its development. 
History thrusts upon the C.I.O. the responsibility of 
bringing such a party into actual being. 

The Struggle for World Peace 

With the great strengthening of the trade union 
movement in numbers, program, leadership and class 
consciousness that will come from the organization of 
the workers in steel and other basic industries the trade 
union movement of this country must take a more pos- 
itive part in the struggle to maintain world peace and 
democracy. The world is facing the war threats and 
tyranny of the fascist aggressors, the Hitlers, Musso- 
linis, Francos, etc., and more and more the democratic 
forces of the world, with the Soviet Union at their head, 
are organizing to prevent these fascist barbarians from 

59 



hl^f f WOdd W ' th a new and raore terri We blood- 
bath The American workers must do their share, side 

^ ut r^ ^ democratic ™*™ °f other countries, 
to hold back this threatening slaughter and to defend 
the very existence of civilization itself. 

The A F of L. policy of non-participation in world 
affairs is fatal y wrong. Despite the sophistries of Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, William Green, Norman Thomas, and 
a ho St of otherS) there can b£ no neutral; for 

United States m the war that the fascists are now so 
busily preparing. The whole world will be drawn into 
the slaughter if and when it comes. The only way Amer- 
ica can keep out of war is by keeping war out of the 
world At all costs, the American workers must help 
stop the approaching war by supporting the policy of 
collective security against the fascist aggressors. We 
must give active aid to the brave Spanish workers and 
peasants who are now struggling heroically against the 
iascist butchers; we must support militantly the peace 
program of the Soviet Union; we must re-affiliate the 
Amencan trade unions to the Amsterdam Trade Union 
International; we must connect up our own forces with 
he anti-fascist fighters for peace in every country. And 

unit d e fron"t eaSUreS mUSt ^ baCk£d UP ** a ?« 
united front peace movement in this country, consisting 

of trade unions, farmers' organizations, professional 

associations, youth organizations, peace societie wT- 

oc al st P r£ ' gI r S b0di "' l0CaJ F ™-Labor Part ™ 
Socialist Party, Communist Party, etc. As a mass pro 
gressive force the C.I.O. has the responsLTtask to" 
draw the great body of trade unionists into hs vital 
struggle for peace. taI 

60 






I 



Role of the CXO. 

I '" l .I.O., led so aggressively by John L. Lewis, 
is doing ;i historically important thing in carrying on its 
vigorous cimpaign to organize the armies of exploited 
workers in the mass production industries. As we have 
seen, this campaign has within it possibilities for a fun- 
damental strengthening and reorganization of the whole 
American labor movement. Thus the C.I.O. has be- 
come the actual leader of the trade union movement. 
The Executive Council of the A. F. of L. has shown 
itself opposed to this vital organization work and be- 
cause of its narrow craft union and personal interests 
has refused for many years past to do the organizing 
that the C.I.O. is now undertaking. Had it so desired, 
the A. F. of L. could have easily organized the steel 
workers during the war, or during the Coolidge period 
of prosperity, or during the strike upheavals under the 
N.R.A. in 1933-1934. But the A. F. of L. wanted 
nothing to do with the organization of the steel workers. 
And worse yet, now that the C.I.O. unions, which are 
awake to the basic importance of this task to themselves 
and to all other workers, are proceeding to accomplish 
the organizing work that the Executive Council has so 
long neglected or prevented, the Executive Council 
actually suspends them, one-third of the whole labor 
movement, from the A. F. of L., and thus traitorously 
splits labor's forces in the face of the enemy. Never, 
even in the shady history of the A. F. of L., has mis- 
leadership sunk to lower levels. The A. F. of L. Exec- 
utive Council has surrendered the true leadership of the 
trade unions into the hands of the C.I.O. 

61 






The Communist Party heartily supports the C.I.O. 
organizing campaigns in the steel, automobile, rubber, 
glass, textile, oil, etc., industries,' and it mobilizes all its 
forces to assist in this work. It extends this aid for the 
same reason that it supports every forward movement 
or the workers wherever it may originate or what form 
it may take, whether it be a strike, an organization cam- 
paign, the carrying on of independent working class po- 
litical activity, or what not. The Communist Party has 
no interests apart from those of the working class, and 
every victory of the workers is a victory for the Com- 
munist Party. But in supporting the C.I.O.'s organizing 
work the Communist Party does not fail to point out 
constructively and in a friendly spirit whatever it may 
consider to be weaknesses in that work, such as the in- 
sufficient mobilization of the progressives in the craft 
unions to support the C.I.O.'s position, hesitancy in 
using more aggressive methods of mass organization 
work, underestimation of trade union democracy, failure 
to raise the question of industrial unionism regarding 
the craft unions themselves and insufficient orientation 
towards the formation of a national Farmer-Labor 
Party. Also the Communist Party, with its revolution- 
ary program, looks far beyond the perspective of the 
C.I.O. It aims at the abolition of the capitalist system 
and the complete liquidation of the exploitation of man 
by man through the private ownership of industry and 
the land, by the establishment of socialism. 

The C.I.O. has done very good work up to date, but 
its biggest tasks still remain ahead. There is to be 
accomplished not only the successful completion of the 

62 



organization drives in steel, auto, etc., but also, as I 
have pointed out, the broad tasks of consolidating the 
victory j that is, of realizing the full economic and 
political possibilities of the C.I.O. movement, including 
the extension of the organization work far and wide in 
industry generally j the re-establishment of a unified 
and democratized A. F. of L. based on industrial 
unionism and a class struggle policy and with a progres- 
sive leadership j the foundation of a great united 
front Farmer-Labor Party as the beginning of an 
American People's Front $ the building up of a broad 
peace movement, etc. These tasks confronting the 
C.I.O. amount, in sum, to a veritable renaissance of the 
whole American trade union movement. 

John L. Lewis and other C.I.O. leaders, although 
having a very conservative background, have shown a 
real spirit of progress in the development of the C.I.O. 
movement. Their progressive advance was a most ex- 
traordinary development to take place in the ranks of 
the reactionary A. F. of L. trade union leadership. And 
to accomplish the historic tasks of the great forward 
development of which they stand at the head, new tests 
will be made of their responsiveness to the masses' 
needs. To realize in full theimplications and possibilities 
of the situation they will have to display the broadest 
vision and livest progressivism. They have in their 
hands the opportunity to do a most fundamental service 
to the working class, not only of America, but of the 
whole world. 
New York, January, 1937 



63 





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