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Labor's new millions 




California Labor School Library 

San Francisco, California 

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From the collection of the 





San Francisco, California 

Books by Mary Heaton Torse 








Labor's New Millions 









All rights in this book are reserved, and it may not be 
reproduced in whole or in part without written permis- 
sion from the holder of these rights. For information 
address the publishers. 

Composed and printed in the United States of America by Union Labor 


Typography by Robert Josephy 


Acknowledgment is made to the New Republic and 
Federated Press for permission to reprint parts of arti- 
cles which have appeared in their pages. 

The sections in Chapter V, "A Night in Fisher 
- i." and "Pengally Hall," were written by Heaton 

Special acknowledgment is made to William B. 
Smith who materially assisted the revision of Labor's 
New Millions. 




ii. THE C.I.O. 12 







ix. "FORD NEXT" 101 













xxi. THE WEST COAST 210 




xxv. A.F. OF L. AND C.I.O. 261 


xxvii. WHAT LABOR WANTS 285 


TO HAVE been born into a household in conservative Amherst, 
Massachusetts, would not, it might seem at first glance, provide 
one with an ideal background for reporting on the American labor 
movement. An upbringing in a Victorian family might even appear 
to be something of a handicap to overcome. But Mary Heaton 
Vorse, in the course of the years that she has followed the rise of 
labor, has turned this background to her own great advantage. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that by reason of this same back- 
ground she has brought to what is the most important work of her 
long career a better understanding. She has seen the labor move- 
ment not as an isolated phenomenon in the broad sweep of Ameri- 
can life but as an integral part of that life. Her knowledge of the 
whole range of living in America has peculiarly fitted her to under- 
stand the interplay of social forces in this country. And it has con- 
tributed to her strong skepticism of the tags and labels that are too 
glibly applied to classes and individuals. 

Above all it is her love of human beings, whatever their rank or 
kind, that illumines Mrs. Vorse's understanding of labor's struggles 
and labor's victories. One cannot know her, however briefly, with- 
out becoming aware of this. It is in her insatiable curiosity, her hu- 
mor, her courtesy, her tact, and in a kind of gallantry that is so 
much a part of her. 

She has seen a great deal of the history that has been made in 
the past twenty-five years. She has lived through, often as an active 
participant, almost every important labor conflict in America 
during the past two decades. The broad span of her activity since 
her New England childhood has taken her into every part of the 
world, into revolution and war and the aftermath of war. 


Having spent several long intervals in Europe as a student and a 
writer Mrs. Vorse knows the European labor movement, too. She 
was in Europe as war correspondent not long after the outbreak of 
the World War and went from one war-torn country to another, 
crossing through neutral countries, from the Allied to the German 
side, and having extraordinary difficulties and adventures at every 
border. In 1918 she was a member of the Red Cross and assigned to 
the Balkan Commission. Then later she was commissioned by the 
American Relief Administration to go into devastated areas and 
write about what she saw so that the American public would under- 
stand the work that was being done. And after that she went into 
Russia as a correspondent for one of the news services. She saw and 
heard Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. 

Between the war and her Russian experience she returned to 
America and took an active part in the great steel strike of 1919, 
doing any kind of task that came to hand and watching, with dis- 
appointment close to despair, the force of the strike slowly ebb 
away. After the steel strike had ended in defeat, she went to work 
organizing employees of shirt factories in small Pennsylvania 
towns for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. The Amalgamated 
was then outside the A.F. of L. union and so Mrs. Vorse had to be 
on guard not only for state troopers but for hostile members of the 
old line Garment Workers Union. Dodging state troopers was made 
easier because the friendly telephone operator in the mill town kept 
Mrs. Vorse, and a fellow organizer, Anne Craton, posted on the 
whereabouts of the police. 

Before the advent of the Committee for Industrial Organization 
she had made herself an authority on American labor. But unlike 
many authorities she has known her subject, and many of the 
principal figures in it, at first hand. They live for her as human 
beings. With gestures, she recalls an old-time Chicago labor leader 
who in his late years studied elocution, the result being not alto- 
gether happy. He is introducing Mrs. Vorse as the speaker of the 
evening in the local labor temple: "This old sister (gesture to 
heaven) has witnessed the immemorial struggles of the working 


man (imploratory gesture to the audience) and she knows more 
about it than any of you birds will ever know. (Fist hammered 
down on the rostrum.) Yes, a battle-scarred veteran (his arm sweep- 
ing in a broad arc in the direction of the slight figure on the plat- 
form who waits for this barrage of oratory to subside). . . ." 

Mrs. Vorse's study of the C. I. O. has taken her from Florida to 
Seattle and almost all points in between. It has not been through 
mere accident that she has been on hand for the most critical hap- 
penings of the past five years. An uncanny prescience for what is 
about to be exciting and important took her to Flint for the sit- 
down strike in Chevy 4 and she witnessed there the victory of the 
auto workers with all its drama. 

To other reporters on the job there is something a little startling 
about the way in which Mrs. Vorse manages to find herself in the 
thick of things. Calm, unhurried, she succeeds nevertheless in ar- 
riving at the right place at the right time. Perhaps it is because of 
the friendships that she has made through the years. While she is a 
first-rate reporter, she is more than that, more than an observer. 
Her sympathies are deeply engaged in the struggle that she has 

During the Republic steel strike in the summer of 1937, Mrs. 
Vorse's faculty for getting into the thick of things almost proved 
her undoing. She was at Youngstown, having gone there with the 
belief that the trouble was now nearly over as the Mediation Com- 
mission was already in session in Cleveland. Someone had asked her 
to go on a picnic being given by the alumni of the local high school. 
Returning to her hotel after a peaceful afternoon, she learned there 
had been a disturbance, tear gas and shooting. But it was over now. 
Nevertheless she wanted to see for herself. Scotty O'Hara, C. I. O. 
organizer, gave her a lift in his car. They were walking toward the 
picket line at the main gate of the plant when suddenly gunfire 
blazed out of the darkness. Mrs. Vorse ran with the others. The im- 
pact of a bullet felled her. Scotty O'Hara was trying to help her up, 
two men more seriously injured were lying on the ground. Blood 
was streaming down her face. It happened that the wound just 


over her eye was deep but not serious. One man had been killed, 
another gravely injured. That is what can come out of the soft 
midsummer darkness of an Ohio town. 

The focus of her private life for thirty years or more has been an 
old house at Provincetown, Massachusetts, the picturesque fishing 
village that has been in part taken over by summer visitors and 
artists from New York. It was in the storage shed at the end of her 
fishing wharf that the Provincetown Players put on their first per- 
formances. This was a cooperative venture, long before the mass 
invasion of artists and pseudo-artists. From it came one of the most 
significant theater histories recorded in this country thus far. 

Mrs. Vorse's interests are as varied as the titles of her books, 
which range from "The Breaking In of a Yachtsman's Wife" to her 
autobiography, "Footnote to Folly." The folly, incidentally, is not 
the author's personal folly but that of a war-torn world to which she 
has written what is indeed a brilliant footnote. But always she has 
come back to labor's struggle for the right to organize. Calling the 
roll of the strikes she has been through is to list the battles of a 
veteran warrior: Lawrence, Paterson, the strike on the Mesaba 
iron range, the great steel strike of 1919, the Kansas miners, Pas- 
saic, Gastonia, and Marion, in 1931 the Kentucky miners. And 
finally she has followed the rise of the C. I. O. 

For those who have had a part in the struggle as well as for those 
who have stood outside it this book will mean a great deal. The 
participants have been too preoccupied with immediate tasks to 
record for the future this significant phenomenon. And what is 
more they have seen only one part of the nationwide growth of a 
new kind of unionism. Here is an observer who does not pretend to 
detachment. She is ardently concerned with the future of the or- 
ganization that she describes. She has seen it all and she writes of it 
out of a lifetime of experience, a lifetime that has taken her from a 
prim Victorian drawing room to the picket lines of America. 

Marquis W. Childs 

I. Rubber-The First C. I. O. Strike 

THE EMPLOYERS felt safe enough that snowy morning in 
February, 1936, when a picket line first appeared before the huge 
Goodyear plant at Akron, Ohio. The rubber workers' union, which 
had mushroomed to 50,000 under the N. R. A., had dwindled to 
only a few hundred. Their company union, the Goodyear Industrial 
Assembly, was one of the best in the country. Officials felt strong 
and secure enough for a campaign of "rawhiding" that brought 
the speed-up to a new high after which the piece rates were cut. 
Now Goodyear was resuming the eight-hour shift, with resulting 

They say that the first three men who got the pink slips swore 
and sat down and in ten minutes the department refused to work. 
It seemed to the workers a strategic moment for a "showdown 
with Goodyear." 

C. D. Leslie, a sit-downer, but not then a union member, made 
the now historic remark on returning from a meeting with the 

"I favor shutting her down!" 

The small union membership they had when they struck in the 
midst of a snow storm increased. Great picket lines marched in 
front of the plant, turning back shift after shift until the shutdown 
was complete. This was the first big strike since the C. I. O. had 
been formed in November, three months before. John L. Lewis 
made his first C. I. O. speech for the rubber workers and it helped 
put courage into them for their battle. 

From the start, the C. I. O. cooperated with the rubber workers, 
giving them both organizational and financial help. When the 



United Rubber Workers endorsed the strike, the C. I. O. representa- 
tive was already on the scene and had advised this action. The 
young union was soon reinforced by organizers lent by the C. I. O. 
These organizers, from the United Mine Workers, Amalgamated 
Clothing Workers, Oil Workers, and the International Ladies 
Garment Workers Union, infused Akron strikers with the strength 
of their own groups and brought a new sense of unity to the 

It was not only the rubber workers* strike; it stretched out to the 
oil workers, the garment workers, the mine workers. It was their 
strike as well as the rubber workers' their organizers were there, 
their war chests were behind the rubber workers. The force and 
power of these other unions flowed through the new union. 

There was unity at last in the labor movement labor seeing 
its struggles not as isolated conflicts but as part of a great forward 
thrust. Each victory was a victory for all. This feeling of unity was 
the C. I. O.'s great power, for without a constitution it was a more 
closely integrated organization than the A. F. of L. had ever been. 
The pooling of resources and experience had resulted in a delicately 
integrated organism. A success or a setback in one industry was 
felt sympathetically throughout the whole organization. 

Like all great movements within the C. I. O., the rubber strike 
was a democratic urge coming from the rank and file. Throughout 
the C. I. O. unions there has been this mixture of democratic initia- 
tive tempered by experienced leadership. 

The C. I. O., a new vital force, had been born in the labor move- 
ment, and it was showing its power, its ingenuity, and its inventive- 
ness in Akron. 

The rubber workers had struck for a reason that one of the lead- 
ers mentioned in a radio talk: "The two agitators in this strike are 
Goodyear hours and wages. They are native products. They were 
not imported from Moscow." These are the usual agitators. In 
November, 1935, and January, 1936, wage cuts had led to brief 


sit-downs. It was in rubber that the first twenty-four hour sit-down 
occurred and that the sit-down appeared as a conscious policy. 

Within a short time 10,000 workers were back in the union; and 
all these 10,000 had to be fed and had to be integrated into the 
strike. In the second week police tried to break the picket line. The 
union threw masses of workers in front of the plant. The police did 
not attack. No disorder occurred. The sheer weight of numbers, of 
quietly exhibited force, had prevented violence so effectively that 
the Department of Labor's report spoke of it as a strike with singu- 
larly little violence. 

The union told its story to the workers and to the public told 
it over the air, told it in the papers. It explained the Goodyear 
Company's financial position. Stock had been pyramided until 
shares had split ninety-six for one; net profit for 1935 was five and a 
half million dollars; President Litchfield's salary was $81,000 a 
year; yet in spite of this the company was proposing a layoff 
caused by a longer day. The general public in Akron became con- 
vinced of the justice of the workers' fight. 

This appeal to the public was only one of the ways in which were 
foreshadowed the new strike techniques which were to reach new 
heights in autos: Leo Krzycki, Amalgamated organizer, told me 
that the use of radio prevented a serious conflict which might easily 
have ended in massacre. 

"Goodyear," he said, "had openly organized mobs and when 
reports came in that the mob was to march on the picket line, we 
engaged a radio station from eleven at night until eight in the 
morning and told our forces to stand by their radios while we gave 
them news of what was going on. All night long the workers of the 
city of Akron sat by their radios, ready to march to the picket line, 
listening to the news flashes. Messages of approval, which came 
from all over the country from as far west as Colorado, were read to 
the radio audience. All night we entertained those listening with 
songs and music." 

Tents were extensively used to shelter pickets. Men watched 


day and night around the eleven-mile picket line circuit. There 
were picket captains for each group of ten. "Better housing pro- 
grams," broadcast to the workers, brought contributions of radios, 
couches, and safer stoves to furnish the tents. 

When the Law and Order League was started, along the lines 
made familiar by No. I strikebreaker, Pearl Bergoff, the union sent 
out a call to all war veterans in the industry to be ready to protect 
the pickets. Within two hours the ex-servicemen were drilling in 
their headquarters ready to march into the strike zone. 

Again and again during the labor conflicts of the next months, the 
tactic of assembling great numbers of workers was used. Sheer 
weight of numbers tended to keep the peace in automobile towns, in 
oil fields, in whatever place labor was asking for recognition, for its 
right to form unions and bargain collectively. 

When the time came for settlement in Goodyear, the value of an 
organization like the Committee for Industrial Organization again 
proved itself. The employers were reluctant to come to an agree- 
ment. At the same moment when the union was pointing out that 
the strike had not reached its peak, and the Central Labor Union 
was ready to call out other unions to help the rubber workers, 
powerful friends on the Committee for Industrial Organization were 
working in Washington. As a union pamphlet put it: 

"Persons influential in the Goodyear setup were told that the use 
of force in Akron would not help sales. There was no use making 
goods, it was pointed out, unless they could be sold. And if workers 
were killed in front of the Goodyear gates, labor men would not buy 
Goodyear tires or autos equipped with them." 

The idea of a consumer boycott on a large scale was one of the 
many new C. I. O. tactics, based on the realization that a large part 
of the buying public is composed of workers or people sympathetic 
to labor. 

Before the C. I. O. the story of rubber had been the story of steel, 
of autos, of glass, of many other industries. The movement which 
finally became the C. I. O. received its initial impetus from the 
N. R. A., for this attempt to grapple with depression problems 


which had engulfed the workers of this country was in part an 
effort to strengthen labor's position and gain a better balance for 
the forces of industrial life. 

Workers who had been intimidated and discriminated against 
by open shop employers and who had been afraid of losing their 
jobs now felt that their government was behind their desire for 
organization, and they joined the unions by hundreds of thousands. 
Federal unions grew from 307 in 1932 to 1,788 in 1934. The increase 
in union membership was a spontaneous thing. This stir among the 
workers was nationwide. Signal successes were achieved among 
mine workers and garment workers. In the mass industries, such as 
rubber, autos, and steel, a large new membership arose. Those who 
thought the Blue Eagle had laid a china egg in 7A were mistaken, 
for from it was hatched the powerful C. I. O. 

The rubber workers typified a national response to the New Deal 
and the early promise of N. R. A. Membership in the A. F. of L. 
union in Akron rose swiftly to a peak of 50,000. But as time went 
on, the rank and file grew dissatisfied with the narrow craft union 
approach. Various raids by A. F. of L. unions claiming jurisdiction 
over certain groups destroyed the new membership. Interest waned 
and changed to bitter disillusionment as Blue Eagle labor boards 
failed to function properly. Membership began to shrink and de- 
clined steadily until in February, 1936, the union at Goodyear had 
only two hundred dues-paying members. 

The discouragement which showed itself in this pronounced loss 
of union strength in rubber was typical of what happened over the 
country. It reflected both the stimulation given to labor by the 
N. R. A. and the futility of craft union organization for the mass 
production industries. The old A. F. of L. fabric could not be 
stretched to fit the work pattern of our modern industrial setup. 
Within two years six hundred federal unions had been discontinued 
or suspended by the A. F. of L. There was a flight from the unions. 

Meantime another sort of "union" membership was swelling. 
These were the unions under the employer's representation plan, or 
company unions. This type of union membership, which increased 


to 2,500,000 in 1934 from 1,500,000 in 1933, was to prove a 

In a small compass all the elements which were to form the epic 
history of the C. I. O. were present in Akron during the rubber con- 
flict. The strike was won. The workers gained a thirty-six hour week, 
seniority rights, substantial wage raises and better working condi- 
tions throughout the industry, with over one hundred wage agree- 
ments, including agreements with the Big Three. Victories in 
Goodyear were followed by victories in Goodrich and Firestone. 
By the time the Atlantic City conference of the C. I. O. took place, 
President Dalrymple could report a united union of 75,000 dues- 
paying members. 

On the side of the employers the terror which reached its peak in 
the strike of Little Steel was foreshadowed. President Dalrymple 
was ganged up on and beaten savagely by the police when he went 
to speak to the rubber workers in Gadsden, Alabama, and the 
back-to-work movements and citizens' committees instigated by 
detectives were formed. The tire manufacturers, though highly 
competitive, have a common fund for union crushing, and carried 
on through the Akron Employers Association. These activities were 
later exposed by the La Follette Committee. Also in Akron, mis- 
takes were made by the workers which were to be repeated in other 
localities. The sit-down strike, a strong weapon, was used indis- 
criminately. The large, new union membership was yet to be dis- 
ciplined and became impatient at management delays in meeting 
grievance committees. 

The Goodyear strike was followed by the R. C. A. strike in Cam- 
den, N. J., and the shipyard workers soon followed these unions into 
the C. I. O. These two strikes were the trial ground of the C. I. O. 
They proved the amount of power that lay in the working together 
of many great unions. The rubber strike in Akron was the first of a 
series of notable victories which, within a year, changed the status 
of labor in America. 

This altered status, mirrored so clearly in the 1936 election, has 


left a lasting imprint on the national scene. In July of 1937, Busi- 
ness Week said editorially: 

"Akron is from nine months to a year ahead of the national pro- 
cession in labor recovery. It was in Akron that the Committee for 
Industrial Organization made its first stand in a big industry, the 
Goodyear strike . . . Today all the big rubber companies in 
Akron are dealing across the table with unions." 

Not rubber alone, but a long and formidable list of hitherto un- 
touchable industrial kingdoms were soon invaded by the C. I. O., 
armed as it is with new techniques, with widespread mass support 
and a sense of close integration with all labor. 

II. The C. I. O. 


United Rubber Workers of America 75-poO 

Federation of Flat Glass Workers 77,000 

United Automobile Workers of America 375-P 00 

Amalgamated Assn. of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers 

(S.PT.O.C.) 525>ooo* 

United Mine Workers of America 600,000 

United Textile Workers of America b 400,000 

International Ladies Garment Workers Union 252,000 

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America 180,000 

Oil Workers International Union 100,000 

International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers . 45<poo 

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers 140,000 

International Woodworkers of America 100,000 

United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Work- 
ers 100,000 

Transport Workers Union 80,000 

International Typographical Union* 75>5OO 

United Shoe Workers of America 50,000 

United Retail Employees of America 40,000 

International Fur Workers 35-POO 

State, County and Municipal Workers of America 30,000 

a That number covered by Steel Workers Organizing Committee (S. W. O. C.) 

b Later known as Textile Workers Organizing Committee. 

* Considered a C. I. O. union, since its president is prominent in C. I. O., but the 
union has not (November, 1937) voted to leave the A. F. of L. 


THE C. I. O. 13 

United Office and Prof essional Workers of America 25,000 

United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers 23>9 

International Longshoremen and Warehousemens Union . 20,000 

International Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers 20,000 

American Newspaper Guild i3->3 2 $ 

Aluminum Workers of America 10,000 

American Communications Association (formerly Ameri- 
can Radio Telegraphists Association) 8,000 

United Federal Workers of America 6,500 

National Marine Engineers Beneficial Association 6,500 

Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists and Tech- 
nicians 6,000 

National Leather Workers Association 6,000 

National Die Casting League 5-P 

Inland Boatmens Union of the Pacific (provisional) 4->5 

AN INCALCULABLE FORCE was unleashed by the C. I. O. It 

was formed November 9, 1936, by eight unions, and its program 
was the organizing of all labor into industrial unions, at the same 
time making the workers conscious of their political power. 

Its creed was embodied by John L. Lewis in his first radio 
speech to the workers when he cried, "There is a mighty upsurge of 
human sentiment now being crystallized in the hearts of thirty 
million workers who clamor for the establishment of industrial 
democracy and for a participation in its tangible fruits." 

So great was its force, so powerful its impetus that the shouts of 
C. I. O.! C. I. O.! C. I. O.! sounding like the beat of giant machin- 
ery and greeting John L. Lewis at the I. L. G. W. U. convention, 
only echoed the shout of C. I. O.! throbbing through the whole 

Five months after this, John Brophy, making a report on the 
C. I. O.'s progress before the C. I. O. Atlantic City conference of 
October 4th, could say, "When the Committee was formed two 
years ago its members did not total one million. Now there are four 
million. And the demand for organization in the C. I. O. continues 


so strong that a membership of four million is merely a passing 
marker in the steady progress of the C. I. O." There are thirty-two 
international unions affiliated with it. It had at that time chartered 
605 local industrial unions; five state industrial councils, Arkansas, 
Oklahoma, Montana, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and seventy- 
eight city, county, and regional councils. A charter had also been 
issued to the C. I. O. Maritime Federation of New York, made up 
of the various maritime unions in that port. 

Almost two years to a day from the birth of the Committee for 
Industrial Organization, and meeting in the same room in At- 
lantic City where it was formed, a proposal for unity between the 
A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. was made. It was a dramatic moment, 
the climax to the mass movement of the C. I. O. which, in two 
years, could speak in terms of millions of organized workers, of a 
billion dollars added to workers' wages, of contracts with employ- 
ers in the tens of thousands, many of them in industries never 
organized before. 

The accomplishments of the C. I. O. were passed here in review 
before the old leaders who had formed it, and the young leaders 
thrown to the surface in the past two years of organization. Indeed 
this young new leadership showed that some fresh and significant 
developments had occurred in the labor movement. The A. F. of L. 
Convention had become a meeting of the middle-aged and elderly. 
In the C. I. O., the initiative of youth was aided and encouraged by 
older and experienced leaders. The Committee on Resolutions at 
the C. I. O. Conference was a sample of this. On the Committee 
were Lee Pressman, Philip Murray, Sidney Hillman of the Amal- 
gamated Clothing Workers, David Dubinsky of the I. L. G. W. U., 
and Joseph Curran and Homer Martin, the young presidents of the 
N. M. U. and the dynamic Automobile Workers. The young leaders 
of the new unions were mingled with such veterans as John Brophy 
and Philip Murray of the S. W. O. C. The leaders in the new uniqns 
had the dynamic quality of true organizers, whether seasoned men 
like Dalrymple of the rubber workers, or young men like James 

THE C. I. O. 15 

Nelson, president of the newly-formed local District 50 of the 
U. M. W. A. coke by-product chemical workers. 

Heading them all was John L. Lewis. To millions of workers he 
is the symbol of their power. No man in America has been more 
discussed than the Chairman of the C. I. O. and no one's position 
more misrepresented. It is true that John Lewis wields enormous 
power, but he is not a dictator, nor is the C. I. O. a one-man organi- 
zation. His power rests on his own prestige; it reflects his evaluation 
in the eyes of his fellow workers. A dictator's power rests on force, 
but John Lewis, in his capacity of Chairman of the C. I. O., has no 
police power. He is a force in his own union, and by virtue of the 
half million dollars given to it by the U. M. W. A., he is a power in 
the S. W. O. C., but in all other unions Lewis' authority rests only 
on the weight of his own personality. He can advise, but the newest 
union within the fold of the C. I. O., though it has been helped by 
funds and organizers, is as autonomous as any of the powerful older 
unions such as the United Mine Workers or the International 
Ladies Garment Workers. 

The C. I. O. has achieved such unity that the public generally 
does not realize the relation of the Washington headquarters to the 
organization. Here come delegates from unions seeking affiliation, 
representatives seeking advice, financial aid, organizers. Here rival 
factions come to solve their difficulties. Campaigns are mapped out, 
the problems of various unions met, but it is left to the unions 
themselves to accept or refuse the advice given, whether it comes 
from the Chief himself or from one of his associates. 

During the years, John L. Lewis has grown in stature and each 
year loomed more important on the public scene. Time Magazine 
grudgingly admitted that if a Number One Citizen were to be 
named it would be John L. Lewis. The force of his utterances, al- 
most biblical in character, are emphasized by his almost faultless 
sense of drama, his infallible instinct of timing, never more ex- 
emplified than by his unexpected peace proposal at the Atlantic 
City Conference, where he and the other C. I. O. chiefs saw pass 


before them the achievements of their first two years. Impressive as 
it was to hear of two and a half million workers hitherto unorgan- 
ized, or a million men now getting vacations with pay, the weight 
of mere figures told only part of the story. 

There has been a social awakening throughout the country, the 
coming of democracy in towns and industrial valleys where the 
Bill of Rights, such things as free speech, free assembly, and even 
the right to vote as one pleased, had been unknown. 

The workers have felt their power politically as never before. 
They have expressed at the polls their wish to have more to say 
about the government under which they live. Labor candidates 
have been elected in towns where formerly a worker's job depended 
on his voting as he had been told. 

In its brief history the C. I. O. has gripped the attention of 
President Roosevelt and the United States Supreme Court. It has 
swept across the frontiers of Canada, involved the Premier and 
hastened the fall of cabinet ministers. The magnitude of its un- 
precedented struggles has engaged the militia and governors of four 
states. Discussion of the sit-down strike rocked the country and 
provoked arguments in the Senate and the House that for diver- 
gence and violence of opinion were unlike any controversy since 
abolition days. 

The storm over the sit-down strike was less formidable than the 
attack on labor which followed the decision of the Supreme Court 
upholding the National Labor Relations Act. And during the strike 
of Little Steel a campaign of misrepresentation and hate was 
carried on which for its ferocity equaled that of the Haymarket 

Born of the organizational genius of this country, American to 
the core, the C. I. O., inventive and audacious in action, patient 
in negotiation, in a few brief months re-created the labor movement. 

The drama of the automobile strikes was played on a gigantic 
scale developing immeasurable impetus and power; resourceful, 
venturesome, using new and old strike methods interchangeably, 
full of surprises, unexpected in its moves, courageous, and some- 

THE C. I. O. 17 

times, as in the letters from the strikers to the governor, weighted 
with tragedy. 

The C. I. O. cut through old conventions, took the shards of 
unions which had been given their impetus by the N. R. A., and 
later almost died from disillusionment, and made them into a 
vital force. 

A tremendous breach was made in the walls of the open shop em- 
ployers. Not only steel, but autos, rubber, aluminum, flat glass, 
cement, oil, capitulated to collective bargaining, while inroads were 
made in transport and the utilities. The longshoremen on the 
Pacific coast and the seamen on the east coast have joined, and the 
woodworkers have added their young, powerful union of 100,000. 

Against its long series of victories it has received only one serious 
setback. While the defeat in Little Steel was a real one which re- 
tarded the C. I. O. and threatened to weaken it permanently, the 
power of industrial unionism won out. Even during the steel strike 
the C. I. O. went on rolling up its membership, especially in the 
great textile drive which has netted 400,000 workers. The workers 
answered the check of Little Steel and the battering which the 
C. I. O. received from an implacable press, from members of 
Congress, from the vigilante committees, and the opposition from 
the A. F. of L. leadership, by swelling its ranks with new hundreds 
of thousands, in new unions. 

Shifts of depressed workers like the tenant farmers and agricul- 
tural workers have been drawn into unions, while the brain and 
white collar workers, hitherto indifferent to the labor movement, 
have been aroused. 

The white collar workers, of which there are eight million in this 
country, have tended to identify themselves with management. 
They are beginning to know better. They have learned during the 
depression that their problems and labor's are one and the same. 
A women's movement has arisen which is the most vigorous 
expression that the working women of this country have ever 

The status of the Negro workers has been completely changed. 


Kept out of many A. F. of L. unions, the Negro worker will never 
again be isolated and friendless within the labor movement, for 
the C. I. O. organizes without regard to color, creed or nationality. 

The response to the new unionism was the greatest mass move- 
ment labor has ever witnessed in this country. It cannot be said 
that it was the C. I. O. alone which organized the workers who have 
stormed into its ranks. The young C. I. O. did not have the means 
for such accomplishment. A great force like a force of nature had 
been pent up, partly by the open shop employers, partly by the 
inadequate form imposed by the A. F. of L. leadership. The C. I. O. 
undammed a channel through which the "desires and aspirations 
of millions of workers" could flow. 

When the C. I. O. was formed, the labor movement presented a 
picture of a small island of craft unionists completely surrounded 
by a sea of millions of unorganized workers, engaged in industries 
which had been developed in the last thirty years. 

The industrial scene which the newly formed C. I. O. looked 
upon showed 49,000,000 people "gainfully employed," according to 
the census of 1930. Of these 14,000,000 were employers or profes- 
sional men, 14,500,000 were farming or in forestry, in commercial 
work, domestic service and similar occupations including the 
swollen ranks of white collar workers. There were 20,500,000 in- 
dustrial workers. 

Not only these industrial workers but millions more, hitherto 
outside the reach of union influence, were logical prospects for 
organization. When the C. I. O. was launched at least 36,400,000 
men and women could properly be called organizable., yet less than 
10 per cent of them, 3,186,000, were enrolled in the A. F. of L. 
And even in its own restricted fields craft unionism, after almost 
fifty years, had not nearly completed its self-limited task. This is 
well shown by figures taken from Photo-History ', No. 2: 

147,460 blacksmiths, forge-hammermen 
15,000 in the Blacksmith's Union 

THE C. I. O. 19 

500,000 steel workers 

8,600 in the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and 
Tin Workers 

300,000 auto workers 
10,000 in the United Automobile Workers Union 

170,896 brick, stone masons, tile layers 
65,000 in the Bricklayers Union 

929,376 carpenters 

200,000 in the Brotherhood of Carpenters 

280,279 electricians 

130,000 in the International Brotherhood of Electrical 

761,075 machinists, millwrights and toolmakers 
92,500 in the International Association of Machinists 

519,528 painters 
65,600 in the Brotherhood of Painters 

85,477 plasterers and cement finishers 

18,000 in the International Association of Plasterers 

237,813 plumbers, gas and steamfitters 
34,000 in the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union 

1,082,094 teamsters and chauffeurs 
137,000 in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters 

7,987,000 retail clerks and salesmen 

7,200 in the Retail Clerks International Protective 

The explanation of such a record is to be found primarily in the 
altered economic processes of our time. Modern mass production 
methods have increasingly ignored and cut across traditional rights 


of union jurisdiction. And, equally important, employers have 
fought steadily to maintain the open shop, using every weapon of 
force and intimidation at their command. Both the rationalization 
of industry and the growth of huge corporate structures hindered 
the development of craft unionism. Automatic machinery, con- 
veyor belts, chain line production, and countless technical innova- 
tions have displaced many of the old skills and introduced an almost 
infinite division of craft work within a single plant. Thus craft 
unionism has been confronted by an organizational problem that 
grew more hopelessly complex year by year. 

Industrial unionism, making the factory the pivot of all organi- 
zational effort, not only furnishes the answer to this problem but 
gives the workers an essential weapon for collective bargaining. 
This is the logic behind the C. I. O.'s industrial unionism, a belated 
recognition of the profound changes that have accompanied mass 
production and technological advances. A glance at the history and 
roster of the C. I. O. throws a vivid light on the changes which have 
occurred in industry. 

Within the life span of the A. F. of L., autos have revolutionized 
not only transportation, but the very way we live. Machinery and 
the processes of manufacture have been transformed. The great 
kingdom of oil, with its interlocking service stations, has just begun. 
The material from which roads are manufactured, the composites, 
cement, and structural material from which our buildings are fabri- 
cated have changed. War material has changed completely. The 
chemicals covered by the by-products of coal and coke were un- 
known. The rayon clothing we wear, the very look of peoples' faces 
has changed and a vast cosmetic industry has appeared. Great 
amusement industries have sprung up, which include the moving 
pictures and radio. The way farmers planted and harvested crops 
has altered radically. New eating habits and a huge canning in- 
dustry accompanied the change in farming. 

During this time the swift pace of agricultural and industrial 
expansion ranged from coast to coast. As the frontier vanished im- 
migration ceased. New millions pressing for opportunity found the 

THE C. I. O. 21 

old doors closed. Western homesteads no longer awaited the 
pioneer. Increasingly the ownership of land and small business 
passed into the hands of large scale operators. Management slipped 
from the hands of ownership, to be taken over by hired executives 
and salaried employees a huge new army without a direct stake 
in the property it managed. A vast white collar class grew up. When 
the A. F. of L. was born there were only about 650,0x30 " clerks." 
Today there are eight million white collar workers. 

The world changed faster than its thinking. The old ideas of 
property remained after property for the many had vanished; when 
all that remained of property were the clothes a man wore, and the 
few sticks of furniture he might own. To that, the more fortunate 
might add an automobile, a radio, and an equity in a house. The 
tools of his trade had long since passed from him and his business 
and his land had followed. 

In a changing world there was one unchanging thing, fixed as the 
petrified forest. This was the policy of the American Federation of 
Labor. It ignored these changes in the ownership of manufacture, 
these new means of locomotion. It ignored the mushrooming mass 
industries of a modern world. Faced with an alert, revolutionary, 
manufacturing group whose chemists and inventors never slept, 
the A. F. of L. remained static. When manufacturers had vertical 
production, owning raw material, coal for power, transportation, 
distribution of the finished product, the A. F. of L. chiefs clung to 
craft unionism. And because all the members of one craft belonged 
to a nationwide union it was quite possible for a single craft to 
strike locally while members of other craft unions in the same plant 
continued working. 

Samuel Gompers, the English cigarmaker, who could dwarf the 
personalities of a room full of legislators and industrialists, founded 
and nurtured the American Federation of Labor. Indeed, it might 
be said he was the A. F. of L. for many years. The aims of the 
A. F. of L. barely changed during fifty-five years of existence, and 
it continued to have less and less relation to the enormous manufac- 
turing world which it confronted. 


The crafts dwindled, the proportion of skilled workmen became 
smaller year by year. Fifty years ago the commercial workers were 
one to five, today they are one to three. Craft lines became more 
and more blurred and jurisdictional disputes increased. The car- 
penters and the joiners fought and the woodworkers and the sheet 
metal workers disputed and the plumbers and the steamfitters; and 
forever one craft was bound by agreements when the other wanted 
to strike. 

The A. F. of L. was a loosely federated group of unions. The 
Executive Council had little power or money to inaugurate a drive 
for new membership. Its very form rendered it static. The way it 
was constituted prevented unity in what it loved to call "the Fam- 
ily of Labor." Individuals were responsible to their own union, not 
to the A. F. of L. 

The small minority of the skilled workers which formed the 
A. F. of L. clung to the craft unions, which had proven so workable. 
They had kept their membership. They had seen the rise and fall of 
various industrial movements. 

The historic function of the American Federation of Labor 
should not be minimized. It should be criticized within its proper 
frame, namely as the aristocracy of labor. During more than fifty 
years this organization was the labor movement. The part it played 
in raising wages and shortening hours should never be forgotten. 
The gains it won for its own membership have been felt indirectly 
by all workers. 

In its lifetime the A. F. of L. has played a constructive role on 
many occasions, but in common with most social institutions each 
victory brought an increasing resistance to change. The church, 
political parties, schools, and business organizations have all shown 
similar tendencies. 

Inevitably, this drift toward conservatism has invited dual 
movements. The rigid form of the Federation has provoked this 
very thing. This duality has forever plagued the American Labor 
movement. Over and over again the same pattern has been re- 

THE C. I. O. 23 

peated. Due to the rigidity of structure and the obstinate retention 
of power of the older leaders, progressives have left the union to 
form a new group, only to be lopped off by employers as "reds" 
and to take from the parent union the germinating seed of change 
of the progressive element. 

Yet the A. F. of L. was formed during the most turbulent years 
of the Knights of Labor, at a time when industrial unionism was 
the labor movement. But the Knights* unionism lacked any definite 
program, its very size and diffuseness carried failure within it. It 
has often been compared to the C. I. O. with which it has nothing 
in common except enthusiasm. It did not know what it wanted and 
so it failed, with the detonation of the Haymarket bomb as its 
death knell. 

The emerging A. F. of L. knew what it wanted. It seems strange 
to think that the chaotic movement of the Knights of Labor should 
have been succeeded by the neat and tidy Federation of Labor, of 
which it has been said that like Minerva springing from the brain 
of Jove, it sprang, full-grown, from the brain of Samuel Gompers. 

Industrial unionism continued to haunt the A. F. of L., for the 
process of industrial unionism, which was never wholly dead, had 
its roots deep in the labor movement. In 1905, the Western Federa- 
tion of Miners, a militant industrial union, separated from the 
American Federation of Labor. From the Western Federation of 
Miners sprang the I. W. W. which had marked success in many 
fields and again revived industrial unionism. It lost its power not 
only through the tremendous wartime persecution, but through 
its belief that a union can be a revolutionary organization. At 
different A. F. of L. conventions, like that of 1919, industrial union- 
ism was the chief subject of discussion. 

The Trade Union Educational League, founded by William Z. 
Foster, found response in many quarters in its efforts to amalga- 
mate craft unions. It was born out of a conviction he had held be- 
fore the steel strike and which the bitter lesson of the steel strike of 
1919 had intensified. Under the influence of the T. U. E. L. a pow- 


erfui movement toward industrial unionism appeared in many of 
the A. F. of L. unions. Later the Trade Union Unity League fought 
for industrial unions. 

But the A. F. of L. was built to protect the special privileges of 
restricted groups skilled workers who looked askance at any 
program which might endanger their bargaining position by lump- 
ing them with unskilled labor. Attempts to induce the A. F. of L. 
to organize the unorganized failed largely for this reason. Even in 
the face of a very different labor market this old reluctance still 
persisted among William Green and his followers. 

Moreover, the A. F. of L. greatly weakened its appeal to indus- 
trial workers during the prosperous twenties by collaborating with 
employers in various schemes to increase the workers* efficiency 
without demanding adequate job security and compensation. The 
Baltimore and Ohio Plan, for instance, adopted in 1923, brought 
the permanent discharge of five thousand men. From wartime on, 
many A. F. of L. leaders pursued a policy which identified their 
interests with those of employers at the expense of sound trade 
union principles. 

Finally the great gains made in the unions in 1932 and 1933 
under the N. R. A., when the workers organized on an industrial 
basis only to see their unions fall apart when divided into crafts, 
made the necessity for industrial unionism clear to all who wanted 
a strong labor movement in this country. 

Inside the A. F. of L. forward looking leaders maneuvered to 
modify the musty policies, inadequate for coping with a great 
organizational drive. The movement toward industrial unionism 
had entered its parliamentarian stage. 

In the A. F. of L. convention in 1933 efforts were made in this 
direction, but nothing was done. In the San Francisco convention 
the next year a more vigorous effort was made toward adequate 
forms of organization. A formula was worked out for the beginning 
of a great organizational drive in the mass industries, especially 

Power to administer such a program was lodged in the Executive 

THE C. I. O. 25 

Committee. They neutralized this program and rendered it null by 
their interpretation. John Brophy described this period well when 
he said, "The classic struggle occurred between those who were for 
having something done, and those who were for doing nothing," al- 
though the quarrel with the A. F. of L. does not boil down to so 
simple a formula as those who want to do something against those 
who don't. 

It is even more than a fight for power between two groups. As 
has been stated, the A. F. of L. is in its essence the guardian of 
special privileges for a class of skilled workers; before it could 
organize the unorganized, it would have to change its policy. 

At the Atlantic City Convention of 1935 this struggle came into 
the open and was crystallized by the speeches made by John L. 
Lewis and by Charles Howard of the Typographers Union. The 
conflict reached its climax when blows were exchanged between 
Lewis and Hutcheson, president of the Brotherhood of Carpenters, 
who typifies the reactionary force of the A. F. of L. This convention 
ended the first stage of the group which was to join the C. I. O., in 
which the progressives earnestly tried for successive years to adapt 
themselves to the framework of the A. F. of L. 

The second or organizational phase had been reached. Following 
the Atlantic City Convention, the C. I. O. was set up on November 
9, 1935, with a membership of eight unions. 

The C. I. O. opened modest offices in the Rust Building in Wash- 
ington, D. C. It was headed by a committee composed of the presi- 
dents of the eight original unions who founded it, but as it did not 
expect to function outside of the A. F. of L., it had no by-laws or 
constitution and was merely an informal grouping. Its chairman 
was John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers; its director, John 
Brophy, long known as a progressive in the labor movement. 
Charles P. Howard of the Typographers Union was its secretary. 
Len De Caux headed public relations. 

The unions pledged themselves $500,000 for their expected drive 
toward industrial organization in steel. The Mine Workers and 
the two great needle trades unions (the Amalgamated Clothing 


Workers and the International Ladies Garment Workers) bore the 
greatest part of the burden, the Mine Workers leading. 

Mike Tighe, perennial president of the small Amalgamated Iron, 
Steel and Tin Workers listened to both the A. F. of L. and the 
C. I. O.'s proposals for organizing steel, and finally chose the 
C. I. O. 

On June 17, 1936, the steel drive was launched, and with that 
launching the C. I. O. appeared as a formidable labor force. The 
steel workers came in at first hesitatingly, in a mere trickle, com- 
pared to the flood which was to follow. 

Meanwhile, the A. F. of L. bureaucracy was squirming under the 
continued successes, the evidence of power, of the C. I. O. By July 
the international unions affiliated had grown from eight to twelve. 
Then in August, 1936, the Executive Council of the A. F. of L. 
suspended the affiliated unions of the C. I. O., charging dual union- 
ism and defiance of the majority rule of the Atlantic City Conven- 

On the first of January, 1937, the auto workers began their 
famous sit-down strike. February u, General Motors settled. On 
March 2, U. S. Steel bargained with John L. Lewis. 

By the middle of March, two huge unions, each with a member- 
ship of over 300,000 were the twin pillars of the newly-organized 
mass industries in the C. I. O. 

Meanwhile the A. F. of L. had taken a further offensive against 
the C. I. O. at the meeting of the Executive Committee in Cincin- 
nati. They had decided to expel C. I. O. members from the central 
bodies and State Federations, splitting the labor movement and 
causing a labor battle in every industrial center. 

John L. Lewis' speech in Atlantic City at the International 
Ladies Garment Workers' Convention, where he was greeted by the 
roar of "C. I. O." was a formal announcement that the Committee 
for Industrial Organization had entered its third phase. It had 
regularized its position by stepping out as a separate labor center, 
issuing charters to State Federations and central labor bodies. 

As one surveys the scene of labor in the fall of 1937, it is apparent 

THE C. I. O. 27 

that the key and heavy industries are those which have cast their 
lot with the C. I. O. Steel, mining, oil, autos, key industries of 
communication and power, food industries, the clothing and textile 
industries are with the C. I. O. With the A. F. of L. remain the 
building trades, most of the metal trades, railway transportation 
exclusive of the Brotherhoods, the secondary industries such as the 
amusement industries, and the service industries. 

While these great organizational drives were going on, labor also 
entered the political field. Through its efforts the political complex- 
ions of whole states were changed. Labor again overwhelmingly 
gave its mandate to the New Deal. 

Those who watch labor's action today feel that in limiting its 
political efforts, labor was like a man stumping along on one leg; 
with political action added to economic action, labor runs fleetly on 
two legs. 

Though A. F. of L. bureaucrats tried to prevent it, their members 
cooperated politically with the C. I. O. in many localities where 
the rank and file resisted the pressure of Mr. Green's executive 

So great has been the impact of the driving force of the C. I. O. 
that the A. F. of L. itself has been quickened out of its historic 
somnolence. Its membership has increased by over 700,000 since 
April, 1937. It has taken lessons from the C. I. O. The Machinists 
Union has spread rapidly in aircraft, which it is organizing along 
industrial lines, taking in all other workers as well as machinists. 

And while the A. F. of L. leaders have split the labor movement, 
have even allowed A. F. of L. unions to take the place of company 
unions, yet the frequent instances of cooperation and sympathy of 
many unions show that the rank and file workers know that their 
problems and their enemy are identical with those of the C. I. O. 
And when the peace move was proposed, a cheer went up all over 
the country from A. F. of L. workers, voiced in numerous resolu- 

From the struggle of this past year, labor has emerged with a 
vastly increased prestige, a new status. A new dynamic force has 


been born whose impetus is beyond anything before known in the 
labor movement. A new social climate has resulted. 

And what has happened is American in its essence. The new 
power which blew through the labor movement had the bold prac- 
ticality which has ever been the genius of this country. In the 
C. I. O. the old adventurous spirit of America was reborn in labor. 

Shifts of thought have occurred during this struggle which are so 
vast that no one has as yet analyzed their far-reaching implica- 

The legislation of this country has been a progressive recognition 
of this changed conception of ownership. Through its laws and the 
control and regulation of utilities, government has by implication 
asserted that big business is public business. 

A new conception of property was involved by the striker quietly 
sitting at his machine and saying mutely, "This job is mine. You 
have taken from me my tools and my control of the machine, but 
nevertheless, I have a vested interest in this machine. It is my job. 
It is all I have and all that my wife and children have, and I will 
protect it with my life." 

The worker, sitting beside his machine guarding it, has made no 
claim to own that machine, but is making a claim to a property 
right in his job. By this he has challenged the old feudal order. He 
has disputed the despotic control of management over workers, its 
right to hire and fire at will. 

To this changed status, the upholding of the National Labor 
Relations Board by the Supreme Court has contributed greatly. 
The appalling revelations of the La Follette Committee have 
shown the astonished public what weapons the employers use to 
prevent labor from organizing, and that certain employers do not 
even stop at murder. 

But the impetus given labor under N. R. A., the Supreme Court 
decision, the National Labor Relations Board, the La Follette 
Committee, a President favorable to labor's aims, would all have 
been in vain without the million marching feet: labor in a thousand 

THE C. I. O. 29 

towns and factories demanding organization and going into the 
conflict with new techniques, with new spontaneous inventions, 
with a brilliant suppleness of combat hitherto unimagined. 

A new evaluation of labor's place will have to be made by fed- 
eral and state legislatures, the courts, and the civil authorities. 
From now on, historians will have to concede to the organization of 
labor its place as one of the great processes of democracy. Society 
will have to recognize the "mighty upsurge of human sentiment 
now being crystallized in the hearts of thirty million workers who 
clamor for the establishment of industrial democracy and for a 
participation in its tangible fruits." 


// is evident, therefore, that there can be at best only a benevolent 
despotism where collective action on the part of the employees does not 

A great deal of testimony has been introduced to show that employers 
who refuse to deal collectively with their workmen do in fact grant audi- 
ences at which the grievances of their workmen may be presented. One 
is repelled rather than impressed by the insistence with which this idea 
has been presented. Every tyrant in history has on stated days granted 
audiences to which his faithful subjects might bring their complaints 
against his officers and agents. That justice was never secured under 
such conditions ; except at the whim of the tyrant ', is sure. It is equally 
sure that in industry justice can never be attained by such a method. 

The last point which needs to be considered in this connection is the 
attitude frequently assumed by employers that they are perfectly willing 
to deal with their own employees collectively ', but will resist to the end 
dealing with any national organization. The underlying motives of such 
statements seem to be that as long as organizations are unsupported 
from outside they are ineffective and capable of being crushed with ease 
and impunity by discharging the ringleaders. Similarly , the opposition 
to the representation of their employees by persons outside their labor 
force seems to arise wholly from the knowledge that as long as the work- 


ers' representatives are on the -payroll they can be controlled, or if they 
prove intractable they can be effectually disposed of by summary dis- 

These investigations have shown that under the best possible condi- 
tions, and granting the most excellent motives on the part of employers, 
freedom does not exist either politically, industrially, or socially, and 
that the fiber of manhood will inevitably be destroyed by the continuance 
of the existing situation* 

* Final Report of the U. S. Commission on Industrial Relations 1912. 

III. The Cost of the Open Shop 

THOSE MILLIONS of workers whose aspirations Lewis voiced 
were confronted by the open shop employers, who, until the advent 
of the C. I. O., had resisted all organization in the mass industries. 
For the first time they faced a labor movement which saw itself as 
unified as they themselves were in their fight against labor. 

The bloodiest battle ever fought in the industrial field is the bat- 
tle for the open shop. Its object is and always has been to keep all 
labor organizations out of industry. The cost of the open shop to 
the public, to the workers, to stockholders, is impossible to com- 
pute. The figures do not exist. But the events of the past months 
throw a horrifying silhouette against the wall of history. 

The slaughter of Ludlow, Colorado, in 1913 where two men 
and eleven boys were shot to death, and thirteen women and chil- 
dren suffocated beneath the burning tents set alight by the state 
troopers is not far removed from Republic's slaughter of eighteen 
workers during the brief period of the 1937 strike in Little Steel. 
The Iron and Steel Institute was back of both. They are all part of 
one battle. It is yet to be proved whether John L. Lewis was right 
or wrong when he stated that the time when workers can be 
slaughtered, gassed, shot, and imprisoned with impunity had 

What may be a decisive battle in a conflict which is as old as 
the employers' effort to crush labor is now in progress. On the one 
hand is the power of the workers pouring into the new channels 
created for them by the industrial unionism of the C. I. O., their 
right to organize for the first time upheld by Federal law, and on 
the other are the open shop employers. Every effort is being made 



during the current recession to take from labor the gains it has 
made in legislation as well as in organization during the past two 

Looking through the pages of history, we find that the great 
struggles of the workers have not been for hours and wages alone, 
but for union recognition. The bloodiest and the most violent 
strikes have had this aim. The railway strikes of the late eighties, 
the Homestead strike of 1892, were strikes for recognition of the 

In coal the great bituminous strikes of 1897 and the anthracite 
coal strikes of 1900 and 1903 had the same cause. The Bethlehem 
strike in 1910, the textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 
1912, and the succeeding textile strikes in Paterson in 1913, de- 
manded union recognition. The great mining strikes in Idaho and 
Colorado and the early garment workers* strikes in 1910, all were 
caused by the employers' refusal to bargain with labor. And during 
the interval that preceded the great steel strike of 1919 this same 
issue gave rise to a long series of disputes, as it did in the period 
leading up to the great textile strike of 1934 and, of course, the 1937 
strike in Little Steel. 

The cost to the country, to the workers, of this open shop policy 
can scarcely be placed too high. We have seen that by the failure 
of industry to bargain with the worker, a perpetual wave of in- 
dustrial unrest has been kept alive. The cost of the open shop may 
be summed up under these categories: 

Workers killed in industrial disputes, taken for rides, mur- 
dered and sometimes mutilated 

Workers wounded and gassed 

Workers jailed 
The money cost of this in: 

Federal troops, National Guardsmen, United States Marshals, 
Deputies, extra police 

Special police forces, e.g., railway police, coal and iron police 

Add tear gas and ammunition purchased for industrial plants; 
the cost of strikebreakers and industrial espionage (this, 


alone, is estimated at $80,000,000 a year) ; man-days lost by 
strikes for collective bargaining, and the loss to industry 
through such strikes. 

Add, too, the cost of propaganda to keep unions from organizing. 
A half million was spent for one advertisement by U. S. Steel. Add 
the cost of the Company union, which in the steel country amounted 
to hundreds of thousands a year. 

There are no figures to show how many lives have been lost in 
this open shop fight, or how many workers have been wounded, how 
many arrested or how many days were spent in jail by workers who 
had attempted to exercise their constitutional rights. To keep an 
open shop, to keep workers from organizing, armed troops, both of 
the Federal government and of the National Guard, have tramped 
over every state in the union. 

Active and direct support of "property rights" has frequently 
come from local officials, judges., district attorneys, etc., often in 
actual collusion with the companies. Harlan County, Kentucky, 
is a notable example. There, according to the La Follette Civil Lib- 
erties Committee, Deputy Sheriff White accompanied a gang which 
shot and killed a son of a United Mine Workers' organizer and 
wounded his mother and sister in their own home; Deputy Sheriff 
Middleton had been indicted for six major crimes; Commonwealth 
Attorney Daniel Boone Smith drew a monthly salary from three 
coal companies; mine guards killed a union member on April 4, 
1937; Ben Unthank got a monthly stipend of $150 from the Harlan 
County Coal Operators' Association to act as "head road killer" 
and his salary and expenses were $23,000 for the month of Feb- 
ruary, 1937. The list might be extended almost indefinitely. 

Armies and armed strikebreakers have marched against workers 
in the name of law and order. Industrial plants, like those of steel, 
have become arsenals. The infamous coal and iron police were 
created to keep workers in subjection. 

No one has computed the man-days' work lost through these 
practices, or what such strikes have cost the worker in time lost 
in wages, the community in relief, the stockholder in lost sales. 


One can, however, give a sample. The number of man-days lost 
because of strikes in 1934 was 19,306,650. 

Man-days lost in strikes in 1935 were 15,014,029. 

Of these strikes 46 percent were for union recognition in 1934, 
and over 50 per cent in 1935. 

Figuring on the basis of the four-dollar-a-day scale, the loss in 
wages would be $63,580,052. Of the havoc wrought by this union- 
baiting policy, these are but samples. 

No one knows how many men's lives have been wrecked because 
of the blacklist, how many homes have been lost s how many chil- 
dren undernourished. The country has not ceased to shudder over 
the victims of Ludlow, the boys who were shot, the babies who were 
smothered. But what about those others who starved because their 
fathers were blacklisted and could find no work, and what about 
the children who lived in tent colonies on hillsides, as the miners 
did in West Virginia? They were asking for union recognition. How 
they were murdered by thugs and shot at by militia is a story 
so appalling that it does not seem possible that it could happen 
in America, had there not been the recent example of Har- 

Let us examine some of these labor-smashing methods in detail. 
A monstrous spy system has been built up for the sole purpose of 
preventing unionism. There are 230 known agencies. Heber Blan- 
kenhorn of the National Labor Relations Board has computed that 
the minimum cost of the undercover operatives in the United 
States is $80,000,000. Chrysler paid Corporations Auxiliary, for 
undercover operatives in 1935, $72,611.89. General Motors paid 
the Pinkertons alone, $419,850.10 from January, 1934 through 
July, 1936, and they paid close to $1,000,000 for all the agencies 
that they hired. 

These sums are passed on to you and me, for they are counted as 
"operating expenses," just as workers* wages are called "direct 
costs." Thus the general public pays, in higher prices, for the spies 
who poison the life of industrial towns. 

It is a horrible thing to live in a community where every act is 


spied upon. It is a horrible thing to live where an incautious word, 
or the expression of an opinion, may cost you your job. And it is a 
wonderful thing to see a town freed from this espionage. 

The money cost borne by the general public, including the very 
men and women who are spied upon, is only a little of the cost. 
The cost in morale, in living, in human decency is far higher. The 
cost to the men who spied, to the unfortunate workers who were 
"hooked" and who became stool pigeons, is worse. This cost is 
incalculable. I have been in the steel towns and gone with organiz- 
ers to the houses of workers. Here I have realized that every knock 
on the door meant terror. Women looking out through a crack, 
denying their husbands were home, denying their very names. A 
whole town perpetually on its guard, fearing the face of any 

The majority of us in America live in small towns, in little demo- 
cratic communities. We can express any opinion we wish. We can 
belong to any civic organization, or any church we want to. It 
is very hard for people who have never lived under the shadow of 
espionage to realize how poisonous, how demoralizing a blight goes 
over a town where neighbor distrusts neighbor and worker must 
be on his guard against worker. 

George Patterson, a steel worker, told the La Follette Civil 
Liberties Committee: "There is an espionage system in the steel 
plants. It is common talk among the employees at all times. They 
know it and they feel it. They feel that at all times they are being 
watched. As we tried to organize men, a man would say, 'We 
would like to come in, but it is as much as our job is worth to join 
up/ They have said that many times." 

The effect upon business itself was apparent. Roger Babson, the 
conservative economist, warned employers in 1923: 

There are a score or more of these industrial spy agencies at 
work in the country. They act under all kinds of names which 
give no hint of their real work. Immense sums are paid to them 
by our employers. 


This is a serious blunder on the part of corporation leaders. 
It stirs up trouble where none exists. It is the most potent 
breeder of radicalism that we have. . . . The "boring from 
within" which radical agitators are charged with, is a drop in 
the bucket to the boring that the industrial spy does for money 
which the employer pays. These spy agencies set out to find 
rottenness, and if they do not actually find it, some make it or 
fake it. 

This poisoning of the very wellspring of social life is one of the 
prices paid for the open shop. 

The detective agencies not only furnish spies, but also they 
furnish strikebreakers. How much does it cost to break a strike? 
How many millions of dollars have been paid to frustrate the work- 
ers' desire to form unions and settle their disagreements with their 
employers through decent negotiations? The figures that the em- 
ployers have paid strikebreakers, to hired gunmen, and to Pink- 
ertons is almost incredible. The prices paid in some individual 
strikes have been computed, for instance: 

American Bridge spent $289,462 on detective agencies to stop 
unionism on the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City. By employing 
non-union men, they saved $51,849. The entire cost was $237,613. 

The men who are employed in such "protective work" are 
armed killers, many of them with criminal records, who have been 
recruited through the years to break strikes. They are the back- 
bone of the "Back- to- Work" movements. 

Recently the employment of strikebreakers has been super- 
seded by the use of the Citizens Committees, which, during the 
recent steel strike, we have seen emerging on a national scale. A 
new and complete strikebreaking technique has been invented, 
which will be dealt with later in detail. The idea, of course, is to 
prevent collective bargaining, to smash the workers' organization 
and to thwart the urge of the workers toward industrial democracy, 
an industrial democracy now upheld and fostered by the govern- 
ment of the United States. 


All these costs, the millions for espionage, the tear gas and the 
"Tommy" guns, the deputies, the vigilantes, the expensive press 
agents, the propaganda factories, these charges are all handed 
back to the consuming public. We pay for them. It is our money 
that goes into poisoning a community with spies and stool pigeons. 
It is our money that pays for our own misinformation, helps pre- 
serve the open shop and defeats the law of the federal government. 

The story of the open shop is an old story. Manufacturers began 
early to form associations for the purpose of weakening and pre- 
venting the organization of labor. 

We can see spread through the country such organizations as 
the powerful Iron and Steel Institute, the National Association of 
Manufacturers, the National Industrial Conference Board, the 
strong National Metal Trades Association, the National Electric 
Manufacturing Association, and many similar ones. 

These nationwide associations are supported by numerous local 
organizations, such as the California Merchants* Association, the 
Association of Indianapolis Employers, a similar association for 
Seattle and many other states, not to mention the extra help given 
by innumerable chambers of commerce. 

These powerful manufacturers' associations control credit. 
Their interlocking directorates and holding companies control 
business, and business policies toward labor; they post bonds for 
the fulfilling of employer association agreements. 

One of the first employers' associations was founded in Cincin- 
nati in 1866, the National Stove Manufacturers and Iron Founders 
Association. When the iron molders struck as a result of a 60 
per cent wage cut, they lost their strike after nine months. The 
employers had proven the worth of the manufacturers' association 
for crushing labor. 

The National Metal Trades Association, formed in 1901 as the 
result of difficulties with union workers, has never wavered in its 
open shop policy a policy which was enforced upon all members 
by this constitutional decree: 

"In the conduct of labor difficulties, members must proceed in 


the manner which the constitution and by-laws prescribe . . ." 
Early in 1937, 952 leading firms in the industry were bound by this 
agreement. They paid regular dues into a common strikebreaking 
fund (balance $214,928 in November, 1936), supplied a common 
pool of scab labor and exchanged information on blacklisted per- 
sonnel. This blacklist has been maintained since 1901. The 
Association has a long record of anti-union activities that com- 
pares favorably with the better-known accomplishments of Pearl 
Bergoff, Railway Audit, and other such agencies. Significantly, 
during all this period, these closely integrated employer groups 
based their anti-union drive on the need for independent action by 
free workingmen, while no individual firm was permitted to bar- 
gain with its own labor. 

The Citizens Industrial Association formed in 1902 was one 
of the ablest of its day in creating anti-labor public opinion. 
Thirty-five years ago they made the same phony appeal to Ameri- 
canism and patriotism as do employers today. That hardy peren- 
nial was as effective then as it is now. So successful were the efforts 
of the association that at their third annual convention, the 
president, C. W. Post, could announce: 

Two years ago the press and pulpit were delivering plati- 
tudes about the oppression of the workingman. Now all that 
has been changed since it has been discovered that the enor- 
mous Labor Trust is the heaviest oppressor of the independent 
workingman as well as the common American citizen. The 
people have become aroused and are now acting. It has been 
the duty of this association to place the facts before the 
people by various forms of publicity in the work of molding 
public opinion to a point of active self-defense. 

To accomplish the end of keeping the workers' legitimate griev- 
ances from the public, the services of preachers, writers, and edu- 
cators had been enlisted, which included such eminent men as 
Charles H. Eliot, president of Harvard College, who in an article 
for Harpers' Magazine (March, 1905) spoke with enthusiasm of the 


"independent American worker" who remained on the job 
during strikes. 

And President Eliot spoke from a deep conviction, for the open 
shop had a philosophy and an economic theory to fit it. The 
economic theory of Hickok and his school was taught in every 
college in the land. It was from a similar conviction that John D. 
Rockefeller, Jr., exclaimed after the Ludlow disaster that he pre- 
ferred to spend every penny he had rather than deny his workers 
their liberty of not belonging to a union. Every man was "free" 
to make his own contract. Each individual worker was "free" to 
bargain with his employer. In this philosophy the free worker 
made free contracts with a free employer and the union appeared 
as the outside agitator which poisoned this happy relationship. 

So the open shop groups continued their anti-labor policy un- 
checked until the World War, when the employers pledged them- 
selves not to interfere with labor's right to organize. Under the War 
Labor Board, organization increased until the American Federa- 
tion of Labor had a membership at its peak of 4,078,740. 

Soon after the end of the war, a new open shop drive was started, 
taking advantage of the depression of the early twenties. As a 
result, union membership dropped to 2,865,799 in two years. 

The failure of the steel strike, in 1919, strengthened the open 
shop drive. The Metal Trades Association made an agreement to 
support the open shop. The National Association of Manufacturers, 
the National Metal Trades Association, and other employers' 
groups sent organizers through the country forming state and city 
associations of employers and manufacturers for the purpose of 
crushing labor and maintaining the open shop. These organizations 
operated under many different names such as The American Plan 
Open Shop Conference, the Southwest Open Shop Association, the 
American Plan League. 

They had a single object, the crushing of labor. 

At this time, too, the courts were used more and more in fighting 
labor. The abuse of the injunction finally led to the passage of the 
Norris-La Guardia Act, limiting the use of injunctions. 


The open shop drive was successful. Why not? The powerful 
Manufacturers Associations presented a united front and a unified 
program. The workers, split into craft unions, made no progress. 
As a result even the prosperity of 1929 found only 2,933,545 or- 
ganized in the American Federation of Labor. 

This drive against the workers went on in spite of the fact that 
for a hundred years the government of the United States had ac- 
knowledged the constitutional right of the workers to organize. Twice 
in times of national peril the government had upheld this basic 
right in law: once in wartime, under the War Labor Board, again 
during the depression under the N. I. R. A. 

The government has also, from time to time, appointed great 
industrial commissions to inquire into the causes of industrial 
unrest. On these commissions, senators, cabinet ministers, and 
great jurists served. The most responsible, able, and respected men 
have testified that for industrial peace we must have collective 
bargaining. Over and over, we find such statements as this: 

However men may differ about the propriety and legality 
of labor unions we must all recognize the fact that we have 
them with us to stay, to grow more numerous and powerful. 
Is it not wise to fully recognize them by law, to admit their 
necessity as labor guides and protections, to conserve their 
usefulness, increase their responsibility, and to prevent their 
follies and aggressions by conferring upon them the privilege 
enjoyed by companies, with like proper restrictions and 
regulations? The growth of corporate power and wealth has 
been the marvel of the past fifty years. It will not be sur- 
prising if the marvel of the next fifty years be the advance- 
ment of labor to a position of like power and responsibility. 
We have heretofore encouraged the one and comparatively 
neglected the other. Does not wisdom demand that each be 
encouraged to prosper legitimately and to grow into harmoni- 
ous relations of equal standing and responsibility before the 
law? (p. xlviii.) 


This sounds as though it might have been written yesterday. 
It was not. It was the report of The Industrial Commission ap- 
pointed by President Cleveland in 1894, over forty years ago. It 
was especially appointed to inquire into the breaking of the rail- 
way strike, when not only numerous and broadside injunctions in 
behalf of the government were issued by the federal courts, but 
1,936 federal troops were ordered out by President Cleveland and 
some 5,000 deputy marshals were appointed by the United States 

In 1912, Congress created a Commission of Industrial Relations 
which held hearings for six months throughout the country. It 
found that one of the major causes of industrial unrest was the 
denial of the right of workers to organize. Divergent as the mem- 
bers of the Commission were on many points, they joined unani- 
mously in recommending collective bargaining. The report of 
Basil M. Manley, Director of Research and Investigation, stated 
that in the "century-long struggle [for organization], almost in- 
surmountable obstacles are placed in the way of the workers using 
the only means by which economical and political justice can be 
secured, namely, combined action through voluntary organization. 
The workers insist that this right of organization is fundamental 
and necessary for their freedom, and that it is inherent in the 
general rights guaranteed every citizen of a democracy." 

Why, when the greatest statesmen of the country have repeat- 
edly emphasized labor's right to bargain, have these things been 
allowed to go on ? Why, when the government of the United States 
has a law upholding the right of the worker to bargain collectively 

*In considering the causes of the Pullman strike, the Commission of 1 894 found that: 
"The Pullman Company is hostile to the idea of conferring with organized labor 
in the settlement of differences arising between it and its employees." (p. xxv.) 

"The company," it says, "does not recognize that labor organizations have any 
place or necessity in Pullman, when the company fixes wages and rents, and refuses 
to treat with labor organizations. The laborer can work or quit on the terms offered, 
that is the limit of his rights. This position secures all the advantages of the concen- 
tration of capital, ability, power, and control for the company in its labor relations 
and deprives the employees of any such advantage or protection as a labor union 
might afford. In this respect the Pullman Company is behind the age." (p. xxvi.) 


with his employer, do these abuses persist? Why does the public 
allow, without action, such things as the Chicago massacre? 

The answer to this is that there has been, and still is, a constant 
influencing of public opinion on a national scale. The chambers of 
commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, etc., have con- 
trol of the means of publicity. 

In this age-long fight of property rights over human rights, the 
general public hears over the radio, reads in public prints, decla- 
rations which contain a barrage of criticism of the union. These 
criticisms lead average citizens, even those who live in an industrial 
community, to believe that labor leaders draw fat salaries; that 
labor leaders are racketeers; that huge sums of money are accumu- 
lated in union funds which are then squandered or dishonestly dis- 
bursed; that the union is used to intimidate the non-union worker 
and take from him his "right-to-work." 

Another set of criticisms has to do with the new labor legislation. 
The average person has an idea that labor has been given rights 
and privileges over employers and the public without having a 
counteracting safeguard of responsibilities and duties. These be- 
liefs have become almost universal. Ask any chance-met person of 
your acquaintance what he thinks of labor unions and one or an- 
other of these criticisms is sure to come up. 

Why should the man in the street be so sure that labor leaders, 
as a class are greater racketeers than, for instance, bank presidents? 
Why should he be so readily convinced that union funds are 
squandered and used dishonestly? Where did these ideas originate? 
The answer is simple. The National Association of Manufacturers is, 
as one of its officers says, "The most powerful body of businessmen 
which has ever been organized in any land or in any age." Besides 
influencing legislation, working for the laws which help business, 
and carrying on a powerful lobby against laws which threaten the 
power of business, it concerns itself with influencing what you and 
I and the rest of the reading public think about unions. 

There is probably no home in America to which its message is 
not carried through one of its many avenues. Listen to the report 


of its Chairman of Public Relations Committee, Harry A. Bullis, 
as given at the Convention, November 8, 1936: 

Press Industrial Press Service reaches 5,300 weekly 
newspapers every week. 

Weekly cartoon service sent to 2,000 weekly newspapers. 

"Uncle Abner Says'* comic cartoon appearing in 309 
daily papers with a total circulation of 2,000,000 readers. 

"You And Your Nation's Affairs" daily articles by well 
known economists appearing in 260 newspapers with a total 
circulation of over 4,500,000. 

Factual bulletin monthly exposition of industry's view- 
point sent to every newspaper editor in the country. 

For foreign-born citizens weekly press service, translated 
into German, Hungarian, Polish, and Italian, printed in 
papers with a total circulation of almost 2,500,000. 

Nationwide advertising 6 full page ads about the "Ameri- 
can System" of which over 500 newspapers have carried one 
or more. 

Radio "The American Family Robinson " - program heard 
from coast to coast over 222 radio stations once a week, and 
over 176 stations twice a week. 

Foreign language 1,188 programs in 6 languages over 79 
radio stations. 

Movies Two lo-minute films for general distribution, seen 
by over 2,000,000 people. 

Public Meetings 70 meetings featuring 8 professional 

Employee Information Service Leaflets a series of 25 dis- 
tributed to over 11,000,000 workers. 

Posters over 300,000 of a series of 24 for bulletin boards in 
plants throughout the country. 

Films 10 sound slide films for showing in plants. 

Outdoor advertising 60,000 billboard ads scheduled for 1937. 


Pamphlets "You and Industry Library" over 1,000,000 
copies of a series of seven pamphlets distributed to libraries, 
colleges, businessmen, lawyers, and educators. 

Mr. Bullis said on the convention floor, " I am always amazed at 
its completeness and the way in which it reaches into every section 
of the country and all strata of society." 

Small wonder that such perverted views prevail on the subject 
of unionism. 

Yet slowly, slowly, a social consciousness has developed. Child 
labor is frowned on by most churches, and many states restrict it by 
law. Legislation has reflected public opinion on the subject of in- 
dustrial disease. The depression has caused an awakening of the 
public to the fact that the victims of unemployment must be pro- 
vided for by state and federal agencies. 

The idea that employers have a responsibility toward their 
workers as well as their stockholders is gaining ground and there 
are practically no employers who will say outright that they do not 
believe in collective bargaining, even when they maintain private 
armies and arsenals to prevent it. 

The Industrial Commission of 1912, which found that the great- 
est cause for industrial unrest was the denial of the right to bargain, 
stated that of the 230 representatives of the interests of employers 
who were questioned, less than half a dozen denied the propriety 
of collective action on the part of employees. "A considerable num- 
ber of these witnesses have, however, testified that they denied in 
practice what they admitted to be right in theory." And so Tom 
Girdler states that he bargains with labor, while eighteen. lie dead 
because he will not, and open shop employers everywhere have 
hailed him as a great man. 

The open shop campaign goes on. The detective agencies and 
munitions factories still flourish and what the final report of 
the U. S. Commission on Industrial Relations stated in 1912, a 
quarter of a century ago, is still applicable today: 


The fundamental question for the Nation to decide, for in 
the end public opinion will control here as elsewhere, is whether 
the workers shall have an effective means of adjusting their 
grievances, improving their condition, and securing their lib- 
erty, through negotiation with their employers, or whether 
they shall be driven by necessity and oppression to the extreme 
of revolt. 

A growing labor movement, united around the progressive aims 
of the C. I. O., has proposed a peaceful solution of this century-old 
problem. This proposal was reinforced by the passage of the 
Wagner Act now upheld by the Supreme Court. It remains for the 
employers to abolish their open shop program with its spies and 

IV. Steel Organizes 

THE SETTING UP of the C. I. O. was the first effective organiza- 
tion against the open shop. The forming of the Steel Workers 
Organizing Committee made its first great appearance on July 5, 
1936, at its first mass meeting held in Homestead. Thousands of 
people assembled to commemorate the killing of steel workers in 
1892 by armed forces hired by the mills. At that time the famous 
Pinkertons came up the river on barges, which in turn were set on 
fire by the workers. It was Carnegie's declaration of war upon 
unionism, the beginning of the wide, open shop drive which was to 
hold labor in the mass industries captive for almost two generations. 

The great crowd which gathered July, 1936, in honor of the 
victims of 1892 was addressed by the Lieutenant-Go vernor, Mr. 
William Kennedy, former United Mine worker. An old man, who 
had taken part in the strike and was a friend of the victims, found 
the graves. 

It was a new thing for steel workers to have a great open mass 
meeting in Homestead; a new thing to have a Lieutenant-Go vernor 
address them and tell them that he would uphold their civil liber- 
ties, and assure them relief if they were dismissed for union activi- 
ties, for Homestead was one of the towns which had been closed to 
union workers for years. Not long before, Secretary of Labor Perkins 
was not allowed to hold a meeting when she wished to address the 
steel workers, but had to speak to them from the post office, that is 
United States Government property. 

A new day was to come for the steel workers. The Amalgamated 
Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers had accepted the 
C. I. O.'s offer to organize them at the Canonsburg Convention in 



April. On June 3 in Washington a memorandum of agreement was 
signed between the Amalgamated and the C. I. O., which embodied 
the procedure and organizational provisions for the steel organizing 

On June 17, John Lewis set up the Steel Workers Organizing 
Committee, and the first meeting was held in Pittsburgh. The 
C. I. O. had launched its first great drive which was to change the 
position of labor in this country. It moved into the Pittsburgh dis- 
trict with a $500,000 fund behind it and established itself on the 
36th floor of the Grant Building. From there one looks down upon 
what is known as the Golden Triangle where the Allegheny and 
Monongahela join to form the Ohio River. 

There is no spot where one may so fully realize the might and 
power of the steel industry. From every side, down every river, rise 
the black chimneys. At night the skies are aglow with the blast of 
the furnaces and by day the smoke rolls up in great convoluted 
clouds. The office gave the effect of a stable organization which had 
come to stay. To this office streamed the unorganized of this district 
asking for organization not only steel but all sorts of steel fabri- 
cation, as far removed from the glowing ingot as the saucepan, until 
the organizers exclaimed in despair, "We have to organize steel 
before we organize every plant manufacturing fishhooks." 

Philip Murray, vice-president of the United Mine Workers of 
America, headed the Committee; Clinton Golden, late of the Labor 
Relations Board of Pittsburgh, was regional director. Lee Pressman 
was legal advisor. John Brophy, veteran labor leader, formed the 
liaison between C. I. O. and S. W. O. C. David McDonald was 
secretary-treasurer. A publicity department under Vincent Sweeney 
and a research department led by Harold Ruttenberg, completed 
the Pittsburgh setup. 

For the sake of convenience, the steel area was divided into three 
districts the northeastern, which takes in all of the Pittsburgh 
area including the Bethlehem Steel in Johnstown; the western and 
lake area, Chicago and Lake districts under Van A. Bittner; and the 
southern area commanded by John Mitch with headquarters in 


Birmingham. The strong rank and file movement of N. R. A. days, 
even though then frustrated, had left something to build upon and 
furnished contact with men ready for a union. By far the greatest 
number of organizers was furnished by the United Mine Workers. 
These are seasoned, experienced men who have been through gruel- 
ling campaigns. 

Out in the field, in the Pittsburgh area, the S. W. O. C. office was 
usually found on the main streets. There were three hundred paid 
workers and an army of volunteers whose number was finally not 
less than five thousand. For if steel was to be organized, it would 
have to be a rank and file movement. As one of the leaders said, 
"We can give the steel workers the opportunity of organizing, but 
they will have to organize themselves." 

It was an enormous job. The S. W. O. C. was confronting, not 
only steel, but all the open shop employers massed back of them. 
It was indeed as Philip Murray said, "The biggest task ever under- 
taken by organized labor within the memory of man. It is the most 
important job ever undertaken in the history of the labor move- 
ment in America. Only such a movement as this can break down the 
practices of intimidation, coercion we are going to break them 
down and nothing under the canopy of these blue heavens will stop 
us, for this is our job." 

Let us look at the difficulties confronting the S. W. O. C. W 7 e have 
glimpsed the cost of the open shop. Let us then look at steel, its 
cornerstone, in detail.' Let us see how it fulfilled the responsibilities 
it assumed toward the workers when it decreed despotism and de- 
nied the workers all say as to the conditions under which they lived 
and worked. Let us see what these anti-union policies had done in 
terms of peoples' lives. Let us look at the steel towns and see how 
workers lived there. The pattern we see here we will find repeated 
by industry throughout the country. 

It has been said of steel that no other power has as important a 
bearing on the general prosperity of America. What goes on in iron 
and steel affects us all. Every household, every person employs 


steel in one manner or another, or uses in auto, railway, elevators, 
the products of steel. 

The smelting of iron ore and the shaping of iron and steel em- 
ploy over half a million men; another half million are employed in 
steel fabrication. U. S. Steel alone employs over 200,000 men 
60,000 more men than the United States Army in 1935. Five billion 
dollars are invested in the industry, or forty dollars for every person 
in the United States. 

Of all industries, steel has been the most arrogant. Steel chal- 
lenged the government of the United States when it avoided the 
Sherman Anti-Trust Laws, sidestepped the N. R. A., defied public 
opinion for years concerning the twelve-hour day, and only yielded 
to the pressure of social forces, which included the President of the 
United States, the clergy, and great civic organizations. When at 
last it partially replaced the gruelling seventy-two-hour week with 
three shifts of eight hours, it found that more steel was produced 
than ever before. Taken all together, steel's stupidity has matched 
its vast size. 

The American Iron and Steel Institute, which represents 95 per 
cent of the total steel producing capacity of the country, dictates 
the policies and prices of the steel industry. Enormous salaries are 
paid to the heads of the great corporations, who maintain a virtual 
dictatorship in their steel empires. According to the Securities and 
Exchange Commission, the salaries in 1935 for the heads of the steel 
companies were as follows: 

Allegheny Steel Corporation $i 1 1,704 

Bethlehem Steel Corporation 180,000 

Crucible Steel Company 171,000 

Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation (1934) 250,000 

McKeesport Tin Plate Company 225,417 

National Steel Corporation 160,000 

United States Steel Corporation 166,786 

Republic Steel Corporation 140,778 

According to such observers as the accurate Fortune Magazine, 
the steel industry as a whole is "technologically one of the most 


backward of our major industries." Until recently, it has followed a 
policy of no new inventions, no innovations. The industry in this 
country resisted the new alloys and new steel processes current in 
Europe as long as it could. U. S. Steel had delayed installing con- 
tinuous strip-rolling machines until it was worsted by the inde- 
pendent companies. 

Backward technologically, toward the direct steel consumer its 
price system is equally unsatisfactory, and is called by Fortune 
Magazine, "artificial, wasteful, discriminating and non-competi- 
tive." For ten years from 1922 to 1932, the price of steel rails, $43 a 
ton, never varied. During the depression when wheat, cotton, and 
cattle had violent fluctuations of price, the price of rails and girders 
remained fixed. In 1935, when the government asked for bids on a 
large steel order, four bidding companies submitted the same 

The stockholder fared no better than consumer or worker in the 
great five-billion-dollar industry. U. S. Steel varied between 1926 
to 1936 from a profit of $21.19 per share to a loss of $ 11.08 and paid 
no dividend on its common stock between 1932 and 1936. 

The pamphlet Steel and Men, printed by the Council of Social 
Action of the Congregational Church states: 

The present stockholders and the present employees must 
inevitably pay in low interest, poor equipment, and inadequate 
wages for the management's past stock watering. The steel 
industry is not serving the interest of those stockholders who 
want a fair and steady return on their investment. 

Most of them have chosen steel, thinking that since it is our 
basic industry it would be a secure place in which to invest 
their money, and one which would yield fair and steady returns. 

If steel was technologically backward, unsatisfactory to the con- 
sumer and stockholder alike, its employees fared worse. After the 
Homestead battle, labor was crushed whenever it tried to regain its 
losses. When U. S. Steel was formed in 1901, the movement of in- 
dividual employers to bargain with labor in the industry was 


checked by Carnegie's anti-labor policy, which was underwritten 
and reinforced by U. S. Steel. From 1892 to 1919 the record is one of 
lost strikes. 

In 1919 came the great steel strike. Stickers appeared all over 
the steel towns which read, STRIKE SEPTEMBER 22. By the 
first of October, 365,000 men were out on strike. The strike which 
was under the leadership of William Z. Foster and John Fitzpatrick 
was 90 per cent effective through Gary and the Calumet district. 
Most of the Pittsburgh district was dark, and people saw the sky 
clearly for the first time in years, in Youngstown. But the odds 
against the steel workers were too great. The strike received but 
little support from the American Federation of Labor. The workers 
were beaten down by the forces of the deputies and of the state 
police. After a heroic struggle, the great steel strike was lost. 

With the coming of the N. R. A., the workers' desire for organiza- 
tion flared up again. As in other industries the steel workers took 
Section 7 A seriously and organized in great numbers. But the move- 
ment came to nothing. Mike Tighe of the Amalgamated Association 
of Iron, Tin and Steel Workers did not support the strike movement 
and the workers again suffered disappointment. 

So the workers continued to live under a virtual despotism, until 
the coming of the C. I. O. Their work was hard and uncertain, their 
hours were long. In 1929, 8 per cent of the workers were still work- 
ing under the twelve-hour day and 28 per cent had ten-hour shifts. 
The average weekly pay in 1929 had arrived at the figure of $32 
but the common laborer was getting a cent less per hour than he had 
been in 1892. With the depression the pay came tumbling down 
until the average worker was making only $13.20 a week, while the 
yearly wage was under $600 for many workers. 

Pay in steel lagged behind that of many other industries. In the 
summer of 1936, I heard frequent comments like that of a hand- 
some Hungarian woman whose husband had just signed up with the 

"The farmer came trying to sell me pig meat. Why, I told him 
my stomach wouldn't know what to do if I sat it down in front of a 


piece of roast pork. It wouldn't know what it was. How can we buy 
meat, seven in the family, four big boys, eating like men but not old 
enough to work, and only father working? Payments on the house 
we can't afford to buy meat." 

It was not this quarrel with wages and hours alone, however, 
which caused the slow irresistible urge toward unionism. The 
workers had to vote as they were told; the rights guaranteed by the 
Constitution did not exist for them. Often their inadequate wages 
were paid in scrip and this they were forced to spend at the company 
store, which usually charged double the current prices. Their work 
was dangerous and uncertain. The system of straw bosses there 
were 20,000 alone in U. S. Steel led inevitably to favoritism and 
nepotism. The steel workers' revolt was also a mute protest against 
the steel towns themselves. 

It has been said that civilizations write their own biography in 
terms of brick and stone, that they name their aspirations in their 
architecture and write their defeats and failures in terms of their 
slums. Bricks, stones, and mortar write a record which never lies. 

One may find in the terms of handsome libraries, memorial 
buildings or parks, a species of apology for the general, uncivilized 
drabness of the older steel towns. 

In 1919 I used to go visiting down near the tracks with Father 
Kazinsci of Elm Street and the Willow Way, in Braddock. The 
Slovaks who then lived there have almost all moved out to make 
way for Negro workers, who in 1919 were brought in in great num- 
bers to scab on the strikers. 

Father Kazinsci's parishioners have scattered to the new houses 
up above Braddock or Swissvale. The garbage-littered courts are 
unchanged. The two-room houses face between street and court 
with refuse and garbage heaped in the open spaces as it was in 

When I revisited Braddock, in the summer of 1936, these houses 
down by the B. & O. tracks were more dilapidated and shabbier 
than they were sixteen years before. During the years of the depres- 
sion no one paid rent and no repairs were made. Only one street 


down there was still occupied by white people. All along one street 
were great tubs of oleanders one of the few things that will grow 
under the steady rain of the slack which films with black every 
living thing. The alleys over in Homestead were worse. Here were 
mountains of ashes and refuse. Here before the ironic poster 
signed by the mayor that the "owner will be responsible for cleanli- 
ness" were piles of trash so vast as to be almost historic. In these 
alleys, Negroes also had displaced the Slovaks who formerly lived 

No water had been turned on in row after row of these houses 
since the depression in 1930. Water had to be carried in the buckets 
from the fire hydrant blocks away, after permits were obtained at 
Town Hall. The question of water is a tremendous one around the 
steel mills. The work of keeping clean is unending. Men come home 
with oil-soaked overalls into which has been ground the slack of the 
mills. To be without water is a deprivation anywhere, and here it is 

In Braddock there are no parks or playgrounds. The so-called 
playground is a bare, grassless, treeless field by the Pennsylvania 
tracks. The somber glory of the mills lines all the valleys which 
converge on Pittsburgh. At night their blasts of saffron or rose 
paint the heavens. During the day the smoke never ceases. There is 
a beauty and magnificence in the making of steel. The wants and 
needs of the little men who make the steel were lost before the 
exigencies of the giant industry. 

Here in the steel towns, steel is great and man is small. 

The combined injustices of years drove the steel workers to 
combat the fear that years of suppression had bred in them and 
there was a slow, steady move into the union. So the half million 
dollars spent in one advertisement against unionism by U. S. Steel 
at the beginning of the S. W. O. C. campaign, was, in the workers' 
minds, a fine argument for it. The innumerable spies and "stoolies" 
that surrounded the drive were another argument in favor of the 
union. After the coming of the S. W. O. C., spies increased. The 
rumors that mill police were augmented and that tear gas and ma- 


chine guns filled the mills were later proved true. This surge toward 
unionism in those early days showed itself in the quiet power in all 
the meetings. The power came from the fact that every speaker and 
every organizer felt that millions of workers were vitally behind 
their movement. 

Take the meeting in the bare, so-called Braddock Park near the 
railroad track. "Let us stand in silence in honor of our beloved 
pastor, Father Kazinsci." The heads of a thousand men were 
bared. The women clustering on the railway bridge in bright-colored 
summer dresses bowed their heads. Children who had been playing 
on the outskirts of the crowd stood, heads bowed, boys with cap in 
hand. They stood there at the beginning of the steel drive for a full 

Father Kazinsci reaffirmed the position he had taken in 1919. 
His fine white head was silhouetted against the blue of the sky. 
Courage, Faith, Unity were his theme. 

"Be men," he told them. "Have courage. Join the union. Only 
through unity have you strength/' You could see people straighten 
up. Men stood more proudly. As in 1919, he was with the workers. 
He was for organized labor, now as then. But now he could speak 
out in the open. You cannot today close the towns on the Mononga- 
hela against the people's constitutional rights of free assembly. 

Take the meeting in Memorial Park of Tarentum, the first mass 
meeting there had been on the Allegheny River since the beginning 
of the campaign. It is a lovely little park, narrow, stretching along 
the wide river, the abrupt green hills mounting from the opposite 
shore. People came slowly, somewhat tentatively; now they began 
to wake up and become a real audience. 

Smiley Shatoc was speaking. Haltingly, briefly, in broken Eng- 
lish he was telling how the six hundred workers of the Hubbard 
Steel Company are organized 95 per cent. How they won their 
strike. Smiley Shatoc has dark red hair and fine strong features. 
He has a deep vitality and an easy strength. 

There was a delegation of the victorious workers there. They 
stood forward, smiling. Suddenly in the applause, the audience was 


fused together into something living. There was a fine quality about 
those Hubbard men as they stood there not insolent but with the 
ease of security. They communicated this security to the hesitating, 
uncertain audience. This little strike of the Hubbard workers had a 
historic significance. It was the first victory of the steel workers, the 
beginning of the breakdown of the feudal system. 

In this meeting at Tarentum, never for a moment could one 
forget the larger forces involved. The name of John L. Lewis rang 
through the meeting. They applauded when his name was men- 
tioned. They did not forget there were a million and a quarter 
workers back of them. 

This meeting by the river bank was fraught with significance. 
In 1934, the last time the urge for organization had pulsed through 
the steel mills, it was led by the rank and file committees. This 
time, instead of the bewildered leadership standing alone, isolated, 
repudiated by its own International, the might of the C. I. O. and 
the power of John L. Lewis were behind them. 

At first organization had progressed in the Allegheny Valley as in 
the rest of the steel towns quietly. There was house to house 
visiting; there were meetings in the woods; workers inside the mills 
who had signed up, contacted other workers. The quiet, steady 
drive went on throughout the mill towns. It was not spectacular but 
it went on perpetually. Only a comparatively few days separated 
secret meetings in the woods from the open meetings by the river. 

Pat Fagan talked at Tarentum. He is organizer of United Mine 
Workers of America, District No. 5. If you can organize West 
Virginia, he told them, you can organize steel. Briefly he rehearsed 
the bloody story of West Virginia. To me, who know the early days 
of Mingo County and the shooting of Sid Hatfield, it seemed almost 
a miracle that West Virginia was organized. 

"The banner of the United Mine Workers flies over every tipple 
in West Virginia," Pat Fagan said. 

Something momentous had happened. The audience at Tarentum 
had assembled slowly by twos and threes. Fear and doubt accom- 
panied them as they slowly drifted in. But soon there was no more 


fear doubt was gone. The confidence of the victorious strikers, 
the confidence of the speakers, entered into the audience. They 
were thinking together, they were feeling together, they laughed 
together, no longer little separate atoms overpowered by the might 
of the mills. They realized that they were powerful, too, powerful 
by their numbers, and that behind them was the powerful Com- 
mittee for Industrial Organization. 

It was a peculiarly significant meeting there was no rant, 
there was courage, good sense, and there was idealism. It answered 
the slow urge toward organization which has long been stirring 
among the unorganized workers of America. Now it was alive again 
in this audience. The faces of four Negroes near me, so stolid when 
they came, so full of doubt, were filled with light. It was a fine- 
looking audience, strong, healthy and young, and self-respecting. 

It seemed incredible that terror would be visited upon them for 
following their need to organize. But terror and intimidation were 
already abroad up and down the Allegheny Valley, up and down 
the Monongahela, the Ohio, the Mahoning. Wherever steel mills 
were belching forth fire and smoke, workers were intimidated. 
There were threats of lockouts, threats of moving the plants. 

In Aliquippa the situation got so tense that two State Troopers 
were called for, and no one could get them to say they were there to 
protect the workers. They said they were there to keep law and 
order. The workers knew that the troopers wouldn't be riding down 
the streets, their three-foot riot clubs raised high, driving the 
workers into their houses. In Braddock, they wouldn't break up 
funerals and ride into a crowd of parochial school children as they 
did in 1919. 

But in spite of intimidation, organizing progressed. The first 
phase of establishing confidence, of education, passed. The time 
came for establishing lodges. 

A brilliant piece of organizing was done by the S. W. O. C. in 
bringing over the members of the company union. In 1933, at the 
height of the organization under the N. R. A., Employee Repre- 


sentative Plans became numerous throughout the steel towns; in 
other words, the employers set up company unions to combat 
Section yA. These company unions were to prove a Frankenstein 
monster to the employers who created them. A great many of the 
workers joined these unions in good faith with an honest desire to 
work out a better relation between themselves and the employers. 
Many of the workers had not at first realized that these unions 
were fake unions through which nothing would ever be done for 
them, aside from adjusting minor grievances. 

In a single mill the company was paying $75,000 a year to sup- 
port its creature the Company Union. These things were told to 
the workers. Blocks of workers began coming over to the S. W. O. C. 
The way was led by the company union of Illinois Steel in South 
Chicago, where 3,000 workers came over together. Meantime 
throughout the steel towns company union representatives were 
joining the S. W. O. C. and holding cards in both organizations. 

The efforts toward winning over the company union membership 
broadened, and C. I. O. Representative Councils were set up in 
scores of steel towns. On November 6, 1936, U. S. Steel Corporation 
proposed a 10 per cent increase based on a cost of living index and 
offering to sign such an agreement with the employee representa- 
tives; the power of the S. W. O. C. had become so great that the 
campaign against signing this agreement was entirely successful. 

In November a meeting between the C. I. O. and the S. W. O. C. 
was held in Pittsburgh. They counted their gains and mapped plans 
for an intensive drive. At that time they announced that 82,000 
workers had already been organized under the Steel Workers Or- 
ganizing Committee. 

The intensive drive bore fruit. The S. W. O. C. went into steel 
towns, such as Homestead, where frightened workers were reluctant 
to join the Union, and their sound trucks carried the message to 
workers fearful of coming to meetings. In Mr. Weir's company town 
of Weirton they had entered the political field and elected as sheriff 
one of the organizers beaten up by company thugs. The dam of fear 


was broken. Then the re-election of President Roosevelt turned the 
tide for the S. W. O. C. The gains of the union became greater each 

Meantime, in Washington, the La Follette Committee ham- 
mered away .The use of espionage, the employment of gunmen and 
thugs from so-called detective agencies as strikebreakers, and the 
purchase of quantities of tear gas and machine guns to be used on 
the workers, were exposed to an amazed public. 

By the first of the year there were 100,000 in the union and 280 
lodges. The first two phases had been accomplished, the time for 
contracts was nearing. The S. W. O. C., with the N. L. R. B. behind 
it, had become a force to be reckoned with. 

History was on the side of the steel drive. It was part of the 
struggle which has fought reaction down the ages. The same spirit 
which has fought for religious liberty and political freedom is today 
fighting for industrial democracy. There is an awful power and 
might in steel, but there is an awful power and might in this age-old 
drive for freedom. It is like a force of nature irresistible as a tide; it 
recedes, but it does not die. 

V. Autos Organize 

MEANTIME, while steel was organizing, so were autos. The great 
steel drive inspired the auto workers. The two great cornerstones 
of the C. I. O., automobiles and steel, were separate yet because the 
C. I. O. is so closely knit, the fates of the different unions are inter- 
woven. Whether U. S. Steel would have settled without the victory 
over General Motors by the United Automobile Workers can never 
be ascertained. 

In the past there were many attempts made at organization of 
the automobile industry. The A. F. of L. promised itself to do the 
job but didn't do it. The story repeats itself so often it becomes 
monotonous. Independent unions sprang up. As with the other 
mass industries, the greatest increase in membership was under 
the N. R. A. Then the workers joined the union by thousands, but 
the A. F. of L. leadership was inadequate. Like other mass indus- 
tries, the automotive industry was unadapted to craft unions. 

Discouraged, the workers left the union, but not for long. Their 
need for organization was too great. The auto workers' discontent 
came in about equal parts from the speed-up and the absolute 
autocracy of the industry. The speed of the industry left them 
gutted at forty. The complicated pay system was unsatisfactory. 
Men had no say whatsoever as to how they should work; no way of 
airing their grievances. Men were fired for any union activity. How 
the community was poisoned by spies was shown by the General 
Motors' testimony before the La Follette Civil Liberties Com- 
mittee. There was no job security. During any slack season there 
was an endless round of auto workers back on relief rolls. Favoritism 
was widespread as is always the case under despotism. 



When the auto workers' union began its drive, wages in some 
places were as low as twenty cents an hour. Many auto workers 
were working sixty to seventy hours a week under an unbearable 
speed-up. Lead poisoning and silicosis were frequent; conditions 
were such that every foundry in Detroit was a menace to the 
workers' health. 

The auto workers' union was faced by three great autocratic 
powers: General Motors, the Chrysler Corporation, and Ford, who 
among them make 90 per cent of the automobiles of this country. 
The advance of the great auto industry has been one of the great 
technical achievements of the century. The gains have been fabu- 
lous. Ford, beginning with a capital of only $28,000 and some 
credit, made $280,000 his first year. This tenfold gain was the seed 
of the billion dollar Ford empire. The other great automobile 
powers' profits equal Ford's. General Motors net sales in the twenty- 
six years between 1909 to 1937 were more than sixteen billions of 

America makes 80 per cent of the automobiles of the world, and 
three-quarters of the automobiles of this country are made in 
Michigan. In a quarter of a century the small towns of Flint, 
Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Pontiac have grown to be great 
cities of a hundred thousand, and they have kept all the character- 
istics of the small towns. 

With unbelievable profits in the auto industry, the salaries of the 
officials have been enormous. Knudsen and Sloan of General 
Motors approached half a million a year each in 1936, and while 
the wages were more than moderate, each wage increase has been 
obtained with difficulty. The labor cost is one of the lowest, being 
only 9.8 per cent of product value as against a little over 20 per cent 
average for the principal mass industries. 

How this young union whirled its membership from 30,000 to 
400,000 in a year is one of labor's greatest epics. When Homer 
Martin was elected president of the United Auto Workers at the 
1936 convention at South Bend, Indiana, there were only 30,000 
auto workers and only $30,000 in the union treasury. There were 


sixteen contracts and ten of these were in one local in Toledo. This 
small membership, moreover, was not in the big automobile centers. 
It was scattered through the minor plants in Wisconsin, Indiana, 
and Ohio. Detroit and the great automobile cities had not been 
touched by organization. There was not a contract with any of the 
great manufacturers. There were, moreover, nine or ten inde- 
pendent unions in the field. 

When Homer Martin reported before the Atlantic City Confer- 
ence of the C. I. O. in October, 1937, the Auto Workers Union had 
upward of 400,000 members, and written agreements with 4,000 
automobile and auto parts concerns, which included every great 
manufacturer with the exception of Henry Ford. Their agreements 
included seniority rights, grievance committees, the acknowledg- 
ment of the shop steward system. The wages of the industry had 
been increased $300,000,000. In some places, wages had been 
increased from thirty and forty cents to one dollar an hour. Much 
had been done to set up healthier working conditions in the industry. 

From the time that the auto workers consolidated the different 
independent unions within their ranks and joined the C. I. O., a 
steady organizational campaign was carried on. In Flint it was 
under the direction of Wyndham Mortimer and Walter Reuther. 
In the Dodge factory, Richard Frankensteen, now head of the Ford 
drive and vice-president of the union, was in charge. These cam- 
paigns and others throughout the industry were carried on, at 
first quietly, and in some cases almost underground. 

The early victories of 1936 contributed to the success of the 
General Motors and Chrysler campaigns. The Bendix plant of 
South Bend, Indiana, had the first stay-in strike in autos, the 
first victory for the auto workers, and signed the first agreement. 

A most important strike was that of Midland Steel in Detroit, 
which followed shortly on the Bendix victory. The strike of Midland 
Steel was in the heart of Detroit, then an open shop town. The 
workers presented such a picture of unity and solidarity that their 
courage was an example to the other unorganized workers in the 


The Kelsey Hays Wheel Corporation strike was of historic 
significance because it was the first to affect the Ford Motor Com- 
pany. Bribes were offered to the workers in vain and threats were 
without effect. This strike was won and gained a seventy-five cent 
minimum hourly wage. Midland Steel gained union recognition, a 
forty-five hour week, time and a half for overtime, 10 per cent 
increase in piece rates and a minimum of 58^"^ for women and 62^ 
for men. 

Another instance of how interrelated the C. I. O. unions are is 
the fact that contributing to the victory over the great automobile 
manufacturers was the strike of the flat glass workers. There had 
been a series of strikes throughout 1936 in the flat glass industry. 
In October, 1936, glass workers struck in plants in Pennsylvania, 
Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The strike dragged 
on till glass was becoming scarce in the automobile industry. 

In December the Libbey-Owens Ford plant sat down to protest 
the acceptance of a Chrysler order transferred to other regions. 
The strike was settled in time to be helpful to the General Motors 
campaign, since Chrysler was able to get glass and continue 
to manufacture. 


These early victories caused a stir through the whole industry 
and the discontent of the General Motors employees came to a 
head. On January first, just as Governor Frank Murphy was taking 
office, Fisher No. 2 sat down. By night Fisher No. i had followed. 
This strike soon spread so that its span was from Oakland on the 
Pacific Coast through eight states to Atlanta, Georgia. The young 
Auto Workers Union challenged the power of General Motors. It 
was the first nationwide strike of the Committee for Industrial 
Organization, whose flexibility and inventiveness were so signifi- 
cantly shown in rubber and in the Camden R. C. A. strike. At its 
peak 125,000 men were involved in Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Lansing, 
Saginaw, Bay City, Norwood, Cleveland, Toledo, Kansas City, 
Anderson, Janesville, Oakland, and Atlanta. 


The ball for the General Motors strike was set rolling by Atlanta, 
which went on strike November 18. Cause: the usual one, men fired 
for wearing union buttons. 

The firing of a union member led to a strike in Kansas City 
the middle of December. There was a conference in December 
between Homer Martin and John L. Lewis in Washington, and on 
December 24, 1936, Homer Martin wrote to Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., 
then president of the General Motors Corporation and to William 
S. Knudsen, now president, then executive vice-president. He asked 
for a conference to discuss the long list of grievances which had 
grown out of management policies. 

The only answer to this letter, however, was the ironic proposal 
that grievances be taken up with individual plant managers, who 
have no power to settle anything. 

Strike was in the air. In Cleveland the key Fisher Body plant 
sat down. In Flint the historic sit-down quickly followed when the 
Company began to move dies out of the Fisher Body No. I to 
Grand Rapids and Pontiac. The strike went into a national phase. 

The company immediately swung into action by clapping an 
injunction on the sit-down strikers. The first injunction was voided 
because the judge was found to possess a large block of General 
Motors stock, and was, therefore, an interested party. 

That was the first gun. The second gun was the formation of 
the Flint Alliance. Its rather comic figurehead was George Boyeson, 
former mayor and Buick paymaster. It pretended to function as an 
organization having nothing to do with General Motors, but its 
camouflage was too apparent to deceive anyone who did not wish to 
be deceived. Foremen, supervisors, and company union representa- 
tives acted as agents for Boyeson in circulating "back-to-work" 
petitions and Flint Alliance cards in the plants; cards which were 
later turned over to Governor Murphy by Boyeson himself. 

No vagrant ever had vaguer means of support than this Alliance. 
There were no dues. Yet Floyd Williamson, a high-priced member 
of the Lawrence Witt Advertising Agency, came from New York 
to handle the organization's public relations. General Motors press 


agents were constantly seen in conference with Boyeson, at the 
Hotel Durant in Flint. 

Included among these were two men regularly employed by 
a New York public relations firm and active in the Alliance's 
publicity. Part of this publicity was the notorious I. M. A. News, 
which pretended to represent the Flint workers. 

But the Flint Alliance did plenty of harm during its poisoned little 
life span. Hundreds of well-meaning citizens joined, convinced they 
were serving the town's best interests. 

Its objectives were threefold: to create discontent among the 
workers with its back- to- work movement; to build up General 
Motors to the Flint public, at the same time discrediting the union 
and its leaders; and to alarm workers and townspeople so that 
vigilantes could be organized. 

And it was very nearly successful. It succeeded in dividing and 
confusing the workers and almost drenched the city in blood. 
While this was going on, the strike organization had taken firm 
hold both in the plants and outside. Here is an account of what 
Fisher Body looked like inside. 


The L-shaped plant of Fisher No. i is a block long and half a 
block wide. The L was brilliantly lit up on its first and third floor. 
About a third of the way down the building was a picket shack and 
directly behind it was the entrance, through a window, since en- 
trance through the gate itself could not be so readily guarded. 

We climbed a short ladder to a platform supported on four ash- 
cans. Here a picket demanded our credentials and said "O.K." 
We crawled through the window to a similarly supported platform 
and were met by a second picket who looked us over suspiciously. 
Again we produced our credentials. He frisked us efficiently for 
any liquor and then nodded. At the foot of a flight of steps a third 
picket looked over our papers and returned them to us without 
saying a word. His eyes were blue and sharp and stern. It was 


discomforting, very, but no different from the procedure of entering 
an armed camp in a war zone. This was a war zone. 

In front of us was the now silent Belt a mute and still line 
of incomplete car bodies stretching away from right to left. 
Progressively each body showed advancement; changes that were 
barely perceptible near at hand but startling as one turned and 
looked down the line. 

To our right was a small booth topped by a radio loudspeaker 
and occupied by two men. A small ever-changing group of men 
circled in front of it. Scattered around were other men reading, 
talking, listening to a muted radio. Many were bearded. They 
wouldn't shave until victory came. We stepped over the track and 
chain which carried and moved the belt. We found another belt 
leading from left to right. 

Here the bodies were comparatively sophisticated. Each no 
longer seemed just like the next, for now each was of a different 
color. Car doors had appeared. A door handle suddenly sprouted 
as one gazed down the line. 

Suspended from the ceiling and shortly beyond was the conveyor 
of a third belt, parallel to that of the bodies. From this depended 
long iron rods whose lower ends bristled with hooks. On these hooks 
were hung the padding and the seats for the bodies. 

We followed the stationary belt in the direction in which it 
would have moved. On the back of one body was a large chalked 
sign, "Hotel Astor." Here the large back seat had disappeared from 
its place on the hooks. Inside the car, and in nearly all thereafter, 
was to be found a sleeping picket. Further down was a "Mills 
Hotel." Many were simply marked with the name of the occupant. 

The belt took a broad turn down the L. The L was dimly lighted 
and the bodies shortly merged into one another in the murk. Over- 
head was a sign, "QUIET ZONE." On the oblong piles of padding, 
sleeping men could be seen dimly. We changed our course to a 
nearby lighted doorway. A picket on guard asked no questions 
we had passed the entrance test. We climbed to the darkened 


second floor. Here again was another unquestioning picket. A short 
inspection showed that this was the stock room floor. Piles of seats, 
parts of seats. I never knew so much wood went into the making of 
a body. 

We glanced down the L. Here was a belt but there was absolutely 
no change discernible from one body to the next. We started to 
climb to the third floor. 

"You can't go there," the picket said pleasantly. Our eyes 
questioned. "You can't go there," he repeated. 

A voice from above called, "Hey, I want relief." 


"Fred Taylor. I want relief from the roof." 

"Aw, freeze some more, can't yuh?" Then to the picket below/ 
"Relief for the roof." The picket below bawled, "Relief for the roof." 

We passed a sleepy-eyed picket coming up on our way down. 

The basement, extending the length of the building, was a huge 
recreation room and cafeteria. We were led past four ping-pong 
tables (none of which was unused during our stay), to a small room, 
filled with men and smoke, in which an orchestra was playing. 

The orchestra finished its tune. The crowd of men looked curi- 
ously at us as the other men asked a few questions. We were intro- 
duced. There were smiles and applause. "Now let's give 'em a 

The orchestra of six was seated on three tables placed in a hollow 
rectangle. It was composed of three guitars, one harmonica, one 
banjo and one violin. They played "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the 
Mountin." The performance wasn't perfect but it was gay and so 
willing. Some of the songs they sang with the usual words but many 
were parodies of timely subjects. 

During the singing of the parody, "A Hot Time in the Old Town 
Tonight," one realized over again that these men were all Americans 
of the old tradition, that they were fighting for their rights, free- 


dom, the ability to live their own lives, to have something to say 
about their living conditions as they knew they should instead of 
being dictated to by a power which refuses to grant any opportunity 
for hearing the grievances of these men. 


Fisher No. i, No. 2, and Chevy No. 4 were the front line of the 
strike war in Flint. Pengally Hall was the heart and brains of the 
battle. Except for the stream of workingmen and their wives, pour- 
ing in and out of its dingy doorway twenty-four hours a day, it was 
not remarkable. 

Twenty- four hours a day. Activity in Pengally never stopped. 
Each moment saw a steady flow of people climbing and descending 
the narrow wooden stairways. Two union guards served the double 
purpose of checking those going in and out at the bottleneck of the 
first and second flight. At the top of the second flight two more 
guards examined the union cards and passed upon everyone enter- 
ing the hall. Finks had to be smart to get by these watchmen. 

On the way up to the main floor you passed the room of the 
Women's Auxiliary, which maintained a first-aid station with a 
nurse, and where workers went to get transportation. As you 
reached the top of the stairs the first thing you saw in the center of 
the hallway was a table where two men were enrolling union mem- 
bers. There was a never-ending line of people applying for member- 

Next were the two rooms of the officers. Here people came to pay 
dues and make inquiries of all kinds. Behind closed doors the union 
leaders and Strike Committee held their committee meetings 
protected from the eyes of spies. It was in this room that labor 
history was made. Here the strategy was worked out for the sit- 
down in Chevy No. 4, which won the General Motors strikes. Here 
came delegates from the sit-downers to tell of their decision to resist 
the injunction. Here John Brophy consulted with the local leaders 
and contributed his mature experience to the strike. The committees 


here were in constant communication with the strategy board of 
Detroit and relayed to Homer Martin and the board the pulse- 
beat of the strike. 

The room next to this was the meeting place for out-of-town 
sympathizers. Flying squadrons from Detroit and other cities got 
information on transportation or where they should sleep, etc. 
Opposite and leading into the big hallway was a large committee 
room, always in use. 

Following the rooms around the hallway, the strike organization 
became apparent. The first room was the picket captains' room, and 
here too were the men who formed the Protection Squads. The 
Protection Squads surrounded the leaders in the sound car to ward 
off attacks. Thugs had wrecked some cars in Detroit and other 

Next in order was the publicity room. Here was the " Baby Brain- 
trust " the boys and girls from Ann Arbor who got out the punch 
press, the mimeographed strikers' bulletin, which supplemented 
the strike news between the issues of the Flint Auto Worker. Carl 
Hessler, in charge of publicity, issued statements to the press, 
held conferences with newspaper men, and helped to edit the Auto 

The reading room was next, full of men reading; here strikers 
went for meal tickets; anyone engaged in strike duty rated a meal 
at the Strike Kitchen on Saginaw Avenue. Here tickets were given 
out for gas and oil for the well-organized Transport Corps, for 
strikers had dozens of cars for the use of the strike, cars donated 
and chauffeured by strikers and strike sympathizers. 

Down the hall was the room where welfare was taken care of. 
People needing strike relief or applying for city or state relief, went 
there. And still further down the hall was the kitchen. 

Then came the hall proper, resembling thousands of union halls, 
with its dirty windows, missing panes of glass, its old piano and 

During the strike, this hall was never empty. At six in the morn- 
ing, folding-chairs were set up facing the platform. Soon after, some 


strike committee occupied a corner and the day began. Another 
committee took up another corner. Strikers drifted into the hall 
with sandwiches and coffee from the strike kitchen which served 
breakfast until noon. Strike problems were discussed perpetually. 
The problems were never questions of winning or losing. They were 
how to win. Victory was always certain. 

About two o'clock strikers from one of the plants filled the hall. 
The bulletin board told which factory unit was in session. At these 
meetings the suggestions of the various strike committees were 
brought before the rank and file for discussion and confirmation. 
At these meetings the strike strategy was freely considered. Thus 
each striker not only knew the duties of his post but he had a hand 
in deciding the scope of his duties. 

The hall emptied at four, but not for long. Members of the 
Women's Emergency Brigade then went into executive session in 
the southeast corner. 

Long before the Emergency Brigade had adjourned, the first 
people for the big evening rally began to arrive. The hall filled rap- 
idly. By seven, there was hardly standing room. 

All of striking Flint was there: the strikers, their wives, fathers, 
daughters. Eyes turned to the green and white berets of Emergency 
Brigade women from Detroit and Toledo and they were given a 
cheer. Cheers greeted the names of Homer Martin and John L. 
Lewis. By ten-thirty the speaking was over. 

Young hands folded and stacked the chairs. Pengally Hall be- 
came a self-service night club. Dancing, entertainment, singing 
never stopped. In the first light of morning, the broom brigade 
arrived to sweep away the day's collection of dust and cigarette 
butts, the dancers stepping in and out among the dirt piles. 


The first-aid station of the Women's Auxiliary was needed. 
In the early stages of the strike, the workers were attacked by the 
police in front of Fisher No. 2. This raid was deliberately planned 
for the purpose of crushing the strike. A battle ensued which was 


called later The Battle of Bulls Run. It was called this because the 
bulls ran. 

The police, armed with tear gas, with clubs and guns, were de- 
feated by men and women armed with nothing except the things 
that came to hand which they could grab up. Fourteen fell from gun- 
shot wounds. 

But the result was victory. 

After four hours* righting, the police were through the bulls 
ran leaving a total of fourteen wounded, one man almost killed, 
and numerous tear gas victims, including many women. 

Preparatory to the battle the streets had been cleared. Motorists 
had been warned to drive elsewhere. The police stationed themselves 
around the plant armed with tear gas and guns. They had their gas 
masks on when the women came with the evening meal. The door 
through which they usually passed the food was blocked. The 
women began passing the food through the windows. The company 
guards gave the signal to the police. Then came the tear gas. One 
shell was shot inside the plant, one into the crowd. But the men and 
women with streaming eyes persisted in getting the food in. They 
fought back. Telling about it later, the women said, 

"Nothing was going to stop us getting food in to our men." The 
first shot crashed through the air. Surprised for a moment by tear 
gas and shots, the workers soon rallied and determined to fight. 

Inside the plant the heavy fire hoses were played on the police 
and on the tear gas bombs. 

More tear gas, and another blast of gunfire. The police were 
firing pointblank into the crowd that included women. Union 
sympathizers were retaliating with the only means of defense they 
had stones, lumps of coal, steel hinges, milk bottles. That, and 
their courage, were their only weapons. Yet they held their ground. 

The sound truck came into play. Its calm great voice directed 
the battle; advised the men where the attacks would come from, 
encouraged them, told them to stand firm. 

After two hours of battle the police began to weaken. They 
stopped shooting into the crowd, but for another hour they contin- 


ued their gas attacks. A barricade of cars was formed. The sound 
cars continued to direct the fighting men and women. Guards were 
thrown about Union Hall in Pengally Building, and no one without 
credentials was admitted. The wounded had been removed. The 
police finally withdrew. 

The strikers picketed all night behind a barricade of motorcars. 
A roaring fire blazed, around which marched the strikers. Two new 
elements had been added to aid in the struggle for victory. One was 
the use of the sound truck, and the other was participation of the 
women. They had seen their men shot at, the police had tried to 
keep them from feeding their men, and they had fought in spite of 
tear gas, in spite of gunfire. 

The scarred walls of Fisher Body No. 2 bore testimony to the 
heaviness of this gunfire long after the Battle of Bulls Run. 

By morning the state police had been called in, and the militia 
were being mustered in the armory, but the workers of Flint had 
won an outstanding victory. 

Peace moves were now begun. Governor Murphy had finally 
persuaded General Motors to confer with the union. For it cannot 
be repeated too often, that this strike occurred only because the 
General Motors Corporation refused to meet with union representa- 
tives, and for this reason 125,000 men were out of work. 

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., and Knudsen held a meeting with John L. 
Lewis and other union officials which lasted exactly twelve minutes. 
The Flint Alliance had requested General Motors to recognize it 
and confer with it also. General Motors had consented. The strike 
negotiations were ended, but not before the sit-down strikers of 
Guide-Lamp in Anderson had marched out of the factory, a band 
leading them. But Fisher No. i and No. 2 still sat. 

VI. Sit-Down In Chevy 4 

THE STRIKE seemed at a deadlock. Injunction proceedings were 
under way. The management had even refused to meet with the 
Secretary of Labor. 

The strike had leaped out of the frame of unionism and it had be- 
come a contest between "economic royalists," like the Du Fonts, 
Morgans, and Sloans, and a President and Governor favorable to 
organized labor. Here was a strike whose outcome might influence 
the labor movement for many years. Its success or its failure did not 
concern automobiles alone. It took in its sweep steel, coal, rubber, 
electrical workers. The fate of the whole labor movement was closely 
bound together with its victory. 

Anyone experienced in strike atmosphere could have told that 
the mass meeting in Flint, Sunday night, January 30, 1937, which 
was addressed by Father J. W. R. Maguire and Mrs. Giffbrd 
Pinchot was no ordinary meeting. It was the molten core of this 
historic automobile strike. It was almost impossible to get through 
the good-natured crowd. Every seat was taken. Workers were 
packed close against the wall. They thronged the stairways. It 
was an assembly of men who were on the march to victory. Failing 
immediate settlement, action of some sort was inevitable. All that 
week the Chevrolet workers had been holding meetings about the 
discharge of workers over union activities. 

The workers had become increasingly restless since General 
Motors had used the mob against them. On Monday, January 25, 
1937, a mob attacked a Union meeting at Anderson, Indiana, 
wrecked the headquarters and beat up organizers. 

On Tuesday, January 26, the Flint Alliance, which had seemed to 



die a dishonored death, only to spring to life as a vigilante group, 
held a meeting and sent a delegation to Governor Murphy with a 
strikebreaking proposition. And on the same day, Mr. Alfred Sloan, 
then president of General Motors, refused Secretary of Labor 
Perkins* invitation to meet with union representatives in Wash- 
ington to discuss settlement. On Wednesday the 2yth, a mob 
assaulted four union workers in a Bay City Hotel and later that 
night sideswiped the workers' car with professional expertness, 
sending four men to the hospital, one of whom almost died. On 
Thursday the 28th, union workers were mobbed at the train in 
Anderson. There was obviously a common denominator between 
these acts of violence in widely different parts of the country which 
accounted for citizens in Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, and Anderson 
demonstrating against the union. 

The common denominator was General Motors which tried to 
crush the Union by terror and mob violence, to discredit it through 
the action of the Citizens Committee, and to make the workers 
feel that the management would never negotiate. 

A meeting of protest against the Bay City mobbing scheduled 
for Sunday in Saginaw was called off at the Governor's request. 
These various things stirred up the workers as did the fact that 
General Motors, anticipating a strike in Chevrolet, had tried to 
force a premature strike which would be lost and which would dis- 
courage organization in Chevrolet for some time to come. 

When Chevrolet opened after a two weeks' shutdown, the man- 
agement began an intensive campaign of intimidation and firing. 
Several hundred armed guards were on duty. Union men were 
threatened and manhandled. 

When the union tried to meet with plant manager Arnold Lenz 
to discuss the situation, he put the meeting off from day to day. 

During the General Motors strike there was a peculiarly sensi- 
tive adjustment between the local leaders and the rank and file, and 
again, between local leadership and the strike strategy board in 
Detroit. This responsiveness between the leadership and the work- 
ers was one of the important reasons for the strike's success. It is 


disastrous for a leadership to force action on a group of workers 
for which they are not ready. It is still more disastrous to have a 
rank and file demand for action denied them by the leaders. This 
had happened in Flint in 1934 when the workers had been eager to 
strike. When the strike move was blocked, the union membership 
lost interest and faded away. 

Now action had become imperative. 

Something had to happen. 

Action came. Chevrolet 4 sat down. 

The victorious sit-down was the result of a brilliant piece of 
strategy. The union let it be known at a meeting where stool 
pigeons were present that a strike would begin in Chevrolet 9 
and carefully guarded the secret that their real objective was Chev- 
rolet 4. 

The Chevrolet plant covers eight acres and has nine divisions 
and a powerhouse. Plant No. 4 is the key plant which makes the 
motors. Without Plant No. 4, Chevrolet cannot make cars. This 
plant is set in a hollow. A little hill about five hundred feet long 
leads to it. 

It was around Chevy 4 that the company guards had been sta- 
tioned but now they were all concentrated in Plant No. 9, with tear 
gas and clubs, and all fighting occurred within the plant. There 
was no disorder anywhere else. 

Every step was timed. The sound car appeared in front of No. 9. 
Word was sent to the meeting going on in Pengally Hall. The work- 
ers hurried to picket Chevrolet 9 headed by the Women's Emer- 
gency Brigade with their red caps. 

Behind the windows were dimly seen figures fighting. There was 
something terrifying in that shadowy battle. 

The women went up and started breaking windows. Someone 
called out: "We mustn't break windows, we mustn't destroy any- 
thing." Others answered, "We've got to let air in they've gassed 
our boys inside." Nobody wanted to break windows, but it was 

Word came from the sound car calling to the men to stand fast. 


Finally the sound car recalled the women, and sent them to rest 
at headquarters. They left reluctantly. Not even they knew that at 
this very moment, the real sit-down was taking place in Chevro- 
let 4, blocks away. 

At headquarters casualties were coming in. The Women's Auxil- 
iary room was crowded with men getting minor injuries dressed. 
There were eighteen casualties in all. Two of them had to be taken 
to the hospital. The room was soon full of bleeding men, the table 
heaped high with crimson gauze. None of the casualties happened 
outside the plant. 

One of the men was badly cut about the face. They bandaged his 
head until he looked as though he were gazing out of a nun's head- 
dress. As he was being bandaged, he told his story: 

"One hundred of us started walking to Plant No. 9. When the 
company guards sprang out at us the first thing I knew I saw a big 
company policeman about to crack down on a fellow near me. 
I grabbed for his club. He was so big he swung me around and I got 
the club on the tip of my chin. That is how I got my chin cut. 

"Next I was knocked down by a policeman, and that's how I got 
my head cut. I was bleeding all over. A couple of the company cops 
were standing over me when I opened my eyes as much as 
I could, for blood and said: 'You want some more you 
S. O. B.?' Boy, they were tough. But we were stronger than they 
were. Men were fighting everywhere. They let off the tear gas, but 
we fought our way out." 

Another story of a wounded man went this way: "The company 
police and thugs sprang up from nowhere. They kept them shut 
up in the employment office and sprung them loose on us. 

"In a moment there was fighting everywhere. They were rolling 
around on the floor. They had clubs and we were unarmed. They 
started shooting off tear gas. I saw one fellow hit on the head and 
when he swung backwards he cut his head on the machinery. 
He started to stagger out. Two of the thugs knocked him down 
again. I let go on a couple of thugs. You kind of go crazy when you 
see thugs beating up men you know." 


The women had come back from No. 9 where they had let air in 
to the gassed men. One of the women was standing wiping her eyes 
which were smarting with tear gas. Around her clung the acid smell 
of gas. Around the room were red-capped members of the Emer- 
gency Brigade, that was formed after the Battle of Bulls Run. 

There was a group of them which slept every night in the union 
restaurant, in case of trouble. There was a large committee which 
spent the night on the picket lines. They were fearless and seem- 
ingly tireless. One and all were normal, sensible women who were 
doing this because they had come to the mature conclusion that it 
must be done if they and their children were to have a decent life. 
Inevitably they were behind their husbands as long as there was 
need, and they showed the same matter of course capability with 
which they got the children off to school. Today their job was 
"protecting their men." 

I went down to the Chevrolet plant with two members of the 
Emergency Brigade. The workers had now captured plant No. 4. 
The street was full of people there were about twenty policemen 
between the bridge and the high gate of the plant. They were 
quiet and unprovocative, so the crowd of pickets was good-natured. 
The sound car was directing operations. 

The use of the sound truck is new in strike procedure and it is 
hard to know how a strike was ever conducted without it. As we 
came down past the policemen a great voice, calm and benign, 
proclaimed that everything was in hand the plant was under 

Next the great disembodied voice, really the voice of auburn- 
haired young Roy Reuther, urged the men in the plant to barricade 
themselves from tear gas. Every now and then the voice boomed: 

"Protection squad. Attention! Guard your sound car. Protection 
squad. Attention!" 

Then the voice addressed the workers who crowded the windows 
of the lower levels. At the top of the steep flight of steps were the 
workers of the plant, lunch buckets under their arms, waving at 
the pickets in the street. A crowd of workers fringed the roof. The 


sound car inquired if they were union men. They shouted, "Yes." 
The crowd cheered. 

The measured soothing voice of the sound car boomed: 

"Word has come to us that there are men in the crowd anxious 
to join the union. Go to the last car, you will find the cards ready 
to sign. If you have no money for dues with you you can come to 
Pengally Hall later." The sound car struck up Solidarity and the 
men at the top of the steps, on top of the plant, in the street, all 

A woman's voice next Genora Johnson. She told the crowd 
that the women had gone to the Hall to wipe their eyes clear of 
tear gas and would soon be back. "We don't want any violence; we 
don't want any trouble. We are going to do everything we can to 
keep from trouble, but we are going to protect our husbands." 

Down the hill presently came a procession, preceded by an Ameri- 
can flag. The women's bright red caps showed dramatically in the 
dark crowd. They were singing, Hold the Fort. 

To all the crowd there was something moving about seeing 
the women return to the picket line after having been gassed in 
front of plant No. 9. A cheer went up; the crowd took up the song. 
The line of bright-capped women spread itself out in front of the 
high gate. Clasping hands, they struck up the song, We Shall Not 
Be Moved. Some of the men who had jumped over the gate went 
back, amid the cheers of the crowd. 

I went to the top of the little hill and a file of men were coming 
out of the back of the building. 

"Are you going home?" 

"Home Hell no! We're going back to picket the plant. Half 
of us are sitting down inside, and half of us are coming out to picket 
from the street." 

"How many of you are for the sit-down?" 

"Ninety per cent," a group of them chorused. 

It was getting dark, the crowd had grown denser. A black fringe 
of pickets and spectators was silhouetted against the brilliant 
green lights of the plant windows. 


"Protection squad. Guard your sound car," came the voice. 

I went with members of the Women's Auxiliary to Fisher No. 2 
to get "salamanders/* which are corrugated iron cans in which fires 
can be built, and to arrange for material for a shack for the night 
picket line. The women were going to stay all night. 

Red Mundell,' chairman of the strike committee, met us at the 
gate. While they were getting buckets to improvise a salamander 
they asked us to have supper bean soup, bologna sandwiches, 
rice pudding, and coffee. It was very cold and the warmth and 
companionship of the plant were welcome. It was like stepping into 
a serene world to come in from the excitement of the picket line. 
Men were eating supper, reading papers, listening to the radio as 
if a sit-down strike were a normal way of life. 

There was plenty of excitement in union headquarters a mile 
and a half away, where a meeting was being held. You could hear 
the cheers as you pushed up the crowded stairway. Presently some 
of the Women's Emergency Brigade came in to warm up. 

"The National Guard has been called out," they reported. 
"We met them going down as we came back." 

"What they need the National Guard for, I don't know," one 
of them said. "Everything's quiet down there. The picket line 
is marching around the salamanders singing. They are all as quiet 
and contented as kittens." 

This crowd in front of Chevrolet No. 4 was not as terrifying as 
many a Christmas crowd. There was no disturbance in the streets 
for all the fighting was inside the plant. Yet the Mayor and Chief 
of Police phoned the Governor for troops to keep order. The police 
did not make a gesture of dispersing the crowd. They stood on the 
bridge and did not interfere. There had not even been a massing 
of great crowds. The demonstration in front of Chevrolet No. 4, 
the picketing of the plant, were peaceful and orderly. 

Nevertheless when later in the evening I went down to Chevrolet 
No. 4, a cordon of militia men had been thrown around the great 
plant. We could not pass. Far down in the hollow the salamanders 
glowed. You could see the faithful picket line moving back and 


forth. At half past three in the morning a dozen women of the 
Emergency Brigade were on duty in the first-aid room in Pengally 

Fisher No. 2 came within the barricaded area. People living 
within the area had to get military passes to go to and from their 
homes. Children living just outside the area had to go miles around 
to get to school. 

When the Women's Auxiliary went down with food for the 
strikers they were not allowed "to get food in to their boys." The 
sound car was also taken by the military. The management turned 
off the heat in the plant. 

Homer Martin and John Brophy communicated with the Gov- 
ernor. The Governor stated that his reason for not allowing the food 
past the barricades was that he had been informed that there were 
hundreds of people in Chevy No. 4 who came from the outside and 
who were not bona fide strikers. 

"Even if this were so," John Brophy argued, "there is no need 
for this brutality of starving and freezing strikers through the use 
of troops." 

He strongly urged that he should be allowed to go through the 
plant and investigate who was there. Late on the afternoon of 
Tuesday, February 2, he was given a military pass and allowed to 
make an inspection of the plant. 

There were no outsiders there. By that time the workers had 
been nearly twenty-four hours without food. There was a commis- 
sary with chocolate bars, nuts, and other things which they had left 
untouched it belonged to the management. 

The result of the investigation was communicated to the Gov- 
ernor. By his order food was again allowed the strikers. Trium- 
phantly the Women's Auxiliary wagons loaded with food went 
past the military. 

They had got food in to their men, again. 

How strongly these women came to feel their part in the eco- 
nomic fight that lay behind the sit-downs is well expressed in this 
letter from a striker's wife: 



A month ago today I knew nothing and cared less about the Auto- 
mobile Union. My husband being a member of the United Auto 
Workers, attended meetings, but just before this sit-down strike at 
Cadillac it seemed to me that about all he thought about was going to 
union meetings. I'd heard about the Reds and had been told that this 
gang were Reds with leaders in Russia. Fd also been informed they met 
in beer gardens with plenty of short-haired girls to entertain them. 

So when the strike was called and my husband stayed in all day 
and then came home, only to start out next morning for the picket line, 
I decided it was time I stopped this union business for good, in our 
home anyway. So I started out as soon as I knew he was well on his 
way. It didn't take long to find the place but on the door was a card 
saying Use Side Door Please. Sure enough the side door opened into 
a beer garden. By that time I was mad all over. 

The man in charge seemed surprised when I demanded the Cadillac 
strikers and told me they were upstairs. By then I wasn't only mad but 
tired as well, and climbing those stairs didn't improve my disposition 
not much. I met a lady coming down from the kitchen and before 
I could make up my mind just what to say first she smiled and asked 
me if Pd come to help. Instead of flappers and empty beer bottles I saw 
half a dozen women peeling vegetables, others washing dishes. 

I thought I'd stick around a little before starting my little riot. 
I peeled onions while my eyes wept tears of agony, then potatoes, then 
we cut bread till my hands blistered, sorted and cut and packed pies, 
hundreds of them. By night I was almost too tired to go home and Fd 
completely forgotten to speak my piece. The other women didn't seem 
to mind the long hours. I kept this up for seven whole days, sometimes 
from seven to seven. I soon learned everyone was too busy to bother 
about how I felt, so I got busy, too. 

I found a common understanding and unselfishness I'd never known. 
These people are real people and I'm glad I'm one of them. I only wish 
I'd got mad long ago and investigated, but I didn't have time for any- 
thing outside of my own small circle. I'm living for the first time with 


a definite goal. I want a decent living for not only my family but for 
everyone. Just being a woman isn't enough any more. I want to be 
a human being. Fm ready and glad to wear my green beret and 
Women's Emergency Brigade armband anytime, anywhere I'm 
needed. I hope if anyone chances to read this they'll take the time to 
find out as I did what women can and are doing to help men in their 
fight for decent wages and working conditions. 

Mrs. Violet Baggett, President 
West Side Local Women's Auxiliary -, Detroit* 
* Reprinted from The United Auto Worker of February 25, 1937 

VII. Victory in Flint 

THE SIT-IN in Chevrolet 4 was successful. It ended the deadlock. 
Governor Murphy communicated with President Roosevelt. The 
President himself exerted pressure. Within twenty-four hours 
Alfred Sloan and a representative of General Motors were nego- 
tiating with John L. Lewis and the auto unions, with Governor 
Murphy as their go-between. 

But in spite of the negotiations the injunction proceedings were 
continued. Governor Murphy has stated that he considers this an 
act which complicated the negotiations, heightened the tenseness 
in Flint, and almost precipitated a massacre. He stated that from 
the moment negotiations began, the injunction proceedings should 
have been dropped. 

Looking back it seems a miracle that bloodshed was averted. 
All credit belongs to Governor Murphy that it was. Every sort 
of pressure was put upon him to use violence on the sit-down strik- 
ers. He persisted in his view that the strike could be settled by 
reason. Political honors were offered him, if he would use the troops 
to clear the strikers from the factories. When he would not, he was 
reviled, slandered, and his life was threatened. 

Flint looked like an armed camp. More than four thousand Na- 
tional Guards were there, including cavalry and a machine gun 
corps. A night visit to the big Chevrolet plant and Fisher Body 
No. 2 reminded one of an American sector in wartime France. A 
military pass was required to go through the lines, the visitor was 
challenged every few feet. The soldiers were huddled in the snow 
around a fire in front of Chevrolet No. 4; on the other side of the 
six-foot fence, topped with barbed wire, were the union pickets. 



"You boys got plenty of wood for your fire?" a striker called. 
"Just sing out if you need more and we'll pass some through." 
"Thanks, Buddy, we're expecting more soon." 
No hard feelings between the boys in overalls and the boys in 
uniform. A number of the rank and file of the guardsmen had been 
automobile workers themselves at one time or another. They 
muttered among themselves that they were not going to do any 
dirty work should they be ordered to clear the factories of the sit- 
down strikers. 

On both sides of the dark street which was punctuated with red 
fires, windows of idle factories shone with green lights. In Fisher 
Body No. 2 the strikers were singing Hold The Fort. It was after 
midnight. Both sides were still alert. 

The tenseness in Flint grew. No one knew what action would be 
taken against the strikers, no one knew whether they would be 
evicted with violence. The strikers in both plants decided to stay 
in even in the face of death. On February 3, they sent moving tele- 
grams to Governor Murphy. From Fisher No. I, 

The stay-in strikers of this plant now appeal to you on the 
basis of public statements that you have repeatedly made that 
there should be no violence or bloodshed in connection with the 
strike in Flint. 

It is only because of the coercion and intimidation on the 
part of the General Motors Corp., including incitement to 
violence, discriminatory discharge of union men, hiring of 
armed thugs and the use of company police that have led us 
to take the extraordinary measures for self-protection of the 
carrying on of the stay-in strike. 

We are advised that it is intended to have us ejected through 
the use of guns and force. 

This will mean that the blood of workers will be shed. 
We the workers in the plant are completely unarmed and to 
send in the military armed thugs and armed deputy sheriffs 
who will have absolutely no sense of responsibility for life will 
mean a bloody massacre of the workers in the plant. 


This responsibility cannot be avoided by you. 

We express our appreciation for your excellent attitude to 
date and your efforts in our behalf. We shall continue to look 
to President Roosevelt and yourself for support against the 
arrogant and selfish policies of the General Motors. 

From Fisher No. 2 came a similar telegram which ended, 

Governor, we have decided to stay in the plant. We have no 
illusions about the sacrifices which this decision will entail. 

We fully expect that if a violent effort is made to oust us 
many of us will be killed and we take this means of making it 
known to our wives and children, to the people of the State of 
Michigan and of the country that if this result follows from the 
attempt to eject us you are the one who must be held respon- 
sible for our deaths. 

Zero hour for the eviction and Women's Day happened to come 
together. Five hundred members of the Women's Emergency 
Brigade had come to parade in Flint. It was their first formal 
appearance. As they swept out of the Pengally Building, the streets 
were bright with the red caps of the Flint women and the green 
caps of the women from Detroit. Although there had been almost 
no notice given, there were women from Lansing, Toledo, Bay City, 
and Pontiac. The idea of a spearhead of the Emergency Brigade 
for the Women's Auxiliary with a distinctive armband and cap 
originated in Flint, but it spread like a prairie fire throughout the 
automobile industry. Their procession, gay with banners and bright 
caps, marched through the heart of Flint. 

Cars took them down to the immense picket lines looped around 
Fisher No. I, guarding the sit-down strikers from violence. This 
demonstration was unique in the history of labor. There must 
have been ten thousand pickets and spectators. The women 
marched and marched, their banners and caps brightening the 
crowd. The strikers themselves policed this amazing crowd and 
directed traffic, and at the request of their leaders dispersed it. 


How the women felt about it this letter of Eleanor Gustafson 
to The United Auto Worker shows, 

That day I marched through the Flint business district 
displaying to the crowds my union emblem. 

That day I picketed Fisher Body No. i. 

But I wasn't alone. I was with five hundred union women. 

And what a huge shivery thrill it was showing those 
thousands of Flint residents lined up on the sidewalks that we 
were 500 strong 500 of us willing to fight anybody in defense 
of our men and homes! 

Then on to the Fisher No. I picket line! Every one of us 
500 brigadiers. 

We made our way carefully through hundreds upon hundreds 
of cars through traffic kept orderly by union volunteer 
traffic cops. No disorder anywhere. 

As we piled out of the cars 7 and 8 out of each our 
boys in the plant cheered and waved. And we felt happy and 

Then with singing and shouting with banners waving we 
joined the picket line. A beautiful, tremendous line. There 
were thousands upon thousands of us! Two lines, two abreast 
in each; patrolling the entire length and side of the north unit. 

To see and hear ten thousand union men and women on 
guard and picket duty to be a part and feel the spirit of 
many thousands, all battling together for a better life, is an 
exciting, overwhelming feeling that probably comes to each 
person but once. 

I thought, "Let General Motors come out to Fisher I and 
look at this picket line 500 women and thousands of men 
and dare deny the strength and numbers of the union." 

Back in the Pengally Building. Stairs, halls, and rooms over- 
flowing with more workers, more union men actively engaged 
in strike duty. 

For the coming of a union seems to workers like the coming of a 


new life. That night in Pengally Hall they talked about this new 
life. Women from many different towns got up and talked about 
the many activities in which they were engaged, what they did 
for their children, of the classes formed, how their committees 
worked, how they made little plays about the episodes of the 

The hall was packed with women, the men standing in a fringe 
at the back. The chairwoman of the meeting had never run a 
meeting before. All of the women were rinding in themselves new 
powers and new strength, and they had found each other. The 
meeting and the parade and the picketing had all happened spon- 
taneously, born of the pressure of events. 

Just as young Roy Reuther was speaking to the women, painting 
a picture of what Flint could be as a union town, not a picture of a 
far-off Utopia, but something within grasp, a union town with 
people free to join their own unions, better conditions and wages, 
and a labor temple where they could have room to hold meetings 
word came that the vigilantes were forming and that they 
might rush the headquarters. 

While the workers were looking at the vision of a new life, vigi- 
lantes were massing to menace their lives. Vigilantes were being 
armed by the Chief of Police over the head of the Sheriff who had 
warned against such procedure. On the day before, A. T. Parsons, 
Michigan head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, was said to 
have been seen in Flint. He had registered at the Durant Hotel 
under one of his many aliases. Vigilante troops were being sent up 
by the city authorities to preserve "law and order." 

This closely paralleled what happened in Akron, Ohio, during 
the Goodyear strike the year before. Then Pearl Bergoff, notorious 
strikebreaker, went to Ohio, exactly at the time that the "Law and 
Order League" was set up there. 

The Flint Alliance now showed its true colors. The former mem- 
bers and instigators of the Flint Alliance became a vigilante mob. 
They were armed in a public building by arms belonging to the 
city of Flint. They made threats that they would "-shoot the streets 


clear" if demonstrations were repeated; that they would "shoot 
out the plants"; that they would "shoot workers down like dogs." 

Word went out to hold the meeting together as long as possible 
as they were less apt to attack with a large meeting going on. 
It was known at strike headquarters that armed vigilantes had 
gathered at various points. 

Late that night the union leaders were asked to consult with 
the authorities, the Colonel of the militia, the Sheriff and the Chief 
of Police. Newspaper men warned the organizers against going; 
they feared that the vigilantes would seize them. It was not 
claimed that an ambush was being prepared, but that the vigilantes 
would use this opportunity of "getting" the union leaders. Time 
passed and the leaders had not returned. Apprehension grew. At 
last they came back. An agreement had been reached between the 
union and the authorities. 

But this agreement was soon broken. City Manager Barringer 
told newspapermen that he had no intention of keeping it. He 
made the statement: "We will go to the plant shooting." 

On Thursday night there was a meeting at the Masonic Temple. 
An old city ordinance was resurrected which had been enacted 
deputizing citizens at a moment during the flood of 1913. Under 
this ordinance citizens could be armed. As many as a thousand were 
put upon the rolls. Chief of Police Wills prophesied, "There will 
be another Herrin massacre in Flint." 

After that for a week tenseness grew daily. Governor Murphy 
exerted all the influence of his office, all his tact to see that no blood 
was shed. Every day increased the fear of violence. When a police 
siren was heard the workers thought, "It has come. They are 
attacking the plant." Whenever a car backfired, people jumped; 
and always, always came the rumors of the vigilantes. Some solu- 
tion had to be found. It was found. General Motors settled with 
the union, on the early morning of January 12. One worker told 
of it this way: 

"The general feeling had been that of soldiers settling into the 
trenches for a long winter. Then at two o'clock at night a telephone 


rang and word went through the building the settlement news. 
Word went through the building, 'It's over, the strike's over!' 

"Others said, * It can't be, 't isn't true, someone's trying to spread 
a rumor to get the boys out of the plants.' 

"But it was true." 

Homer Martin, Wyndham Mortimer, and others of the Executive 
Committee came to Flint next day to read the agreement to the 

What happened that day in Flint was something that no one who 
ever saw it could possibly forget. Never since Armistice Day has 
anything been seen comparable to its intensity. A mighty emotion 
shook the working people of that town. Joy and freedom dominated 
Flint's commonplace streets. 

It was as if Flint had been under a spell for a long time, perhaps 
always. Fear and suspicion had walked through Flint's streets. 
People didn't dare to join unions. They'd get fired, they'd lose their 
jobs. Your next door neighbor might be a spy. No one knew who 
the stool pigeons were. The people who had got used to living that 
way didn't know how maimed they were. 

General Motors had come into Flint and made a city out of a 
crossroads. General Motors had dominated the town. It had ruled 
its political life and it had set its face against unions. Men had 
organized on their peril. Unions were kept out by fear. And now 
that fear was over. No wonder that the people marching in the 
line stretched out their hands to their friends on the sidewalk and 

"You can join now, you can join now, we are free!" 

Freedom to join your own union seems a little thing. But one 
has to live in a town dominated by a great industry to see how far 
off a union can seem and how powerful the industry. 

Now General Motors had bargained with the union officials. 
The long days of suspended violence were over. Here was the antith- 
esis of a mob: the gathering together of people to express a great 
emotion. Such gathering together is at the very basis of civilization. 


It is the intensification of the individual, the raising of his power for 
good to a thousandth degree. 

No one in that crowd remained isolated. People's small personal- 
ities were lost in this great Halleluiah. 

When the men from Fisher No. I had accepted the agreement 
they marched in a parade to the plants at the other end of the town 
which were still guarded by the militia. The barrier of soldiers drew 

The crowd with flags marched cheering into the guarded zone. 

The strikers were coming out of Chevrolet No. 4, flags preceding 
them. There were flags on the steps and flags on the street. Flares 
lighted up the scene. Cheers for Governor Murphy filled the air. 
Strikers' wives were waving to husbands they had not seen for days. 
A woman held up a baby. The procession marched down the street. 
Another roar filled all space. 

The Fisher No. 2 boys marched out. They marched out in 
military formation from the quiet of the empty, waiting plant, 
carrying neat bundles of their things. They became part of the 
crowd that was now bright with confetti. People carried toy bal- 
loons. The whole scene was lit up by the burst of glory of the 
photographers' flares. The big flags punctuated the crowd with 

They shouted to the rhythm of "Freedom, Freedom, Freedom!" 

Chevrolet Avenue was packed from bridge to bridge. People 
swarmed over the murky little Flint River with its new barbed wire 
fences. They came past Chevrolet No. 4 and they came up the 
street past Fisher No. 2. They came, flags at their head, singing. 
They marched from the plants back to union headquarters. The 
streets were lined all the way with cheering people. Men and women 
from the cars and marchers shouted to the groups of other working 
people who lined the streets, "Join the union! We are free!" 

The marchers arrived in front of Pengally Hall. They gathered 
in increasing thousands. The hall itself was jammed. They no 
longer let people into the building. Inside and outside, the loud 


speakers were going. Homer Martin, Wyndham Mortimer, Bob 
Travis and the other strike leaders addressed the roaring crowds. 

The joy of victory tore through Flint. It was more than the joy 
of war ceasing, it was the joy of creation. The workers were creating 
a new life. The wind of Freedom had roared down Flint's streets. 
The strike had ended! The working people of Flint had begun to 
forge a new life out of their historic victory 

VIII. The Chrysler Strike 

GENERAL MOTORS had settled but Chrysler had not. There 
were negotiations in progress but the workers were tired of waiting 
and sat down, this time in Detroit, a stronghold of the open shop. 
Again Governor Murphy had a new set of negotiations on his hands. 
An epidemic of sit-down strikes followed which turned Detroit 
upside down for weeks. 

"Why," a woman cried, "people on the outside don't realize it, 
but Michigan has been having a revolution. Everybody has struck. 
Why it was perfectly awful when that dear Lily Pons was marooned 
on the twelfth floor of her hotel and left without food or drink. 
And not only the hotels, but the department stores! You couldn't 
go on Woodward Avenue and try to buy something without run- 
ning into a sit-down. I tell you it's a revolution. And it's all the fault 
of the President and Governor Murphy. If they hadn't encouraged 
them this would never have happened." 

"What do you think they should have done?" she was asked. 

"They should have turned the machine guns on them in Flint, 
that's what they should have done," she replied, without hesitation. 

This woman was only echoing a part of public opinion when she 
wanted the workers "mowed down." 

Michigan, thanks to Governor Murphy, settled two major strikes 
and countless small ones without bloodshed, yet where well-to-do 
people were gathered together the Governor was criticized. 

The average well-to-do person in Detroit would have found 
slaughter far preferable to what he termed "the flouting of the 
courts" and the "total disregard of the rights of private property." 
The majority of "respectable" people echoed wholeheartedly what 

9 1 


Congressman Hoffmann (Rep.) said on the floor of the House. 
Referring to Michigan he stated that certain events could be settled 
only with bloodshed. 

Just what happened in Detroit to make delicate females so 
bloodthirsty? A statement in The United Auto Worker gave a good 
picture of events: 

By the thousands and tens of thousands the workers began 
to stream into the Union. They began to make known their 
demands to the bosses. 

They said: "We've suffered all these years. We've worked 
for thirty and thirty-five cents an hour. We've worked ten and 
twelve and fourteen hours a day. We've worked under condi- 
tions that were a danger to our health. We've lived in the con- 
stant fear of insecurity, never knowing when the foreman would 
decide he didn't need our services any longer, or perhaps we 
had grown too old and there were younger men to take our 
place! Our families have lived in constant insufficiency. We 
say now that these things must go! We have been waiting a 
long time to see this day. It is here. We are prepared. We have 
just begun to fight!" 

And then the city of Detroit and the whole country wit- 
nessed one of the most amazing spectacles in American history. 
As though they were one man the workers of Detroit got into 
motion not only auto workers either but all workers: 
printers and launderers and hotel employees and electricians 
and Five-and-Ten-cent girls and bakers and waiters and cooks 
and messenger boys and cigar workers all in one mass, 
men and women, Negro and white, all together such an un- 
ending stream, that within a few weeks, the most notorious 
open shop city in the country became the most gloriously 
union-conscious ! 

But this was not all yet. 

This wave of organization wiped the sweatshop out of 
Detroit. In many cases wages were doubled and more than 


doubled for many thousands of workers. Tens of millions of 
extra dollars were made available to the workers of Detroit. 
Conditions of work were immensely improved. Hundreds of 
thousands of men, women, and children benefited. 

The Chrysler sit-down was a shocking blow, but even more 
shocking were the sit-downs of little girls in the Five-and-Ten, and 
of the pleasant obsequious staffs of big hotels. That brought things 
home. That caused the jitters. 

Detroit began to work herself up. It was a golden field day for 
detectives. It is said that Hudson's department store alone em- 
ployed 1,400. They were everywhere, watching workers to prevent 
more sit-downs. Business places were guarded. In defiance of fire 
laws, staircases to office buildings were locked so that no "agitator" 
could sneak in. People turned shivering faces to the morrow. The 
orderly rich world of Detroit was turned upside down. Lily Pons 
had been marooned in the Statler, and Negro help had been seen 
sitting like customers in the Cafe Rouge. To the well-to-do Detroiter 
these were world-shaking occurrences. 

Meantime the strikers had set up their orderly world in the 
Chrysler factories. Starting suddenly and without preparation, 
they developed a whole economy overnight. Kitchens were estab- 
lished. "Chiseling" committees and food-purchasing agencies were 
set up. Transportation bureaus, flying squadron patrols were 
organized. Men and women pickets had their captains and their ap- 
pointed hours for duty. Plant newspapers were developed. Recrea- 
tion and entertainment committees put on shows. 

The ordered flow of the hours began with reveille at an early 
hour. Appointed duties for everyone followed, one after another. 
Within the plants there was the peace of order and stability, which 
gave the impression of a long-established way of life. 

The patrols went their rounds within the barbed wire fence, 
great crates of "ammunition," bolts, hinges, etc., stood at orderly 
intervals. The flying squadrons made their rounds up one lane, 
down another, through the maze of the vast plant; past endless 


barbed wire fences and equally endless picket squads. This super- 
vised picketing went on day and night. The whole thing was as 
streamlined as the automobiles which these men produce. 

Quite different were the accounts of the small strikes in the 
stores. Here girls made merry, shouted and sang, and gave ex- 
amples of dash-arounds rather than sit-downs. 

Well-to-do Detroit supped eagerly from these horrors. Ladies 
met one another in club room, dinner party, store, only to exchange 
tales of frightfulness. 

"We were like children who pretend that firecrackers are German 
guns until they are scared to death," one woman told me. Detroit 
had reached the boiling point when worse happened. 

The police, goaded by public opinion, brutally evicted sit- 
downers from some of the smaller strikes. Strikers, including 
women, were beaten and arrested, and even a woman sitting on her 
own porch was ridden down by a state trooper, in quite the grand 
old Pennsylvania Cossack style. (In 1919 I used to sit in the bay 
window of a County Detective's house in Braddock, and watch 
the Cossacks drive people up their own doorsteps.) 

A roar of indignation went up from the Automobile Workers. 
Homer Martin talked of general strikes if such doings were not 
stopped immediately. He wrote letters to twenty-nine unions to 
stand by. They replied with enthusiasm. A mass meeting of protest 
was called for Tuesday, the twenty-third of March. The County 
Council refused a permit. The Auto Workers said they would hold 
the meeting anyway. The County Council granted the permit. It 
was like the father who said, "Then don't eat your spinach. I will 
be obeyed!" 

It was now that Detroit folks really began to work themselves 
up. Now the worst fears of people were fulfilled. This meeting 
proved that there had been a revolution all the time. Chief of Police 
Pickert telephoned to all the mid-town offices telling them to send 
their office help home early. He hinted riots. His telephone calls 
had a great effect. Public apprehension was puffed up to incredible 


Doomsday came, and with it there came to Cadillac Square, in 
solemn array, all the hundreds of police of Detroit. 

They arranged themselves around in the square, to impress the 
populace with the majesty of the law. Wrecking crews, patrol 
wagons, and motorcycle cops deployed. 

Then came the anti-climax. The workers arrived in tens of 
thousands. They packed Cadillac Square, and overflowed down the 
side streets. It was estimated that there were 150,000. But they 
maintained perfect order. Bursts of song came from them. Now the 
Boss Is Shivering in His Shoes, Parlez-Vous, and again, The Star 
Spangled Banner, followed by Solidarity. 

It was a tremendous protest for civil liberties, but it was as 
orderly as it was great. The hundreds of police were engulfed in the 

They had not been needed, and they vanished, swallowed up by 
the crowd's immensity. The crowd was always in gentle motion, 
adding new groups of workers with their banners flowing through 
the crowd like a river in a sea. Huge slogans moved perpetually 
through the people : G. M. Chrysler Ford Next. Police Clubs 
Are No Way To Negotiate With Workers. You Can Beat Us But 
You Can't Defeat Us. Down With Police Brutality. You Sat On Us 
Long Enough, Now We're Sitting On You. A boo, like the roar of the 
sea reverberated through the square when Police Chief Pickert or 
Mayor Couzen's name was mentioned. 

But the balloon of panic had been exploded. The terror had turned 
out to be no terror at all, but a big crowd of well-behaved citizens. 
So well-behaved that the Detroit Free Press, which had done nothing 
but view with alarm, came out with a congratulatory editorial 
about the U. A. W. A. and their demonstration. And the other 
papers said the much-feared crowd had taken on a carnival attitude. 

Meantime, the strike-settling factory, presided over by Fr. 
Sidenberg in the Book Cadillac Hotel, continued to settle strikes 
with incredible velocity. 

Then at last Governor Murphy brought John L. Lewis and 
Walter P. Chrysler together. After a day of strenuous arguing a 


sudden truce was declared. The manager agreed to move no ma- 
chinery, manufacture, or sell no new cars while negotiations were 
in progress. For this the workers were to evacuate the factories. 

There was the rub. The workers were in no mood to evacuate 
the factories. They were all geared to sit, until the United Auto 
Workers were acknowledged the sole bargaining agency. 

At half past one in the morning in front of the Dodge plant, dark 
figures walked up and down in the picket line, waiting for the ar- 
rival of the union leaders from Lansing. The workers gathered 
around a great glowing fire in a metal barrel. They would have no 
truck with reporters, and would not have their photographs taken 
by the cameramen. In the little restaurant nearby, girls asked the 
young camerman from Life, ''When have you news reporters ever 
taken a decent picture of us?" and discussed among themselves the 
means for prolonging the sit-down. 

A big, blue, special bus drove up the blizzard-swept street, and 
the leaders were passed in one by one, Martin, Frankensteen, 
Germer, and the others, about to begin their twelve-hour speech- 

Finally all six plants agreed, but not until the workers had de- 
cided that they could continue the strike just as well outside as they 
could by sitting inside. 

"We decided to come out because we knew we were strong 
enough to come out," one of the union secretaries said a man 
with a lean, shrewd, fighting face. During the day, between one in 
the morning and six at night, the workers lost their dismay, mapped 
out a new plan of action, got a spiritual second breath, and finally 
left their factories with a triumphant tread. 

They came out of the Chrysler-Jefferson and Chrysler-Kercheval, 
and the other factories. An American flag, with a color guard on 
each side, led the procession. For the great American flag and the 
seventy-five piece band and the blue and gold U. A. W. banner had 
to go from plant to plant as each one of the six came out. In the 
first plant the three now speechless leaders, Homer Martin, Wyhd- 
ham Mortimer, and Richard T. Frankensteen led the workers out, 


but by the time the colors reached Chrysler the leaders had gone 
to a much-needed rest. 

The Emergency Brigade with their green tams and one red tam 
from Flint swept out with the men, and then came the rank and 
file, coat collars up, against the snow-swept street, carrying blankets 
and homely domestic bundles. 

As they went out the big State Police took over the plants, with 
the agreement that no one was to be let in or out until the negotia- 
tions were settled. 

* * * 

Now came the period of the unauthorized strikes which caused 
such a to-do and presented the opportunity for the charge of 
"irresponsible" which labor's enemies have used against it. The 
new outbreak of sit-downs was caused by what a local paper 
euphemistically called, "misunderstandings attendant on the new 
shop steward system." Plants in Pontiac, Cleveland, Flint, and 
other cities were closed. The outcry of the press drowned the state- 
ments of union officials who insisted that "the grievances which 
caused these strikes were of such a nature that they could have 
been settled without any trouble by following the procedure set up 
by the General Motors agreement. It is stated by the management 
that the U. A. W. A. can't control its membership. The union 
charges that General Motors can't control its plant managers." 

In other words Mr. William S. Knudsen may have bargained 
with the union, but John Doe, local plant manager, does not. For 
twenty-five years the plant managers of the big auto plants have 
fought union labor by discharging union members. General Motors 
alone had spent over $800,000 in one year on the spy system to 
keep union labor from the plants. 

On the other hand, the auto workers were young men. They are 
Americans, and they had just terminated a successful strike whose 
bitterness had not yet been blunted by time. 

How large an element of provocators was in these sit-downs, no 
one will ever know. The workers believe, and there is much evidence 
to show, that provocators were a considerable factor in the un- 


authorized sit-downs. The workers refused to call them sit-down 
strikes. They preferred the name " strength demonstration." But 
whether caused by impatience on the one side or by provocators, 
they served the purpose of forming the focal point of attack for the 
anti-union forces. A nationwide movement to combat sit-downs 
was organized by the Executive Committee of the National Auto 
Dealers Association, and religious and civic organizations were 
urged to take part. 

Meanwhile workers in Pontiac poured into the union. 

"Can't sign 'em up fast enough," an old-timer said. "Must have 
signed up 2,000 myself last Sunday. Why, when this strike started 
over in Flint, we didn't have much more than sixty in our local. 
Now it's getting up close to 20,000. Twenty thousand out of about 
27,000 auto workers in Pontiac in all that's pretty good. I tell 
you, this town has been a tough nut, but it's a union town now!" 

Pontiac had been a tough nut to crack. It's another General 
Motors town, made by General Motors, and owned by it body and 
soul. It was one of the strongholds that wiseacres prophesied could 
never be organized. They were wrong. It is going to be organized 
100 per cent. 

Eight hundred workers are said to have joined up at Yellow 
Truck since the stay-in. Hundreds more have joined Fisher Pontiac. 
The unorganized workers were allowed to go home quietly, but 
instead of starting a "back- to- work" movement, or grumbling, 
they didn't stay home. They turned around and went in hundreds 
to the union hall to join up. They did this as spontaneously as the 
workers decided to stay in. There was no coercion and not even any 
urging to get them to join the union. They flowed in as naturally 
as water flows down a hill. 

Meantime Detroit was shocked in its upper brackets by the 
spectacle of Governor Frank Murphy being left sitting without 
dinner in the Book Cadillac Hotel when an unexpected, spontaneous 
sit-down stopped all the service there. Two hours and a half later 
the 350 strikers marched out peaceably in charge of the 400 police 
more than a policeman each sent to the hotel to evict them. 


The Hotel Statler in a hurry hastily shut the Rouge Room and the 
Cocktail Bar, and stopped its elevators at the mezzanine. 

A conference was hurriedly arranged between President William 
S. Knudsen and Homer Martin to adjust the situation. Strikes were 
settled by negotiations with managers and union officials. Great 
demonstrations marked the return of the sit-down strikers. 

Up in Lansing, Governor Murphy, John L. Lewis, the union 
forces, and Chrysler were conferring. Presently the wide and digni- 
fied streets of the state capital echoed with the tramp of several 
thousand union feet, and the tune of Solidarity Forever, played by 
the seventy-five piece union band which the week before led the 
Chrysler workers out of the seven striking Chrysler plants. 

The day before, a handful of Chrysler foremen, less than a hun- 
dred, greeted with cheers the return to Lansing of Walter P. 
Chrysler and turned sour looks on Richard Frankensteen and the 
other union officials returning to resume the interrupted settlement 
conference. The union countered with a demonstration of thou- 
sands, but they gave Chrysler no sour looks and shouted to him in 
friendly fashion. Hundreds had been expected when thousands came. 

In the middle of the morning the cavalcade began arriving from 
Detroit. A huge gay picket line was formed which seemed never to 
end. It led from far down the street four abreast to the stately 
capitol. Good temper and gaiety marked the crowd's spirit. When 
it seemed as if the parade had ended a new delegation arrived with 
honking horns. 

Led by the American flag, escorted by two color guards and 
followed by the gold and purple United Automobile Workers of 
America banner, the demonstration swept onward. First came the 
leaders of the flying squadron in their blue and gold fatigue caps. 
The green berets of the Women's Auxiliary came next. Then the 
thousands of marchers with their quickly improvised banners and 
the small blue and white flying squadron flags. 

The demonstration, which was totally unexpected, was very 
thrilling to John L. Lewis, who is said to have turned to Chrysler, 


"Those are real American workmen, Mr. Chrysler!" 

To which Chrysler responded with feeling: "I know they are." 

The crowd massed itself in front of the state house. In the front 
stood a man and a woman carrying two slogans: Mr. Chrysler, We 
Still Think You're Fair, Prove It! and the other, We Will Go Back 
When We Get Our Rights. Other slogans scattered through the crowd 
were: Three Little Words. Then I Love You. Thou Shalt Not Muzzle 
The Ox That Treadeth Out The Corn. We're With You, Mr. Chrysler, 
If You're With Us. Will Chrysler Lead Again With Human Rights? 

Later the Chrysler workers went six miles to visit the Reo 
strikers and in the afternoon, they re-assembled in front of the state 
house when the principals came out on the balcony for speeches. 
Governor Murphy with John L. Lewis on his right and Walter P. 
Chrysler on his left stood on the balcony looking down on the as- 
sembled Chrysler workers. The Governor their leader, John L. 
Lewis and their employer, Mr. Chrysler. 

The great meeting at the Coliseum addressed by John L. Lewis 
seemed to mark the end of an epoch. The huge auditorium in the 
fair grounds had not a vacant seat. Scarcely a place to stand. 
Thousands were outside held back by the flying squadron. Cheer 
after cheer roared through the great space, as the various locals 
paraded in with their bands: Briggs, with its banner noting that 
they had 22,000 members, all the great Chrysler locals, delegates 
from General Motors locals. Far above, almost at the ceiling, people 
were sitting. One man led the cheering and kept time with the band 
with a flashlight, which cut through the blue dust like a star. 

It was the last demonstration of two weeks of remarkable demon- 
strations by the auto workers. Now this monster meeting came as 
though it were the end of the first phase of the organizational drive 
of the United Automobile Workers of America. 

To the march of hundreds and thousands of feet, the Chrysler 
strike was settled. Reo and Hudson also signed. 

The auto workers were going ahead toward the objective set by 
Martin not to stop until every auto worker is organized. 

And that meant Ford. 

IX. "Ford Next 

AT THAT MEETING of 20,000 workers in the Coliseum at 
Detroit, one looked down into a sea of young faces. The Auto 
Workers Union is a young man's union. These workers are over- 
whelmingly American. The foreign labor which was first employed 
has been largely replaced by workers from the South, from the 
hills of Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. It should be noted that 
these men come from that section of the South which is trying to 
maintain the open shop. They come from the same stock as that 
"docile 100 per cent American labor" which the southern chambers 
of commerce are continually offering as a bait to northern capital. 
The auto workers entered their second phase with a double task 
before them. The first was the education of their new membership. 
How great this task was Homer Martin noted when he said: 

It has been a tremendous task to educate this new member- 
ship in collective bargaining and the ideals of the labor move- 
ment. But it should be remembered that the management 
needed education as much as did the membership in the mean- 
ing of collective bargaining. 

However, we say that the automobile workers as a union 
are suffering from the growing pains that any other vigorous 
labor movement would suffer from. We are not excusing 
ourselves, or our members from participation in unauthorized 
strikes. We let management assume its own responsibility for 
breaking its agreement with us. We stand unequivocally by 
our agreement and say that our unions are going to observe 
their contracts. The Auto Workers Union has taken a position 


against unauthorized strikes as definite and as unequivocable 
as that of the United Mine Workers of America, or as that of 
the International Ladies Garment Workers. 

To curb these turbulent unionists, the auto workers had a young, 
vital, if inexperienced leadership, headed by Homer Martin, whose 
experience as a Baptist minister convinced him that it was no use 
trying to care for people's souls when low wages and bad working 
and living conditions decreed such squalor for them. While Vice- 
president Hall, Secretary-Treasurer Addes, and Richard Franken- 
steen were all young, they had the experienced trade unionists like 
Wyndham Mortimer and soon the pressure of events developed a 
score of able organizers from the industry. 

Nor should the part played by C. I. O. organizers be forgotten. 
Philip Murray and John Brophy helped to outline the auto cam- 
paign in the fall of 1936. Adolf Germer and Powers Hapgood and 
other experienced organizers were assigned to the C. I. O. John 
Brophy's mature advice was used in many crucial moments of the 
strike. During the long gruelling negotiations of both the General 
Motors and Chrysler contracts, John L. Lewis, Lee Pressman, and 
other C. I. O. organizers were never absent. 

While the education was in progress, the great task of storming 
the most impregnable citadel of the employers, that of Henry Ford, 
was also undertaken. Henry Ford is peculiar among the employers. 
With over a billion dollars he has no minority stockholders to chal- 
lenge him. No employer of labor is as independent of public opinion 
as is Henry Ford. He employs a quarter of a million men and 
his holdings are scattered from lumber tracts in the north to rubber 
principalities in Brazil. He has factories in every civilized country 
in the world and it is to be noted that those in Europe are, of course, 
organized. Whole communities are dependent on his whims. No 
oriental despot has greater power. 

The heart of the Ford organization is the River Rouge plant, 
said to be the largest industrial unit in the world. Employing over 
80,000 men it covers 7,250,000 square feet. The products of the 


River Rouge plants are shipped to assembly plants all over the 
country. The River Rouge plant is like a bastile. Ford is as in- 
dependent of detective agencies and strikebreaking organizations, 
as he is of banks. He has his own strong-arm men known as "service 
men." It is over this thrice-guarded industrial fortress that the 
United Auto Workers sent an airplane in the early days of the Ford 
drive. They could speak to the men whom they could not get to 
meetings. For a few days the shining airplane circled above the 
River Rouge plant and it carried to every Ford worker who saw it 
the message "Organize." 

For Henry Ford had set himself to buck the National Labor 
Relations Act. He stated uncontradicted, "We will never recognize 
the United Auto Workers Union or any other union. Labor union 
organizations are the worst thing that ever struck the earth because 
they take away a man's independence." His reason for hating labor 
unions is unique among employers. He believes them to be fostered 
by the bankers for the enslavement of workers. Unique in the 
conduct of his business, he is unique in his reason for his antagonism 
to labor unions. It was this great industrial domain that the United 
Auto Workers set out to conquer. 

Already they had been nibbling at the fringes. There had been 
strikes in Ford plants in St. Louis, Kansas City, and in Richmond, 
California and some organization in Chicago, and agreements 
had been signed with the locals though not with the international 
union. This hairsplitting enabled Ford to say that he had never 
recognized the union. On May 26 occurred the now famous "Battle 
of the Overpass," involving Ford in a struggle with the National 
Labor Relations Board which will probably not be settled this side 
of the Supreme Court. 

For days it had been known that the union intended to distribute 
literature at the Dearborn plant gates. A Detroit Times photog- 
rapher, who visited the River Rouge plants two days before the 
trouble, testified before the National Labor Relations Board that 
he saw the service men waiting around and that they admitted to 
him that a lookout had been kept for a couple of weeks for Franken- 


steen and for Reuther, then the principal organizers in the Ford 
campaign. Not only were the Ford service men congregated here 
but there were Detroit prize fighters with taped knuckles, and other 
tough characters, some having long police records, waiting as a 
reception committee for the union men. Commenting on this the 
Board's decision states: 

. . . the careful preparations made for weeks in advance by 
the respondent to prevent any attempt of the U. A. W. to 
distribute literature at the plant; the great increase in size of 
its service department; the presence at the scene of profes- 
sional fighters and of individuals with known criminal records 
employed by the respondent; the experienced professional 
manner in which the attacks were carried out and the brutality 
with which they were marked; the playing of the most promi- 
nent parts in the riot by members of the service department 
and not by production workers; the payment by the respondent 
of the men who conducted the attacks; and the direct participa- 
tion by Everett Moore, head of the service department all 
lead inescapably to the conclusion that the assaults upon union 
men and women that occurred on May 26 were part of a care- 
fully designed plan on the part of the respondent to prevent the 
distribution of union literature by the U. A. W. in the vicinity 
of the River Rouge plant. 

The automobile workers had a permit from the city of Dearborn 
to distribute handbills. Reporters and news photographers were on 
hand, the same news photographers who had their cameras broken 
and who were chased from the scene. The union men went to the 
overpass across Miller Road at Gate Four. The service men 
shouted to them: "This is Ford property. Get the hell off of here!" 
They had gone only two steps when the union leaders, Walter R. 
Reuther and Richard T. Frankensteen, were attacked. 

Let the Reverend Raymond P. Sanford, a Chicago minister who 
is representing the Conference for the Protection of Civil Rights, 
tell what happened to Frankensteen: 

"FORD NEXT" 105 

"... A separate individual grabbed him by each foot and by 
each hand and his legs were spread apart and his body was twisted 
over toward the east, over to my left, and then other men pro- 
ceeded to kick him in the crotch and groin and left kidney and 
around the head, and also to gore him with their heels in the ab- 
domen, or the general range of his solar plexus." 

Another group of service men attacked a group of union women 
getting off a street car, twisted their arms and called them vile 
names. Reverend Sanford's account is as follows: 

"... The girls were at a loss to know, apparently, what to do, 
and then one girl near me was kicked in the stomach, and vomited 
at my feet, right at the end of the steps there, and I finally shot an 
imploring glance at one of the mounted policemen, to whom I had 
previously spoken, and he dashed over on horseback to the west 
side of the fence, and in a rather pleading tone, sort of * for God's 
sake' tone in his voice, seemed to direct his remarks to this well- 
dressed gentleman in brown, and said, 'You mustn't hurt those 
women; you mustn't hurt those women'; and I was attracted to the 
manner in which he spoke, because he seemed to speak as one not 
having authority in the situation and seemed to be pleading, rather, 
not to injure the women." 

The 22,000 word report of the National Labor Relations Board 
goes on recording what happened at the various gates. William 
Merriweather, one of the volunteers, was knocked down while the 
service men shouted, " Kill him, kick his brains out, stomp his face 
in!" Merriweather's back was broken and doctors testify that his 
injuries may prove permanent. Alvin Stickle, another U. A. W. 
member, was dragged into the plant office and there was severely 
beaten while Everett Moore, head of the Ford service department, 
watched. Many photographers had their films taken from them. 
Tony Marinovich had a severe concussion of the brain. The record 
goes on a fairly unique act of planned brutality. 

Ford has now been ordered by the National Labor Relations 
Board to "cease and desist" from 


(a) discouraging membership in the National Union of United 
Auto Workers of America; 

(b) dominating or interfering with the formation or administra- 
tion of Ford Brotherhood of America, Inc.; 

(c) organizing or maintaining, supporting or assisting vigilante 
or similar groups; or using its service department for intimidating 
its employees from joining the United Auto Workers Association; 

(d) threatening, assaulting, beating, or preventing any labor 
organization from distributing literature; 

(e) circulating or distributing literature of their own criticizing 
labor unions; 

(f) interfering or coercing employees in their rights to organize, 
to bargain collectively. 

He is also ordered to reinstate twenty-nine discharged men; to 
make up lost pay and to post notices throughout the Dearborn 
plants that he will cease and desist. 

Ford intends to fight this order. The outcome of this conflict with 
the National Labor Relations Board is one of the most important 
in labor's battle. It affects not only the Ford campaign, but all the 
other victories that the auto workers have had up to this time. 

Since the battle of the overpass the Ford campaign has gone on, 
although there have been many criticisms that it lacked the vigor 
of the earlier campaigns. It is impossible to tell how much under- 
ground work has been accomplished. The organized Ford workers 
are much like the boys in Flint, and they have one idea in mind 
which is to organize their fellow workers. Those who say that Ford 
will never be organized do not know the caliber of the boys who 
have already come into the union. They realize that the two pay 
raises they received since the union started its drive have not come 
from the good in Henry Ford's heart. A steady expose has been 
going on in the Auto Worker^ puncturing many of the fables told 
about Ford, among them that he pays higher wages than anyone. 
The discontent of the Ford workers wells over into the letters 
printed in the Auto Worker , of which the following is a sample: 


Dear Editor: Well, boys, here's that man again and this time 
I believe we have something here. I had said that I was going 
to retire from these journalistic outbursts but things keep 
getting right critical on the job and so this old eye-opener had 
to get back in the line. 

At this writing I have to report to you a brutality so offensive 
that even the witnesses at the affair will hate to admit having 
seen it. 

I am presenting a religious heathen from the department 
M*JI iX, in the personage of a man named Waite. He is a dea- 
con in one of the largest churches in the city, where every 
Sunday you can hear him shouting the praises of the Almighty 
and during the week he returns to the factory in the capacity 
of boss in MynX and raises hell with his men and allows his 
temper to run away with him to the extent that at times he has 
been seen to snatch his hat from his head and stomp it to pieces 
in anger. 

Last Friday morning, Sept. 24, this man Waite became angry 
with one of his Polish workers and grabbed him and kicked him 
unmercifully. The worker that he kicked is a man with a large 
family and consequently defenseless, so Waite thought, inas- 
much as he would be afraid to squawk on account of losing his 

Imagine, fellows, having to take such kicks and afraid to say 
anything about it in order to provide bread and butter for your 
family, while a dirty, bullying scoundrel like Waite stands over 
you and utters oaths never heard of before and goes behind 
your back and laughs to his Canadian and Scotch friends about 
his racial prejudices. 

While he runs around and does all his bullying, another rat 
named Erickson does all his work for him. W r aite swaggers 
through the department and blows off about how he would like 
to tar and feather a few fellows. When we hear remarks like 
this we wonder if certain members of the Black Legion aren't 
still running loose in MynX. 


Where were the officials of the Ford Motor Company when 
this brutality took place? Certain officials can be on hand to 
spy on fellows when they come from the lavatory, but when one 
of the bosses kicks a man unmercifully no one in authority is to 
be seen. 

In time it will be a place where mothers and wives won't feel 
safe to send their sons and husbands to work unless they send 
them heavily armed on account of these heathens who call 
themselves DEACONS and BOSSES and go around quoting the 
scripture while they take advantage of men who need their 
bread and butter. 


So the Ford drive goes on. The members in the River Rouge 
plants are no paper membership but pay their dues and are part of 
the union activity of Detroit. Faced with a depression and layoffs 
the auto workers have nevertheless voted to accumulate a half 
million dollar war chest for the purpose of organizing Ford. Each 
employed member is assessed one dollar a month and the twenty- 
four Executive Board members and the hundred or more organizers 
are to make voluntary contributions of 10 per cent of their salaries. 

No union of the C. I. O. has been so discussed, so criticized, so 
much in the public eye as has that of the young, turbulent Auto 
Workers. It has been disrupted by tragic factional disputes, which 
it is hoped the depression and the need of organizing the common 
enemy Ford will do much to liquidate. Chief among the disputes 
has been that between the Progressive (administration) and the 
Unity (opposition) groups. It is a complicated affair based on 
fundamental differences of opinion over union policy such as must 
almost inevitably arise in any large democratic organization. 

It is not the purpose of this book to try to untangle the rights and 
wrongs of this complex dispute. But attempts such as some writers 
have made to identify the Unity group as a communist group are 
entirely without justification. They are as absurdly disingenuous as 

"FORD NEXT" 109 

those of the Republicans when they label the New Deal "com- 


The Unity faction includes the Reuther brothers, who are So- 
cialists, and many other experienced organizers and union officials 
who belong to no left-wing party. Among them are organizers, 
union leaders, and rank and file members in great numbers who 
showed their metal during the great sit-down strikes. Their leader- 
ship showed ability, courage, and inventiveness unique in the his- 
tory of unionism qualities which brought victory in one of la- 
bor's decisive battles. Whatever the merits or demerits of the 
Unity-Progressive conflict, Mr. Martin's well-wishers can only 
regret that he should have joined labor's enemies in the red hunt. 
To call everyone a red or a communist who differs from the admin- 
istration in policy surely hurts the U. A. W. A. and the C. I. O. 
It plays directly into the hands of its enemies and ranges the ac- 
cuser on the side of the Girdlers and the bureaucracy of the A. F. 
of L. When Mr. Martin placed the blame of the unauthorized 
strikes where it belonged on the provocative attitude of manage- 
ment and the inexperience and youth of the union membership 
his position was far stronger than when he echoed the enemy war 
cry of "Red! Red!" 

This no union leader can afford to do. The red hunt was the 
weapon of the employer long before the Communist Party was 
formed. From the moment that factory workers tried to better 
their conditions by organizing, the employers have used the witch 
hunt with its battle cry of "Red!" to prejudice the community 
against the workers. 

The spectacular developments of the sit-down strike and the 
unauthorized strikes have filled the public mind so that the con- 
structive aspects of the union have been overshadowed. One of the 
best aspects of the United Auto Workers is the fine work which they 
have done among the Negro workers. Negro workers are organized 
throughout the industry but in the Ford foundries, where Negro 
workers are said to die like flies from the speed-up and the heat, 
they are organized strongly into Local 281 of the U. A. W. A. 


They led the way in the Women's Auxiliaries. They were the first 
union to install a department for industrial diseases, now abandoned 
temporarily during the depression. They pioneered again in buying 
and distributing cheaply 200,000 copies of The Flivver King by 
Upton Sinclair. Out of every dollar five cents goes for education and 
4,000 auto workers attend classes a beginning anyway. 

Against the failure in the political field must be set the fact that 
it is partly due to the auto workers that so fine a spirit of coopera- 
tion prevails between the industrial workers of Michigan and the 

It is impossible to estimate what a change the U. A. W. A. has 
caused in the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of workers and 
in whole communities. With its many mistakes of youth which its 
great achievements overbalance, it remains the most vital and 
interesting of the new unions. 

X. Steel Signs Up 

SHORTLY AFTER the great auto victories of General Motors, the 
unbelievable happened. On March 2, U. S. Steel bargained with the 
Amalgamated Iron, Steel and Tin Workers. The signing of an agree- 
ment came with dramatic suddenness. It is said that even the presi- 
dent of U. S. Steel, Benjamin Fairless, learned about the pending 
agreement between John Lewis and Myron Taylor only the day 
before. It came not only as a surprise but as a betrayal to the heads 
of the big independents in steel, the irreconcilable enemies of union 
labor: Bethlehem, National, and Republic Steel. 

This change of heart that came to U. S. Steel has already entered 
the realm of legend. There are stories that Mr. Taylor retired for a 
whole summer's meditation to his villa in Florence and his medita- 
tion was rewarded by the Holy Ghost of Reason that descended 
upon him in a ten-word formula which took all summer to polish. 

There are stories that Mr. Lewis and Mr. Taylor met socially, 
by chance, and that from this meeting grew the formula, and that 
Mr. Taylor convinced the great partners of Morgan of the right- 
eousness of his new point of view. Others stress the point that Mr. 
Lewis went to England last summer with the express purpose of 
seeing Mr. Taylor. It is certain that John Lewis and Myron Taylor 
had prolonged and secret conferences. 

The most plausible explanation is that business reasons influ- 
enced the house of Morgan, which in turn governs the finances of 
steel. Mr. Walter Runciman, head of the British Trade Commis- 
sion, paid a brief visit to America. He was looking over the ground 
to place large orders for building up the British naval program, 
especially for armor plate. He learned with amazement, it is said, 



of the anti-labor policies of the big mass industries, especially of 
steel. He was supposed to have asked how Britain could place 
large orders when they could not be assured of continuous produc- 
tion, and far from being assured of continuous production, an 
emerging labor movement in steel, represented by the Steel Workers 
Organizing Committee, made a major conflict inevitable unless 
there was a union with which to bargain. He pointed out that for 
years England had bargained with its labor with satisfactory re- 

Moreover, unless labor conditions were such that they could 
comply with the Walsh-Healy Act, it would be impossible to bid 
for our own naval construction. 

The lesson of General Motors loomed large. A whole winter's 
business had been lost by them and in the end they had settled. 
Thomas Lamont, Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., the Morgan chairman 
of the finance committee of U. S. Steel, and Junius Morgan became 
convinced that it was time for U. S. Steel to change the labor 
policies which had clogged any advance since the crushing of the 
old Amalgamated two generations ago. 

It is said that the bankers computed how much such a strike 
would cost, how much spies and police were costing and balanced 
this against the wage increase organization would bring. It was 
cheaper to sign an agreement with the Steel Workers Organizing 

Kept secret so that it might make its dramatic impact, it mightily 
disconcerted the independents. Myron Taylor has received the 
blame and the praise. Its contract has been a pattern for the hun- 
dreds of others since signed. The corporation agreed: 

(1) to recognize the Steel Workers Organizing Committee or 
its successors as the collective bargaining agency for its mem- 

(2) to refrain from any discrimination against the union or its 

(3) to raise the minimum daily wage on March 16 to $5.00 and 


reduce weekly hours to five eight-hour days, with time-and-a- 
half for overtime. 

The S. W. O. C. agreed: 

(1) not to intimidate or coerce workers into membership, and 

(2) in case of disputes to rely on negotiations and, if necessary, 
arbitration rather than an interruption of work. 

Immediately after the signing, membership increased as never 
before. An accurate count showed a gain of 35,000 in the first 
two weeks. 

The Supreme Court decision, April 12, finding the Wagner Labor 
Relations Act constitutional, climaxed the series of successes of the 
C. I. O. It meant the reinstatement of the Jones & Laughlin em- 
ployees fired for union activities, among other things. 

On that day the offices of the S. W. O. C. were in a turmoil. It 
was practically impossible to see any of the officials. They were all 
"negotiating." The Jones & Laughlin employees sat around the 
offices. News came that the Hubbard strike was settled. Organizers 
had come up from different sections of the steel empire. The alumi- 
num workers in New Kensington were holding a convention, voting 
to affiliate themselves with the C. I. O. 

With the favorable Supreme Court decision, with Union agree- 
ments signed by steel and the automobile industries, the whole 
status of labor in the United States changed. 

Negotiations were in progress with most of the important inde- 
pendent companies, such as Jones & Laughlin, Youngstown Sheet 
and Tube, Wheeling Steel, Crucible Steel, International Nickel 
Company of Huntington, West Virginia, Timken Roller Bearing 
Company, Canton, Ohio, and Bethlehem Steel. From all sides 
workers who had no relation to the steel industry were asking the 
S. W. O. C. to organize them. The Armstrong Cork Company was 
merely an instance of dozens of other similar incidents: A com- 
mittee of five men came asking to be taken into the steel organiza- 
tion. There were twelve hundred workers, about half of them 


girls. John Brophy was uncertain under what formula they could 
come into the organization. 

Finally, they were given a petition to sign, asking for member- 
ship in the C. I. O. In a short time they came back with all but fifty 
of their shop signed up, and temporary officers were elected. The 
thirty members of the company union unanimously resigned. 
They signed a contract identical to that of U. S. Steel, with a more 
liberal vacation for workers. The men receive ten cents and the 
girls seven cents more an hour. 

The employers, too, were asking the S. W. O. C. to straighten out 
their labor difficulties. 

While I talked to Clinton Golden, regional director of the Steel 
Workers Organizing Committee, a visitor was announced. "This 
man represents another type of thing that has happened to us. 
This man has had labor trouble. He has no relation to the steel 
industry, but a friend of his who has recently signed a contract 
after a strike, advised him to come to us to make an agreement with 
his workers so here he is." 

It was a different world than that of the S. W. O. C. meeting the 
previous November. The relations of the employers and workers 
had passed through a revolution, and what the C. I. O. as per- 
sonified in steel was striving for, was the power of stability. They 
were going ahead quickly, and quietly, without fireworks, building 
a solid union responsible for its agreements. It was the era of nego- 
tiating and solidifying the gains of the S. W. O. C. and making its 
reputation that of a responsible and respected organization. 

I made way for the employer who had come to have his labor 
trouble straightened out. Outside I ran into Albert Atallah. I had 
seen him last in Aliquippa, in the days when holding a meeting at 
all in the town was a victory. 

It was a year ago that Atallah went to Washington with a delega- 
tion of workers to talk with John Lewis and the C. I. O. about or- 
ganizing steel from the point of view of the rank and file. Atallah 
walked around like a man in a dream. He had seen the dark valleys 
open up. Now, he was organizing in the Kiski Valley. Here were the 


non-union towns of Vandergrift, Apollo, Ovenmore, Leechburg, and 
Hyde Park. He told the story of Apollo Steel 90 per cent organized 
- West Leechburg Allegheny Steel 95 per cent organized Hyde 
Park Foundry, solid 80 per cent. 

"And only a little while ago they were firing men like these 
because they dared to talk of a union." Atallah waved his hand 
around the room, where the Jones & Laughlin employees were 

I went up to New Kensington where the aluminum convention 
was being held. I passed the unbelievable, fantastic landscape of the 
steel towns houses clinging by an eyelash to steep hillsides, spans 
of vast bridges, row upon row of giant smokestacks. There is no 
other landscape like it. 

This is the Allegheny Valley, known as the Black Valley. Up 
here in Breckenbridge, Fannie Sellins was murdered in 1919. Near 
here the coal miners, protesting against the execution of Sacco and 
Vanzetti, were beaten and fired on. All union labor was crushed in 
the Black Valley for a generation. Only the miners kept the union 
flag flying. Now the Black Valley is black no longer. Not only is 
steel organized, but glass and aluminum. The Valley buzzed with 
union activity of every kind. There were thirty-one delegates from 
a half dozen states, the new union claimed 12,000 members, 6,200 
of whom are in the strong local of New Kensington, which has been 
chosen for headquarters. 

How much a union was needed by aluminum workers, one can 
learn from Mary Pele, the Financial Secretary of the Organization. 
She worked for seven years in the plant in various capacities and 
when she was fired she was making eighteen cents an hour. This 
was in 1933. She joined the union when the N. R. A. came in and 
got fired two days later but not before she had organized her de- 
partment 100 per cent. Under the N. R. A. the girls got twenty-five 
cents minimum but now they get forty-nine cents an hour and an 
hourly bonus, while the men get sixty-three cents. 

"And have the working conditions changed? Why, if you went to 
get a drink the Boss would strangle you at the fountain and if you 


dared to go to the toilet, he would have the nerve to come and yank 
you out." The union has changed all that. The new Aluminum 
Union is going into an intensive drive for all the aluminum workers, 
who number between 50,000 and 60,000. 

I rode back with John Brophy from West Kensington. 

"More has been done in this last year to change the long history 
of this Valley than in all the time before," he said. 

As we got into Pittsburgh, newspaper headlines three inches high 
were announcing, 


In steel the success in obtaining contracts peacefully continued 
without strikes of any importance until 189 contracts had been 
signed. Then in May, Jones & Laughlin balked at signing a con- 
tract they had long been negotiating and the workers struck. The 
strike lasted only thirty-six hours. 

Victory came as a surprise. Aliquippa steel workers were geared 
for a long bitter struggle. Persons entering buses and other vehicles 
were scrutinized by groups of pickets watching for strikebreakers. 
Two roads meet at an angle to form the road leading to the under- 
cut in the walls known as the Y. The stage here was set as for a 
drama. White-badged picket captains held back thousands of 
pickets massed in the front entrance of the plant. Two American 
flags stood sentinel. Both sides of the street were lined with a tense 
packed crowd. For blocks state troopers were the only visible police. 

"The city police have been hiding since they gassed us," a woman 

Suddenly a white paper like a flag of truce fluttered above the 

It was Timko, the organizer, holding the signed agreement high 
above his head. That fluttering bit of white paper meant victory to 
25,000 workers. It meant more. It meant that a break had been 
made in the wall of independent steel corporations opposing steel 


"I can't believe it's over," one girl said. "They were tear gassing 
us last night." 

"Yes, last night Turner's vigilantes was bragging they was goin' 
to shoot us out." 

H. T. Turner heads the vigilante company union of two hundred. 

"Last night Sheriff Kennedy was arming seventy-five deputies 
when the Governor sent in the state troopers. Now it's over. We've 

"A victory has been won! Jones & Laughlin has signed an agree- 
ment with the Steel Workers Organizing Committee. The strike is 
officially declared over," Joe Timko's voice blared out to the tense 
waiting crowd gathered in front of the Y of Aliquippa. 

A great cheer from a thousand throats rang out. 

"Go to your homes. Hold yourselves ready to work. Everybody 
join the union!" he said, but the workers wouldn't disperse. They 
stayed by the Y. They paraded through town. On May 20 in the 
government-controlled election they voted two to one for the 

s. w. o. c. 

XI. Violence The Chicago Massacre 

THE WORKERS had won at Jones & Laughlin, but there was 
trouble ahead. What Philip Murray called an "unholy alliance" 
had been formed by the Independents of Little Steel. Youngstown 
Sheet and Tube, which had been negotiating for a long time, now 
joined Inland Steel, and Republic, in saying it would make a verbal 
agreement but would sign no contract. 

Meantime, Republic fired seventy-five workers, and closed the 
plant in Massillon where organization was strong. The S. W. O. C. 
charged unfair labor practices and appealed to the N. L. R. B. In 
May, the S. W. O. C. organizers met in Pittsburgh and voted to 
leave a strike call to the discretion of Philip Murray. In Massillon 
the workers took a strike vote without waiting to hear from Pitts- 
burgh. There was considerable strike pressure in Youngstown. On 
May 26, the strike with Little Steel was called. It was spread 
through seven states and a dozen cities and involved 83,000 men. 
On May 30, the Chicago massacre occurred. 

To the majority of employers, Tom Girdler of Republic Steel is 
a hero. He defied the Steel Workers Organizing Committee. He 
defied the National Labor Relations Act. Because of this eighteen 
men are dead. Let us first look at the way in which they died. Ten 
were shot to death at the Memorial Day Massacre in front of the 
Republic Mills in Chicago. 

Let the dead walk before you, and acquaint yourselves with their 
names. There is Earl Handley, dead of hemorrhage because his 
wounds were not treated. Workers got him into a car and the police 
dragged him out and he bled to death. 

Otis Jones had his spinal cord severed by a bullet in the back. 



Kenneth Reed bled to death in a patrol wagon. A bullet had 
sliced through his back and into his abdomen. 

Joe Rothmund was shot far down in his back. It was over the case 
of Joe Rothmund that Officer Higgins perjured himself before the 
La Follette Committee. On the stand Higgins said that Officer 
Oakes, lying down with Rothmund's knee about to hit him, shot 
in self-defense. He had testified differently before the investigators 
in Chicago, as they showed when they were brought to the stand. 
And the inquest proved that Rothmund was shot from a distance 
shot in the back. 

But perjury is common in the high Senate Caucus room. Perjury 
is the fabric of the officers' defense. Go on with the roll call of the 

Lee Tisdale died of blood poisoning from a wound. 

Anthony Tagliori also died from a bullet in the back. 

Hilding Anderson died of peritonitis. 

Alfred Causey was shot four times and he died. 

Leon Francesco was another who was shot in the back. 

Sam Popovitch was not shot but his skull was battered to pieces 
by police clubs as he ran, an old man, bald, trying in vain to 
shield himself. The police ran after him and they beat him when he 
was down. You can see him in the Paramount film for yourself, a 
little scared old figure flying from the flailing clubs. 

But these folks are not all the dead. There are others to be added 
to this procession of workers with their mashed heads, dead of blood 
poisoning, dead of wounds in the back, dead of peritonitis. 

George Bogavitch of Youngstown belongs with these Chicago 

James Eperjessi, also of Youngstown, was killed there by depu- 
ties on Saturday night, June 19. 

George Mike belongs with this long list of dead. He was a world 
war veteran, so wounded and gassed in the war that he was unable 
to work. He was selling tickets in front of the mill for a C. I. O. 
dance, and his skull was mashed by a long distance gas cartridge 
fired by another ex-service man. He was not even a striker. He had 


come from Aliquippa to Beaver Falls to sell tickets for a social 

Chris Lopez, beaten to death, was said to have died of heart 

Fulgencio Calzada of Massillon was shot in the back of the head 
on the night of July n, when the deputies fired into a crowd. 

Nick Vadios was shot through the abdomen and mortally 
wounded by these deputies. 

A man in Cleveland was killed on the picket line when the troops 
tried to open the mills. 

Seventeen are dead and ten more are seriously wounded. The 
number of minor wounds in the steel area goes far above one hun- 
dred and fifty. These are the treated hospital cases. The record of 
the smaller wounds, the gassings, will never be known. 

Witnesses have come to Washington to the La Follette Civil 
Liberties Committee to tell how all this happened and how these 
men were wounded in the Memorial Day massacre. There are 
workers, a doctor, a minister, a lawyer, a social worker. Irrefutable 
evidence of an unprovoked slaughter. We can reconstruct what 
happened that Memorial Day Sunday from these numerous wit- 

The right of peaceful picketing had been denied the workers. 
The reduced picket line had been driven far behind the railway 
track. Attempts to picket had been broken up by the police. 

The strike began on the 26th; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 
the picket lines were driven away by the police. There were club- 
bings and arrests. On Sunday, May 30, the workers assembled at 
"Sam's Place." The big map of the La Follette Civil Liberties 
Committee showed Sam's Place far off from the mills, separated by 
a waste field and a railway track. At Sam's place the meeting was 
peaceful. Various disinterested spectators testified that the people 
had come with their families as to a celebration. The women were 
dressed in their Sunday clothes. Fathers and mothers brought their 

Leo Krzycki, a well-known organizer for the Amalgamated 


Clothing Workers was one of the principal speakers. He joked with 
the crowd. A statement from the Mayor affirming the workers' 
rights for peaceful picketing was read. Some of the women sang. A 
vote was taken that the meeting should then proceed across the 
fields and picket the Republic Mill for the purpose of affirming the 
workers' rights to picket in accordance with the Mayor's decision. 

The audience started out strolling rather than marching, by 
groups of twos and threes, groups of women marching together, 
women who laughed and chatted and talked among themselves, as 
Mrs. Lupe Marshall, the social worker from Hull House, testified. 

Probably no group of people ever strolled more casually toward 
death and wounds. Some of the strikers deployed across the fields, 
apparently to see what was happening. There is a story of a man's 
carrying a branch of a tree. Mrs. Lupe Marshall says that she 
heard someone cry sharply to a worker who picked up a stone, 
"Drop that, we don't want any of that." There were no guns. The 
crowd did not even carry clubs. The police, on the other hand, were 
armed with revolvers, clubs, and tear gas as well as with hatchet 
handles such as the mill guards carry and which were furnished by 
the mills. 

The testimony showed that the police had been eating in the 
mills and a platoon of fifty policemen was seen walking out of the 
mills that morning. The testimony goes to show that this was a 
planned attack; that the police came out with the intention of 
shooting down the workers and then arresting them wholesale. 
The police had planned to make this peaceful picket line seem like 
a Red plot to capture the mills. The brave policemen were to have 
warded off the revolution. But their plan failed. There were too 
many witnesses and too many cameramen. 

So the two groups met: the unarmed workers with their two 
American flags leading them, and the police ready and waiting for 
the attack. In the Paramount Newsreel which was shown in the 
high Senate Caucus room you could see the leader of the strikers in 
the picture arguing peacefully with the police. He is earnest, em- 
phatic, unthreatening. The testimony is that they asked for their 


rights of peaceful picketing; they begged the police to let them 
through; that the Mayor had said they had a right to picket. The 
police testified that they used insulting language and they cried 
out that they wanted to occupy the factory and that they shot to 
prevent greater bloodshed in the factory. It is strange that the 
police defense was so overdone and stupid and that their lawyers 
should not have advised them better, considering that every steel 
worker and every thoughtful person in America knows that occupy- 
ing the factory was not in any worker's mind. Another officer 
added a touch of the grotesque to the macabre testimony. 

"They came along smoking cigarettes like they were doped. I 
supposed they were smoking marijuana. They seemed to be chant- 
ing a long, monotonous chant which seemed to go *C. I. O., 
C. I.O.'" 

"Is that what smoking marijuana does to one?" Senator La 
Follette asked with sarcasm. 

The pickets argued with the police. 

Suddenly there were shots. Some stones flew through the air. In 
a moment a heap of people were piled up within a few feet of the 
police line. This happened so quickly that you could hardly believe 
your own eyes, but there are stills that also tell the story, and some 
of these are worse than the Paramount film. There is a terrible 
picture of Mrs. Lupe Marshall with her hand slightly outstretched, 
as in a gesture, talking to a policeman (who, she records, called her 
a foul name), and as she talks, unconscious of what has happened, 
behind her is a piled heap of the wounded. There is another picture: 
Lupe Marshall has turned and sees the wounded. In another pic- 
ture, she bends over them, and in this scene there is a frightful 
picture of a policeman with his club raised up for a shattering blow. 
The stills proceed. Now the workers are in full flight, hands up- 
raised. They face the murderous gunfire, the flailing clubs, the 
clouds of gas. But for sheer horror, the testimony of the bystanders 
of what happened on the way to the hospital, of what happened at 
the hospital, was more terrible. 

The story of Mrs. Lupe Marshall is a shocking record. She is a 


social worker, and the mother of three children, 15, 8, and 4. She is 
also a distinguished linguist and was helping put on a play at Hull 
House that very night. She did not put it on because she was 

Tiny Mrs. Marshall weighs ninety-two pounds and is four feet, 
eleven inches high. You can see her being beaten and see that she 
has her head broken open by a club. You can see her in the photo- 
graphs and the Paramount film trying to minister to fallen workers 
and you can see a policeman twice her size, towering over her and 
twisting her around viciously as he arrests her and shoves her into 
the patrol wagon. 

Piled on top of each other in this patrol wagon were sixteen dying 
and seriously wounded. They lay every which way, on top of each 
other. They couldn't stand, they couldn't sit, they were falling 
over each other. The blood dripped upon the floor of the wagon. 

Lupe Marshall tried to help them. She tried to lift them off each 
other and straighten out their wounded arms and legs. She pillowed 
one man's bloody head in her lap. He made a gesture that he wanted 
to smoke. She searched in his pockets to try to find his cigarettes 
but they were soaked in blood. Then he said. 

"Never mind, you're a good kid," then he shivered, straightened 
out and died with his head in her lap. 

They bounced, rattling, through Chicago streets. She did not 
know where they went. They seemed to go from place to place. 
The men were groaning and blood was oozing around her and the 
dead man lay with his head in her lap. Then at last they got to the 

What happened in the hospital was almost worse than all the 
rest. The hospital was overwhelmed with the dead and the wounded! 
There were calls outside for volunteers to help the doctors but the 
police tried to keep the volunteers from helping. 

There was a little wounded boy and Lupe tried to help the doctor 
with him, but the police drove her away. She came back and the 
police drove her away again. When at last her turn came to have 
her wounded head dressed she felt very sick from the beating and 


the gas and the sights she had seen. The nurses wheeled her ten- 
derly upstairs in a wheel chair. She went in the toilet and a police- 
man followed her there. He grabbed her, saying, "I guess you can 
walk all right," and dragged her down the stairs into the patrol 
wagon, to the jail. There they searched her. "What's that in her 

"Communist literature, of course," replied the matron. The 
"Communist literature" was a handbill with an announcement of 
a meeting and an advertisement of a post-office auction sale. But 
every one of the scores arrested that day was booked as a Com- 

This stroll across the fields from Sam's place had to be made into 
a dark Red plot paid for by "Moscow Gold." 

Harry N. Harper, the blinded man, was booked as a Com- 
munist. Groping, he had been led in and out of the meetings by his 
young and pretty wife. Perhaps his testimony was the most horrify- 
ing. His voice came out hollow and deep as though he himself had 
retreated far into the shadows. He told his story slowly, as though 
each word cost him a painful effort. From time to time Senator La 
Follette helped him with suggestions. 

Harper was a steel worker, a boilermaker and welder employed by 
Interlake Iron. With his wife he had gone to visit his mother that 
bright Sunday. They had planned to go to the country. But his 
mother was ill and she was crying, for Harry Harper's brothers 
worked at Republic Steel. One was striking and the other was in the 
mill and she was afraid he was being kept there by force. Disturbed 
by his mother's grief, Harry Harper, the boilermaker bound on a 
holiday, went to Sam's Place, encountered the line of marchers, 
walked up to the head of it, and begged the officer to let him go to 
the mill to look for his brother because his mother was sick. 

He found himself surrounded by hostile faces. They cursed him. 
"They seemed" he said, "to be intoxicated with something I can't 

There was a blast of a whistle and then hell broke loose. 

"Seems as if they were going down, as if you'd taken a scythe." 


He was struck on the left side of his head and the blood was 
running in his mouth. There was a blinding pain in his eye. He fled, 
blinded by pain and blood. He fell in a ditch. Another man lay 
groaning beside him. 

"The man said, 'Help me, buddy/ I said, *I am helpless my- 
self/ " A gas bomb like a green ball of fire was sputtering beside 
him. It went off, affecting his other eye. He said, "A terrible trem- 
bling feeling came over me and I went back groping. I lost the 
vision of my right eye too. I called for help." 

You could get a picture of him, his eye beaten out, blood run- 
ning into his mouth, stumbling and groping and crying for help. 
He told, too, of his terrible ride in the patrol wagon. He could hear 
men groaning. He could hear officers saying, "Some of them are 
breathing yet, but we'll take the others to the morgue," and he 
knew men were dead or dying beside him. And when he groaned, 
they said, "Shut up, you damn so-and-so, you got what's coming to 

He said, and his sightless face did not turn toward the police 
officers sitting in their uneasy indifference, 

"Among those officers there were many of them brought up in 
my faith, for I am a Catholic, I went to parochial school and I 
attended Sunday School and Mass faithfully. I think they have 
forgotten what we all learned there, 'Thou shalt not kill!" 1 

* * * 

There is plenty of other testimony, that for instance of the lawyer, 
Frank W. McCulloch, Social Relations Secretary of the Council of 
Social Action of the Congregational Church. The meeting at Sam's 
place to him was a friendly holiday crowd asserting their rights to 
organize under the N. L. R. B. He saw a policeman seventy feet 
away from the marchers empty a gun and reach for another clip. 

The Reverend Charles B. Fiske, a Congregational Minister, a 
minister concerned about civil liberties, had gone down as an im- 
partial observer. He heard the shots, saw the people give way and 
he took pictures, as he thought, of the whole flight. He took pic- 
tures of men being beaten on the ground. In the end he was arrested 


and thrown into jail and kept incommunicado for nineteen hours 
and his pictures were taken from him. 

There was Meyer Levin's testimony. He is a writer and an editor 
of Esquire. He heard the outbreak of the shooting. He watched 
workers being shot down and he carried a bleeding child. He was 
kept by police out of the Burnside Hospital where volunteers had 
been called for. 

Dr. Lawrence Jacques held a mannequin in his hand high up so 
the crowd could see. He jabbed at this with a pick as he showed 
where the wounds were made by police bullets in the Chicago 
Memorial Day massacre. Behind the two investigating Senators of 
the Civil Liberties Committee, Robert La Follette and Senator 
Thomas (Utah), were four charts. The chart showing a man's back 
is peppered with red spots. Each one of these means a gunshot 
wound. The doctor dropped the doll and moved to the charts. The 
charts of side views showed scattered wounds. On the chart show- 
ing the front view of a man there are no red spots. The dead and 
wounded were shot in the back as they ran. 

The familiar story of the murder of workers was spread out 
before the people of this country. It was read into the record of the 
Senate Civil Liberties Committee, before a distinguished Washing- 
ton audience of five hundred. It is an old story perjury and Red 
framing. You can see the dead and wounded dragged like sacks over 
the ground. You can hear of wounded workers dragged from cars to 
bleed to death, wounded workers snatched from the hospitals. 

It is nothing new. The use of the police by the mills to shoot steel 
workers asking for their constitutional rights, is an old story. The 
shooting of workers in steel began in Homestead in 1892 and has 
gone on steadily ever since. In the steel strike of 1919, twenty-one 
people were killed, including Fannie Sellins who was shot by gun- 
men as she bent over some children to protect them. They killed 
steel workers in Ambridge in 1933. 

The number of United Mine Workers dead in its long fight for 
organization is uncounted. The mines of West Virginia are drenched 
with the blood of workers. The Ludlow massacres are fresh in every- 


one's mind. Textile workers were killed in 1929 at Marion and at 
Honea Path, North Carolina, in 1934. The purpose of the killings is 
always the same. It is to crush the workers' lawful right to organize. 

It is new that there should be a hearing at all, that the story 
should be accessible to the public. Here people could see how it's 
done. For once this familiar perjury was brought out by the photo- 
graphs and by impartial testimony. 

What is new is that gathered into one room should be unassailable 
and impartial witnesses lawyers, social workers, doctors, min- 
isters who corroborate and fill out the story. What is new is that 
this massacre should be documented with hundreds of pictures and 
climaxed with a Paramount film. Wholesale murder, planned 
beforehand. . . . Well, who can doubt the collaboration of the 

In our estimate of this police brutality, let us not be mistaken. 
It is part of a country-wide plan, headed by Little Steel, to take 
from labor its recent gains and to confuse the general public with 
propaganda to give the impression that labor is violent and the 
C. I. O. irresponsible. In this hearing the country can see plainly 
what this plot is and recognize it as part of a vast frame-up against 
the workers. 

XII. The Steel Strike 

TO UNDERSTAND the steel strike, or any of the modern con- 
flict it is necessary to bear in mind that a conscious strikebreaking 
plan of a very practical nature has been evolved in what is known as 
the Mohawk Valley Formula. This plan was given to a waiting 
world by young Mr. James H. Rand, Jr., but is reported to be the 
invention of a famous public relations man specializing in indus- 
trial matters. Therefore, further consideration of the strike in Little 
Steel must be prefaced by the plan in full. It follows as outlined 
by the N. L. R. B. in the Rand hearing: 

First: When a strike is threatened, label the union leaders 
"agitators" to discredit them with the public and their own fol- 
lowers. In the plant, conduct a forced balloting under the direction 
of foremen. This will give a clue to the union's strength and enable 
the employer to assert that the strikers are a small minority im- 
posing their will upon a majority who want to continue working. 

At the same time, disseminate propaganda, by means of press 
releases, advertisements, and the activities of "missionaries." 
Such propaganda, falsely stating the issues involved in the strike 
so that the strikers appear to be making arbitrary demands, will 
obscure the real issues, such as the employer's refusal to bargain 
collectively. Concurrently with these moves, by exerting economic 
pressure through threats to move the plant, align the influential 
members of the community into a cohesive group opposed to the 
strike. Include in this group, usually designated a " Citizens Com- 
mittee," representatives of the bankers, real estate owners, and 
business men, i. e., those most sensitive to any threat of removal of 



the plant because of its effect upon property values and purchasing 
power flowing from payrolls. 

Second: When the strike is called raise high the banner of "law 
and order," thereby causing the community to mass legal and police 
weapons against a wholly imagined violence and to forget that 
those of its members who are employees have equal rights with the 
other members of the community. 

Third: Call a "mass meeting" of the citizens to coordinate public 
sentiment against the strike and to strengthen the power of the 
Citizens Committee, which organization, thus supported, will both 
aid the employer in exerting pressure upon the local authorities 
and itself sponsor vigilante activities. 

Fourth: Bring about the formation of a large armed police force 
to intimidate the strikers and to exert a psychological effect upon 
the citizens. This force is built up by utilizing local police, State 
police, if the governor cooperates, vigilantes and special deputies, 
the deputies being chosen if possible from other neighborhoods, so 
that there will be no personal relationships to induce sympathy for 
the strikers. Coach the deputies and vigilantes on the law of un- 
lawful assembly, inciting to riot, disorderly conduct, etc., so that 
unhampered by any thought that the strikers may also possess some 
rights, they will be ready and anxious to use their newly-acquired 
authority to the limit. 

Fifth: And perhaps most important, heighten the demoralizing 
effect of the above measures all designed to convince the strik- 
ers that their cause is hopeless by a "back-to-work" movement, 
operated by a puppet association of so-called "loyal employees" 
secretly organized by the employer. Have this association wage a 
publicity campaign in its own name and coordinate such campaign 
with the work of the "Missionaries" circulating among the strik- 
ers and visiting their homes. This "back-to-work" movement has 
these results: It causes the public to believe that the strikers are in 
the minority and that most of the employees desire to return to 
work, thereby winning sympathy for the employer and an endorse- 
ment of his activities to such an extent that the public is willing 


to pay the huge costs, direct and indirect, resulting from the heavy 
forces of police. This "back-to-work" movement also enables the 
employer, when the plant is later opened, to operate it with strike- 
breakers if necessary and to continue his refusal to bargain collec- 
tively with the strikers. In addition, the "back-to-work" move- 
ment permits the employer to keep a constant check on the strength 
of the union through the number of applications received from 
employees ready to break ranks and return to work. This number is 
kept secret from the public and the other employees, so that the 
doubts and fears created by such secrecy will in turn induce still 
others to make applications. 

Sixth: When a sufficient number of applications is on hand, fix a 
date for an opening of the plant through the device of having such 
opening requested by the "back-to-work" association. Together 
with the Citizens Committee, prepare for such opening by making 
provision for a peak army of police, by roping off the areas sur- 
rounding the plant, by securing arms and ammunition, etc. The 
purpose of the "opening" of the plant is threefold: to see if enough 
employees are ready to return to work; to induce still others to re- 
turn as a result of the demoralizing effect produced by the opening 
of the plant and the return of some of their number; and lastly, 
even if the maneuver fails to induce a sufficient number of persons to 
return, to persuade the public through pictures and news releases 
that the opening was nevertheless successful. 

Seventh: Stage the "opening," theatrically, throwing open the 
gates at the propitious moment and having the employees march 
into the plant grounds in a massed group protected by squads of 
armed police, so as to give to the opening a dramatic and exag- 
gerated quality and thus heighten its demoralizing effect. Along 
with the "opening" provide a spectacle speeches, flag raising, 
and praises for the employees, citizens, and local authorities, so 
that, their vanity touched, they will feel responsible for the con- 
tinued success of the scheme and will increase their efforts to induce 
additional employees to return to work. 

Eighth: Capitalize on the demoralization of the strikers by con- 


tinuing the show of police force and the pressure of the Citizens 
Committee, both to insure that those employees who have returned 
will continue at work and to force the remaining strikers to capitu- 
late. If necessary, turn the locality into a warlike camp through the 
declaration of a state of emergency tantamount to martial law and 
barricade it from the outside world so that nothing may interfere 
with the successful conclusion of the " Formula," thereby driving 
home to the union leaders the futility of further efforts to hold 
their ranks intact. 

Ninth: Close the publicity barrage, which day by day during the 
entire period has increased the demoralization worked by all of 
these measures, on the theme that the plant is in full operation 
and that the strikers were merely a minority attempting to inter- 
fere with the "right to work," thus inducing the public to place a 
moral stamp of approval upon the above measures. With this, the 
campaign is over the employer has broken the strike. 

When history judges the steel strike, it will probably be rated 
as one of the most important battles of all the industrial warfare 
of this country. It could be fairly said that neither side won. For, 
if the workers suffered a defeat, the steel operators were not success- 
ful in their objectives. This was not 1919 and the workers were not 
crushed. Their heroic battle is one of the epics of labor. 

Moreover, Little Steel had hoped to check the C. I. O. on a 
nationwide front. It was expected that General Motors would re- 
fuse to renew its contract with the Automobile Workers and that 
the other independent steel companies would cease making con- 
tracts while U. S. Steel itself might refuse to renew at the turn of 
the year. But the organizational drive was not checked. When the 
steel strike began there were 140 firms under contract with about 
300,000 workers. By September, 415 firms had signed with nearly 
500,000 workers. 

The November elections showed how Little Steel had failed to 
check the onward march of the C. I. O. 

The steel strike was not the usual industrial conflict. It was far 


more than that. It was a challenge to the New Deal in which it 
was partially successful, since the independent steel companies 
literally got away with murder and succeeded in defying the 
National Labor Relations Act. 

The seventeen killed, the 160 wounded, the hundreds gassed and 
jailed were caught in a swirl of issues far larger than the strike 

This attack on organized labor by Little Steel with its shabby 
pretext of being willing to make, if not sign, a contract such as 
U. S. Steel has signed, involves far larger issues than the "little" 
lives of a few thousand steel workers. It was the looked-for assault 
of big business on the Administration. 

The steel strike emerged early in its true colors as a major politi- 
cal offensive against the labor policies of the President. Its object 
was not merely the crushing of labor and turning back the hands of 
the clock to the despotism which for two generations had ruled the 
steel towns it had a larger objective. 

Throughout the country, there was a careful build-up of the 
C. I. O. as a subversive, communistic organization. There was a 
premeditated identification of the President with the C. I. O. He 
was openly mentioned on all sides as its partner. He was pictured as 
the defender of the sit-down strike. This identification of the C. I. O. 
with communism was not only the chief stock in trade of the em- 
ployers but also of the A. F. of L. 

It is naive to consider the steel strike the work of Tom Girdler 
and a small group of willful men. Every evidence points to Gird- 
ler's offensive having been a planned attack on the Administration 
by big business of which the independent steel companies were the 
spearhead. Behind them was the force of the U. S. Chamber of 
Commerce, buttressed by the other powerful anti-Administration 
forces in Congress and outside. 

The 83^000 steel workers involved in the strike were only inci- 
dents in the most important attack yet launched on the Adminis- 
tration. The election of Girdler, rather than William A. Irvin, as 
President of the Iron and Steel Institute, the votes standing ten to 


ten, the deciding vote being cast by the absent Frank Purnell, was 
an indication of a premeditated plan. The steel strike was not 
planned alone by the three irreconcilable steel masters, Grace, 
Weir, and Girdler. 

The building up of the mail case to a national issue from a case 
which local postal authorities say "wasn't nothing to worry about," 
with its speedy hearing; the storm of disapproval of Governor 
Earle's closing of the Johnstown mills these were all parts of 
the anti-Administration offensive. 

In many quarters it was thought not unlikely that the Presi- 
dent's failure to defend the attack on the National Labor Rela- 
tions Act by intervening in the steel strike, as had been expected, 
was a recognition of the attempt to identify him and the Ad- 
ministration with the C. I. O. 

Several facts reflect a partial yielding to this propaganda. 
First, the Administration kept silent after the Chicago massacre. 
Next, Girdler, unrebuked, was allowed to defy the Secretary of 
Labor's Mediation Board, with what amounted to a statement that 
he had never intended to bargain collectively, and finally, the now 
famous "a plague on both your houses," showed that the Presi- 
dent, ever sensitive to political winds, was bowing to the storm the 
powerful interests had raised inside and out of Congress. 

The third objective was to render null the finding of the Su- 
preme Court concerning the National Labor Relations Board. 
This federal law, which makes it a federal offense to penalize a 
worker for joining a labor organization and makes it obligatory for 
employers to bargain collectively with their employees, is more 
feared by reactionary employers than John L. Lewis and the C. I. O. 

This battle was also an intermural battle among the steel mas- 
ters. The Iron and Steel Institute had always been dominated by 
U. S. Steel. Now this dominance was challenged by the Inde- 

Yet it is not at all unlikely that the steel strike was looked at 
benevolently by U. S. Steel and that the big company was pleased 
to see the power of the C. I. O. challenged by Little Steel. 


While there is no doubt that Little Steel wants to take the leader- 
ship of the Iron and Steel Institute away from Big Steel, there is a 
contradiction when one comes to examine the finances of Big Steel 
and Little Steel. 

Backing them one finds the same great banking houses. For in- 
stance, U. S. Steel is controlled by the Morgans, but the Morgans 
are also tied up with Bethlehem. Pickands, Marber of Cleveland, 
who are tied up with the Morgans, also control Youngstown Sheet 
and Tube, and have interests in Republic. It is impossible to un- 
tangle the financial backing. So behind the apparently opposed 
interests we find interlocked financial interests. 

Youngstown Sheet and Tube pretended to conform to the spirit 
of the law by saying that they were willing to make verbal agree- 
ments but not signed agreements with the union. The reason given 
for this was the fear of the closed shop a demand never made by 
the union. 

There was never a stranger reason for a strike than that of Little 
Steel. On it General Johnson commented: 

. . . But before the public condemns Mr. Lewis' tactics, it 
will look at the provocation on the other side: I will trade 
with you. I will 'in good faith* make an oral agreement with 
you. Why? Because while the law requires the rest, it doesn't 
require the writing. No sir. Before I'll write it, I will close my 
plant, take their livings away from thousands, see men shot 
and gassed and bludgeoned and accept responsibility for the 
mayhem and murder of many all for a scrap of paper! 

It seems incredible but that is the sole point in dispute in 
these steel strikes . . . 

While John T. Flynn, famous economist, said in a syndicated 
article in the Scripps-Howard newspapers: 

. . . The companies do not even shy at recognizing the 
union or entering an agreement with it. Then when all issues 
were ironed out the three big steel Independents Youngs- 


town Sheet and Tube, Republic Steel, and Inland Steel re- 
fused to sign the agreement. 

They were willing to make an agreement but they would 
not sign a contract. And these three great corporations which 
would not make a ton of steel without a signed order are will- 
ing to see their mill towns turned into battlefields, their workers 
in open battles with police, rather than put their signatures to 
agreements which they are willing to accept otherwise. . . . 

It would be foolish not to admit that on the home ground of 
Youngstown, Girdler and his forces in the field of public relations 
outsmarted the forces of John L. Lewis and the S. W. O. C. The 
union never told its story to the people of Youngstown or the nearby 
cities. Nor did it make use of the fact that right through the days 
of the strike, a hundred steel companies large and small were 
signing with the S. W. O. C. 

On the side of the management, preparations for the strike had 
been going on since the previous winter. Groups of ministers, of 
educators, of business men were entertained on company property 
and told what a terrible thing the strike would be to the community. 
The middle-class people were led to identify their interests with 
the management's. 

Yet Girdler was an unpopular figure in Youngstown. He had 
driven Eaton to the wall and ruthlessly fired old employees in his 
reorganization of Republic. 

How Girdler stood in Youngstown was shown by the full-page 
advertisement which Anton Dorfmuller, a prominent businessman 
and leading member of the Rotary Club, put in the local Youngs- 
town paper. It was cast in the form of an open letter and said 
among other things: 

"You can't starve these boys into submission. If they wantyou to 
talk to Mickey Mouse as their official representative, it's your job as 
chairman of the board and president, representing your stockholders 
and responsible to the people of this community, to talk to him." 

A Washington columnist commented: 


"Automobile Dealer Dorfmuller wants to sell cars to the steel 
workers, and he and all other businessmen in a strike-torn com- 
munity have an interest in industrial peace. Law or no law, any 
powerful industrial leader, occupying a place of greater power and 
responsibility than most public officials, would seem bound by his 
own sense of responsibility to do what he could to avert these com- 
munity calamities." 

There was a substantial number of citizens in full agreement with 
Anton Dorfmuller and they could easily have been swung to uphold 
the union, but no attempt was made to do this. No advantage was 
taken of the fact that this feeling against Girdler existed. Indeed, 
the S. W. O. C. had concentrated its efforts around Pittsburgh, 
expecting its greatest conflict to be with U. S. Steel rather than 
Little Steel. 

The truth was that no extensive planning was done, no long dis- 
tance campaign was evolved by the S. W. O. C. A short strike was 
expected. Governor Davey is said to have assured union officials: 
"If they won't listen to me, I've got an ace in the hole. I'll close 
their mills for them." 

But the political wheels had long before been oiled up by the 
steel companies. Meanwhile, in the halls of Congress, a powerful 
anti-Administration and anti-labor group thundered their indig- 
nation at labor's non-existent violence until the general public 
began to feel that labor was the violent aggressor. And this in 
spite of the fact that seventeen dead and numerous wounded 
strikers (and none killed on the employers' side), furnished grim 
proof of armed warfare against both labor and the United States 

But steel masters are realists. There were other preparations. 
Here is the inventory of arms and munitions bought by the steel 
companies during May and June of 1937, as given by the Senate 
Civil Liberties Committee: 

Republic Steel Corporation Cleveland, Ohio 6/7/37 . . . $5,745 60 

" " 6/7/37... 3,003.00 

Canton, Ohio 6/1/37. . . 2,489. 12 


Republic Steel Corporation Warren, Ohio 6/1/37. 3>77- 82 

Youngstown, Ohio 6/1/37 . . . 2,531 . 82 

East Chicago, 111 5/ 2 9/37- - 2 ,7 6 7 4 2 

Buffalo, N. Y 6/1/37... 2,129.06 

Total for Republic Steel Corporation $ 2 i,743 84 

Union Drawn Steel Co Chicago, 111 6/2/37 $ 2 >8i 2 

" Massillon, Ohio' 6/1/37... 1,847.66 

" " Beaver Falls, Pa 6/1/37... I >35 2 -66 

Truscon Steel Co Cleveland, Ohio 6/1/37. . . 2,749.22 

" Youngstown, Ohio 6/1/37... 2,868.02 

Corrigan McKenney Co Cleveland, Ohio 6/1/37. . . 2,953.32 

Steel and Tubes, Inc " " 6/1/37... 2 >79 I -3 2 

Upson Company " " 6/1/37... 2,884.22 

Niles Steel Products Co Niles, Ohio 6/1/37. 

Grand total $43*901 88 

The complaint of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee to 
the N. L. R. B. stated: " Company officers and agents . . . have 
followed S. W. O. C. organizers and have brutally attacked and 
beaten them. The company, both prior to and since the strike 
(steel), has considerably increased the number of its police force for 
the purpose of interfering with the rights of its employees to 
picket the plants peacefully. 

"The company maintains at its plants in Youngstown, Niles, 
Warren, Canton, and Cleveland, in the state of Ohio, extensive 
arsenals, stocked with machine guns, rifles, revolvers, tear gas, and 
other bombs . . ." and those charges have been confirmed in the 
N. L. R. B. hearings. 

No wonder Girdler said, "Sure we got guns!" 

XIII. The Steel Strike II 

YOUNGSTOWN was the heart of the strike. Thirty-three thou- 
sand workers were affected in the Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and 
Republic, whose chimneys and tracks run like a river for miles 
through the center of the town. The 2,400 workers in Niles and the 
6,000 workers in Warren, a few miles distant, were also included in 
this area. 

Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and Republic in Youngstown were 
closed down completely. There was no attempt to run the plants. 
Only Carnegie-Illinois' triumphant blast went saffron against the 
sky, a constant reminder to idle Youngstown workers that at the 
beginning of the strike 140 separate companies had signed union 
agreements covering over 300,000 men. 

John Mayo, who was a victim of the Bay City mobbing, was 
chief organizer for the Youngstown district; later John Owens, a 
native of Ohio, shared the command. Under them were the organ- 
izers for each mill. Youngstown Sheet and Tube was organized in- 
dependently of Republic, and Briar Hill Sheet and Tube, at the op- 
posite end of town from Struthers and Campbell, had its own 
organization. The strike activities resolved themselves into picket 
line and commissary duty. No time could be obtained on the radio. 
There was no central hall, so each of the six strike groups remained 
comparatively isolated from the others. 

The core of the strike was the picket line. The union in Youngs- 
town claimed a large majority, and many joined after the strike 
call. The union membership was built up solidly after nearly a year 
of organizing. It was necessary to organize quietly; John Stevenson, 
Campbell organizer, said that for months he spent six out of every 



eight hours in house-to-house visiting. At first there were few open 
meetings, but there were a surprising number of "beer parties" on 
farms of former steel workers, often miles from Youngstown. 
Finally the union was strong enough to have open mass meetings. 
The union in Sheet and Tube rested on two blocks of picked men of 
five hundred each, called the organizing committee. The members of 
the organizing committee largely formed all the flying squadrons 
during the strike. 

Early in April it was evident that the Independents would force a 
strike, and a systematic organization of pickets began. By the time 
the strike came, disorderly and uncertain elements had been weeded 
out. The picket lines during the day were small groups of people at 
all gates, at strategic points, on railway embankments all along the 
miles of boundary of the big steel mills. 

"It may not look like so much, but I can get five hundred men 
out in a half hour, one thousand in an hour, at any point," John 
Mayo asserted. A system of communications was evolved by which 
key men communicated rapidly with those in their jurisdiction. 
"We had fifteen hundred on the picket line the other night in no 
time, when we had the all-night meeting with the Mayor and 
Sheriff and Chief of Police." This meeting was held after the Chi- 
cago shooting and was for the purpose of devising means to prevent 
a repetition of the bloodshed. It was held in vain. 

All pickets were registered. Pickets were asked which gates they 
wished to patrol and which "turn" they wanted. There were four 
turns of six hours each. The pickets were divided into blocks of five 
with a leader for each group parties of friends were encouraged to 
be together. There was one picket head and four division captains, 
one for each turn. Forty-two flying-squadron cars were attached to 
each turn. They patrolled the picket line and transported organizers 
and pickets to any point. 

As has been stated, Remington Rand's Mohawk Valley Formula 
was used from the first. The strike was not a week old before the 
back-to-work movement started according to formula. The com- 
pany union had been transformed into a so-called independent 


union. The Republic "independent" union and the Youngstown 
Sheet and Tube "independent" union had opened offices, by an odd 
coincidence, next door to each other. A dark trickle of Negro boys 
went sheepishly past the pickets who carried signs JOIN THE 
men watched the pickets. Other buildings had men and women 
before them. The Dollar Bank had only watchful men. These were 
deputies, most of them ex-soldiers. One of the independent-union 
officials was asked, "It must have taken some organization to get 
this going so soon?" 

"Oh, yes," he replied brightly, "we had one hundred and sixty 
men out visiting the workers' homes all over the week-end." 

That was only for Republic Steel. Youngstown Sheet and Tube 
had as many three hundred missionaries circulating among the 
workers undermining them according to the Mohawk Valley 
Formula all over the long Decoration Day holiday, calling attention 
to the Chicago massacre. On the side of the workers there were no 
notable meetings, no literature to counteract these "missionaries." 

This back-to-work movement gained momentum under the 
skillful handling of the attorney, Roy Thomas, locally nicknamed 
the "Number King," one of the triumvirate of bosses who rule 
Youngstown. It was rumored that he was to get a considerable sum 
of money for opening the mills. 

The back-to-work movement in Youngstown had a greater mass 
support than in some places where the company unions had gone 
over en masse to the S. W. O. C. 

Meantime, Governor Davey was negotiating with the mills, 
trying to find some way to make peace. Governor Davey's efforts at 
mediation failed. They not only failed but both Tom Girdler and 
Frank Purnell refused to attend the conference. They were "too 
busy," they said. 

In the light of history one wonders if Governor Davey meant his 
efforts to succeed, or if he was playing for time for the mill owners. 
After the governors of several states appealed to President Roose- 
velt to intervene and end the strike which was in its fourth week, 


Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins appointed a Mediation Board. 
Intervention by the federal government followed an expressed be- 
lief by the President that companies who were willing to make oral 
agreements with labor should put them in writing. It was the first 
comment from the White House of this kind since the automobile 
strike and the last. 

The first meeting of the Mediation Board was on June 19, the 
day of the Youngstown killings when truckloads of armed deputies 
roved around Youngstown streets shooting down defenseless work- 
ers indiscriminately, whether children, women, or men. The Board 
was an irreproachable one. It consisted of Charles P. Taft, son of 
the late President and Chief Justice Taft, as Chairman; Lloyd 
Garrison, Dean of the Law School of Wisconsin, and Edward P. 
McGrady, then Assistant Secretary of Labor. 

Taft, long a student of social problems and an adviser to Alf M. 
Landon in the Presidential campaign, is author of the "Toledo 
Plan for Industrial Peace," which calls for a board representing 
labor, management, and the general public to settle disputes. 

Garrison took a year's leave of absence from the University of 
Wisconsin Law School in 1934 to serve as chairman of the National 
Labor Relations Board. 

Eugene Grace of Bethlehem Steel, Tom Girdler of Republic and 
spokesmen for Inland Steel, represented the mills; for the workers, 
John L. Lewis, Philip Murray, John Owens, and other S. W. O. C. 

The idea current in the minds of the public up to this time had 
been that the question of collective bargaining was agreed to. It 
was only a question of whether this agreement should be signed or 
not signed. But it soon developed that Tom Girdler had no inten- 
tion of bargaining. The law of the land meant nothing to him. 

While the mediators strove for some way to bring over the steel 
masters, Girdler pounded the table with, 

"God damn it, the answer is no!" to all suggestions. 

When the Mediation Board was convened, Sheriff Elser was 
deputizing a hundred men, preparing to support the back-to-work 


movement. This move was checked by the peace move. Both the 
Sheriff and Mayor Lionel Evans agreed on the status quo pending 
peace negotiations. But the status quo meant nothing to the mills. 
Roy Thomas as spokesman for the Independents demanded the 
mills be opened, mediation or no mediation. 

On June 19 came the Youngstown killings. 

Make a picture of the picket line on that day. It is Women's Day 
in Youngstown, the first Women's Day workers here have known. 
Women with paper bands on their arms reading "Women's 
Brigade." These are solid-looking, older women. A young mother 
with a four-months-old baby in her arms. Maybe thirty women in 
front of the Republic gate at five o'clock, and by half past eight they 
are tired, so a few women are sitting on boxes that are a few inches 
on company property. 

Here the picket-heckler, Captain Richmond, swings into action. 
He is always at the pickets, trying to provoke them. The police tell 
the women to move off company ground. As they start, the cops 
hustle them with: "Get along, get going!" Someone says: "We're 
moving as fast as we can." Someone says: "We've got a right to be 

"I'll show you how to move along," says Richmond. At that he 
fires a gun three times in the air. A signal. Police fire tear gas point- 
blank at the woman with the baby in her arms, at the others with 
children by the hand. 

You don't bring little children where you expect trouble. 

Men are gathering across the street for a meeting. They start 
toward the police, but Bob Burke, Republic organizer and former 
Columbia student, gets the men to the meeting place behind Bav- 
lasky's Cafe. He tries to keep them calm. 

But there's a shot and a cry for help. The men stream out to 
defend the women. Sheriff Ralph Elser sends out carload after 
carload of deputies. Hundreds of people are gassed, but the 
strikers don't break. Two hundred grenades are fired before nine 

"The men ate the gas," one woman tells me. The women eat it 


too. At midnight more deputies roll out of the police station while 
the crowd boos. 

"What's happened?" I ask Sheriff Elser. 

"Here I was keeping the status quo, and they start this, and 
they're asking Tom Girdler to sign with murderers," raves the 
Sheriff. "They've asked for war. They'll get it! I'll deputize another 
hundred tonight." There is no end of deputies. Mayor Lionel Evans 
has deputies, besides the Sheriff's, and there is, too, a murderous 
cross fire from the mills. That is what killed George Bogavitch. An 
eye witness tells about his death this way: 

"The shooting was going on and I was standing right in front 
with the bullets whizzing by my ears. The company police retreated 
back into their hole (the railway underpass leading to the mills). 
They were shooting the real stuff bullets. Deputy sheriffs were 
throwing tear gas. I said: 'Boys, we're all crippled up. Let's re- 
treat.' Just then I saw a fellow reaching down for his handkerchief. 
The gas was bad. A bullet hit him. I heard him gurgle. When we put 
him in the car, he was dead. We called a two-minute period of si- 
lence and then by twos we marched away." 

The men killed in Youngstown were as needlessly murdered, the 
fifty wounded were as needlessly injured, as were the Chicago steel 
workers three weeks before. The press and that section of Congress 
that is so eloquent about the right to work, about a worker's right 
to remain alive, were quick to cry that the police shot in self- 
defense. Jim Eperjessi, the fifty-seven-year-old steel worker, was 
not shot in self-defense. He was fired on, pointblank, by deputies 
standing in a truck. I know because I was there. I stood beside the 
truck; I saw the flash and I heard the shots. 

Jim Eperjessi was killed Saturday night, June 19. I did not see 
the first part of the trouble that night which had begun with the 
police gassing women and which ended with two dead and many 
wounded. I had been out in the country and when I got back, one 
man had already been killed, many were wounded, and hundreds 

With Scotty O'Hara, I went down Poland Avenue toward Stop 


Five, where the trouble had been. The street was dark. We walked 
through the drifting remnants of a cloud of tear gas, past a sparse 
line of pickets. A few dark figures were walking ahead of us. A 
truck load of deputies passed, and stopped a little beyond us. 
Suddenly, without the slightest provocation, the deputies opened 
fire on the workers. Two men ran toward us and dropped at our 
feet. Scotty O'Hara also sprawled on the ground, and I thought he 
had done so to get out of the way of the bullets. I had better do the 
same thing, I thought, and the next I knew, I was lying on the 
ground myself near one man who was groaning and another who 
lay motionless. 

An hour and a half later, when I came from the hospital where my 
wound had been sewed up, the wounded were still arriving. A 
motionless woman lay on a stretcher in the hospital lobby. Two 
more women with wounded legs sat awaiting treatment. Outside a 
little boy of twelve was being helped from a car. Other wounded 
men were coming to the hospital. The deputies had been busy. 

Monday night, June 21, the officials of the Republic and Youngs- 
town companies announced that the mills would open next day. 
They did this in spite of the gassing and shooting of Saturday, and 
in spite of the fact that the specially appointed Federal Mediation 
Board was sitting and that both Mediator Charles Taft and Secre- 
tary of Labor Perkins had asked that the status quo be maintained. 
The air was heavy with approaching disaster. Every striker felt 
there would be a massacre. 

The strikers sent their famous telegram to the President which 

In the name of God and the overwhelming majority of the 
steel workers of Youngstown, who together with their families 
represent a majority of the population of this city, we urge you 
to immediately intervene in this critical hour and avoid a 
calamity and disaster that Ohio may remember for decades to 

We can prove to your satisfaction that an overwhelming ma- 
jority of employees of all three plants are members of the 


CIO and are determined to stay out on strike until both com- 
panies sign an agreement. 

Any attempt to open gates will automatically bring terrific 
violence and bloodshed. 

Many private citizens sent telegrams of similar import. Ministers 
offered prayers that bloodshed might be averted. Knots of people 
gathered on street corners and quarreled over the issues involved: 
the right of the workers to work, against the right of the workers 
to live. 

During the day, tenseness had grown steadily. Three thousand 
striking truck drivers had joined the steel workers. The city was 
tied up. Ice, bread, and milk were the only things that moved. 
Truck drivers had every approach to town picketed. 

From their headquarters, instructions rang out constantly over 
the loud speaker: "Cruiser car No. 15, Cruiser 15, wanted on Briar 
Hill!'* And off roared Cruiser 15 to stop an incoming truck. 

Sympathizers were seeping into town rubber workers from 
Akron, men from Canton, miners from Pennsylvania, steel workers 
from Sharon, Newcastle, Pittsburgh, Aliquippa. Thousands con- 
verged on Youngstown to help the steel workers. Rumors flew 
around that the United Mine Workers were on the march. 

The workers were tired of these killings and massacres. They 
were streaming in to help. It was impossible to tell how many 
would come. Since the killings of Saturday night, June 19, and the 
revelations of the Chicago massacre, indignation had mounted 
through the valley, and Youngstown was the core of the struggle. 
Throughout the afternoon, meetings were being held from Warren 
to Struthers. The picket lines in Warren had defied the injunction, 
and where there had been ten pickets, there were now a hundred. 

The workers knew this was the decisive battle, and when the 
day wore on, and no word came from the Governor, or from Cleve- 
land where the Mediation Board sat, or from Washington, they 
prepared to resist the mill opening. 

At midnight, word came that the Mediation Conference had 
temporarily broken down: Girdler had only reiterated his position. 


The anti-Administration forces had chosen their general wisely 
when they placed Girdler at the head of the anti-labor, anti- 
Administration forces. All day the whole city waited for word from 
Governor Davey, and no word came. Youngstown Sheet and Tube 
made arrangements for the reporters to have two rooms overlooking 
Shop 14 a front view of the massacre, in their office building. 
Catastrophe seemed inevitable when, at the eleventh hour. Gover- 
nor Davey and the President acted. 

When the unexpected word came, after midnight, the workers 
were dazed. They could not at once change their attitude from war 
to peace. The strikers were again massed in front of the mill gates, 
prepared for an all-night vigil. Among them were many who had 
been hurt the night before, by tear gas or bullets, but they were 
back on the picket line, prepared to face whatever was ahead of 
them in the struggle for their jobs. 

At picket headquarters there was a busy scene. News came in by 
telephone and by messenger from other points throughout the area. 
Then suddenly word came that there would be no battle after all. 
The mills would not seek to reopen next morning. The troops were 

Smiley Shatoc stood before the dark crowd near Shop 14 and 
told them the news. He said: "Folks, everybody now he can go 
home quiet." 

"Hey, we want to wait and see the troops come in," someone 

"Sure, I know you want to see 'em, but better everybody she go 
to bed. Captain of police, he came and ask real nice everybody 
he get off picket line, right now. Go home." 

The tense crowd looked up at Smiley and the other organizers 
whose job it was to disperse the huge picket lines. These men and 
women had been working themselves into battle pitch. They were 
expecting bullets and tear gas as the mills opened. They were willing 
to risk their lives, maybe give them, as two of their fellow workers 
already had done. Now suddenly there was peace. It was three in 
the morning, and Smiley was disbanding them. 


The President had spoken. The mills were not to open. The 
National Guard was coming in, not as strikebreakers, but to main- 
tain the status quo. The workers at first could hardly understand it. 

But as the workers from other towns streamed in there were 
arrests all through the night. Rose Stein, correspondent for The 
Nation, was arrested at 4 a.m. while driving in with friends, and 
was thrown into a cell with a demented woman. Scotty O'Hara, 
S. W. O. C. organizer, received a phone call from General Light 
that a large " force of armed men" was near Unionville. On investi- 
gation "the arsenal" of the "armed force" proved to be a few shot- 
guns and some clubs. 

By morning, the troops were arriving on foot, a long, wavering 
line like a khaki-colored caterpillar. The workers, believing them to 
be their friends sent by a friendly Governor to save their lives, 
welcomed them and again learned the old lesson which can never 
be emphasized enough, that state officials are not to be trusted by 

All through the night, and all the next day, strikers were being 
ferreted out in their homes and elsewhere, and arrested. While they 
were attending the funerals of those who had been killed, their 
houses and union headquarters were being searched for dynamite 
and arms. One of the union offices was raided and the records were 
confiscated. "A steel worker could be arrested for having a pen- 
knife or a toothpick," the strikers said. One man was actually put 
in jail for possessing a fork. In all, two hundred and twenty-five 
people were arrested and locked up, with no charges preferred 
against most of them. The leaders like Smiley Shatoc, Robert 
Burke, and John Stevenson, who had worked all night persuading the 
strikers to go home peacefully, were arrested "for inciting to riot." 

The National Labor Relations Board had a staff of investigators 
in Youngstown, who were looking into the charges made by the 
Steel Workers Organizing Committee. The S. W. O. C. said that 
armed thugs and gunmen were used to interfere with peaceful 
picketing, and that this had been done through collusion of the 
Republic Company and the Mayor and Sheriff. 


By evening two blows had fallen on the strikers. Their leaders 
were in jail and their civil liberties were taken from them. There 
was no way they could communicate with one another. Hundreds 
were arrested. Confusion and disorder and doubt were upon them. 

Meantime at Warren, fifteen miles away, there was a situation as 
tense as that of Youngstown the day before. Here the troops at 
once showed the strikebreaking role they were to play throughout 

Warren from the first had been one of the hot spots of the strike. 
Company airplanes flew over the mills where a considerable force of 
the workers remained inside. The food fell with a terrific thud, 
often outside the plant. Over a gate post outside the Niles plant, 
smashed cans of beans were nailed, with the sign " Scabs' Break- 
fast." A great deal of fuss was made because the planes were sniped 
at by unknown persons. Such action was certainly an answer to a 
mill press agent's prayer. 

Many of the tough characters and gunmen employed by Republic 
were said to be concentrated in the Warren mill in preparation for 
battle. The scabs made numerous sorties, attacking the picket lines 
with nuts, bolts, and gas pipes. 

The circumference of the big Warren plants is about eight miles. 
All along this distance groups of men sat in the shade, played horse- 
shoes or camped on the railway. The strike dominated the com- 
munity. All approaches to the mill were barred. Only if one were 
accompanied by an organizer could he pass the numerous picket 

In Warren an injunction against picketing had been clapped on 
the strikers by Judge Griffith. The picket lines had been reduced to 
a skeleton, but the strikers ignored the injunction. The troops were 
told to enforce it. General Connelly stated that the trouble was 
going to be over in a week and that "this is the beginning of the 

The Sheriff of Trumbull County issued permits to the workers, 
the scabs, who remained in the mill. But the permits were given to 
cars, not individuals. When General Connelly was asked if there 


was anything to prevent strikebreakers returning in those cars, he 
replied: "Nothing." 

The workers in Trumbull County, furious at the sight of scabs 
coming out of the mill for the first time in four weeks, held a 
"Labor Holiday." Fourteen shops with seven thousand workers 
joined the Republic strikers. A parade of several thousand strike 
sympathizers was held and after the parade the workers lined the 
sidewalks. When the scab cars appeared, one car was overturned. 
A company of soldiers with fixed bayonets charged the strikers, and 
menaced them with tear gas. For a moment it looked as though a 
clash was inevitable, but the strike leaders maintained discipline 
and calmed the workers. 

Warren had shown what the troops were there for. It was for 
strikebreaking. The strikers, who had already had two crushing 
blows, now saw the mediation efforts fail, and with the failure the 
Governor used the troops to open the Youngstown mills. 

The news of the final breakdown of negotiations of the Mediation 
Board in Cleveland came late at night. All night long foremen tele- 
phoned the workers that the mills would open under the guard of 
troops. The radio, the newspapers, took up the cry. With the local 
leaders arrested, without literature, and with the radio denied the 
union, the only means of getting to the workers was by house-to- 
house visiting. Two more crushing blows had fallen on the workers. 

The workers did not break. There was for weeks a strong resistant 
core in Youngstown and in many other strike centers, but many 
workers, confused without communication with their leaders, 
began seeping back to the mills. 

Martial law, which had already been declared in Mahoning and 
Trumbull Counties, was extended to the Canton-Massillon area. 
Soon complaints poured in that the troops were being used as 
strikebreakers. Here is a vivid picture of how they attacked : 

Canton Forum: CantOn ' " ^ ?> 

On July 2, 1937, about 3 or 4 o'clock, I was driving in my 
Nash Sedan on Carnahan Ave., at about 9th or loth St. N. E., 


when a truck load of National Guards in full uniform run me 
down and I stopped sudden. 

The National Guards came rushing to me and said that I 
was under arrest and I said, "Let's get this straight. What 

Then one of them said, "You done some typing for the 
CIO, didn't you? Well come up to Belden school and tell us 
some things, and we will let you go." 

I said, " Kill me, if you are not too yellow, I would rather die 
a martyr fighting for Democracy under the flag of the Socialist 
party and the CIO than to ever turn traitor." 

They asked me again to go with them to the Belden school, 
but I said, "No, I will never go to any concentration camp 

Then the leader of the gang who was dressed a little different 
from the rest of them he hit me over the head with a club 
and knocked me unconscious for a little while. He kept on beat- 
ing me over the shoulders and when I came to my senses the 
National Guards were tying a rope to my car and later towed it 
away with their National Guard truck. They kidnapped the 
two CIO escort guards who were in my car with me at the time. 
They were taken to the concentration camp at the Belden 
school and held prisoners till the next day. 

They twisted my right arm till the ligaments were badly 
sprained. They hit me in the mouth and cut my lips and broke 
my plates of artificial teeth. Knocked them out on the 

They drug me out of my car by the feet and injured my 
back. One of the National Guards told the other to take my 
glasses off of me and he will smash my face. When he tried to 
take my glasses off, I bit his fingers. Then he let me have my 

They stole my watch off my wrist and hid it in their pocket, 
the wrist-band was broken and fell on the ground. I reached in 
his pocket and got my watch. 


They did not take me with them to their concentration 
camp, because the crowd of sympathizers was getting quite 
large by that time. Although all the while the crowds were held 
back from assisting me, they were driven back by the points of 

In my car was the following: One umbrella, $3.00 worth of 
groceries, one gold pencil, one pocketbook containing $62.00 in 
cash and a bus check, and some signs as follows: 





The National Guard stole my car and kept it from Friday 
till Tuesday night, and when we got it, it had been stripped of 
everything, including the $62.00 which we have not got back 

Is this Fascist Italy or Germany, or is it America, where we 
are supposed to have Democracy? 

CIO officials took me to the hospital where I was asked to 
remain, pending the outcome of the injuries. The Doctor said a 
concussion of the brain could develop from the head injury. 

I refused to stay in the hospital, but I returned to my home, 
where in the night a terrible nervous condition developed, and 
another Doctor was called to my home. Am still under the care 
of this Doctor. 

(Signed) Mrs. Fred King 

1723 Virginia PL N. E. 
Canton, Ohio. 

Meantime Girdler had departed for the Post Office hearing. The 
part that the Post Office hearing played in the steel strike is most 
important. Big business should give everlasting praise to the lawyers 


of Little Steel, who first discovered that three words were lacking in 
the Wagner Act, and who again made a test case of the mails by 
mailing four packages of food to the scabs in Warren who were being 
fed by airplane. 

The post office of Warren, a small town, had decided it was not 
geared to feed several hundred men by parcel post, nor was it a 
strikebreaking agency anyway. 

"That clever little stunt," said Raymond Clapper, the famous 
Washington columnist, "has kicked up enough dust to obscure the 
whole issue. It has put Postmaster General Farley on the spot by 
forcing him to prevent the postal service from being used as a strike- 
breaking medium. It has set Republicans in Congress off' in lather- 
ing cry that 'the mail must go through/ and has, as was doubtless 
intended, caused almost everyone to forget about the real contro- 
versy. . . . 

"Our form of government rests upon the assumption that im- 
portant members of the community will have some respect for the 
general welfare and will try to reconcile their own interests in some 
workable adjustment to that general welfare. 

"Girdler and his colleagues don't seem to give a damn about any- 
body else. They won't sign an agreement with organized labor. 
Thus sabotaging all collective-bargaining effort, they precipitate 
bloody warfare which is causing destruction of life and property 
and is demoralizing whole communities. . . ." 

The Post Office hearing was the turning point of the strike. 
Here indeed the opposition could hurl a blow at the Administration. 
The murder of workers, the evasion and open defiance of federal 
law were lost sight of. The sanctity of the mails had been violated! 
Tom Girdler used the Senate Post Office Committee as a sounding 
board to proclaim that the C. I. O. was irresponsible, a statement 
that every reactionary employer heard with joy. The political 
winds that blew cold around the Administration over the Post 
Office incident may well have contributed to the President's 
inaction. The steel strike was not lost on the picket line but in Wash- 
ington, Columbus, and Cleveland. 



THE STEEL WORKERS, themselves, showed unvarying courage. 
Strike leadership differed in the various towns. From the point of 
view of a strike which employs modern techniques and strategies, 
the strike of Indiana Harbor outstripped all others. The Chicago 
section was led by Van A. Bittner. The second in command was 
Nicholas Fontecchio, a notable orator of great fire and warmth. 

What stands out, however, is that the Indiana Harbor strike 
was led by leaders in the steel industry. In other words, steel work- 
ers conducted the most successful front in the strike against Little 
Steel. Here a partial victory was obtained, a partial capitulation by 
Inland Steel, which suggests, although not conclusively, that had it 
been possible to apply similar strategies and methods to the Ma- 
honing Valley, the back-to-work movement would never have gath- 
ered such momentum. 

In one case, Governor Clifford Townsend devoted himself to the 
cause of bringing about a peaceful outcome without bloodshed, but 
in Ohio it is certain that Governor Davey, long-time friend of John 
Owens, the strike leader, did not do all he could to avoid trouble. 

In Indiana Harbor, steel mills and the workers constituted 
the town. It was a town where it was far easier to gain the good 
will of the small shopkeepers and the other citizens. It was a town 
where it was more apparent that their interests lay with those of 
the workers than in Youngstown. As soon as the strike was de- 
clared, the various committees, pickets, publicity, women's com- 
mittee, commissary relief, recreation, were set up. 

There was a central meeting place, like that of Pengally Hall in 
Flint where the workers could gather. But above everything else, 
the entire community was swept into the strike activities. Long 
before the strike occurred, the women had already formed fine 
auxiliaries. The women's auxiliaries both in Chicago and Indiana 
Harbor had antedated the strike. In the older steel towns, the old 
line United Mine Workers had frequently not encouraged women's 
organizations. In Youngstown, for instance, the women had organ- 
ized quietly, almost surreptitiously. 


In Indiana Harbor everybody took part in this lively strike. 
Every Saturday was Children's Day. Children painted their own 
banners. They learned strike songs. They paraded. They under- 
stood what it was about, as their home-printed banners. Our 
Daddies Strike For Us! proclaimed. 

Women's Day on the picket line occurred twice a week, when the 
women became responsible for the picketing. The foreign language 
groups, too, each had a day, when the Italians or the Poles, or the 
Czechoslovaks, turned out en masse to do the picketing. The Mexi- 
cans were especially active and formed the backbone of the strike. 

The picketing was well organized. There was a captain and a sub- 
captain for every twenty men, and the leaders boasted that they 
could bring out five thousand pickets within a few minutes' notice. 

With the whole working community involved in strike activities, 
with the townspeople canvassed and their sympathy gained, the 
regulation back-to-work movement never came to much. But this 
lively and well conducted strike might also have been crushed had 
the Governor listened to the demands of the mill people and sent 
in the troops, as he was asked. Instead, he insisted on arbitration 
and finally, when the agreement with Inland Steel was reached, 
the rejoicing almost equalled that of Flint. 

XIV. The Back-to-Work Movement 


THE "back-to-work" movement is a strikebreaking proposition. 
Supposedly it is concerned with the right to work and is designed to 
protect men who don't want to join the union and are not in sym- 
pathy with the strike. In practice, however, the movement usually 
begins with a company union or its lineal descendant, a so-called 
independent union. Sometimes it is started by a group of business- 
men working hand in glove with company officials. Occasionally 
labor spies begin it. 

There is a double aim in this movement. One is to divide the 
workers and give the impression that two groups of workers are dis- 
puting, whether to work, or to strike, but its ulterior motive is to 
give the impression to the general public that the strikers are only a 
small group preventing American workers from their God-given 

The "right-to-work" makes a very fine talking point. The slogan 
of the " right- to- work " helps shape public opinion against the strik- 
ers, for strikes are fought not only on the picket line. They are also 
fought in the offices of big advertising agencies, and from them, on 
through the newspapers and over the radio. Pulpits and the halls 
of Congress were used as sounding boards to preach the doctrine of 
the "right- to- work." Any person who has had experience in labor 
unions knows how phony this "right-to-work" clamor is. It was 
the "back- to-work" movement which got the troops to Youngs- 
town, the troops that were afterward used in every city in Ohio 
for strikebreaking purposes. 

The "back-to-work" movement is as old as the open shop. 


There is nothing new in this way of undermining the workers. Back 
in 1919 the investigation of the Interchurch World Movement 

As a fighting proposition the strike was broken by the suc- 
cessful establishment of, first, the theory of " resuming produc- 
tion," and, second, the fact of it. a 

The concerns analyzed are a higher type than the old fash- 
ioned " Pinks." The modern concerns show more brains. They 
realize that up-to-date war relies heavily on propaganda. Their 
"operatives" or "representatives" (spies) are trained propa- 
gandists and are so offered for hire. For the propaganda the new 
concerns take their ideas or at least their patter from 
modern employment managers, from civic federations, from 
the spokesmen of the "open shop." Their preachments contain 
texts on optimistic "getting together" and "getting on" and 
"thrift" and "self-made success." 6 

An interesting detail in this new strikebreaking technique, whose 
ultimate object is the killing of all unionism, was given by Elmer 
T. Cunningham, President of the R.C.A. He testified before the 
La Follette Civil Liberties Committee about the strike which took 
place in Camden, New Jersey, and its "back-to- work " move- 

He stated: "Yes sir, as I previously stated, both Sherwood and 
Williams stated that the old method of using strikebreakers and 
violence and things of that kind to win or combat a strike were 
things of the past; that the way to win a strike was to organize 
community sentiment; that they had been very successful in han- 
dling plans of that sort. They showed me enrollment slips I can- 
not recall the exact title, but it is something like ' Citizens' 
Welfare Committee' of such and such a city. They showed me a 
large full-page ad, I believe from an Akron newspaper, in connec- 
tion with a strike. They said they handled that. They sent men from 

Report on the Steel Strike of /p/p, Harcourt, Brace, N. Y., 1920, p. 177. 
& Public Opinion and the Steel Strike, Harcourt, Brace, N. Y., 1921, p. 5. 


door to door to get citizens to sign these membership slips, and if 
possible, to get them to contribute to advertisements which would 
be run over the name of the so-called * Citizens Welfare ' organiza- 
tion, saying good things about the company and endeavoring in 
that way to promote a friendly public attitude to support the com- 
pany. The details were a little more than that, but in substance, 
that was the plan." 

A similar movement was used against the woodworkers of the 
Northwest in the strike of 1935 which was under the leadership of 
the Sawmill and Timber Workers Union. It was used again in the 
textile strike of 1934, in Hopewell, Virginia, where cards were cir- 
culated by the management stating that the undersigned were re- 
signing from the Textile Workers of America. The Anderson, Indi- 
ana, "back- to- work" movement during the auto strike, and those 
of other communities have already been discussed. There is no end 
of examples which can be cited. 

In the use of the "back- to- work" movement, the Remington 
Rand strikes have formed the classic example. It might be said 
that with the Mohawk Valley Formula, the " back- to- work " move- 
ment emerged from an instinctive movement, to the number one 
place in a conscious strikebreaking technique. 

In Youngstown the strike was not three days old before a dele- 
gation waited on Mayor Lionel Evans asking for the mills to be 

When the Federal Mediations Board was sitting, Roy Thomas 
stated that "the move for Federal mediation will have no effect on 
the proposed back-to-work movement. 

"We want work, and what is done or is not done as a result of 
the mediation means nothing to us as far as that goes." a 

A peaceful arbitration would naturally be the worker's desire. 
This group showed how it was playing the company's game by its 
untimely demand of opening the mills. It was a challenge to peace- 
ful settlement. 

Roy Thomas, leader of the back-to-work movement here 
o The Cleveland Press. 


(Youngstown), said the Sheet and Tube has offered to accept 
the following: 

Grant all workers, whether union or non-union, a choice of 
regular annual vacations, ranging from one to two weeks, or 
the equivalent in cash. 

Pay all men who enter the plants tomorrow time and one- 
half on a twelve-hour shift. 

Continue insurance on all its 15,000 employees in the 
Youngstown area throughout June by paying all premiums 
usually deducted from pay checks. 

Waive physical examinations. This means thousands of 
older employees who might be disqualified by failure to meet 
physical requirements of employment, will not need to have 
such examination. 

Mr. Thomas, who was nominally acting for workers anxious 
to return to work, has been able to announce the terms of- 
fered by employers. His connection with the Youngstown Sheet 
and Tube is obvious. 

Nowhere was this method used to better advantage or in more 
dramatic fashion during the steel strike than in Monroe, Michigan. 
This tidy little Michigan town had a Republic plant employing 
thirteen hundred and fifty people. When the strike was called, the 
plant closed without disorder or untoward incidents of any kind. 
Everything was quiet. None of the workers expected trouble. 

It was then that Mayor Daniel Knaggs, together with business- 
men working in conjunction with the mills, formed a steel workers' 
association to forward a "back-to-work" movement. The Mohawk 
Valley Formula was punctually followed, with the slight variation 
that the Mayor then took a phony vote in which the C. I. O. did 
not participate. 

Evidence was accumulated by the union that even signatures 
were faked. Next, Chief of Police Jesse Fisher swore in a small army 
of deputies and special police. And vigilantes were organized. 

a The Cleveland Press. 


American Legionnaires took a leading part. Seventy-five Republic 
workers, said to be mostly supervisors, were deputized and paid 
time and a half for their time. 

The picket line stood on one side across the road leading to the 
plant, the deputies and vigilante crowd were opposite them. The 
Governor was in communication with the Mayor urging that the 
opening of the plants be deferred. There are two details which stand 
out in the Monroe story, and which are significant to the general 
public. Two cars were drawn up on one side of the road, apparently 
occupied by onlookers. Observers saw someone from the car throw 
a brick into the line of deputies and at the same time a tear gas 
bomb at the strikers. 

A melee resulted. Playing a leading part with the vigilantes was 
Mr. H. A. Alexander of the American Munitions Company of 
Chicago, which furnishes tear gas and ammunition to industrial 

The hearings of the La Follette Committee have shown over and 
over again that agents of munitions companies take active part in 
stimulating industrial trouble for the purpose of selling their goods. 
So in the Michigan town of Monroe there seem to have been pres- 
ent all the different elements for artificially provoking disaster. 

The fake "back-to-work" movement no doubt was aggravated 
by the fact that this isolated Republic plant was not as strongly 
organized as those around the industrial centers. This is comparable 
with the situation in Anderson in the automobile strike. Where we 
find union organization weakest, it is easiest to attack with mob 
violence, easiest to stimulate "back-to-work" movements, easiest 
to stir up the credulous support of middle-class people. 

In Massillon the "back-to-work" movement provided by the 

vigilante Law and Order League reached new heights of violence. 

Here is an eye-witness account of what happened in Massillon: 

On Sunday night, as was customary once or twice a week, 
a crowd of several hundred were gathered around the head- 
quarters [of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee]; an 
orchestra made up of a bass viol, a violin and mandolin, sur- 


rounded by children dancing in the street, was the center 
of attention. ... A car drove up and parked opposite the 
headquarters, its headlights bringing into focus a group of 
armed police approaching down the street. A shouted order 
demanding that the lights be turned off attracted the attention 
of the crowd. . . . "Douse those lights or we'll fill 'em full of 
lead!" Before the driver of the car had a chance to comply, a 
volley of shots riddled the car, followed by the discharge of 
tear gas bombs, by volley after volley of gunfire and gas, di- 
rected at the cars and at the crowd, now wildly scattering for 
safety, and at the union headquarters where many sought 
refuge. With intervals of quiet, the police continued to send 
volleys of shots into the headquarters for an hour. A man 
stepped from the door during one of the intervals, thinking 
the shooting was over he was shot in the leg without a word 
of warning by a deputy sheriff in the group of twenty which 
had arrived from Canton as reinforcements. 

Exactly what happened in Massillon was brought out in the hear- 
ings of the National Labor Relations Board. Chief of Police Swit- 
ter was approached by Carl Meyers, district manager for Republic 
in the Canton-Massillon district. This is Chief Switter's testimony 
before the N. L. R. B.: 

"Meyers wanted to know what the hell was going on over there 
letting those hoodlums run the town. He wanted to know why we 
hadn't done like the Chicago police had done. They knew how to 
handle a situation, he said. He told me if the mills closed down 
Massillon would be nothing but a junction point, with no need for 
a mayor or a chief of police or any other city officials." 

Through the long pages of the hearing, one may trace the man- 
ner in which the Law and Order League was formed, composed of 
businessmen, how it urged Switter to swear in extra policemen for 
strike duty, and how it offered to pay for the equipment. 

Two companies of National Guards had been quartered in the 
Republic plant. General Marlin, in command, urged the police 

The New Republic. 


chief to accept this offer, while a retired army officer, Harry Cur- 
ley, offered to help in organizing a large police force which was to 
be partly composed of "loyal" company employees. 

Throughout the pages of the testimony, Switter shows how he held 
out. He pointed out that the strikers had made no trouble, that 
he had no need of a larger police force, that everything had been 
quiet, and that anyway, it was not his business to break strikes. 

He explained how the Law and Order League "climbed all over 
the Mayor/* and how General Marlin wanted to know why he 
wasn't "showing some signs of life." And when he said he was try- 
ing to select neutral people for the new police force, General Marlin 
said, "This is no time to be neutral." So the Police Chief finally 
capitulated. He was anxious to get new equipment, the mills and 
the businessmen would pay for it and the city of Massillon would 
not. Forty policemen were sworn in and were picked out by Curley 
from a list furnished by Republic Steel. 

On July nth, Switter drove out of town. He had been working 
night and day, he testified, trying to keep order, and he was tired 
and wanted a little rest. No sooner was he out of sight, than the 
attack was made on the defenseless Republic steel strikers. 

Spread out in the public records of the National Labor Relations 
Board is a picture showing just how businessmen, the mills, and the 
National Guard combined to break a workers' strike by terror. 
After the shout, "All right, they asked for it, let 'em have it," after 
the gas grenades were hurled among the people, two were dead and 
fifteen were wounded. Killed and injured among the assailants 

But more shameful, almost, than the killings, was what followed. 
How many houses were raided, how many people were questioned 
as to whether they were strikers or not, how many people were 
dragged from their beds and arrested! People who said they were 
union members, and many who said they were not, were herded 
into the National Guard trucks and sent to the Massillon jail or 
the Canton workhouse. That night of terror, of dragging people 
from their houses, is one of the high points of violence in the strike. 

XV. Vigilantes 

AS WAS EXPECTED, the National Labor Relations Board has 
justified the suspicion of the S. W. O. C. that the steel company 
was financing the Citizens National Committee, which made its 
bow to the nation July 15, 1937, during the strike against Little 
Steel. Though it was not paid to defray expenses of the Citizens 
Committee directly, but for deputies' salaries, Sydney D. Evans, 
the plant management representative of Bethlehem Steel, turned 
over the sum of $30,000 or more to Daniel J. Shields, Mayor of 
Johnstown. The Committee received its funds mainly from indus- 
trialists throughout the country, the money being raised by a high- 
powered promotion man from New York, John Price Jones. 

It was in Johnstown that the vigilante Citizens Committees 
came to their full flower. Here was started a vigilante movement 
that hoped to become nationwide. Here, indeed, the whole force of 
the Citizens Committee came forth quite boldly and dropped the 
least pretense that theirs was anything but a vigilante outfit. 

The strike in Johnstown revolved in its own orbit and but for 
the Citizens Committees had little effect on strikes elsewhere. 
On the eleventh of June, the fifteen thousand Cambria Steel em- 
ployees of the big Bethlehem plants in Johnstown, went on a 
sympathy strike, upholding the strike of the Brotherhood of 
Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen and Trainmen of the Cone- 
maugh and Black Lick Railroad, a ten-mile line employing 570 
men, owned by Republic Steel, and serving the Bethlehem plants 
at Johnstown and its outskirts. 

It was what might be called an old-fashioned strike, and was 
run, like the organizational campaign, as a one-man affair by an 



old-line U. M. W. A. organizer, David Watkins, a conscientious, 
courageous man whose health gave way under the strain and who 
was replaced by another veteran. 

There was no central strike meeting place, no way of keeping 
the strikers together or in communication with each other. In 
Johnstown, as in Youngstown }< there are several different workers' 
districts, and it is a long distance from the main entrance of the 
Cambria plant in the center of town to the entrance to the mills in 
the outlying districts. There was no strategy board, no strike litera- 
ture. Not only was there no woman's organization, but no women 
attended the regular mass meetings, except the big mass meetings 

The picket lines were ragged and the pickets threw rocks at the 
scabs. The throwing of stones had given the police an excuse to 
fire at the strikers, wounding several of them and one seriously. 
This clash, which occurred early in the strike, was exaggerated by 
the local papers to provide an excuse for deputizing a large police 

The strike had been in progress but a short time before the 
Mohawk Valley Formula was punctually carried out. Excited citi- 
zens, many of them looking like high school boys, were being given 
black hats, night sticks, and arms, and were being sent to patrol 
the residential quarter of town to arouse feelings of alarm in the 
non-striking population. Everything was being done to give the 
effect that a violent and dangerous situation existed which must be 
handled by force. 

The numerous armed deputies were nothing in the world but a 
troublemaking crowd in no wise designed to keep the peace. 
Strikers were being railroaded to jail for any and all offenses or for 
nothing at all ninety days or one hundred dollars. 

The phony dynamite charges which have become routine as a 
means of discrediting the strikers were not wanting. An ex-reform- 
atory inmate a member of neither union was arrested for 
throwing three sticks of dynamite on the tracks of the Conemaugh 
and Black Lick Railroad. Layton, the prisoner, named two railroad 


workers, Calvin Updyke and George Owens, as having put him up 
to it. Most embarrassingly, these men turned out to be "loyal" 
workers of long standing and prominent in company union affairs. 

Layton then tried to relieve this embarrassing situation by 
hastily naming a member of the strike committee as his accom- 
plice! The dynamiting of the water main, later, was naturally sus- 
pected to come from the same company source, especially as the 
company had been warned by the force to guard this especial 
point and which, in spite of the warning, was left unprotected. This 
is an aged but telling device. No matter how phony, it sticks in the 
minds of the people. 

A "back-to-work" movement was promptly started. Mayor 
Shields said he would open the mills. The miners threatened to 
march on Johnstown forty thousand strong. Governor Earle sent 
in the troops and forbade the opening of the mills. The march of 
the miners was called off. From all over the country came a cry 
about this interference with the "right to work." It is interesting 
to note that all those protests came from the people who said not a 
word when, during the depression, employers dismissed thousands 
of workers. Nor have these same upholders of man's sacred right 
to work, spoken a word against the cutting of the W. P. A. 

The Citizens Committee, as it first appeared, was a local group, 
launched in an atmosphere of race prejudice and hatred. When 
Governor Earle declared martial law, Mayor Shields defied the 
Governor and the state troopers. Addressing a vigilante mass meet- 
ing on June 16, he said, "The time has come when we had better 
take things into our own hands." The mayor cooperated with the 
two newspapers in creating an atmosphere of panic. 

His is one of those "local boy makes good" stories which star the 
political history of this country. A small saloonkeeper, he rose in the 
world to become operator of a gambling joint. He took up boot- 
legging and was convicted in 1927 for tax evasion and attempted 
bribery in connection with the prohibition amendment. With this 
splendid background for a political career, he became Mayor of 
Johnstown. His high moment came when Clare ("Blood must 


run") Hoffman of Michigan called for "A man of the caliber 
of Dan Shields in the White House." Dr. Gustavus W. Dyer of 
Vanderbilt University, speaking at the same vigilante meeting, 
awarded him only the modest position of Governor of Pennsyl- 

The press, the pulpit, the Women's Christian Temperance 
Union, and civic and religious groups were all stirred up to a froth 
of excited apprehension. The Reverend Ray Starr of the First 
Evangelical Church preached on the strike situation in the light of 
biblical prophecy. The world, he declared, was nearing its end. 
"In 1906," he went on, "there was deposited in the British Mu- 
seum a book from Russia, containing the minutes of some secret 
society which set forth the plans for the overthrowing of all govern- 
ments and the bringing in of a world ruler. It is not hard to see the 
action mentioned in this book now functioning through the C. I. O. 
with John L. Lewis as its American leader." 

The book to which the Reverend Starr refers is, no doubt, that 
well-known phony, "The Protocols of Zion" turning up again. 
Started as a hoax, it was taken seriously in Czarist Russia and still 
is used as a bogey by Jew- and red-baiters not only in Johnstown, 
but the world over. 

Viewed from the perspective of only a few months, it can be seen 
that the citizens of Johnstown worked themselves up into a 
tantrum of hysteria. 

The Emergency Federation of Fraternal and Civic Organizations 
was formed. Its Chairman was Francis G. Martin, Vice-president 
and Cashier of the United States National Bank of Johnstown, 
President of the Chamber of Commerce, which is as good as saying 
that Bethlehem Steel chaired the Committee, because Bethlehem 
Steel runs all Johnstown, including the Chamber of Commerce. 
Nor did it try to hide its vigilante character. The local paper men- 
tioned forthrightly, BUSINESS LEADERS TO FORM VIGI- 
VEALS. Three days after the beginning of the strike at a meeting in 
the Elks' Home, Sydney D. Evans spoke. He was to be the go- 



between for the munificent gifts of Bethlehem Steel in support of 
the movement. 

At first the Committee manufactured publicity of a homespun 
kind, tactless, and puffed up with violence. But this was soon 
changed. Around this time there was a conference in Pittsburgh 
between local business leaders and representatives of some of the 
country's leading industrialists, to discuss the current strike situa- 
tion. Shortly after, there arrived in Johnstown a representative of 
Ketcham, McLeod and Grove, the advertising agency that handles 
the Weirton Steel account. There also arrived a native son, John 
Price Jones of the Thornley & Jones Advertising Agency. 

The plot thickens when one learns that Mr. Thornley handles the 
Ford advertising account, specializes in the accounts of "patriotic" 
societies and is said to have exclaimed when told of the idea of the 
nationwide Citizens' Committees, "I know Edsel Ford will be in- 
terested in this great movement." 

Under the skillful hands of these publicity men the little home- 
grown, violent, vigilante committee blossomed. A national organi- 
zation of Citizens Committees, said to have been discussed in the 
Pittsburgh conference of the big shots, was now launched. An ad- 
vertisement appeared in the papers, the work of a master hand. 
Gone were the threatening words of the self-styled vigilantes. 
They had nothing to do with vigilantes any more. This admirable 
piece of literature, entitled Common Sense, appeared in forty 
papers throughout the country, at the estimated cost of about 
$65,000. Calling for a nationwide organization, the advertisement 
contained this sentence which was the very foundation of every 
other vigilante committee throughout the country, just as it was the 
core of "back-to-work" movements: 

"Let us make two things perfectly clear at the outset. We are not 
arguing for or against the unions. We are not arguing for or against 
the steel company. We take our stand in defense of two funda- 
mental American liberties the right of local self-government and 
the right of every worker to pursue his occupation peaceably and 
within the law." 


The Citizens Committee, financed, as we now know conclusively, 
by Little Steel, practically controlled Johnstown for the next 
couple of weeks. Their protests caused Governor Earle to lift 
martial law and leave only a few State motor police, under Captain 
William Clark, who was glad enough to play the game with Bethle- 
hem Steel and its ready tool, the Citizens Committee. 

On July 15, in response to the advertisement, there came together 
in Johnstown the representatives of the Law and Order Leagues, 
Chambers of Commerce, and a motley crowd of red-baiters who 
formed a national vigilante movement under the name of the Citi- 
zens National Committee. 

Now, no one who wishes to understand what happened in Johns- 
town should, for a moment, forget the Mohawk Valley Formula. 

Big business has now a vigilante committee of its own, composed 
often of innocent and well-meaning people who have been fright- 
ened into joining. How sincere these people are you can find out by 
asking any man in the street, or any girl in the store. You will find 
that a real alarm has been spread in the community. People have 
been led to feel that some mysterious, outside, subversive force has 
moved into their town, stirred up the workers and is going to ruin 
business. These innocent people form the front and give respecta- 
bility to the vigilante, strikebreaking committees. 

The same technique that was used in Johnstown was used 
throughout the Mahoning Valley and the whole area covered by 
Little Steel, where each town had its own committee which sent 
delegates to Johnstown. 

When the national organization moved to New York it was not 
the success its sponsors had hoped for. Donald J. Kirkley, one of the 
five members on the Executive Board, promptly resigned. He was 
the editor of a paper which was converted into The National Farm 
News, published in Washington, D. C., and he received plenty of 
criticism among the farm groups for having taken part in a vigilante 
conference. His letter of resignation follows: 

I present herewith my resignation from the Citizens Na- 
tional Committee and request that it be accepted immedi- 


ately. It is with considerable regret that I have reached this 
decision, but I feel that it is the only honorable course open, 
since I cannot sincerely go along with the committee in the 
program and atmosphere in which it seems to be functioning. 
My resignation is predicated upon the belief that: 

1. Every indication points toward a narrow political parti- 
sanship instead of the original non-partisanship basis. I realize 
political reform cannot be adjusted overnight. But I believe the 
President should be given full credit for the good that he has 
accomplished. It is not necessary or pertinent that this com- 
mittee attack the administration in order to further the prin- 
ciples which are supposed to govern it. 

2. The committee appears to have become a "red-baiting" 
agency. While I am as much opposed to Communism as any 
member, "red-baiting" is not the American way to meet it. 

3. The committee has failed to declare that it is not fascist 
or vigilante, and by its silences, countenances the declaration 
that it is. 

4. The committee does not seem to give any indication of 
earnest desire to be of help to the worker in reaching a sane and 
fair solution of his troubles in the current eras of industrial strife. 

5. The committee, instead of conservative liberalism, 
seems to be reactionary, and thus not in keeping with the gen- 
eral desires of the majority of our principles. 

6. No constructive program has been put forward to ac- 
complish the objectives of the committee in correcting the 
conditions about which it complains. 

Feeling as I do that the above is correct, and knowing that 
I do not fit in such a picture, I present my resignation. I should 
like each member to know that I do not challenge his sincerity 
of viewpoint or good intentions as he sees matters. 

There is a nationwide common denominator for the vigilantes in 
the Imperial Valley of California, those of northern Michigan, the 
Ku Klux Klan outfits in Florida that murdered Joseph Shoemaker 


and Frank Norman (citrus fruit organizers), Henry Ford's Knights 
of Dearborn, the employers of the Tom Girdler type, and the vari- 
ous fascist organizations, each with its little Fuehrer. Naturally 
they have their affiliations with the more outspoken German- 
Fascist group, for they all are cut from one piece of cloth. 

Here in this country, without knowing it, they repeat pages of 
history. Following the Hitler pattern, they strive, and with success, 
to enlist the middle-class people with them. And as you examine the 
backgrounds of the leaders you will come to the inescapable con- 
clusion that gathered together in the vigilante camp are not only 
the enemies of labor, but the enemies of the New Deal. 

Our industrialists do not look forward to a Mussolini or a Hitler. 
They are content with the state of society in which they can run 
little individual fascist kingdoms of their own, with their own 
private armies and their own deputized storm troops or Citizens 
Committees. Such a Fascism is safer for them and easier for them 
to control. 

XVI. Steel Takes Stock 

MUCH INK has flowed over the question of whether the steel 
strike should have been called at all. Many criticisms, some of them 
just, have been leveled at the conduct of the strike. Certainly it 
has underscored a lesson which should never be lost sight of for a 
moment. This is: Rely only on the strength of the workers. However, 
the steel strike, with all its sound and fury, its police violence, its 
betrayals, its use of Congress, has beclouded the issue and obscured 
from public view the monumental achievement of the Steel Workers 
Organizing Committee. It has accomplished more, for the workers 
in its eighteen months' existence, than has been accomplished in 
any eighteen years. 

Let us list its impressive achievements, strengthened by the new 
contract signed with U. S. Steel, which indicates that the weight of 
J. P. Morgan is to be thrown on the side of collective bargaining in 
autos and steel. For this progressive stand Thomas Lamont and 
Owen D. Young are said to be responsible. The idea that steel and 
its allied industries could not be organized is shattered forever. 
Every company union has been cleaned from the industry. Fear 
and hopelessness have been driven from the hearts and minds of the 
steel and metal workers and are replaced by courage and hope for 
the future. An industrial union has been built which is international 
in scope. It has over 500,000 members in 1,080 lodges in every steel 
center in America. Over 445 wage agreements had been made by 
the middle of December, 1937, with many companies which em- 
braced almost 800 individual mills, plants, and shops. The principle 
of pay for overtime work was brought to these industries. Employ- 
ment in the basic steel industries has increased by 75,000 workers 



through reducing the work hours from forty-eight to forty hours a 
week and requiring time and a half pay for all work over forty 

Wages have been raised 25 per cent over the wage scale of 1929. 
The average pay per day has been increased from $3.75 to $5.00 in 
the greater part of the industry. Average weekly wages are now 
$32 in the basic steel industries compared to $16 eighteen months 
ago. Approximately $200,000,000 more in wage raises have gone to 
the steel workers this year than would have been the case without 
the S. W. O. C. 

A measure of security through signed wage agreements and 
seniority provisions, and grievance machinery is now enjoyed by 
the steel workers. Improved working conditions have come through 
the adjustment of grievances in an orderly fashion. Not only have 
vacations with pay in the basic industries been extended from 
100,000 workers in 1936 to 300,000 workers in 1937, but recognized 
holidays have been secured. Labor Day in 1937 was the first Labor 
Day officially recognized in the steel industry. These benefits, in 
one degree or another, have been extended to the nineteen metal 
fabricating industries which come under the jurisdiction of the 
S. W. O. C. Philip Murray, chairman of the S. W. O. C., could de- 
clare when he addressed the convention of December, 1937, the 
first ever held in the steel industry: 

"In not one instance has any officer, national, sub-regional or 
lodge, ever authorized or fostered a strike in a mill under contract. 
Observe your contract and your union grows, violate it and your 
union dies." 

This is a rough picture of the eighteen-month record of the organ- 
ization with which Tom Girdler refused to sign on the shabby excuse 
that it was irresponsible. 

Having counted these almost incredible gains, Philip Murray 
said, "I believe it is well to take inventory during this convention 
and realize our task is only begun. These accomplishments, with the 
attendant political liberty established in steel towns, do not make a 
union, as you and / understand it. They merely constitute the base 


upon which we are now ready to construct the impregnable struc- 
ture of an industrial union. From now on our task is one of consoli- 
dating our gains of the past eighteen months. We must put forth 
our best efforts to educate our membership to a full understanding 
of their collective obligations and responsibilities as members of a 
great industrial union. All possible aid and encouragement must be 
extended toward developing and training the future leadership of 
our Union." 

For the organization has been built so rapidly in the eighteen 
months of the S. W. O. C.'s existence that there has not been suffi- 
cient opportunity for the development of leadership within its 
ranks. There has not been opportunity enough for the education of 
these new workers, and the leaders are amply aware of this. They 
also know that when an organization is handed to a group through a 
contract, without the workers having fought to obtain this organi- 
zation, their feeling for it will be lukewarm. It is in such places as 
Gary, Indiana, where through the agreement with United States 
Steel the union was attained without effort, that union attendance 
is small and dues-paying slack. Aliquippa, the Jones & Laughlin 
stronghold of reaction, where in 1933 and 1934 the workers managed 
to achieve an organization of many thousands, sees on the contrary 
an enthusiastic membership. So the first task before the S. W. O. C. 
is the consolidation of its gains, the development of leadership in 
the steel ranks and the education of its membership. 

When the steel workers met for their wage and policy convention 
in Pittsburgh, the S. W. O. C. had finished its first triumphant 
phase 85 per cent of the steel industry was under contract. 
But now the steel industry, together with the rest of the country, 
was moving into a new depression, with corresponding unemploy- 
ment. Again the S. W. O. C. pioneered in the union field in its de- 
tailed facing of the facts of unemployment which confronted it, and 
in proposing constructive measures to fight it. 

It was a somewhat grim and hard-bitten audience that Philip 
Murray addressed. Four out of five of the delegates came to the 
convention straight from the heat of the mills. Half of them were 


former company union men who had helped to bring the rank and 
file over to the C. I. O. The hall of the Islam Grotto with its Moorish 
designs, was blue with smoke and lined with great posters of John 
L. Lewis, Philip Murray, and of steel workers. From the balcony 
dangled an effigy marked "Tom Girdler." When John L. Lewis 
arrived the convention went crazy. For twenty minutes they 
shouted and paraded around the hall with banners reading, 
WELCOME TO OUR LEADER, with signs showing from what 
widely-spread parts of the land they had come. But they settled 
down to face the facts of unemployment. 

One-fourth of the workers who came under the S. W. O. C. were 
idle. More than half the workers were on part time. The production 
index had dropped like a plummet from 85 per cent capacity to 
under 30 per cent and John L. Lewis and Philip Murray both 
pointed out that there was no indication of an upturn before spring. 
Not only that, but tremendous technological unemployment faced 
the industry. Next year a wholesale dismantlement of the old type 
mills would begin and they would be replaced with hot strip mills 
which can roll one-third of a mile of hot strip in a minute. When this 
new process is fully installed, 15,0x30 strip mill workers will be 
doing the work of 100,000 sheet, bar, heavy plate sheets, and black 
plate workers. In other words, of the 125,000 normally employed in 
sheet, bar, etc., only 25,000 will remain. This program will be com- 
pleted in three years. 

These facts were spread out before the grimly attentive steel 
workers. Such an analysis, such a facing of a situation of unemploy- 
ment, is an innovation in trade unionism. It is more of an innovation 
that there should be a program with which to combat the rising 
tide of unemployment. 

"A great national industrial union like ours cannot stand by and 
watch every fourth member thrown into idleness," cried Philip 
Murray. "Each worker has a right to a job and must be guaranteed 
security of employment." 

The S. W. O. C. proposes a five-billion-dollar authorization to the 
United States housing authority to lend money to local housing 


authorities to construct low-cost houses, a sum estimated adequate 
to build a million houses, or about a third of those which the coun- 
try needs, during the next three years, to be financed from the 
surplus of the Social Security Tax. 

The four-point legislative program agreed on at the October 
Conference of the C. I. O. in Atlantic City was reiterated here 
before the S. W. O. C. Convention: 

1. All business enterprises in interstate commerce to be licensed, 
and the license to retain a code protecting the rights of labor. 

2. Federal wage and hour legislation of minimum hours and 
maximum wages. 

3. Appropriation of sufficient funds to continue W. P. A. and 
P. W. A. for the purpose of assuring every worker a job. 

4. Extension of Social Security legislation. 

The convention voted to leave the matter of renewal of contracts 
which expire February 28, 1938, entirely in the hands of the ex- 
ecutive officers of the Scale Committee. 

To carry out the housing program a Housing Committee and an 
Unemployment Committee will be set up in each S. W. O. C. lodge. 
And each S. W. O. C. lodge will automatically become the center for 
unemployment. As John L. Lewis said, "Labor in America cannot 
be turned out to starve merely because industry desires to dispense 
with its services. Labor cannot be turned out to starve merely be- 
cause some chemist, or scientist, or technician, has evolved some 
new device or invention to displace labor. 

"This question of increased unemployment is again ravaging the 
nation with a terrible impact. The question of the right to work, if 
our industrial friends prefer to call it that; the right to work, the 
right to live like reasonable men should live today, is one of the 
major questions that face us today. There will be no logical solution 
of that problem until labor organizes and compels a solution of that 

XVII. The Textile Drive 

NEXT IN IMPORTANCE to the auto and steel campaigns was 
the T. W. O. C. Like most of the campaigns to be discussed, it 
made its greatest gains during and after the steel strike which was 
supposed to stop the C. I. O.'s activities. An agreement was made 
with the United Textile Workers similar to that made between the 
Steel Workers Organizing Committee and the United Mine Workers. 

The T. W. O. C. has been Sidney Hillman's child as much as the 
Steel Workers Organizing Committee has been that of John L. 
Lewis. The Amalgamated Clothing Workers contributed $500,000 
to it as the United Mine Workers did to the S. W. O. C., and the 
heads of the T. W. O. C. are largely Amalgamated Clothing workers 
just as the old U. M. W. A. organizers have captained the steel 
town campaigns. On the Textile Committee is John Brophy. The 
Secretary-Treasurer is Thomas P. Kennedy, but the plan of the 
campaign and its execution are Sidney Hillman's. Francis A. 
Gorman, President of the U. T. W., has lent his experience to the 

The attempts to organize the textile workers were many. The 
I. W. W., the Socialists, Communists, and the A. F. of L. all tried 
and none succeeded. To each attempt the workers responded, only 
to lose their union in the end, often amid bloodshed. Passaic, Pater- 
son, Lawrence, Gastonia, Marion, Honea Path recall great indus- 
trial conflicts fought in vain. Now it looks as if the T. W. O. C. is 
going to succeed where all others have failed. 

The textile industry is one of the most confused and competition- 
ridden industries in the country. No other has such fascist king- 
doms, such company-controlled towns. It is an industry of low 


wages and child labor, employing as it does, more than 100,000 
children between ten and seventeen. Thirty-nine per cent of its 
workers are women and in many states, where laws do not prevent 
it, the night shift claims them. 

Blanketed under the name of textiles there are really five indus- 
tries, all of which are in fierce competition. So when one thinks of 
textiles, one has to think of an industry split up into cotton, wool, 
silk, synthetic fabrics, and knit goods. There are also the sub- 
divisions of the industry thread, yarns, carpet, etc. 

These various branches of the industry are perpetually in conflict. 
They are at the mercy of every passing fashion. When skirts are 
short and style decrees silk, woolens suffer. Rayon has almost been 
the death of silk manufacturers. A vogue for cotton dresses can cut 
into both silk and wool and light knit goods. The various branches 
of the industries are split up into comparatively small units. 
Thirty-four hundred companies own 5,870 mills. 

In wartime and after, a vast expansion of the cotton mills in the 
South took place, financed mostly by northern capital. In 1927, 
alone, sixty million northern dollars were invested in the southern 
mills, lured there by the advertisements in trade journals of "the 
100 per cent white, docile, American labor,'* who were content 
with much lower wages than the northern workers. 

This migration of capital almost ruined a number of New Eng- 
land textile centers and it has long been Sidney Hillman's belief 
that you cannot have a sound industry which is cut in two. The 
equalizing of the northern and southern wage scale is one of his 

From the first a constructive program was placed before the 
manufacturers. Sidney Hillman pointed out that it would be im- 
possible to pay proper wages unless some agreement could be 
reached, some point of contact established where the cutthroat 
competition could be, in some way, regulated. "A floor of a mini- 
mum wage for all employees throughout the industry and a shorter 
work day'* were the objectives. He went into the campaign prepar- 
ing for a long drive, yet believing in his ultimate success, even the 


organizing of the South, because: "The employers will see it's to 
the advantage of the South." And with a clear idea of what prob- 
lems confronted the employers as well as those which confronted 
the workers, his problem was not to restrict production, but to 
prevent overloading, to regulate the workers* hours, realizing that 
fatigue is the enemy of production. For this reason, part of the 
original plan was that of eliminating the third shift and providing 
vacations with pay. 

Negotiations in so contradictory an industry had to be based on 
careful research. Solomon Barkin, formerly economist for the 
Department of Commerce, heads the research department. The 
financial situation of every mill, its indebtedness, its competitors, 
and its standing were put on record. The difficulties arising from 
the anarchical state of the industry were analyzed. Much informa- 
tion was gathered about each local situation. The sympathy or 
opposition of church groups, civic groups, Y. M. C. A.'s, etc., was 
noted. The characteristics of sheriffs, mayors, public officials, 
congressmen were recorded. 

Never was a great organizational drive prepared with more care 
than that of the T. W. O. C. Never have so great a number of work- 
ers in an open shop industry been organized with less fuss and less 

The progress of the T. W. O. C. has rested on education, on an 
organizational campaign complete throughout to the last detail, on 
negotiations, and on research. The strike has been considered as a 
last resort, to be avoided if possible. 

Sidney Hillman has declared over and over again that if men's 
clothing could be organized, there was no reason why textiles 
couldn't be, for many of the same difficulties were present in both 
industries. Sidney Hillman has a prescience of the split second when 
an employer will make a bargain. He watches for this psychological 
moment. On this aptitude of his for negotiating, matured by thou- 
sands of successful jousts with the employers in the clothing indus- 
try, his success in textiles has rested. More than 400,000 of the 
1,250,000 textile workers in this country have joined the T. W. O. C. 


The union now has contracts covering 245,000 of its members and 
is negotiating contracts for 25,000 more. Six hundred agreements 
have been signed, representing twelve hundred different mills. 

Rayon and synthetic yarns are already organized 90 per cent. 
The contract with the big Viscose Company employing 20,000 
workers was the first signed by the union. The knit goods have a 
large organization. Carpets are organized. Nearly 85 per cent of the 
silk industry is under contract, with a $i4-a-week minimum wage 
and a forty-hour week. This includes both the throwing end as well 
as the weaving end of the industry. The N. L. R..B. elections of the 
American Woolen Company, with the overwhelming victory for the 
C. I. O., indicate that the woolen industry will soon be organized. 
Yarns and threads will both be organized, and now the great task 
that remains is in cotton. 

To accomplish these results more than five hundred men and 
women organizers spread through the country. Eight regional 
offices were established. In the textile mills of the North, where 
many languages are spoken, foreign language organizers were 
employed. When the Ku Klux Klan threatened to ride again and 
drive out the "C. I. O. Communist foreign agitators," they found 
that there were no foreign agitators in the South, that all the one 
hundred and fifty organizers were people in good standing in their 
own communities, church members, and even quite a few minis- 
ters, under the leadership of Steve Nance, former President of the 
A. F. of L. of Georgia. 

How the Textile Workers Organizing Committee functions is 
exemplified by the successful strike in the silk and silk-throwing 
industry in the fall of 1937. Of all the branches of the textile indus- 
try, silk is the most distressed. When the T. W. O. C. organizers 
went into some of the small towns, women worked a fifty-two-hour 
week at six and seven and eight dollars. 

The strike was called on a national basis. Hillman's first act was 
to have a conference with the employers in which he tried to lay 
out some basis of agreement which would stop the cutthroat 
competition. The workers came out almost 100 per cent, all through 


Paterson, Passaic, Scranton, Allentown, Wilkes-Barre and in the 
towns up the Hudson such as Amsterdam and Yonkers. The work- 
ers came out and stayed out. The long months of careful planning 
had borne fruit. Presently Father Haas was negotiating a settle- 
ment in Pennsylvania. A "back- to- work'* movement was fostered 
by a few employers who belonged to the Girdler school, but not 
much came of it. 

Without violence and scarcely noted in the newspapers, the 
strike of a whole industry came and went, leaving the workers 85 
per cent under contract, and the employers agreeing under a con- 
structive program. There is a minimum wage of $14, and $18 for 
weavers. The forty-hour week has been agreed upon. These are 
cold figures. It is very hard to imagine in terms of human life what 
these shorter hours, these higher wages mean to the thousands of 
workers, women, and young people employed in the textile indus- 
try. A new life is what it means. 

With the same sense of the inevitable, the woolen industry is 
about to be organized. On May I, 1937, John L. Lewis and Hill- 
man opened the drive in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the home of the 
American Woolen Company and the scene of fiercely fought battles. 

They arrived, observers recorded, with a new line of attack. 
They did not underscored^/ like old line organizers. They spoke of 
opportunity. They stressed the point that workers could, under the 
N. L. R. B., hope to organize without harm to themselves. 

"In the textile industry," said Lewis, "is the basis for the largest 
union in the world. Aid in creating it. Dream what it can do for 
you." The power of the workers. The air vibrates with that idea 
when Lewis talks. The workers responded. 

What about cotton ? What about the South ? The outline of the 
T. W. O. C. strategy becomes apparent. It has been an encircling 
tactic. Organization has been achieved among all the other branches 
of the textile industry so that an end is in view, for it will not be 
more than a matter of months until they are almost completely 

In the South, particularly in those states where the T. W. O. C. is 


active, hatred of the C. I. O. is specific and poisonous. The New 
Liberation (vital information for enlightened patriots), published 
in Asheville, N. C., used its complete July issue to attack the 
C. I. O. Its leading article asked: Shall American Workingmen be 
Dupes of Moscow? The second story told: How we know the C. /. 0. 
is a tool in the hands of Moscow. 

The vigilante and Ku Klux groups opposing the T. W. O. C. 
specifically, and the C. I. O. generally, are linked up with anti- 
Semitic propaganda. 

With such opposition a long process of education was necessary 
in the south, to overcome the timidity of the workers; education, 
not only of the workers, but of the public. In mill towns little 
mimeographed papers began to appear. Parade, the organ of the 
southern textile workers was published. As each local was estab- 
lished, immediate attention was given to educational and recrea- 
tional activities. In some places there were educational forums and 
workers' classes. Others got up their own ball teams or bands. 
There were mass celebrations. People began making up songs, and 
singing them. 

From the Union Women's Club of Merrimack local, Huntsville, 
Alabama, came a sheaf of songs sung to old ballads. A song to the 
tune of Birmingham Jail tells the saga of John L. Lewis and William 
Green, beginning: 

Of the C. I. O. we hear a lot, 

From what it is doing, it must be hot, 
Of the A. F. of L. and William Green 

We've heard very much, but nothing we've seen. 

It was in the year of thirty-six 

Organized labor was in a heck of a fix. 
William had said, " I am for craft," 

And this made John L. Lewis laugh. 


They sing: 

Put on your T. W. O. C. bonnet 

With the Union Label on it, 

And we don't care what the bosses say. 


Hear them shouting everywhere, C. I. C. I. O. 
Did our bosses get a scare, C. I. C. I. O. 

So the march went onward into the South. It was temporarily 
almost checked by the depression. In the South there are a few 
great cotton concerns, such as Cannon in North Carolina, Riverside 
in Danville, Virginia, Bibb in Georgia, that have the position, 
roughly speaking, in the cotton industry that the American Woolen 
Company of Lawrence, Massachusetts, has in woolens. These have 
not signed up yet, but the encircling movement creeps on. The 
radio, the house-to-house canvass, the mass meetings, the talks 
before the community by well-known people, these continue. 
Organizers continue to emphasize that the object of the whole 
T. W. O. C. drive is to achieve its ends peacefully and that strikes 
will be used only as the last possible expedient. 

Will it be possible to organize the rest of the industry as peace- 
fully as the first third has been organized? No one knows. Many 
people believe that Hillman may parallel the steel drive again. 
They organized nearly half of the steel workers and then met a 
Girdler. It is certain that Hillman will avoid a conflict if it is pos- 
sible. It is impossible to say when the industry will be organized or 
what difficulties may still lie in the way, but that it will be organized 
in a not-too-distant future seems inevitable. 

When asked how long it would take to complete this drive, Sidney 
Hillman stated most convincingly, "My answer is just one day 
longer than the last employer will fight us." 

XVIII. White Collar Workers 

Small fry are no longer small when they begin 
to organize. They take on purpose and power. 

Heywood Broun 

Agents Union was held in New York, December, 1937. This meeting 
was in a sense a more revolutionary development than the organiza- 
tion of steel and auto workers. That insurance agents from all over 
the country, from New England to California, should have begun a 
militant organization showed that a profound change in thinking 
was going on among the middle-class workers. 

The very calling of such a conference has historic significance. 
Here, for the first time, was provided a parallel for the practical 
organization of the giant insurance companies. Through their in- 
vestment of policyholders' funds these huge companies constitute a 
vast reservoir of financial capital. Though there are 382 insurance 
companies in America, ten major concerns hold over 70 per cent of 
all insurance assets. And nine of these giant firms are directly in- 
fluenced by the house of Morgan, which shares control in some in- 
stances with the Rockefeller interests. 

This meeting was an illustration of the fact that the white collar 
and professional people are joining the onward march of labor. 
While the number of factory workers reached its peak in 1919, the 
employment peak for white collar workers was not reached until ten 
years later. Now both groups are equally subject to layoffs and 
wage cuts and they are at last recognizing this crucial fact. Politi- 
cally, and from the standpoint of a sound labor movement, this is 
nearly the most important development that the labor renaissance 
of the last years has produced. For it is through the unions' pene- 



tration of the white collar and professional workers that the middle 
class will at last awaken to its place in history. 

One of the most discouraging things about the labor movement 
in the past has been that this enormous group, composed of nearly a 
sixth of the workers of this country, looked at labor's efforts to 
organize with the same indifference with which the white Capetown 
dwellers regard the muffled drumming of the African in the bush. 

The small-town dweller, the people engaged in small businesses, 
that army of people who are employed one year and who are in 
business for themselves the next, and all those who are steadily 
leaving the ranks of the employers to become themselves employed, 
have been in ignorance, not only of the labor movement, but of 
their own relation to the world in which they live. There are liter- 
ally thousands of towns in the United States composed almost ex- 
clusively of working people of one kind or another; towns where 
scarcely a score of people make or spend over $2,000 a year, who, 
fed as they are on information furnished by the manufacturers' 
associations, regard labor as something remote from them, an 
unruly group composed of people who make strikes, engage in 
riots, and whose leaders are mostly racketeers. 

The ignorance of the middle class and the white collar worker is 
as dense in industrial towns. In Anderson, Indiana, during the 
General Motors strike, office girls by the score, firmly believing that 
the unionization of the auto workers would destroy business 
in Anderson, signed the cards furnished them by the Citizens 

One of the most potent ways of dispelling this ignorance is 
through the organization of the white collar and professional 
people. But this organization to be successful must carry with it a 
large measure of education designed to show this class its true 
relation to the modern business and industrial scene. Through the 
C. I O.'s progressive approach, the impetus given to it by militant 
young leaders, and guided by the judgment of mature minds long 
in the labor movement, education and organization are being 
carried on together. 


The technician, the draftsman, the great army of workers in the 
financial districts, the great army of employed girls starting out to 
the office every morning, the teachers, the musicians, and all those 
engaged in the amusement trades have in the past considered 
themselves as belonging to the propertied class instead of regarding 
themselves as workers. The lag of thought behind reality is no- 
where more clearly seen than among white collar workers who still 
act as though they were living in the days when in office or work- 
shops the young clerk or apprentice was presently taken into the 
firm and had the opportunity of marrying the employer's daughter. 

The largest white collar union, the Brotherhood of Railway and 
Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Station and Express Employ- 
ees, though having a membership at its best of 135,000 workers, 
refused to have Negro members in its ranks. The same was true of 
government employee unions under the A. F. of L. They remained 
stagnant and inactive and in no wise saw their struggle as labor's 

The failure of the amusement groups and the government em- 
ployees to relate themselves to the struggle of labor was largely the 
fault of the A. F. of L. Its conception of labor was as narrow as that 
of the salaried worker. A distrust of "intellectuals" has always been 
characteristic of it. Since the earliest days of Gompers' rule the 
A. F. of L. never made any effort to penetrate the hostility or 
ignorance of the middle class. 

Among the white collar people, organization even for the most 
exploited office help was feeble and ineffectual. In industrial dis- 
putes no attempt was made by the workers to organize the office 
staff" who almost invariably sided with the management; and when 
the hotel workers formed unions, it was the women in the hotels' 
employ who could often be counted on to scab, and take the places 
of the waiters on strike. 

Until the depression, the white collar workers sailed along un- 
conscious of their place in the world; their clean hands and clean 
collars gave them the illusion of superiority. Actually the changing 
economic scene with its closed frontier, huge aggregations of capital 


and steadily shrinking opportunities for small ownership, had com- 
pletely altered the status of these workers. Unwittingly they be- 
came "salary slaves." The depression shattered the world in which 
they lived and revealed to them that they were as insecure as any 
man who has nothing to sell but the work of his two hands. 

There is no record of all the thousands of middle-class young 
people who lost their houses, their furniture, their cars, and who 
subsisted on the charity of their families or public relief during the 
depression. In New York City alone it was estimated that 40 per 
cent of the women on relief had formerly held clerical jobs. In 
1932 it was estimated that nearly 20 per cent of the nation's four 
million clerical workers were unemployed. Salaries fell. The average 
$20 and $22-a-week job now netted only $15. Qualified chemists 
could be had for only $14 a week. Four-fifths of the three million 
and a half professionals and technicians are salaried people. The 
toll that the depression took on their jobs was tremendous. Sta- 
tistics for 1933 show 98 per cent of the architects unemployed, 85 
per cent of the engineers and 65 per cent of the chemists. Many of 
these, finding employment only under the W. P. A., learned that 
their lot was even more precarious than that of the industrial work- 
ers. Then they readily entered the unions, seeking security through 

During the depression they swelled the relief rolls as surely as did 
the industrial workers or the small-pay stenographers. The depres- 
sion was writing a lesson on the walls of history: that all workers are 
subject to the same economic laws; that the brain worker who has 
invested a small fortune in his training is no more insured against 
destitution than is the lowest paid typist or laborer. 

Some of the professional and white collar people read the lesson 
and began forming unions after 1931, but it is necessary to remem- 
ber that a vast number sought relief for their economic ills in crack- 
pot panaceas. There is only a beginning, so far, in the organization 
of this important group of people who are the logical ones to inter- 
pret labor's new identity and purpose to the middle class. 

For the moment professional people organize, their identification 


with all of labor becomes apparent to them. What has happened to 
the Newspaper Guild is one of the most important developments 
that has occurred in recent years. 

Under the fierce attack of the American Newspaper Publishers 
Association, after some hard-fought strikes, and after it had seen its 
members fired for union activity, the Guild membership learned 

The Guild's swift gain in numbers is remarkable, but not so re- 
markable as the span it has covered in its thinking. When it first 
started, the news writers didn't think of themselves as workers. 
They considered the organization as a sort of club. They had not 
analyzed their position. They did not realize that the average 
newspaperman throughout the country was receiving a smaller 
salary than the government-paid garbage man. 

At their last convention under the leadership of Heywood Broun 
and Jonathan Eddy, they voted to join the C. I. O. and to include 
as eligible to the Guild all workers from circulation men to copy 
boys. Their stand was questioned by the opposition and a refer- 
endum was taken which overwhelmingly confirmed this action of 
the convention. William Green is attempting to form a rival News- 
paper Guild, but up to now, not a member has joined it. 

Another union which has come along rapidly is the Federation of 
Architects, Engineers, Chemists, and Technicians. The first pro- 
fessional union to affiliate with the C. I. O., it grew rapidly. It in- 
cluded in its ranks unemployed members and workers employed on 
the professional projects of the W. P. A. and has been in the fore- 
front of the line by which the old antipathy and ignorance of the 
middle class can at last be expelled. 

The Teachers Union, which was formed in 1896, after a promis- 
ing beginning lapsed into inaction. Since the depression it has had a 
new lease on life. Its membership has increased and it has shown its 
progressive trend by electing Jerome Davis president, and by formu- 
lating at its last convention strong resolutions for unity between 
the A. F. of L. and C. I. O. A referendum is to be taken on the 
question of joining the C. I. O. 


In the W. P. A. and outside it many small professional unions 
have been formed. They have been about equally divided between 
the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. They include social workers, dental 
laboratory technicians, nurses, librarians, research workers, phar- 
macists, etc. 

Among the retail clerks and bookkeepers, stenographers, and 
office workers generally there has been a tremendous stir of union 
activity. The A. F. of L. had in both groups small unions whose 
membership failed to increase year after year. The Bookkeepers, 
Stenographers, and Accountants Union voted in May, 1937, at a 
special convention called for that purpose, to go into the C. I. O. 
Under the name of the United Office and Professional Workers of 
America, a coast-to-coast organizing campaign of office and pro- 
fessional employees was started under the guidance of their able 
young president, Lewis Merrill. A campaign was started among the 
thousands of hitherto unorganized financial workers. The campaign 
among the insurance workers has been mentioned. At the same 
time the A. F. of L. became active in organizing white collar 
groups in all industrial cities. The organization of retail clerks and 
office workers, of lunchroom girls and waitresses received an im- 
petus wherever great industrial drives were in progress. It is yet 
too early to assemble any conclusive figures because the wave of 
organization among these new unions is only beginning and every 
new victory among the industrial workers has its repercussion 
among the salaried white collar workers. From the Pacific Coast to 
the Atlantic States these groups of workers are joining unions, 
demanding decent working conditions, higher pay, and better 

The retail clerks* organization was formerly one of the racketeer- 
ing unions. In vain the rank and file membership protested to 
William Green. Individual unions started joining the C. I. O. 
They finally joined the United Retail Employees of America. In 
New York alone thousands have joined. Clarina Michaelson, 
organizer of Local No. 1250, has done an outstanding piece of work 
in that city, organizing Woolworth employees, Oppenheim, Collins* 


and Hearns* employees, and many other of the girls who belong to 
the most underpaid and hard-worked group. The A. F. of L. has 
also been active recently among the retail clerks and waitresses, and 
chain store employees are being organized in a nationwide campaign. 

The C. I. O. has formed unions in which to organize the 800,000 
government employees. In a split-off from the old A. F. of L. 
American Federation of Government Employees, 3,200 formed the 
nucleus of the C. I. O. United Federal Workers of America under 
the leadership of Jacob Baker. 

Government workers under the A. F. of L. were divided into 
eighteen unions. These workers' natural conservatism was in no 
wise lessened by the A. F. of L. The unions were unions in name 

Under two broad groupings the Federal Workers and the 
State, County and Municipal Workers the C. I. O. hopes ulti- 
mately to form strong industrial unions of government employees. 
Such injustices as occurred in 1932 when through economy 
measures men in the prime of life, in customs or immigration, coast 
guard, etc., were put on the retired list with small pensions 
would never have occurred had there been a union to speak for them. 

Both the A. F. of L.'s narrow, "vested interest" outlook and 
those earlier opportunities for advancement into ownership from 
white collar work are responsible for the present serious lag in 
thinking that stops a swifter organization in this field. Salaried 
workers are still reluctant to acknowledge their common interest 
with industrial workers and learn from organized labor new lessons 
in economic history. Nevertheless, the pressure of reality is steadily 
bringing these facts home to white collar employees. 

The rapid progress of the white collar unions and their education 
of the middle-class people from whom they spring will be one of the 
greatest insurances that this country can have against fascist 

In estimating the importance of this movement we must remem- 
ber that the middle class has been the recruiting ground of the 
fascist movement. 


When the bottom dropped out of the economy of the middle class 
in Germany, its members did not join the ranks of the workers. 
Not understanding what had happened to them, they maintained 
the illusion of their superiority to the manual workers and be- 
came easy dupes of Hitler's propaganda. He was financed by the 
employers, just as we have seen elsewhere in this book that the 
little Fuehrers in America are financed by the Weirs and the 
Graces. Hitler derived his rank and file support from the eco- 
nomically ignorant middle class. How true it is that the middle 
class when in distress inclines toward adventurers can be seen by 
the fact that such adventurers as Huey Long, Gerald K. Smith, 
and Father Coughlin got their support from just such distressed 
people as those who supported Hitler in Germany. 

Hunting a solution to their economic disarray, these groups 
readily swallowed the various eccentric schemes and plans offered 
to a gullible public. Our bewildered middle class has supported the 
Townsend Plan, share-the-wealth moves, social credit plans and the 
like, just as the frightened salaried classes in Germany turned to Hit- 
ler for relief from their economic misery. The pattern repeats itself. 

Only by labor's telling its story plainly, by pointing out the dem- 
ocratic and practical aspects of its program, will these middle- 
class workers be brought to see where they belong in the economic 
picture, and transfer the weight of their influence from the side of 
the employer who has so assiduously courted them to the side of 
the worker with whom their interests dovetail. 

And only when they do transfer their interests, only when they 
have ceased to be on the side of the management and the bosses, 
will they cease to be food for such fascist ventures as the Citizens 
Committees. Only when they realize that their economic salvation 
lies in organization, together with all salaried and industrial work- 
ers, will the importance of the labor movement be understood 
throughout the country and a true unity of all workers be achieved. 
Without the support of the middle class, the farmers, and white 
collar groups, the organized industrial worker cannot lead all labor 
finally to economic and political maturity. 

XIX. Agricultural and Cannery Workers 


The Committee for Industrial Organization, through its affiliate, the 
United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of Amer- 
ica, has now entered one of the most important areas of American 
industry. Agricultural workers are the most oppressed part of our 
population. Men, women and even very young children toil from dawn 
to dark at wages that are a disgrace to America. Their living conditions 
are appalling. And until C. I. 0. entered this field, no real attempt has 
ever been made to help these millions of workers whose condition is one 
of the blackest blots on the nation's escutcheon. 

The working farmers of America have a great stake in the C. I. O.'s 
crusade to raise the level of living of the working people of this country. 
No paradox in American life has been more shocking than the exist- 
ence, on the one hand, of gigantic farm surpluses, while barely 
across the street millions of people have gone hungry for the want of 
these foods. Only when the industrial workers, steadily marching 
toward higher standards of living, can buy the farm products they 
need, will the farm problem be solved. The American worker and the 
American farmer have a common goal, and that goal is that every citi- 
zen of our country shall have the right and opportunity to earn a decent 
living. One of the salient tasks of the C. I. 0. in organizing the rural 
wage earner is to cooperate with the working farmer in reaching this 

All of us, whether from farm or factory, must join to realize our 
common aim of higher standards and economic security for the people 
of our nation. 

(signed) John L. Lewis, Chairman 
Committee for Industrial Organization 


ANOTHER of the most strategically placed of the unions which 
affiliated with the C. I. O. in the summer of 1937 is the Agricultural, 
Cannery and Packing House Workers. After four years of neglect 
by the A. F. of L. they, too, joined the C. I. O. 

Donald Henderson, President of the International, defined their 
position as follows: 

We occupy a very peculiar position. In a very real sense we 
are the laboring population in the countryside. W r e are the be- 
ginnings of the labor movement in agriculture. We are part of 
the labor movement. 

At the same time, precisely because we are in agriculture, we 
are bound up with the fortunes, the hopes, and the fears of the 
millions of farmers. We are the link between the great indus- 
trial labor movement and the millions of toiling farmers in the 
United States. 

What we do is going to affect, for good or ill, the fortunes 
and the future of the entire industrial labor movement, as well 
as the fortunes and the future of the millions of hard-working 
honest farmers in this country. No labor union has so strategic 
a position as we have. No section of the working class can con- 
tribute more to the future development of the labor move- 
ment than we. At the same time we are the spearhead of the 
labor movement to the farmers. . . . 

Little was known about these workers until recently. The De- 
partment of Agriculture had few figures about them. The Depart- 
ment of Agriculture is for farmers, not for farm laborers. The 
Department of Labor classed them as belonging to agriculture and 
didn't bother about them. Only the Children's Bureau has some 
material about these unprotected people whom no one claimed. As 
they were unclaimed by labor or agriculture, they had no benefit of 
Federal labor legislation. 

The N. R. A. did not apply to them. The A. A. A. actually legis- 
lated against them, for as the cotton and tobacco acreages shrank 
they were left homeless. The benefit of Social Security in Old Age 


Pension and Unemployment Insurance was not for them. They 
were discriminated against in federal legislation; they were ignored 
in state legislation. No child labor laws, no limitation of hours, no 
minimum wage existed for these workers. In eight states there are 
laws permitting schools to close so children may harvest crops. 
The " strawberry" schools in Florida, for example, close at Christ- 
mas for three months so the children can bend their backs pick- 
ing berries and then resume their studies in the hot summer 

With the coming of the N. R. A. cannery workers began organ- 
izing. Unions of Florida citrus fruit workers appeared. At the same 
time organization of the fruit workers on the Pacific Coast and ag- 
ricultural workers in New Jersey was attempted. Small unions of 
agricultural workers sprang up throughout the country. In 1934 
the Southern Tenant Farmers Union was formed. At last the 
underpaid, sweated slum dwellers of the farm were heard of. The 
papers suddenly became aware of the workers of Imperial Valley. 

These different agricultural workers whether sharecroppers 
in the cotton states or agricultural workers in New Jersey, whether 
citrus workers or fruit pickers in Florida or in California had one 
thing in common: their attempts to organize were met with vigi- 
lante terror and violence. But with incredible courage, in spite of 
mobs and terror, organization has gone on until they are strong 
enough to form an international to vote themselves into the power- 
ful C. I. O. 

The three or more million of them, with their families, form a 
large segment of that third of our population which President 
Roosevelt has described as "ill-fed, ill-housed, and ill-clothed." 

They^had asked the A. F. of L. to give them an international 
and had been refused though there were many affiliated unions. 
Suddenly John L. Lewis threw open his doors to them. In July, 
1937, for the first time, the delegates of these submerged people, 
who represented roughly 100,000 organized agricultural workers, 
assembled in Denver. They came from every part of the country 
and from widely diverse industries. 


All the principal national groups who work in agriculture 
White, Negro, Filipino, Japanese, Mexican, and Latin American 
were represented. It was a diverse gathering and a moving one. 
There were no slick professional delegates. These were workers who 
had chopped cotton, picked fruit, worked in beet and onion fields. 
There were oyster shuckers and fish canners from Alaska and from 
the West Coast, and tree surgeons from Ohio. A man from the 
great Heinz Pickle Factory in Pittsburgh talked to a tall, colored 
man who came from a turpentine camp in Florida, where workers 
are held in virtual peonage. His was, perforce, an underground 

The workers of Mr. William Hapgood's Columbia Conserve 
Corporation of Indianapolis, a cooperative concern, get, beside 
numerous benefits, from $1,350 to $2,250 a year. What a contrast 
they formed to the little cannery workers from Missouri who make 
a few cents an hour. 

Here were the Southern Tenant Farmers. Their brief history has 
been written in blood but they have changed the history of the 
tenant farmer states. Here was Rev. McKinney whose daughter 
had been shot through the head when his home was riddled with 
bullets; tall, young Reverend Mitchell who had been hunted 
through the swamps by vigilantes; Reverend Williams and Willie 
Sue Blagden who had been flogged in Alabama. Now she was or- 
ganizing agricultural workers in the Oklahoma spinach fields and 
had hitchhiked to get here. Five years ago the plight of the tenant 
farmer and the sharecropper was unknown. Today it is recognized 
as a major problem of this country. 

The unions of California were spottily represented. Mr. William 
Green, on the twenty-eighth of June, sent a letter to the Federal 
Unions not to attend the convention and quite a few of those who 
were affiliated with the A. F. of L. listened to him. With the coming 
of the C. I. O. into the agricultural field a strange thing happened. 
The big ranchers of California, who had fought all organization 
with vigilantes and terror, hastily called in the A. F. of L. organ- 
izer Vandeleur, and the workers were summarily told to join the 


A. F. of L. or get out. So there appeared what amounts to a com- 
pany union on the big California fruit ranches. 

It is interesting to see just how this was brought about. Fright- 
ened by the convention success of the new C. I. O. International, 
Vandeleur at once got in touch with the Growers and Processors 
Association of California, which included sixty to seventy can- 
neries. They shared Vandeleur' s alarm and signed closed shop 
contracts, although at that time Vandeleur did not represent one 
local having actual organized membership in their canneries. Then 
followed the familiar racket. For three months cannery workers 
were told to carry an A. F. of L. card, or else - In one case 125 
workers were fired for refusing this company union setup. 

From the Northwest, the canners and agricultural workers had 
formed the Northwestern Council. They were helped by the Mari- 
time Federation and the Woodworkers Federation. Strong in 
canneries and weak in agriculture, they proposed to put on a brisk 
campaign to bring the 100,000 still unorganized into the fold of the 
already organized 100,000. 

Under the term Agricultural and Cannery Workers are dairy 
farmers, citrus workers, mushroom growers, and a new union 
The United Railway Icemen's Union, which ices perishable fruits. 
It "was started right for it started C. I. O." its delegate said. It 
probably has the distinction of being the first union to have begun 
its existence in the C. I. O. 

A new picture of American agriculture must now be recognized: 
huge acreages planted with spinach, potatoes, asparagus, peas, to- 
matoes, to be picked, packed, and canned by families of workers. 
These workers live in rural slums, in incredibly ragged camps, in 
corrugated iron huts. Within a generation the character of agricul- 
tural workers has changed from farm labor, as one thinks of it, to 
people working in a sweatshop food factory. Families of migrating 
labor follow the work season along both coasts. Migrations take 
place family-wise from Arkansas and Missouri to the onion fields of 
Ohio or the citrus groves of Florida. 

On the east coast of Maryland are migrating pickers who have no 


home. Here the Gospel Society reported that there were children of 
white, American parents who had never heard of George Washing- 
ton or Jesus Christ. They have no place in the world, no stake, 
anywhere no community they can call their own. Now, at last, 
they are organizing. 

Of the millions of farmers in this country, only 300,000 belong to 
organizations such as the Farmers Holiday Association or the 
Farmers Union. These organizations have proved ineffective be- 
cause the problem of the owning farmer and the tenant farmer are 
not the same, and the tenant farmer's problem again differs from 
the agricultural laborer's. To find some common denominator be- 
tween them, some way to evolve a working agreement, is one of the 
tasks before the new union. Again and again the union has stressed 
the identity of interest of the two groups. In a resolution which em- 
bodied the statement of policy the following occurs: 

To the working farmers of the country, both organized and 
unorganized, we express our intention to cooperate with 
them in every possible way. It is our hope that a conference of 
the leaders of these working farmers may be called soon in 
which representatives of our International Union formed at 
this Convention may participate. Such a conference will, in our 
judgment, aid in dissolving the confusion engendered con- 
sciously by the propaganda of the large-scale, absentee owner 
and corporate type of farmer. It will serve to clarify the eco- 
nomic and social interests of our respective groups the 
farm wage laborers, the family-sized or small farm owner, the 
tenant, and the true cooperatives, both producer and con- 
sumer. We believe such a conference will result in plans and 
programs of action which will advance our common interests 
and develop methods by which we may help each other in 
tackling special problems confronting each group. 

Only along this road, we believe, will be found the possi- 
bility of achieving that American standard of living which our 
great country is capable of providing for all classes of its 


The union foreshadowed a necessary understanding between the 
millions of working farmers and the agricultural and cannery work- 
ers. That certain groups of working farmers already acknowledge 
this was shown by the fact that at the Denver convention two of 
the most important guest speakers were Jim Patton of the Farm 
Union and John Bosch, President of the Farm Holiday Association. 

Not only the appalling growth of farm tenancy and mortgage 
burdens, but a new realization that high distribution costs are 
helping to undermine them, has made a bond of sympathy between 
distressed farmers and agricultural workers. Farmers are coming to 
see that food processors who pay low prices for sweet corn, spinach, 
and green peas also cut the wages of the workers who sort and pack 
them. In many states where "corporate farming" is prevalent, 
farmers are now discussing this common problem with C. I. O. 
organizers and union members. 

Since the Denver convention progress has been steady. Results 
of the last months of 1937 are reflected in a present membership of 
110,000, representing 154 chartered locals in twenty-five states. 
Approximately 11,000 workers are covered by union contracts with 
221 firms. Six districts have held conventions and established dis- 
trict organizations. Again these cold figures fail to tell the real 
story the feeling of solidarity and hope and purpose which has 
come into the lives of these courageous thousands who have faced 
guns and vigilantes at every step of the way. 

The problems still ahead are enormous, but so are the possible 
gains. And this new union realizes both. Undoubtedly some mem- 
bers of A. F. of L. leadership, joining hands with the large 
growers and processors* associations, will use terror and treachery 
to block this movement from New Jersey to California. And the 
farmer's old suspicion of union labor must be overcome. As a recent 
union report put it: 

The general problem presented here is that of pushing and 

building trade union organization to improve the condition of 

wage workers in agriculture along with those in industry, at the 

same time that we find ways and means of supporting the 


great majority of farmers in improving their incomes. Any 
other policy can only result in driving these millions of farmers 
into the arms of reactionary anti-labor interests. Such a course 
would injure the future progress of the entire labor movement 
and seriously hamper its development. A correct and successful 
handling of this complicated problem can result in effective 
alliances between the great mass of farmers throughout the na- 
tion with the industrial labor movement and the C. I. O. The 
political implications of this are obvious. . . . 

In the long run, unless a substantial labor movement is built 
in this field of agriculture and unless substantial progress is 
made to effectively combat an anti-labor sentiment among the 
millions of farmers, the labor movement as a whole must suffer 
and be hampered. 

XX. Other Struggles and Other Unions 

SO GREAT has been the drive of the C. I. O., so many unions are 
beginning promising organizational campaigns, that it is impossible 
to do them justice within the confines of one short book. Great 
struggles have taken place which ended with contracts and gains 
for the workers which it will be possible to mention only briefly. 

There are several recent milestones in the forward march of 

Chief among these was the famous general strike of 1934 on the 
Pacific Coast where, under the leadership of young Harry Bridges, 
the longshoremen made the first break away from the old reaction- 
ary leadership of the A. F. of L., and particularly away from 
Joseph P. Ryan, dictatorial president of the International Long- 
shoremens Association. 

The solidarity shown by the different maritime unions during 
the 1934 general strike resulted in the forming of the Maritime Fed- 
eration of the Pacific which, in turn, helped the rise and successes of 
the rank and file movement in the Atlantic, Gulf, and Great Lakes 
ports, especially among the unlicensed personnel of the crews. It 
aided, too, in the establishment of the National Maritime Union. 

The miserable wages and working conditions, and the notorious 
"fink" hiring halls dominated by the shipping companies were 
swept into oblivion following the 1934 strike which led the great 
series of victories of organized labor throughout the country. 

Among those labor leaders who rose to prominence during the 
Frisco general tie-up was Harry Lundeberg, who was chosen as 
President of the Maritime Federation of the Pacific, and later was 
given the post of leader of the Seamens Union of the Pacific. 



Syndicalist in belief, he has been both suspicious and hostile to the 
C. I. O. At this writing, Lundeberg stands as one of the chief op- 
ponents to an all-inclusive National Industrial Maritime Federa- 
tion, and advocates an independent status for his sailors' Union of 
the Pacific. His hostility has not been lessened by the fact that 
Harry Bridges, whom he formerly supported, has been made C. I. O. 
representative of the West Coast. 

Two years after the great general strike, the Pacific Coast em- 
ployers thought that the time was ripe to chisel on the 1934 agree- 
ments. This resulted in the second giant tie-up extending from the 
latter months of 1936 to early in 1937. The strike lasted ninety- 
eight days and completely paralyzed the shipping industry on the 
West Coast. Its scope included the 37,000 workers directly involved 
and many additional thousands indirectly affected the lumber 
workers in the northwest and the agricultural and cannery workers. 
Unlike the strike of 1934, there was practically no violence. Each 
side took its case to the public through press and radio. Strikers 
cooperated with police in maintaining order in some cities. 

The second West Coast walkout immediately gave rise to a sym- 
pathy strike on the East Coast, which resulted in transforming the 
growing rank and file movement of the East Coast I. S. U. into the 
pro-C. I. O. National Maritime Union. The eastern seamen were 
also joined in their walkout by organized ships' officers, radio oper- 
ators, and engineers. 

One of the most important issues at stake on both coasts was the 
control of the hiring halls by the unions. The hiring halls had been 
a scandal in the industry for years. 

Meantime the seamen on the West Coast had become increas- 
ingly discontented. This second strike resulted in a greater solidar- 
ity between the East and the West and strengthened the emerging 
young leadership in its fight against the old A. F. of L. bureaucracy 
which had refused to recognize the strike. 

Another milestone in the advancing power of the membership 
controlled unions was the formation of the National Maritime 
Union under Joe Curran. When Joe Curran's vessel, the California, 


was out on the Pacific coast, he observed that the seamen there 
had better hours and conditions, and he and the other boys made a 
sit-down which got Secretary of Labor Perkins to the telephone. 
This started the rank and file movement. It grew rapidly even 
though the officials supplied scab crews in their efforts to crush the 
revolt. Soon the Old Guard leaders of the A. F. of L. had nothing 
left but their charters and Joe Curran had the membership. From 
it was formed the National Maritime Union which has completely 
superseded the I. S. U. 

The National Maritime Union has voted itself into the C. I. O. 
and now a contrasting picture is presented. On the West Coast 
C. I. O. longshoremen are opposed by Lundeberg's Seamens Union 
of the Pacific; while on the East Coast the seamen are in the C. I. O. 
and the longshoremen, under red-baiting Joseph P. Ryan, still in 
the A. F. of L. 

No more lively union exists than the N. M. U. which held its 
enthusiastic convention during the summer of 1937 when a drive 
to organize all the unlicensed personnel of the vessels on the Great 
Lakes was started. By October they had signed closed shop agree- 
ments with nine companies engaged in coal transportation. Al- 
though this agreement affects only 2,240 men on fifty-six ships, it 
provides for an eight-hour day, overtime pay, eight holidays a 
year, improved living quarters, the arbitration of disputes and 
wage increases ranging from five to twenty-five dollars a month. 

The conditions under which American seamen have lived 
their bug-infested bunks and the lack of decent sanitation aboard 
ship are an old scandal. Hearings before the Maritime Commis- 
sion in 1937 again called public attention to these evils. 

Comprehensive plans were drafted for the longshoremen, the 
seafaring groups, the licensed crafts, and the fishermen. The purpose 
was to establish a national unity and a common program along the 
lines of the Committee for Industrial Organization. 

The 1937 conference of August 3Oth to September 1st in Chicago 
decided on a National Maritime Convention to be held in January, 
1938, in San Francisco. 


Meantime a C. I. O. Maritime Committee has been formed on 
the East Coast whose secretary, Mervyn Rathborne, also head of 
the American Communications Association, reports a member- 
ship of 100,000, including 8,000 of Joseph Ryan's longshoremen 
who have seceded from him. The longshoremen of the East Coast 
look over to the West Coast with its rank and file controlled union 
under Harry Bridges. They see the emergence to power of the 
Transport Workers Union in New York City and a rustle of un- 
easiness runs through the longshoremen of the New York water- 
front. The seamen on the Pacific Coast revolt against Lundeberg 
and fail to obey his order to support Beck. Pacific Coast vessels 
touch New York and the seamen fraternize with the members of 
the National Maritime Union whose early acceptance of the 
C. I. O. has had a strong effect on their brothers of the Pacific Coast. 

Next to the maritime unions and the longshoremen, perhaps the 
most strategically situated of the new unions is the United Electri- 
cal, Radio and Machine Workers. Beginning as a small union with 
but a few thousand members, it has grown to 140,000. Now seventh 
in size, with 600,000 organizable in the industry, the U. E. R. M. W. 
ranks as a major C. I. O. organization. 

The entrance of this union into the C. I. O. was what is now a 
familiar story. Federal unions such as that of the big Westinghouse 
Company of East Pittsburgh were offered only the B rating by the 
A. F. of L. This meant that its 6,500 members got only one vote as 
compared to unions with an A rating whose convention delegates 
carried one vote for each one hundred members. Translated, this 
meant that the officers of the I. B. E. W. feared a new, vital mem- 
bership which, with an A rating, might challenge the power of the 
reigning hierarchy. 

Six A. F. of L. federal locals and six independent unions to- 
gether formed the U. E. R. M. W. Two months later, during the 
RCA strike at Camden, New Jersey, they joined the C. I. O. Fol- 
lowing this the A. F. of L. sent in thirty organizers whose principal 
job, it developed, was to send the strikers back to work. 


Though the industry lends itself to small scale output, three 
giant firms dominate the electrical products industry: General 
Electric, Westinghouse, and Allis-Chalmers. Together they make 
one third of the nation's electrical goods. Each has fifteen big 
plants scattered in a belt from New England to the Mississippi 

In its organizing campaign the C. I. O. union has had to fight 
both employers and two A. F. of L. unions I. B. E. W. and 
the Wharton's International Machinists. In spite of this the new 
union, headed by James B. Carey, has eleven locals in the West- 
inghouse plants, twelve in General Electric, and three in General 
Motors electrical products plants. 

With 12,000 members in RCA's Camden plant it is the sole col- 
lective bargaining agency and at Philco Radio's television plant 
the union's ten thousand members have a closed shop. Negotiations 
now in progress with Allis-Chalmers are expected to bring the best 
contract that any C. I. O. union has signed with comparably 
great concerns. 

The electric light and power industry, employing 200,000 work- 
ers, extends into every state in the union only the railroads are 
more far-flung. Yet the power industry is controlled by a small 
group. For instance, 60 per cent of the nation's entire output of 
electricity is dominated by J. P. Morgan's United Corporation. It 
is from these utilities that the infamous holding companies have 
stemmed, bringing such scandals as the Insull debacle. These 
dubious corporate devices, pyramided one upon another, reached 
such a peak that the Holding Company Act was finally passed to 
curb them. 

Utilities are among the greatest profitmakers. Their immense 
profits are gained largely through gouging the public with the 
highest possible rates and paying the lowest possible wages. 

Now the old illusion that the all-powerful utilities could not be 
organized is shattered. The Utility Workers Organizing Commit- 
tee, formerly a division of the U. E. R. M. W., headed by Albert 
Stonkus, has 15,000 members in close to sixty locals over the 


country. Already it is successfully challenging the big utilities. In 
the East, strong locals dot the New York and Pennsylvania indus- 
trial areas. The union has contracts with ten companies and a 
closed shop agreement with the Mountain States Power Company 
which serves Wyoming and parts of adjoining states. Twelve 
subsidiaries of the huge Commonwealth and Southern System are 
organized. On the West Coast, organization is making rapid strides 
in the Pacific Gas and Electric system. Since all great industries as 
well as the vast majority of persons use electric power, it is obvious 
that all labor has an important stake in the organization and suc- 
cess of the U. W. O. C. 

Among the most interesting and important of the new unions is 
that of the Gas, Coke and Chemical Workers organized as District 
50 of the United Mine Workers. This union repeated the familiar 
story of having been greatly stimulated by Section 7 A of the Na- 
tional Industrial Recovery Act. Again, the A. F. of L. offered only 
a federal labor union rating. The workers, therefore, approached 
the United Mine Workers of America, pointing out that they were 
the coal process workers, handling the by-products of coal. Starting 
in 1936 with 13 local unions and 1,500 members, by September, 
1937, they had 103 local unions of 15,000 members, with half of 
them working under contract. 

Only six months ago District 50 entered the Coal Tar Chemical 
Industry. The chemical revolution is as important as the industrial 
revolution, and the chemical industry has become a pivotal indus- 
try in this country. It has only begun. It is related to glass, rubber, 
rayon, lacquer, and paper. The coal tar industry, under advanced 
technical developments, touches such different products as the 
heavy industrial salts and acids, such different things as aspirin, 
photographic films, and plastics. 

The union decided that it could not, in this highly integrated 
chemical industry, distinguish between the derivatives of coal tar 
and other chemicals, so intertwined were they. Thus starting with 
gas and by-product coke, District 50 has been accorded jurisdiction 
over all chemical industries. It again is an industry closely con- 


trolled by a great labor-hating hierarchy. Four great corporations 
own the chemical industry in this country: Du Pont, Union Carbon 
& Carbide, Allied Chemical and Dye, and American Cyanamid. 
James Nelson, the young President of District 50 says: 

The assembled Boards of Directors of these companies would 
adequately represent the Executive Committee of the Liberty 
League and the Republican National Committee. . . . 

Recently a barrage of propaganda has been fired against the 
C. I. O. and other progressive forces in the United States by 
these gentlemen. In economic and political philosophy they 
differ from us widely. In the near future it will be necessary for 
the C. I. O. to come to grips with them in the political arena. 
And they will be in a better frame of mind to accept their in- 
evitable political defeat if we have first convinced them of the 
fallacy of their economic reasoning. Their Works Councils, 
their Employees' Representation plans, their debilitating pa- 
ternalism must be proven to them inadequate for the aroused 
and informed American worker. . . . 

Our movement is young, our industries are national in scope, 
our opposition is great, our responsibility is heavy. This implies 
the need of cooperation from all parts of the C. I. O. movement. 
We are determined to organize the workers in gas, by-product 
coke and chemicals, and the United Mine Workers of America 
has given generously to accomplish this objective. With your 
cooperation the job can be done. 

Outstanding in the field of swift organization has been the work 
of the United Transport Workers. This union, which has just held 
its first international convention, is a living proof that the C. I. O. 
is neither violent nor irresponsible. 

By October, 1937, this union had 90,000 members, with lodges 
in sixteen cities. With the exception of the city-owned Independent 
Subway, the workers in New York on every commercial passenger 
vehicle which moves on wheels have been organized and con- 
tracts with these city lines are expected shortly. Without a single 


break in service, 50,000 New York City transport workers have 
been organized. Every taxicab in the city, every bus driver, 13,500 
men of the Interborough, the 3,200 men of the Third Avenue rail- 
way system all poured into the union, and the public never 
even knew about it. 

As the transport workers themselves emphasize, Mayor La 
Guardia has been an important factor in these agreements arrived 
at so peacefully. 

The organizing of the transport workers into this powerful union 
is one of the romances of the C. I. O. In 1934, Michael Quill, the 
present President of the Transport Workers Union, and now a 
member of the new City Council, Austin Hogan, the General Secre- 
tary, and a handful of other workers, decided to attempt again to 
organize the transport workers of New York City. In forty years, 
six separate attempts have been made to organize these workers 
and each time flourishing unions had in the end been defeated by 
the open shop tactics of the transit lines. 

In 1934 a company union with a Yellow Dog contract, which 
provided that a worker should never join a labor union, was the 
lot of the transport workers. Stool pigeons and spies infested the 
industry. The "Beckies," as the detective operatives were called, 
watched the men on the job and accompanied them home at night 
like guardian angels to make sure they would not participate in 
any way in such subversive movements as the Transport Workers 

The handful of union men met in saloons and hallways; they 
went to the roof tops and met in funeral parlors and rented fur- 
nished rooms for their meetings. From the first their idea was to 
organize as an industrial union which would unite all the workers, 
without regard to racial, religious, or political differences. They 
realized that the craft unionism of the past was the rock on which 
the many hopeful efforts to organize had been wrecked. 

In the early organizational campaigns, the powerful ladies' 
auxiliary played an important part, since it was able to work in the 
open when the union still had to remain underground. 


Like every other one of the great new C. I. O. unions, the Trans- 
port Workers tried to affiliate with the American Federation of 
Labor. According to Austin Hogan, they were told that the work- 
ers in the transport industry were a bunch of scabs, that too much 
money had been spent on them in the past, and that attempts to 
organize had "failed so often that it was ridiculous to even think 
the transport men of New York would join a union." 

Finally the International Society of Machinists granted them an 
industrial charter. When, during their struggle with the Third Av- 
enue Railway Company, they appealed for help to Mr. William 
Green, he suggested that their membership be divided into a dozen 
craft organizations. It was at this point that they applied for 
affiliation with the C. I. O. It is a familiar pattern. 

The transit industry has always been famous for its long hours 
and low pay. Michael Quill, in his opening address to the T. W. U. 3 
recalled the time when he worked in this city for 33^ an hour, 12 
hours a day, 84 hours a week, 365 days of the year. From the 
moment of their affiliation with the C. I. O. conditions changed; 
thousands of workers who were working from 65 to 72 hours a 
week are today working from 40 to 48 hours, many with a wage of 
8i{ an hour. Vacations with pay have been introduced and the 
industry has been cleansed of stool pigeons and espionage. 

Like other C. I. O. unions, they are also an answer to the accusa- 
tion of dictatorship in the labor movement. It is a rank and file 
union, run democratically. Austin Hogan states: "We do not just 
talk about democracy. We practice democracy, and we go further. 
We train the workers in democratic procedure and show them in 
real life the value of democracy. The greatest bulwarks for the 
protection of American democracy are the rank and file industrial 
unions like the Transport Workers Union." 

During the convention it was decided to launch a nationwide 
drive to organize all the cities of America as New York is organ- 

Much has been accomplished toward organizing the shoe indus- 
try. Over 200,000 workers are employed in this industry and 


52,000 of them have been organized since the C. I. O. began its 
drive on March 16, 1937. The union started with a membership of 
12,000 workers of the United Shoe & Leather Workers Union and 
4,000 members of the Shoe Workers Protective Association. Of the 
36,000 new members, 8,000 comprised the Boot & Shoe Workers 
Union of the A. F. of L. who voted to leave the A. F. of L. en masse. 
Elections were held and as a result the seventy-nine factories in 
New York City went over to the C. I. O. 

Wages in New York City have been increased 19 per cent. Most 
of the workers newly organized are under closed shop contracts 
that provide a forty-hour week, 15 per cent increase in wages and 
a clause to the effect that no member of the United Shoe Workers 
of America shall be required to work on raw material coming from 
a house or factory where a strike or lockout exists. 

The shipyard workers have waged a memorable battle. They 
have raised wages, doubled the size of their union and have aimed 
continually to eradicate one of the plagues of the shipyard indus- 
try: the number and variety of rates and the differentials and 
numerous classifications which give the employer opportunity to 
practice chiseling and favoritism. 

Rapid progress in organizing the packing house workers in the 
Middle West has been reported by Van A. Bittner. There are 
approximately 40,000 workers in the organizational area and 
25,000 are already signed up in the C. I. O. In the mid- western 
plants, union membership is closely approaching 100 per cent. 
The old anti-union strongholds of Swift and Armour, as well as 
the other Chicago plants, are almost completely organized. The 
United Packing House Workers which has been set up in Chicago 
represents more than 10,000 workers. In the Midwest Minne- 
sota, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota nearly 10,000 workers 
have been organized. In Missouri and East St. Louis, the Armour 
plants and Cudahy's are completing organization. This is an in- 
dustry in which organization had previously been at a standstill, 
and in which employers were notoriously anti-union. 

The oil industry was a low wage industry, had a twelve-hour 


shift, and, led by Standard Oil, had fought organization. There are 
in the various divisions production, refinement, and distribution 
of petroleum products what amount to a half million workers. 
The C. I. O. now has a membership of 100,000 with contracts 
which cover 85,000 workers. And the wage scale is now one of the 
highest in the country, 95.1^ per hour. 

This was a union that suffered much from A. F. of L. craft union 
raids. While there is organization in almost all the great oil com- 
panies, including Morgan's Continental Oil, Standard Oil still 
resists unionization. 

One of the original unions to join the C. I. O. was that of the 
Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. Since the beginning of 1937, its 
organization has increased from 17,000 to 45,000. Most of the 
organization on the Mesaba Range has been accomplished since 
the beginning of June, 1937. 

So the great mass industries become organized. The strongholds 
of the open shop have fallen one by one. Industries where no or- 
ganization was considered possible two years ago have added their 
millions to the labor movement, and yet it is only a beginning. It is 
only an indication of what is possible to the workers of this country 
under a vital leadership. 


Cincinnati, which once shared with Detroit and Pittsburgh the 
reputation of being one of the worst open shop towns in America, 
is rapidly following the other two cities and becoming a union 

The first four months of the opening of the regional C. I. O. 
office, under Paul Fuller, saw over 25,000 workers organized around 
the city of Cincinnati alone, and without a single strike. Thou- 
sands more were organized throughout the Ohio Valley region 
which includes southern Ohio and Indiana, northern Kentucky and 
Tennessee, and part of West Virginia. Twenty organizers were put 
into the field. The C. I. O. found itself swamped with work. The 


office opened to find 4,000 applications for membership already on 
the desks. 

Cincinnati is the toolmaking center of the country, with 28,000 
workers employed in the industry in 153 foundries. These vary 
from the big concerns employing 2,000 men and more, to small 
ones having only 100. 

They were controlled by the Metal Trades Association, notori- 
ous for its anti-labor policy and blacklists. This labor-baiting 
stronghold was challenged by the C. I. O. and already a quarter of 
the industry is enrolled in the union. Numerous lodges have been 
set up. In the Cincinnati district there are twenty Steel Workers 
Organizing Committee lodges and nineteen new C. I. O. lodges 
with trades as various as soap workers, white collar workers, state 
and municipal employees, enrolled. 

While the C. I. O. regional office was increasing its membership 
at the rate of between 4,000 to 5,000 a week, the Amalgamated 
Clothing Workers was cracking the anti-union nut which before 
had been too hard for it. Cincinnati was the headquarters of the 
anti-union open shop forces of the men's clothing industry. With 
the exception of "Golden Rule Nash/* the men's clothing trade 
resisted organization with the result that there was one strike after 

In August, 1937, the last firm to stand out signed an agreement 
after a brief strike. Between April and August approximately 4,000 
members were added by the Amalgamated. 

The A. F. of L. has also carried on a vigorous organizing cam- 
paign. It has not only increased the membership of its old unions 
by thousands, but it has added new unions to its list, notably 
among the laundry workers. 

With all the great gains in the Ohio Valley region there have 
been no disturbances, no violence, and the few strikes were of brief 
duration. Whole towns have become almost 100 per cent union 
towns without a single strike, arrest, or beating. Something like a 
labor renaissance has occurred around Cincinnati. 

XXI. The West Coast 

THE WEST COAST shows clearly the conflicting elements in the 
A. F. of L.-C. I. O. struggle. There, sharply focused, one sees the 
basic differences that separate these opposing theories of unionism. 
There antagonism quickly reached the point of violent action. 
This bitter controversy between hostile ideas of unionization was 
typified in the persons of Dave Beck, Seattle teamster czar, and 
Harry Bridges of the longshoremen, C. I. O. representative for the 
Pacific Coast. 

From Beck in Seattle, down to Los Angeles and the Mexican 
border, the anti-C. I. O. forces decided to take steps to eliminate 
the C. I. O. from the Pacific Coast. Beck in the Northwest was 
said to control the police, the political machinery, and the Civil 
Service. Uniting with him and his anti-C. I. O. teamsters in a coast- 
wise program were the A. F. of L., the big business interests, the 
Chambers of Commerce and the ship owners. 

Dave Beck began the attack which was designed to crush the 
C. I. O., for if the C. I. O. succeeded in dominating the Pacific 
Coast there was an end to his dream of empire. There was an end, 
too, to the old line A. F. of L. dictators Vandeleur in California, 
Flynn in the Northwest, and all the rest of the A. F. of L. old- 
timers whose cozy understanding with the employers was threat- 
ened by the rapid rise of the C. I. O. 

The West Coast now, as always, represents a series of contrasts 
politically and in the union field. The corruption of its political 
gangs has been surpassed only in Chicago. Racketeering in unions 
has been notorious. Yejt on the Pacific Coast the Maritime Federa- 
tion in 1934 actually applied the C. I. O. principles to unionism 



before the C. I. O. was born, while the Washington Common- 
wealth Federation was electing s* :te, county, and national officials 
through its progressive block be /ore Labor's Non- Partisan League 
was organized. Curiously, in politics and in some unions, the most 
corrupt practices flourished side by side with the most militant 
and advanced tactics in other unions and a united block of pro- 
gressive elements supported the Roosevelt Administration's 

The longshoremen early affiliated with the C. I. O. together with 
two of the smaller maritime unions. 

The powerful Federation of Woodworkers in their Tacoma 
convention of August, 1937, voted overwhelmingly for C. I. O. 
affiliation, adding 100,000 to the C. I. O. forces. The Agricultural 
and Cannery Workers in the Denver convention also voted for 
C. I. O. affiliation and the strong northwestern cannery unions in 
local conferences confirmed the Denver decision. What with the 
C. I. O. clothing- workers' unions, with the small union of the Fur 
Workers, and the Newspaper Guild, a menacing block of C. I. O. 
unions was consolidating itself upon the Pacific Coast. 

Beck began a relentless attack on the C. I. O. He started with its 
numerically weakest member, the Newspaper Guild. The circula- 
tion men had previously asked the teamsters to organize them and 
had been refused. When the Newspaper Guild broadened its scope 
to all employees, the circulation men were organized within the 
Guild. Beck accordingly demanded a discharge of the nineteen 
circulation men, many of whom had been with the Seattle Star since 
they were newsboys, and insisted that their jobs should be given to 
teamsters. When the Star management agreed to this and the 
Guild's demands for the reinstatement of the men were refused, the 
Guild struck. 

Meantime the Central Labor Union stepped in and warned em- 
ployers and fur workers both against signing agreements with the 
C. I. O. The fur workers picketed the employers and the A. F. of L. 
picketed the fur workers. Of the 268 fur workers of Seattle, all but a 
half dozen were organized in the Union. They are superior, skilled 


workers, educated and intelligent, and they felt a great moral in- 
dignation at labor making a picket line on labor. 

Attacks were made on the C. I. O. longshoremen in Los Angeles 
and San Francisco. Legal fights played a major part in Los Angeles. 
The A. F. of L. took twelve men and went to court with injunctions 
against affiliation of the longshoremen with the C. I. O. In other 
words, twelve dissatisfied men were to keep all the others from 
organizing as they wanted. 

John Brophy and Lee Pressman came to the coast and mapped 
the strategy by which the A. F. of L. scheme was defeated. 

Beck early moved down to San Francisco on which he had long 
had his eye, thinking to extend his empire south from the North- 
west. There with the longshoremen and the warehouse men he used 
the same tactics that he had with the Guild's circulation men. 

The warehouse men also had asked the teamsters to organize 
them and been refused. They then became organized under the 
banner of the longshoremen. The warehouse now became the battle- 
ground. The A. F. of L. gave Beck jurisdiction over the warehouse 
men, although not a warehouse man belonged to an A. F. of L. 
union, and although there had been an N. L. R. B. decision for the 
C. I. O. Having had his claim sanctioned by the A. F. of L., Beck 
threatened to shut down every port on the Pacific Coast and to see 
that not a truckload of freight moved from any port from the Mex- 
ican border to British Columbia. 

Said Beck, "Before we are through, we are going to call in the 
American Legion, fraternal organizations, business interests and the 
general public to join our efforts to stop irresponsible and com- 
munistic action." 

At the C. I. O. Conference at Atlantic City, Bridges reported 
that "400 sluggers at $10 a day were hired to promote fighting on 
the waterfront." 

J. F. Vizzard, secretary of the employers' Draymans Associa- 
tion said in approval, "The teamsters are fighting our fight as well 
as their own." 


No wonder the employers approved; the plan was to reduce 
operation costs 50 per cent by eliminating the militant program of 
the unions. 

A minor incident precipitated the throwing of picket lines across 
the San Francisco waterfront to back the demand that the 11,000 
I. L. W. U. warehouse men be turned over to the teamsters' union. 
The members of the teamsters' union were sent to get some "hot 
cargo" in the California Packing Corporation warehouse, where the 
warehouse men had been on strike for two months. In other words, 
to scab on other union members. 

A fight was waged by the longshoremen, which will go down in 
labor history as the "battle of the sound trucks." The longshore- 
men moved a sound truck in near the teamsters' picket line and 
explained over and over what had happened to the teamsters: that 
they were not in a labor fight and that they were picketing other 
workers; that there was no quarrel between the rank and file long- 
shoremen and teamsters. 

The teamsters also moved up another sound truck to the Em- 
barcadero and, according to a longshoreman, in the teamsters' 
truck they hid the "mighty Casey" (International Auditor of the 
Teamsters Union). "But Joe failed to make an appearance. He 
preferred to bat from his dugout. Using his mighty lungs, the hid- 
den Casey pleaded with all 'loyal' A. F. of L. men to return to the 
I. L. A. and the tender, loving arms of Joseph P. Ryan." 

Meantime another incident occurred which pictured as though 
upon a brilliant screen the moves of the A. F. of L. officialdom. The 
marine firemen had voted on the question of the C. I. O. Their 
ballots had been burned. Ferguson, secretary of the union, called a 
secret meeting in Garibaldi Hall, where he furnished 150 W. P. A. 
and waterfront floaters with phony union books. His intention was 
to pack a meeting of the firemen in order to put through a resolution 
forbidding the firemen's passing through the teamsters' picket line. 
Without firemen no vessels could move out of the port of San Fran- 
cisco. Longshoremen got wind of this plot and mingled with the 


crowd as they left the hall. When the packed meeting assembled, 
Harry Bridges asked for the floor which was accorded him by the 
rank and file, overruling the decision of the chair. 

What he had to tell them was like a bombshell exploding. He 
pleaded for calm, told them to avoid trouble and to give the fire- 
men with the phony books safe conduct through the crowd. Out- 
side two or three hundred longshoremen had been assembled in the 
event of trouble. An uproar followed Bridges' words. Ferguson was 
immediately suspended and the marine firemen passed into the 
control of the rank and file. One more union had thrown off the 
old, disreputable A. F. of L. leadership. 

In a letter from the rank and file to the Voice of the Federation, 
Ferguson's exit is thus described: 

"He ranted and raved about Communist-C.I.O. plots and 
went down the line 100 per cent with Lee Holman, Willie 
Hearst, Casey, Oscar Carlson and der Fuehrer in red-baiting 
the membership, and was booed by the entire body (save his 
clique). It was only through the pleas of cooler heads that 
some sincere and honest brothers didn't go up and take him 
apart just to see what kind of cogs and wheels made such a 
scab herder under the nom de plume of * Secretary' tick." 

Meanwhile Lundeberg was having trouble with his seamen. At a 
stormy meeting they refused to agree not to go through Beck's 
picket line. With Beck beaten in the battle of the sound trucks, 
where the doughty Joe Casey only "batted from the dugouts," 
with the methods of the A. F. of L. bureaucracy exposed by Fer- 
guson, with Lundeberg's power over the seamen shaken, the first 
engagement between the forces of Harry Bridges and Dave Beck 
resulted in a total defeat for the teamster king. 

To save his own face Beck said that farmers had petitioned him 
to lift the picket line at the Embarcadero and allow their perishable 
fruits and vegetables to move. Beck called the picket line off. He 
had really had an arrangement with the Association of Growers, 
and in five days almost everything was considered perishable. 


Completely defeated, Beck saw his own union moving over to the 
C. I. O. in Los Angeles and Oakland, and realized that if the strike 
was continued a few more weeks he would lose his union to the 
C. I. O. Though, in this instance, Beck failed, the conflict is far 
from finished. He has plenty of employers, money, and the news- 
papers to support him. 

Supporting Harry Bridges in his fight against Beck and the old 
A. F. of L. machine was the largest union west of the Mississippi 
the newly formed International Woodworkers of America who ably 
exemplified why unions leave the American Federation of Labor. 

In the convention of the Brotherhood of Carpenters in Lakeland, 
Florida, November, 1936, one block of nineteen delegates stood out 
conspicuously from the rest. The delegates to the Carpenters' con- 
vention are all mature men, and many of them are aged, scarcely to 
be distinguished from the inmates of the Old Men's Home, in whose 
hall the convention the first in eight years was held. These 
nineteen young men stood out as conspicuously as a bevy of debu- 
tantes in an old ladies' home. They were the delegates of the re- 
cently formed Federation of Woodworkers of the Northwest. They 
were given a seat but no voice, and they were also given the run- 
around. They had been paying in a thirty-five cent per capita tax 
which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in return, 
they maintained, their strike had been outlawed and their charters 
jerked by the Brotherhood. 

The convention over, they got into their chartered car which had 
brought them from the Northwest and made straight for Washing- 
ton, D. C., and John L. Lewis. Here they were told there was no way 
in which they could at present affiliate, as the C. I. O. was organiz- 
ing hitherto unorganized workers and not accepting membership 
from those already organized but broken off from A. F. of L. unions. 

The Federation of Woodworkers has had a phenomenal rise. Or- 
ganized only five years before, this union already had 100,000 
members. They had organized on an industrial basis with, as they 
said, everything from stump to piano. Included in their member- 
ship were such diverse occupations as loggers and lumbermen, 


shingle weavers, plywood workers, furniture and cabinet makers, 
even the makers of split baskets and the engineers and railway men 
of the back spur railways, even the cooks and flunkeys in the camps. 
Two years ago, Hutcheson, the bulky Republican head of the Car- 
penters, never averse to feathering his nest, looked with longing at 
this rich field and took the woodworkers on a non-beneficial basis 
into his union, the Brotherhood of Carpenters. A non-beneficial 
basis means that you pay high per capita dues, and get none of the 
benefits, such as an automatic membership in the old men's home or 
a vote at the infrequent conventions. 

The discontent mounted steadily during the year and at the Ta- 
coma convention the woodworkers shook themselves free from the 
Brotherhood. Here at the convention the reason was eloquently 
given. It is a democratic organization throughout. Those who fa- 
vored the Brotherhood were given every opportunity to present 
their case. But during the convention, under the able leadership of 
Harold Pritchett, the uncertain elements went over to the C. I. O. 
and even the great Puget Sound local, supposed to be the strong- 
hold of the A. F. of L., enthusiastically joined with the other 
C. I. O. advocates. 

Harold Pritchett is among the ablest of the young leadership 
which the new labor movement has brought to the surface. Like 
Bridges he is close to the masses of the workers, is a passionate be- 
liever in democratic unions, but he has more hospitality of mind 
than Bridges, is less irascible and intolerant. A shingle weaver by 
trade, he played an outstanding part in the lumber workers' strike. 
In his early thirties, he has already achieved a merited leadership of 
this powerful union. 

The program of the lumberworkers is to organize all unorganized 
lumbering and woodworking industries. The difficult conquest of 
the South lies before them. Meantime, their strength on the West 
Coast menaces the A. F. of L. machine and reinforces the longshore- 
men and the other C. I. O. maritime unions. 

The old, militant spirit of the I. W. W. first plowed up the North- 
west and sowed the seed for industrial unionism. The Wobblies in 


the old days cleaned out the crummy bunk houses, got better con- 
ditions for the lumbermen and fought many brilliant battles. There 
is still a syndicalist tinge to some of the lumbermen, a heritage of 
the old I. W. W. days, with the same old syndicalist suspicion 
toward any centralized authority. 

After the Tacoma convention, William Hutcheson declared war 
on the Woodworkers. Beck aided him. Presently teamsters pa- 
trolled the rivers in picket boats to keep the logs of the C. I. O. 
loggers and lumbermen from moving. Commenting on the situation 
in the New York Times, Richard L. Neuberger, labor expert on 
West Coast affairs stated: 

Today, in result, A. F. of L. picket lines surround the mills 
and camps. The A. F. of L. rejects C. I. O. demands that it 
remove its picket lines. The C. I. O. scorns A. F. of L. sugges- 
tions that it give up the newly acquired woodworkers. The 
nature of most logging operations in the Northwest has made 
the A. F. of L. picket lines highly effective. The logs are cut in 
the mountains and floated downstream to the mills. Sailors 
sympathetic to the A. F. of L. have manned picket boats in the 
rivers and assertedly kept the logs from the mills. There has 
been some violence. Carpenters say they will not use C. I. O. 
lumber, and teamsters threaten not to truck it. The flow of 
logs to mills has dwindled to a mere trickle and many mills 
have had to shut down. 

Portland was under a practical blockade and remained so for 
months. Women of the Woodworkers Ladies' Auxiliary appeared 
with baseball bats to protect their husbands 7 jobs from the 
A. F. of L. "School is starting and we need money for shoes and 
books," cried Mrs. Julia Bertram, President of the Auxiliary. "If 
the city council won't give protection to the men on the fuel trucks, 
the lumbermen's wives will go out on the trucks and squad cars 
themselves and protect their husbands' jobs." The blockade of the 
lumber workers continued for five months in Portland, in spite of 
the intervention of businessmen and municipal authorities. Even 


the Governor of the State was unable to put an end to this war of 
Beck and Hutcheson on labor. Governor Martin publicly denounced 
the A. F. of L. when it refused to abide by an election held under 
his auspices which the C. I. O. won. The blockade was finally lifted 
amid some startling confessions by members of the strong-arm 
squad of the A. F. of L. 

What Dave Beck has done in establishing his rule over the unions 
and businessmen of Seattle is in reality nothing new. It merely brings 
to a high point of perfection practices well known to the building 
trade unions in Chicago, as well as in other parts of the country. 

Beck has developed an old system to a perfection which might 
well be termed a labor fascism. It is dangerous, because should it be 
extended throughout the country, it would mean the enslavement 
of the unions and a permanent alignment of labor leader and em- 
ployer. The plan is simple and workable. It means for the worker 
absolute submission and (for the moment) good wages; for the 
small businessman, annihilation; for the public, inordinately high 
prices; for the big businessman, the crushing of competition on the 
one hand and any insurgency of labor on the other. 

A big, florid man, Beck knew how to build up a machine and sur- 
round himself with men, all of whom had acquired, at one time or 
another, liberal reputations. Vandeveer, his lawyer, is said to be the 
brains of the Beck machine. Vandeveer was the lawyer in the fa- 
mous Centralia I. W. W. case. He defended the boys at the risk of 
his life. 

Mayor Dore, who turned the fire department and tear gas on the 
lumber strikers in 1934, is Mr. Beck's staunch supporter. Beck fre- 
quents the society of the big businessmen of Seattle and he had 
hoped that his well-oiled plan of controlling both labor and big 
business might extend the length of the Pacific Coast. It worked so 
well in Seattle and Portland, why not San Francisco and down to 
the Mexican border? 

In the Northwest, they will tell you, Beck deals with labor as a 
commodity. Beck's idea was of organizing employers. The employ- 
ers then organize the workers by means of a notification on the 


bulletin board to join the union. In return for fair wages and a 
restriction on hours, Beck promises industrial peace and the driving 
out of any competition. 

For organizing the brewers, Beck promised to keep all competing 
beer out of the territory. For organizing the grocery clerks or the 
big laundries and cleaning establishments, Beck put all sorts of 
difficulties in the way of the small one-man establishments. 

From there Beck moved into bakeries, wholesale drugs, and a 
variety of industries all of whose members are rated as teamsters. 
He denies that he is paid for "protection'* and also denies the exist- 
ence of "goon" or strong-arm squads. For answer his opponents 
point to court records where newsboys have been beaten up by men 
who escaped in cars not unknown to Beck. 

Labor sympathizers in Seattle will tell you that if anyone dares to 
get up on the Union hall floor and oppose any measure of the Beck 
contingent, he may be pounced on from the union floor. So Beck 
with his beef squad, a political backing, a well-oiled machine and an 
ever-increasing sphere of influence looked to a long and happy 
reign. But a cloud, somewhat bigger than a man's hand, was ap- 
pearing over the Beck horizon. This cloud was the C. I. O. with 
Harry Bridges as the West Coast representative. 

Harry Bridges emerged from the successful longshoremen's strike 
of 1934 as the dominant progressive labor figure on the Pacific 
Coast. Harry Bridges' rise to power did not then bother Beck, 
whose teamsters supported the longshoremen's strike and were a 
handsome factor in their victory. But after the 1936 strike, Bridges 
swung the longshoremen over to the C. I. O. and led the movement 
to swing over the entire Pacific waterfront. Beck then perceived 
that he had been nurturing in Bridges a viper who was to worst him 
in his first attempt to drive the C. I. O. from the Pacific Coast. 

Bridges, lean, impatient, is a passionate believer in the voice of 
the rank and file. His slogan is to keep close to the masses. He is 
without oratorical tricks. He is direct, forceful, and has the implicit 
confidence of his own workers and the masses of the workers on the 
West Coast. Defying Beck and the A. F. of L. machine upon the 


occasion when he and his organization were expelled from the Cen- 
tral Labor Council of San Francisco, he stated from the floor: 

"This is not a question of the C. I. O. or A. F. of L. That is a na- 
tional issue which will be determined nationally, and while I'm on 
the subject I want to say that the C. I. O. is here to stay no matter 
what happens here tonight or elsewhere in the country. The C. I. O. 
is labor's answer to the A. F. of L.'s failure for more than twenty- 
five years to organize in the mass production industries." 

XXII. New Strike Techniques 

WE HAVE run through the roster of the unions and seen their 
amazing gains attain the proportions of a mass movement. What 
new techniques has the C. I. O. evolved to make such progress 
possible? What has labor besides its numbers to combat the 
Mohawk Valley Plan with its vigilante committees, its phony 
back-to-work movements and the battery of union-breaking tech- 
niques we have been discussing? 

First of all, labor's greater unity. For in spite of the as yet un- 
healed breach between the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O., for the first 
time all labor has thought and acted as a unit, as business has long 
since done. The old slogan, "An injury to one is an injury to all," 
has come to life again. This sense of unity the identity of interest 
of all workers of whatever union, making them in truth members of 
one body is the C. I. O.'s greatest source of power. It begins in 
the industrial union which embraces all the workers of an industry, 
then leaps the bounds of the industry and sees the interrelation of 
all industries. 

When a small and obscure strike occurs, a wise and experienced 
adviser like Brophy may take the helm, and Lewis himself, the 
shrewdest of negotiators, may close the deal. On the other hand, a 
switch is thrown by power workers in Saginaw, Michigan and the 
repercussions of this reckless act shiver through all the units of the 
far-flung steel strike. 

No longer isolated by distance, the East Coast Maritime Union 
zealously watches what is happening on the Pacific waterfront 
between Harry Bridges and Beck, the A. F. of L. dictator of the 



Akin to this sensitivity of the whole body of the C. I. O. to the 
especial needs of any group of workers on strike is a resulting inte- 
gration in the labor movement, of which the A. F. of L., by its very 
structure, was incapable. 

A great labor union, just as any other enterprise^ must have 
finances for its work. How these funds are accumulated and how 
they are spent is of greatest importance to the union. On nothing 
is the general public more misled than on the subject of labor 
finances. The C. I. O. was, in the beginning, financed with a large 
sum from the war chest of the United Mine Workers, the Amalga- 
mated Clothing Workers, and the I. L. G. W. U. as well as contribu- 
tions from the other eight original founders. The Steel Workers 
Organizing Committee started out with a cool half million from the 
C. I. O. treasury, again mostly contributed by the U. M. W. A. 
Young unions, such as the Agricultural Workers, the Shipbuilders 
and others, may have sums loaned to them from the C. I. O. but it 
is expected that the growth in membership will repay these loans. 
Such unions as the Automobile Workers do not need financing from 
anyone but themselves. Their finances are typical of the C. I. O. 
unions, although the exact ratio of what goes to the central office 
and to the international office may differ. In the U. A. W. U., 
which rose to 425,000 members before the fall layoff's of 1937, a 
dollar a month is paid by each worker; of this, 65 per cent re- 
mains in the local treasury from which the local organizers and 
union and other expenses are paid. Of the percentage that goes to 
U. A. W. U. headquarters, five cents per capita is sent to the central 
office of the C. I. O. 

During the Auto Workers Convention of 1937 it was stated that 
$300,000,000 in wages had been added annually to the payroll since 
the rise of the U. A. W. U. A good investment for a twelve-dollar- 
a-year payment. 

A great development has been seen in the legal field. Before any 
trouble has occurred, the legal department will already have looked 
forward to the hazards which may occur and be ready to support 
the civil rights of the strikers and to defend them in court against 


frame-ups. What the strikers' rights are, what they can insist upon, 
are not left for the moment of decision. There will be legal informa- 
tion ready for the workers in advance of any trouble. 

The field representatives encountered in many localities munici- 
pal ordinances designed to prevent distribution of leaflets or other 
literature, the holding of mass meetings, or picketing of any kind. 
Local legal aid was obtained to contest the legality of such ordi- 
nances, with a high degree of success. To protect the possible arrest 
of organizers or other persons sympathetic with the drive, a na- 
tional system of bail bonds was arranged. Under this system the 
National Surety Corporation made available to the S. W. O. C., 
in each locality where the organizing drive was under way, bail 
bonds which could be called for at a moment's notice. 

In strike situations, the S. W. O. C.'s legal setup included both 
local attorneys in towns where a strike was under way and a group 
of competent attorneys thoroughly familiar with labor's legal 
problems who could be sent to those places where the legal fight 
became most severe. 

Specific measures for protecting labor through state legislation 
have been recommended, and in some states, notably Pennsylvania, 
several such bills have been enacted. 

The National Labor Relations Act has been used extensively 
against open shop employers. The La Follette Committee has been 
called upon where flagrant violations of workers' civil liberties were 
carried on by employers or state or local officials. 

Of greater and greater importance in the present day union setup 
is the Education and Research Department. And while much has 
been done, adequate research departments and intensive educating 
of new union membership are still gravely lacking in the new 
unions. The vital part research can play is illustrated by the follow- 
ing story, an instance when the fate of a strike depended on a piece 
of information. In 1912, in the textile strike in Lawrence, Massa- 
chusetts, the outcome of the strike swung in the balance. The union 
resources were almost exhausted. The union was ready to capitu- 
late. A friendly reporter happened to find out that the American 


Woolen Company was trying to float a new bond issue. They were 
going to the women of New England, but these conservative 
investors had already been impressed with Professor Vida Scudder's 
words, to the effect that if the women of New England knew the 
conditions under which the woolen workers lived and the conse- 
quent toll of human life, they would never buy another yard of 
cloth until the conditions had been remedied. 

Others failed to invest, not for any humanitarian reasons, but 
because of the insecurity of a strike-torn industry. The failure to 
float the bond issue during a strike made the employers eager to 
settle, but without this bit of knowledge, the strikers might have 
been lost. 

Nothing shows the difference between modern strike techniques 
and old strike techniques more than this anecdote. Under the 
T. W. O. C. this would not have been left to chance. But many 
unions today are just as vulnerable as were the workers in Lawrence 
in 1912. 

Research in the established unions like the Amalgamated Cloth- 
ing Workers, the International Ladies Garment Workers, the 
United Mine Workers, is of course no new thing. The use of figures 
and statistics has long been usual, but it is becoming of increasingly 
greater importance. The financial situation of the industry affected 
is of the utmost importance to the strike leaders. Figures are used 
in negotiations. They are an essential part of strategy in mapping 
out any strike campaign. What is the state of the inventory? Has a 
great surplus of the article been accumulated? Is the employer in a 
state to stand the long siege of a strike, and are there important 
orders ahead which must be filled? 

All these questions involving his raw material, his ultimate mar- 
ket, his financial rating, are important in appeals to the public and 
in determining the strike strategy. 

It should be the province of the still neglected research depart- 
ment to know everything about the industry, its financial rating, 
its source of supplies, its methods of transportation. The research 
department analyzes a company's financial statements and knows 


what its profits and losses, assets and liabilities are. It knows the 
cost of production, and how much of the dollar of production is 
spent on labor. This, by the way, is very much less than the general 
public is led to believe. 

Labor's share in the cost of commodities is given in an article in 
The Annalist of July 16, 1937, by A. T. Shurick, who states: 

"As a matter of fact, wages account for a relatively small part of 
commodity costs, the percentages of the f. o. b. plant labor cost to 
the total cost in 1929 ranging as follows: Boots and shoes, 23 per 
cent; bread and bakery products, 18 per cent; men's clothing, 19.9 
per cent; cotton goods, 21.3 per cent; steel and rolling mills, 20.5 
per cent; wholesale meat packing, 4.8 per cent; motor vehicles (ex- 
cluding bodies and parts), 9.8 per cent. The average of the forty- 
eight largest manufacturing industries (having plus $150,000,000 
annual payrolls) was 1 8. 2 per cent. . . . The demands of labor are 
currently less extravagant than commonly pictured." 

Such facts should be known and used more fully in the union's 
demand for higher wages in negotiations and for the use of the 
membership and the general public. 

But the research department will not stop here in learning about 
its industry. The question of industrial diseases will loom large in 
many unions. The study of these diseases and the protection of the 
worker through the enactment of legislation are important phases 
of a union's legitimate activities. 

Hand in hand with the Department of Research is that of Educa- 
tion. Workers' education is a comparatively new thing in this 
country. It is perhaps here that the C. I. O. has been least efficient. 
The leaders have said when we organize them, then we can educate 
them. Up to now the central office at Washington has made no 
recommendations but has left this to the individual unions. 

Friendly critics of the C. I. O. have urged in vain that education 
and organization should go hand in hand; that it is education which 
makes leaders. More education than that furnished by the union 
hall is necessary when union membership is increasing by hundreds 
of thousands. It is lack of education which leads to individualistic 


acts of violence. And this same lack which leads to a romantic con- 
ception of the labor movement on the one hand and an old-fash- 
ioned one on the other. Discipline is impossible without education, 
and discipline is the very backbone of the modern union. Workers 
who have studied the history of the labor movement, strike strategy, 
and the function of union organization, know that it is ever the 
policy of the opponent to provoke the workers to sporadic acts of 

Let a gun be discovered in a flying squadron car and the press 
agent of the mill owner can accomplish miracles. One worker found 
with a stick of dynamite is a godsend to the employer. In fact it 
has become almost a routine procedure for mill owners to have 
dynamite planted or arrange fake bombings which are then blamed 
on the union. 

The broad objective of workers' education is the study of our 
social life and the relationship of the worker to the whole economic 
structure of the country. 

It is interesting to note that the southern tenant farmers espe- 
cially wanted arithmetic. The accounts had never been kept by the 
tenant or the sharecropper, himself. Now he wants to know why he 
is always in debt at the end of the year. 

Workers' education teaches how to run a union, what the mean- 
ing of collective bargaining is, the meaning of a contract. A prime 
lesson which workers' education has to teach the young recruits is 
one on which all successful leaders have based their dealings with 
employers. That is that the term "collective bargain" implies a 
trade in which both sides get something. The contract, which in- 
sures industrial peace for a specified period, is the essence of the 

What the workers want to know about most is the economic side 
of the world they live in. They ask first of all for the social sciences. 
They want courses in economics, the history of the labor movement, 
industrial situations, government, economic history, legislation, 
community problems, problems affecting themselves as consumers. 
They want to study parliamentary law, strike strategy, how to run 


unions, social philosophy, and the problems of the labor movement 
in other countries. There has been a steady drive from beneath, by 
the rank and file a progressive demand for more workers* 
education, which is being met more and more by the unions of this 

Incorporated early in the Auto Workers was a vigorous move- 
ment for education. The S. W. O. C. has, on the contrary, left this 
up to the individual organizer. If, like Paul Fuller, regional director 
of the Southern Ohio district, he was a strong advocate of workers' 
education, a fine movement would be well developed. In the Mahon- 
ing Valley, in and around Johnstown, there was no workers' educa- 
tion. In Portsmouth in the fall of 1936, a Labor Chautauqua was 
led by Paul Fuller which resulted in Portsmouth becoming a 
C. I. O. town. Moreover, this whole tri-state area was unionized, 
with practically no strikes resulting. 

The workers are everywhere reaching out for education and the 
movement is growing. Dr. Hilda Smith, director of the W. P. A. 
workers' education projects says: 

The vitality of this movement in itself makes it significant. 
It will not be downed. It seems to flourish anew in an atmos- 
phere of opposition, under attack. Its impetus in this country 
today makes it possible to predict that if all funds were with- 
drawn by the government, by the labor movement and by 
cooperating groups, teachers and students would enthusiasti- 
cally carry on classes, because they are convinced these classes 
are essential to significant social change. 

Given this indomitable spirit, workers' education, with or 
without adequate support, will continue to make progress, 
reaching more and more men and women who in turn will reach 
others in factories, stores, offices, and mills; in homes; on farms, 
in many scattered workshops. The labor movement, social and 
industrial organizations, and political parties are more and 
more influenced by the thought and action of an increasing 
number of students from workers' classes. As workers' educa- 


tion shapes itself, so will the activities of these groups reflect 
classroom discussions, which are themselves based on the 
immediate and future needs of labor. 8 

So all over the country, in union halls, in Y. W. C. A. clubrooms, 
in churches, you may see workers studying a class of miners 
studying science; in a southern town, men in overalls learning about 
their own problems. Shoe workers in New England towns, textile 
workers in Pennsylvania, automobile workers, and steel workers 
all learning about their problems, about the land in which they live 
and their relation to it and the part the union can play in their lives. 

Bound up with education and research is the essential need for 
labor to tell its story to the public, both in the community where an 
industrial struggle is taking place and through the country as a 
whole. The N. L. R. B. and the La Follette Committee have 
spread before us the weapons that are being used against the work- 
ers. They have shown shameless collusion between mills, police, and 
public officials. They give the picture of industry, armed as against 
a foreign enemy, they recount the story of vigilante groups financed 
with the aid of the mill. The new techniques of the strikebreaking 
detective agencies and the use of private citizens to break strikes 
are all told. 

Yet with all this knowledge, with their former status progres- 
sively destroyed, those workers who constitute the middle class are 
still befuddled by the employers during times of industrial conflict. 

To make them realize their relation to the world as it is, is one of 
labor's greatest tasks. Labor has not yet told its own story so that 
the man in the street may understand what it means when Senator 
Ellender of Louisiana lets forth a blast at the C. I. O. accusing it of 
"enslaving us." Labor has not made clear to middle-class people the 
real purpose of Congressmen in launching their vicious attacks 
against labor. The man in the street still does not understand 
that such spokesmen are upholding those who think it is the func- 

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, November, 1 93 5. 


tion of government to secure the gains of the few as against the 
welfare of the many. 

Logically these "average citizens" should stand with labor, 
since labor's aims and the aims of the New Deal, for which they 
voted with such vehemence, are the same. Up to now propaganda 
by business interests has kept these groups apart. Labor must bring 
them together. It is through such an alliance, linking the middle- 
class dwellers in small cities and towns with organized labor and the 
farmers, that this country can ultimately triumph over undue 

The very fate of Democracy may depend on which side the 
middle class and the farmers stand. 

An aspect, of the great organizational drive, a power behind the 
strikes which have occurred, has been the extraordinary acumen in 
bargaining displayed by such leaders of the C. I. O. as Sidney Hill- 
man, Philip Murray, and the leaders of the S. W. O. C. and 
John L. Lewis, himself. 

In all the publicity attendant on sit-down strikes, on flying 
squadrons, on huge mass demonstrations, this fact has been over- 
looked: that quietly and without a major strike, hundreds of thou- 
sands of workers have been brought under contract all over the 

These masterly feats in negotiation are as much a part of the 
advancing ranks of labor as the strike weapon itself. For the pur- 
pose of the strike is to negotiate a successful contract, and to negoti- 
ate a successful contract without a strike is a double victory. 

Also overlooked is the fact that during the strike of Little Steel, 
while the forces against labor were accusing the C. I. O. of not 
being dependable, quietly and patiently the S. W. O. C. had organ- 
ized and got contracts for 200,000 more workers, making a total of 
half a million unionized without a major strike. 

The vast gains in many other industries, such as the Radio and 
Electrical Workers (from 25,000 to 125,000 workers organized), 
already referred to, are other examples of the quiet, constructive 


campaigns in which labor's force and the ingenuity of its leaders 
affected numberless contracts with employers. 

Behind these peaceful victories, impossible without labor's having 
shown its massed strength, were the victories achieved on the 
picket line. Behind the successful strikes in rubber, autos, glass, 
etc. are new strategies and techniques of great significance to all 

Organization, discipline, mobility, and communications are the 
four wheels on which a modern strike moves. These together uphold 
the imponderable quality of morale. 

Of all the new strike techniques, the sit-down or stay-in strike 
has been the one most discussed. A sit-down is a natural form of 
protest, and every growing child confronted with household tasks 
invents spontaneously both the "quickie" and the slow-down on 
the job. All these most discussed techniques are inherent in human 

What was equivalent to the sit-down was an old custom of the 
mine workers. When the company became so economical with 
timber that safety was endangered, coal ceased to come up. The 
sit-down appeared long ago, was known in many places throughout 
the country, and is distinctly not a foreign importation. The Akron 
rubber workers were using the sit-down conscious) / long before the 
great political sit-downs of France. 

The sit-down strike during the winter of 1936-7 became what 
was almost an epidemic. Everything sat down; there were sit- 
downs in some dozens of A. F. of L. unions, for all of William 
Green's disapproval. 

There are manifold advantages for workers in the sit-down. The 
strikers are far less vulnerable than they are on the picket line be- 
cause employers hesitate to attack the sit-downers when it may in- 
jure their own property. The sit-down effects a complete tie-up and 
the workers are protected against violence and strikebreakers, from 
cold weather and the rain. The plant is completely closed and scab- 
bing is impossible; as a training ground for education, it is far better 
than the ordinary strike. 


The technique of the sit-down strike has been improved since it 
first appeared. Now all the workers no longer stay in the plant. 
The outside picket line and patrol must support the sit-down or it 
would be easily broken and the sit-downers evicted. Various strike 
activities must support the sit-down, such as the kitchen and the 
maintenance of contact between the outside and inside leadership. 

It is interesting to observe that in all the big sit-down strikes of a 
mass industry where no women are employed, no women are al- 
lowed inside. In a sit-down that employed both men and girls, I 
noticed two older women standing apart from the young people 
who were engaged in roller skating in the basement. On inquiry they 
turned out to be matrons whose presence had been requested by the 

The hue and cry that was raised against the sit-down from the 
halls of Congress to practically every newspaper in the land, was the 
usual reaction against the unaccustomed, which in this instance 
involved a new conception of job ownership. The idea that the sit- 
down strikers were "taking possession" of the plant or conceived 
the plant to be theirs, is ridiculous. 

As to the legality of the sit-down, such observers as Mr. Landis, 
Chairman of the S. E. C. and newly appointed Dean of the Harvard 
Law School, stated that in time sit-downs might be held as legal as 
other strikes, which in their early days were considered illegal. 
Legislation to outlaw the sit-down strike is in process in several 
states and has been blocked in several others. In time, the public 
may prefer the more orderly procedure of a sit-down to the costly 
violence of the usual strike. But before this happens, the public 
will have to be more interested than it is now in the causes for the 
strike and in what the strikers are trying to do, and there will have 
to be a progressive recognition of the workers' right to a job. 

The changed conception of property rights involved in this new 
view is really nothing but an increased recognition of the worker's 
right to a job, though this shift in emphasis is not yet realized. 

Often the picket line is organized long before any strike is de- 
clared. As in the case of the Youngstown picket line, the pickets' 


dependability and discipline will have been proved beforehand. 
There will be a complete list of pickets with a picket captain for 
every five or ten men. There will be block captains ready to get out 
the men in any given district in the least possible time, and there 
will be the motor corps ready to transport pickets from one gate to 
another if the plant area is a far-flung one and the entrances are 
numerous as in steel or autos. 

Labor, organized, as well as unorganized, will refuse to tolerate 
abuse of the sit-down or work stoppages forced by a few against 
the will of the many. But the sit-down is undoubtedly here to stay, a 
very potent weapon in the unequal warfare which the employer 
wages against labor. 

As a wise old auto worker remarked, "Sit-down strikes ought to 
be like the strap my pappy had hanging beside the kitchen door 
in plain sight, but seldom used." 

Of major importance in modern strike procedure is the flying 
squadron not so much the kind of squadron seen in the textile 
strike of 1934 with large bands of pickets flying across state lines 
from one city to another, but squad cars used to transport available 
strikers from one gate to another or wherever they may be most 
needed. The mobilizing of the pickets, without tiring them out or 
showing too great a display of force, is another important element. 
The patroling of the picket line by the flying squadrons, keeping 
the pickets in touch with events, bringing them food and seeing that 
they are on duty, is another one of their uses. For, as has been said, 
mobility and communications are the life blood of the modern 
strike. The far-flung picket lines are apt to be connected by tele- 
phone to a central picket headquarters, while the sound car is used 
to direct picket action, inspire the strikers, announce mass meetings 
and demonstrations. Its great booming voice has become an in- 
tegral part of a strike, and so has the use of cars that have the loud 
speaker. When the workers have the loud speaker, in the open air, 
the picket line can become a mass meeting at a moment's notice. 

New, too, is the establishment of the picket hut or tent, which 
sprang up spontaneously in many different parts of the country. 


In rubber the "special housing campaigns" have already been 
noted. The picket tents were supplied with radio, furniture, etc. 

In the Atlanta, Georgia, automobile strike, picket tents gave the 
effect of club houses, where boys played cards, read, or had a little 
music instead of tramping endlessly along the picket line. 

Many of the mass picket techniques of today have their origin in 
the orderly mass picket line of the Passaic Textile Strike of 1926. 
Here the pickets marched two by two at some distance apart and 
each five couples was officered by a captain with an orange arm 
band. Impressive demonstrations occurred which did not, on the 
one hand, suggest a disorderly mob or, on the other, a military 

When a picket line is ragged, disorderly, and given to throwing 
stones at scabs, it harks back to a less organized day. It is probable 
that in such a strike literature will be wanting, the women unorgan- 
ized, and the strategy poor. 

In a modern strike, the strategy board is a most important fea- 
ture. It is the modern descendant of the old Strike Committee. 
The strategy board is in sensitive contact with the pressure of the 
rank and file. 

An outstanding example of how the strategy board works today 
is the incident of the sit-down in the Chevrolet plant in the great 
auto strike. This sit-down was in response to a sensitive awareness 
of the desire of the rank and file who were urging further pressure. 
Its strategy of feigning the sit-down in Chevrolet 9, thus with- 
drawing company guards to that point and actually carrying out 
the sit-down in Chevrolet 4, the key shop where the motors were 
made, was a masterly maneuver. 

A fine example of modern strategy, too, was the use of the radio 
in the Goodyear Rubber strike early in 1936 when the whole work- 
ing community stood by its radios all night awaiting an attack on 
the picket line by vigilantes. 

Contrast such well thought out, deliberate strategies with the 
careless, unplanned march on Youngstown. 

In a modern strike all the working community is involved, not 


merely the men on strike and the women affected in the industry, 
but the women in the homes and the young people attached to the 
strikers' families. The morale of a strike depends on this, and reso- 
lutions supporting women's auxiliaries have been adopted in the 
conventions of all the new unions. 

Nothing is more significant than the active part women have 
taken in the recent industrial conflicts. The work done by the 
women's auxiliaries in autos has already been stressed. When the 
C. I. O. was first started, it inherited a strike in Wheeling Steel in 
Portsmouth, Ohio. The men said that they had not formed the 
picket line before the women's auxiliary was there with coffee and 
sandwiches. They couldn't have won the strike, they said, without 
the women. 

In Little Steel, the women's auxiliaries were not developed to the 
same extent as in autos. The conservative, old-world women are 
generally harder to organize than those of American birth, but in 
Indiana Harbor, the women did yeoman service. Indeed, there was 
no place where the women did not take some part. 

The unions which have come into the C. I. O. most recently, 
such as the Woodworkers, have splendid auxiliaries. The militant 
action of the women on the Pacific Coast in defending their hus- 
bands' jobs against the obstructions caused by the A. F. of L. 
forces is an example of their spirit. 

A new era has arrived for the women's auxiliaries. Splendid in 
times of strike, they have tended to disintegrate in times of peace 
for want of direction. But in Pontiac, in Detroit, on the West Coast, 
women are entering into rent fights and various consumer problems 
as vital to them in times of peace as winning a strike in times of war. 

Not only the women, but the young people take part in the 
strike activities. In Indiana Harbor, every Saturday was a chil- 
dren's day, and in many different parts of the country there have 
been children's days when the children are encouraged to make up 
their own slogans and paint them. One little fellow was found 
printing the sign: 



Indicative of the new day in unionism is the fact that the union 
hall is no longer a mysterious thing to which Pa repairs and about 
which the young people and children know nothing. The recrea- 
tional activities no longer stop when the strike does. A modern 
organization like the United Auto Workers has a recreational 
director who encourages the young people, sons and daughters of 
union members, to take part in athletics, music, and dramatic 

The use of literature is an integral part of strike techniques. 
While strike bulletins and newspapers have been used for many 
years, they were never used to better effect than in the auto strike. 
In a modern strike, a skilled newspaperman, familiar with labor 
publicity, is often employed by the union. He makes contacts with 
the press, steers reporters to human interest stories, establishes a 
relationship between the strike strategy board and the press. More 
important are the strike papers and bulletins giving last minute 
news and letting workers know what is happening in other strike 
centers, welding the strikers and the working committee into a 
cohesive whole. Special handbills appear in a crisis. The lively new 
papers being published by some of the unions are a yardstick with 
which one can compare the old and new unions. Nothing was duller 
than some of the old labor publications. 

The new labor movement also writes its own story as it goes 
along. Examples of workers' letters are given in this book, and they 
appear in every issue of the papers. The workers eloquently tell the 
story of their victories. 

Cartoons and drawings tell the workers' story. In workers' 
papers the graphic statistic is used more and more. 

During 1937 two beautiful books were put out, one by the Inter- 
national Ladies Garment Workers Union at its last convention 
and the other by the Maritime Union on the West Coast. Men 
and Ships, an eighty-eight page volume of pictures of their work- 
ers ranks with the I. L. G. W. U. volume. A new labor journalism 
is coming into existence. 

The new labor movement sings, on picket line and in union hall 


in southern textile centers, and among the steel workers. Wher- 
ever the new unions spring up, the workers sing. 

The new labor movement writes and acts out its own struggle. 
During the winter, plays were acted over the far-flung strike front 
so often, from Kansas City to Flint, that observers felt a new folk 
drama was in the process of being born. 

A living newspaper presentation called Labor Marches On was 
acted in Flint during the auto strike. It was written by Josephine 
Herbst and myself, and directed by Morris Watson. The workers 
walked away with the performance and made up their own lines, 
their own action, creating a living thing out of the bare bones we 
had given them. Later they independently wrote and acted an 
episode of their own, calling it A Day In Front of Fisher i. 

It is to be noted in discussing these new techniques, that many of 
them are only the expansion and bringing into general use of tech- 
niques long employed in vital unionism. The use of mass strength, 
mass picketing, mass singing has been instinctive with all militant 
unions, whether in the struggles of the I. W. W., the T. U. U. L.'s 
industrial unions, the United Mine Workers, or the independent 
strikes of the textile workers in 1929. 

Such unions as the International Ladies Garment Workers, and 
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers have pioneered in building 
membership morale through education and cultural activities, and 
the I. L. G. W. U.'s brilliant show Pins and Needles is the hit of 
1937-8. This gay revue has done more to make labor understood 
than a dozen solemn treatises. 

Indeed, as Julius Hochmann, vice-president of the I. L. G. W. U. 
said, "The marriage of the arts and labor is not far off." 

XXIII. The National Labor 
Relations Board 



This act defines, as a part of our substantive law, the right of self-or- 
ganization of employees in industry for the purpose of collective bar- 
gaining, and provides methods by which the Government can safeguard 
that legal right. It establishes a National Labor Relations Board to hear 
and determine cases in which it is charged that this legal right is 
abridged or denied, and to hold fair elections to ascertain who are the 
chosen representatives of employees. 

A better relationship between labor and management is the high pur- 
pose of this act. By assuring the employees the right of collective bar- 
gaining it fosters the development of the employment contract on a 
sound and equitable basis. By providing an orderly procedure for de- 
termining who is entitled to represent the employees, it aims to remove 
one of the chief causes of wasteful economic strife. By preventing prac- 
tices which tend to destroy the independence of labor it seeks, for every 
worker within its scope, that freedom of choice and action which is 
justly his. 

The National Labor Relations Board will be an independent quasi- 
judicial body. It should be clearly understood that it will not act as 
mediator or conciliator in labor disputes. The function of mediation 
remains, under this act, the duty of the Secretary of Labor and of the 
Conciliation Service of the Department of Labor. It is important that 
the judicial function and the mediation function should not be confused. 



Compromise, the essence of mediation, has no place in the interpreta- 
tion and enforcement of the law. 

This act, defining rights, the enforcement of which is recognized by 
the Congress to be necessary as both an act of common justice and eco- 
nomic advance, must not be misinterpreted. It may eventually elimi- 
nate one major cause of labor disputes, but it will not stop all labor dis- 
putes. It does not cover all industry and labor, but is applicable only 
when violation of the legal right of independent self -organization would 
burden or obstruct interstate commerce. Accepted by management, 
labor, and the public with a sense of sober responsibility and of willing 
cooperation, however, it should serve as an important step toward the 
achievement of just and peaceful labor relations in industry. 

Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, 
join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively 
through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage 
in concerted activities, for the purpose of collective bargaining 
or other mutual aid or protection. Wagner Act 

Besides new techniques and expansion of the labor movement 
into new fields, labor had a new ally embodied in federal law. The 
National Labor Relations Board is the greatest adjunct to labor's 
own strength that this country has ever known. Without it, it is 
fairly certain that the victories gained over the open shop employ- 
ers during the past two years would have been impossible. The at- 
tacks on it which have come from labor are unfortunate and may 
pave the way for amendments of the Act by which employers hope 
to pull its teeth. 

The A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. have both profited beyond meas- 
ure by this beneficial legislation. The exposure of the strikebreaking 
Mohawk Valley Formula has been one of the milestones in labor 

From its beginning, in the Fall of 1935, the N. L. R. B. handled 
11,179 ca ses up to January i, 1938. More than 3,000,000 workers 
were involved. In this period, the board closed 7,760 cases and of 
this number 4,440 were closed by agreement of both parties. The 


board dismissed 1,162 cases and 1,751 were withdrawn. By its ac- 
tion the N. L. R. B. averted 489 threatened strikes and secured the 
reinstatement of 8,058 workers discharged for union activity. 

Such a record speaks for itself, but further proof of the board's 
soundness comes from the hearings before circuit courts, where the 
board's orders were substantially or fully upheld in twenty-one out 
of twenty-four cases. And in no case did the court set aside orders 
because of defects in the board's procedure! Considering the open 
shop attitude of some judges and the legal talent employers have 
engaged, this vindication of the N. L. R. B. is all the more decisive. 

Since the first aggrieved worker found courage to take his case to 
a Labor Board office in the fall of 1935, there has been an average of 
fifteen cases filed with the Board every working day. Sixty-five per 
cent were charges of unfair labor practice. Thirty-five per cent were 
petitions that the Board, by certification or by elections, should de- 
termine the free choice of the workers for representatives in collec- 
tive bargaining. 

Among those eleven thousand cases appear the names of Amer- 
ica's great corporations. Although the constitutionality of the Act 
and its procedure was under attack, the Board during its first year 
called before it the corporations maintaining the oldest established 
company unions. Detailed hearings were held in the cases of Car- 
negie Illinois Steel Corporation, International Harvester Company, 
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company each possessed of a seem- 
ingly invulnerable employee representation plan. These hearings 
were concluded before the validation of the Act on April 12, 1937. 
Within a month afterward each of the employee representation 
plans was dissolved. In the case of Carnegie-Illinois this led directly 
to the recognition by United States Steel of the C. I. O. 

There has been scant recognition of the courage shown by the 
Board during its first eighteen months. A more easily discouraged 
agency might have trod water during that period when employers 
harassed and disobeyed the Board out of their trust in the infalli- 
bility of the fifty-eight Liberty League lawyers who told them on 
September 10, 1935, that they need never fear that this Act would 


be upheld by the Supreme Court. Instead of marking time, the 
Board went after each case as though no cloud lay over its jurisdic- 
tion. In spite of injunctions against its hearings, in the face of open 
employer contempt, it built the records of unfair labor practices for 
which employers would eventually have to answer. It established 
legal precedence so that, when validation finally came, it was a 
fully equipped, experienced agency, ready to enforce a living Act. 

These are some of the antagonists of organized labor with whom 
the Labor Board came to grips: Republic Steel, Inland Steel, 
Bethlehem Steel, Weirton Steel, Crucible Steel, International 
Mercantile Marine, William Randolph Hearst, Mackay Radio and 
Telegraph Company, Pacific Greyhound Lines, Remington Rand, 
Standard Oil, Aluminum Company of America, Associated Press, 
Duplex Printing Press Company, Bradley Lumber Company, Ore- 
gon Worsted Company, and Henry Ford. 

On April 12, 1937, the National Labor Relations Board was ad- 
judged constitutional by the Supreme Court. The Wagner Act, 
which created this board, had but one purpose: to make the em- 
ployer enter into bona fide collective bargaining with his workers 
and to keep him from interfering with their organization. 

For a century the courts of the land have recorded the right of 
labor to join unions and to bargain collectively with their employ- 
ers; but not until the President signed the Wagner Act in 1935, did 
federal law uphold this right. So determined were the open shop 
employers to crush labor that federal legislation had to be enacted 
at this late date to assure the workers their elementary constitu- 
tional right, but every hearing of the National Labor Relations 
Board reveals how necessary this legislation is. 

Inevitably the Wagner Act was drawn to afford workers protec- 
tion against the ruthless tactics that employers have used to keep 
the open shop. Through debates that extended over sixteen months 
during two sessions of Congress, more than two hundred witnesses 
were called and 2,285 printed pages of testimony were heard before 
the law was passed. Few pieces of legislation have been studied 


more carefully. As a result of this study the Wagner Act forbids 
five unfair practices in labor relations: 

1. Employers are prohibited from interfering with workers who 
wish to join labor organizations and to bargain collectively through 
representatives of their own choosing. Such interference may in- 
clude: advice by foremen not to join a union; the use of spies to 
report on union activity; direct employer influence against unions; 
hiring thugs to beat up union members. 

2. The Act makes it unfair for an employer to dominate, inter- 
fere with, or contribute financial support to an organization of his 
employees. Thus in effect the formation of company unions is con- 
sidered an unfair practice. 

3. It is unfair for an employer to discriminate in any way against 
a worker by reason of his membership or activity in a union. 

4. The law declares it an unfair practice to discharge or discrim- 
inate against an employee because he has filed charges or given 
testimony under this Act. 

5. It is unfair for an employer to refuse to bargain collectively 
with his employees. In those cases where an employer has pretended 
to bargain without engaging in a real discussion, the Board has 
ruled that such action constitutes a refusal to bargain. 

The employer retains his right to discharge an employee for just 
cause disobedience, bad work, carelessness, drinking on duty, 

With all the agitation about the unfairness of the Act, one should 
remember that the National Labor Relations Board does not in any 
way defend the workers' claims to higher wages, better working 
conditions, or any other thing he may demand. The Act merely de- 
fends the worker's right to bargain or negotiate about his demands 
with his employer, and to do this through his elected bargaining 
agency in other words, the union of his choosing. 

By far the greater number of cases are withdrawn or settled with- 
out a hearing. During the first year these informal conferences were 
going on all the time and untold friction, grief, and strikes were 


avoided simply because there is now a meeting place which has the 
power and the sanction of the Federal Government behind it. 

In every one of the twenty-two regional offices, scenes like the 
following are being enacted every day: There is trouble, threat of a 
strike. The workers have made complaints. A group of the workers 
comes in and confers. A group of the employers confers. They state 
informally what they will or will not do to iron out the difficulty. 
The local regional director meets with both sides, asks questions, 
explains the position of the workers to the employers and the posi- 
tion of the employers to the workers. Finally, there is a meeting of 
both groups. Perhaps the workers' bargaining agent is a C. I. O. 
organizer in a region where the employers have been propagandized 
to look upon the C. I. O. as the "red menace of Moscow." Now the 
two groups meet. The employers are astonished to find that the 
workers' representative, the C. I. O. organizer, is a workman like 
those in his shop that he is a reasonable fellow to whom a man 
can talk. 

Each side states its views before the other to the regional direc- 
tor. One side may withdraw for conference and in the end the diffi- 
culty is ironed out and an agreement arrived at. Both sides have 
had a chance to gauge each other's qualities. At many of these con- 
ferences prejudices are dropped on the way. The intolerance of the 
employee to the employer and the employer to the worker has been 
thrown overboard. These everyday occurrences the public doesn't 
hear about. It is the old story again of quiet organizing never mak- 
ing the newspapers, while street fighting is blazed across the coun- 
try in headlines. 

There have been literally hundreds of cases of stubborn employ- 
ers who have repeatedly refused to meet the representatives of their 
employees and who, under federal law and with this common meet- 
ing ground of the regional office, have come to a better understand- 
ing with their workers. 

This is how the Act works. If a worker, or the union, thinks that 
unfair labor practices have been used, that a man has been fired for 


union activities or victimized by any of the other practices within 
the scope of the Act, a charge can be filed with the regional director 
of the Board. Such charges must be sworn before a notary public 
and before an agent of the Board. After an investigation, if the 
director believes the charges have a foundation, he will summon 
both parties to an open hearing. The trial examiner before whom 
the hearing is held will be chosen by the Board in Washington. The 
trial examiner may dismiss the case or recommend to the employer 
to comply with the law. 

As we have seen, the meeting of workers and employers under the 
Board's impartial auspices serves to iron out the vast majority of 
their differences. If this first hearing fails to end the dispute and the 
employer will not comply with the provisions of the Act, the trial 
examiner's report is sent to the Washington office, where the Board 
renders a decision upon the entire record. If the employer still re- 
fuses to comply, the case may go to the circuit court of appeals. It is 
within the power of the court to dismiss, modify, or uphold the 
decision. If the decision is upheld by the circuit court, the employer 
must comply or be held in contempt of court. 

Certainly there is nothing dictatorial in this procedure. It is 
squarely in line with democratic tendencies at work in America 
today. Nevertheless, this law, which was enacted in the interests of 
industrial peace for the express purpose of removing one of the most 
important causes of strikes, lockouts, lost work days and inter- 
rupted production, has met with a storm of opposition. And, as 
might be expected, the criticism has come mainly from the same 
open shop forces that fought the law's enactment and tried desper- 
ately to block any appropriations for its enforcement. The National 
Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce lobbies and 
other employer groups have joined anti-Administration forces in 
charging that the law is unfair. Senators Nye and Vandenberg, 
General Johnson and Representative Clare Hoffman have lent 
their voices to the Tory chorus of complaint. 

The reason for this attack from all sides on the National Labor 


Relations Board law, for obscuring its purposes and functions, for 
ignoring the valuable role which it has played in the interests of in- 
dustrial peace, are not far to seek. 

In the Board hearings the picture of employer violence and foul 
play is exposed to public view. For the first time in the history of 
labor, the public learns that a company employs hatchet gangs 
to beat up its workers. It learns that the pleasant and benevo- 
lent fancier of folk dances, old Mr. Ford, employs spies, plug- 
uglies and strong-arm men to beat up and terrorize anyone who 
dares to speak of unions. The Republic Steel mills' actions 
against its workers in Massillon are described in relentless 
questions and answers. All the meannesses and skull-duggeries 
of the employers come out in these hearings: their use of spies 
and of strikebreakers, their suborning of public officials. The 
sub rosa relationship of public official and mill owner is exposed, 
and what happens when thugs and deputies are set upon the work- 
ers is seen. An ugly, vicious story unfolds itself. 

Naturally the employers want the teeth taken out of this law 
before any more such revelations are made about the doings of 
foremen or hatchet gangs, or the thugs employed in the Good- 
year Plant in Gadsden, Alabama, or before any more such 
judgments are rendered as were rendered against James H. Rand 
Jr., that brilliant young employer who devised the best strike- 
breaking plan yet known, the Mohawk Valley Formula. They 
want this done before any more is told the public about the 
brutalities of Henry Ford's service men. 

The attacks on the Board made on Capitol Hill have shown a 
curiously adept timing. Congressman Rankin launched his tirade 
in August, 1937, at exactly the moment when Congress was con- 
sidering an appropriation of funds to allow the Board to handle the 
greatly increased burden of work which the validation of the Act 
had placed upon it. 

In January, 1938, again when the Board's appropriation was 
pending in the Senate, Senator Burke tried to persuade the Senate 


Judiciary Committee to investigate the Board's supposed misdeeds. 
With the fanfare of newspaper publicity Burke read twenty-three 
pages of misstatements, rumors, and unsubstantiated allegations 
which had been supplied him for some months previously by all 
those who wished to hamstring the Board. The investigation, as the 
Philadelphia Record said, "blew up in Burke's face." It required 
only one day's appearance for Chairman Madden to refute Burke's 
charges. At the end of the hearing Burke, no longer with any heart 
for his work, was carrying his fight in the face of opposition from 
members of his own Committee. A week later the Committee 
shelved the entire proceedings. In all this Burke performed a service 
to the Board. For the first time the Board's record, described at the 
hearing by Senator Thomas as "almost too good to be true" was 
given some public display. 

Through its hearings and the brief accounts of them which 
appear in the daily press, the N. L. R. B. is gradually making the 
public aware of what has happened to workers in the past and what 
pressures are still put upon them when they seek to bargain 
collectively with employers who are committed to the open shop. 

Not only fear of exposure but a long-standing hatred of unions 
drives these open shop groups to attack the N. L. R. B., for un- 
doubtedly the Board in its workings has been a powerful stimulus to 
labor organization because it promised an end of unfair practices 
which were aimed exclusively at crushing labor. Because this power- 
ful impetus coincided with the tremendous growth of the C. I. O., 
which was sweeping the country, the Board has been accused of 
partiality by former liberals and A. F. of L. chiefs alike. 

By reason of its greater vigor and widespread appeal the C. I. O. 
has gained more than its rival through the N. L. R. B. Even after 
the A. F. of L. sent out some two hundred additional organizers, 
the C. I. O. continued to win a large majority of elections held under 
the N. L. R. B. to determine the agency for collective bargaining. 
And very often, to excuse their own failure, the A. F. of L. organiz- 
ers called the Board's elections unfair. 


Thus the C. I. O. could report at its Atlantic City conference 
that it had won 108 out of 133 elections in which the A. F. of L. 
appeared against it on the ballot. In number of votes cast the 
story was the same, the C. I. O. receiving 22,641 (76 per cent) out 
of a total of 29,564 in elections where C. I. O. and A. F. of L. 
unions opposed each other on the ballot. As such results came in, 
A. F. of L. leaders showed a growing dislike for the Labor Board's 

But there is still another aspect of the controversy now raging 
around the Wagner Act. This is labor's new reliance upon govern- 
ment and legislation to help win its rightful place in the nation's 
economic and political structure. While this changed attitude be- 
came most apparent under Roosevelt's administration, it was 
foreshadowed by earlier events. In 1926 the Railway Act set up a 
National Mediation Board which has been highly successful in 
dealing with disputes between management and labor. The Norris- 
La Guardia anti-injunction bill, the Walsh-Healy Act and the 
Guffey Act, as well as the Social Security laws and the projected 
wages-and-hours bill, all spring from this extended relationship be- 
tween government and labor. The old system which made law 
enforcement exclusively an engine with which to repress workers 
is slowly breaking down. The N. L. R. B. in its functioning has re- 
flected this changed moral climate. 

Like the La Follette Committee, the N. L. R. B. is part of an 
awakening social sense. Its disclosures are a wholesome antidote 
for the long-sustained propaganda of employer groups. Hearing 
after hearing has shown that workers, far from provoking violence, 
are themselves its victims, and that this violence is organized and 
paid for by open shop employers as a fixed labor policy. By ex- 
posing these practices the National Labor Relations Board not only 
helps to correct an old imbalance between workers and their em- 
ployers, but it performs an important educational function as well. 
It makes clearer to a still confused middle class the problems that 
labor has faced in its bitter struggle for industrial democracy. 



The Remington Rand Company manufactures typewriters, 
adding machines, and office equipment distributed by 235 sales 
offices and 8,500 independent dealers to a world-wide market. 
There are 3,200 salesmen for its product in the domestic market. 
Practically all its manufacturing products are shipped in interstate 
commerce, and its incoming shipments of materials are drawn from 
many states. 

On May 26, 1936, the Remington Rand employees went on 
strike in six cities. There were 6,000 of them. The Board found that 
the strike was the result of Rand's deliberate efforts to avoid a 
conference with the union, the strike being called after the union 
had repeatedly attempted to obtain a conference with Rand or a 
responsible official of the company. 

The Board in its decision treats at length certain aspects of 
strikebreaking that occurred at those plants. It describes Rand's 
device of deliberately provoking disorder at the Tonawanda plant 
so that he could photograph it and use the pictures to obtain an 
injunction against the union members based upon their supposed 
violence. For that purpose Rand had over seventy-five of BergofFs 
"plug-uglies" attempt to march into the plant under conditions 
calculated to induce the strikers to resist them, which they did by 
throwing stones and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. 

Bergoff himself gave a full description of this episode: 

He, Rand, said he had a great many loyal employees that 
wanted to return to work and he would like to have these peo- 
ple go there as though they were seeking work. ... I do not 
know, Rand kind of put it over on me between you and I, I 
did not know there were quite so many bricks in Tonawanda. 
He even wanted me to send some of the women and I was glad 
I didn't afterwards, and so was he. ... 

I met Rand in the plant about an hour or two afterwards. 
He had been taking pictures, moving pictures, and I really 


believe it was a very good stunt on Rand's part because he 
took some pictures there showing how my men were showered 
with bricks ... to be used in the newspapers, showing the 
strikers throwing stones at the men that were trying to enter 
the plant. . . . Naturally he had them published showing 
peaceful pickets, America, a free land, all that stuff. Naturally 
it wasn't bad stuff, because those peaceful pickets were cer- 
tainly raising the devil. 

I was sore as the devil at Rand. In fact I had a hell of an 
argument with him . . . and said "If you were going to pull a 
stunt off like this, why didn't you let me know. Some of my 
men might have gotten killed up there. ... It is a good thing 
we didn't bring the women along." He laughed. 

Trial Examiner Wood: Were you accusing Rand of staging 
this thing? 

Bergoff: I did, to tell you the honest truth. 

The decision states further: 

In the planning of these disorders, the respondent exhibited 
the small value it placed on human life, for with even-handed- 
ness it stood willing to sacrifice the lives of the men whom it 
hired to break the strike as well as those of the strikers. Like- 
wise, in having its agents commit acts of violence in such a 
fashion as to ascribe the guilt to the strikers and its deliberate 
provocation of disorders by the strikers, it was not deterred by 
the knowledge that innocent men would be arrested and fined, 
that a citizenry, made almost hysterical through the respond- 
ent's subtle playing on its emotions and thoughts, would inflict 
excessive punishment upon men acting under infuriating provo- 
cation. Nor did the respondent stop at making dupes of the 
civil authorities or the leading citizens, as at Ilion, so that they 
would do the job for the respondent. 

The events at Middletown are likewise related in detail, the 


decision stating that the company's activities to break the strike 
there fell into three distinct phases: 

The first, an attempt on the part of the respondent to achieve 
its ends by threatening the community with removal of the 
plant, the second, a frank abandonment of such threats and an 
effort to reopen the plant by a respondent-created "back-to- 
work" movement; the third, the introduction of violence and 
the reopening of the plant by a combination of strikebreakers 
and State police. Concurrent with all three phases was an un- 
scrupulous publicity campaign designed to turn public opinion 
against the strikers. 

In regard to the violence at Middletown the Board stated that 
the company deliberately set in motion a train of events that could 
end only in violence and that the record indicated that much of the 
violence blamed on the union was directly committed by agents of 
the company. One of the provocative acts was committed by Rand 
himself who, in an automobile being driven up and down the picket 
line, was engaged in "deliberately thumbing his nose at the group 
of pickets." 

Concluding its findings, the Board stated: 

From the thousands of pages of testimony in this proceeding 
there may be distilled two very plain facts: the unwavering 
refusal of the respondent to bargain collectively with its em- 
ployees and the cold, deliberate ruthlessness with which it 
fought the strike which its refusal to bargain had precipitated. 
If the provisions of the Act ever required justification, one 
need go no further than the facts of this case. Over 6,000 em- 
ployees, with their families and dependents, are subjected to 
the miseries of a prolonged strike, the people of six communities 
experience the economic hardships that inevitably result 
when an accustomed source of income is suddenly withdrawn, 
these same communities are turned into warring camps and 
unreasoning hatreds are created that lead to abuses alien to a 
sane civilization all because the respondent refused to rec- 


ognize the rights of six thousand employees. A decent respect 
for the rights of human beings demands that no employer 
be free to ignore his employees in such fashion, but that, as 
provided by the Act, they be entitled through the procedure 
of collective bargaining to have a voice in shaping their 
destinies. . . . 

XXIV. The La Follette Committee 

THE La Follette Civil Liberties Committee was formed, after the 
passage of the Wagner Act, to make an investigation of "the viola- 
tions of the rights of free speech and assembly and undue interfer- 
ence with the right of labor to organize and bargain collectively." 
It was given a small appropriation of Ji 5,000. 

The Committee has exposed the perpetual underground warfare 
which the open shop employer wages against the elementary civil 
rights of his workers rights now incorporated in federal law. 
What has been revealed is so amazing that one is apt to lose sight 
of the fact that the surface of the situation has only been scratched. 
Labor espionage, the purchase of munitions and tear gas with 
which to maim and kill workers, the use of company police, depu- 
ties and armed strikebreakers for the same purpose, go on un- 

Into the Senate office room before Senator La Follette and Sena- 
tor Thomas streams a procession of reluctant and frequently dis- 
honest witnesses. From their mutilated and incomplete records 
was pieced together the partial story of undercover and terrorist 
methods that have supported the open shop. The list of 2,500 
implicated firms "reads like a blue-book of American industry" 
(the words of the committee). Here John W. Young, president of 
Federal Laboratories, Inc., finally admitted that "ink eradicator 
had been applied to his ledgers in an effort to conceal the fact that 
one principal sales outlet for his arms (and tear gas) was the Rail- 
way Audit & Inspection Co., which also supplied the finks and 
strikebreakers to use them." 

Here was unfolded the union-smashing technique of Pinkerton's 



1,228 identified spies, 304 of whom belonged to unions, 100 holding 
positions as responsible union officials. 

Here Paul Litchfield, president of Goodyear Rubber, squirmed 
and vainly tried to deny that he knew the Akron Employers Associ- 
ation used spies extensively. On the same rostrum detective agency 
heads were forced to corroborate the testimony of their own 
"hookers" who told of entrapping union men desperately in need 
of money. Letters and oral witnesses described spy operations 
carried on by the National Metal Trades Association in bitter and 
violent war against the unions. 

Here document after document revealed a cynical and nation- 
wide plot to evade or defy the Federal law through provocateurs. 
As the Committee Report states: 

They seek to discredit the union by attempting to associate 
it with violence and sabotage. A Corporations Auxiliary Co. 
spy sat in the meetings of the strike strategy committee of the 
Dodge Local of the United Automobile Workers in 1936 and 
urged the use of force and violence. A Pinkerton spy in the 
International Association of Machinists in Atlanta sought to 
provoke a general strike. A National Metal Trades spy in the 
Black & Decker strike at Kent, Ohio, in 1936, urged his fellow 
unionists to dynamite the plant. 

Here were disclosed facts which prompted the Committee to say: 

It is therefore important to stress that these are the methods, 
not of criminals and sadists, but of employers high in the es- 
teem of the Nation, possessing wealth and power over millions 
of men and women; and that these practices are not the spo- 
radic excesses of mismanagement, but rather the chosen instru- 
ments of a deliberate design to thwart the concrete expression 
of the right of collective action by individual workers who, 
without that right, have no rights. 

Yet this is only a beginning in the exposure of what lies beneath 
the innocent-sounding name of the "open shop." 


In the sessions which ended in the summer of 1937, four of the 
great detective agencies were called before the Board. These were: 
Railway Audit & Inspection Co.; Pinkerton's National Detective 
Agency, Inc.; Corporations Auxiliary Co.; and the William J. 
Burns International Detective Agency. 

Pinkerton defied the Board. All the others obstructed the inquiry 
as far as was in their power. They were able to do this because it is 
probable that a majority of our Senators are cool to the investiga- 
tion. Pinkerton, under advice of counsel, refused to answer ques- 
tions. His lawyers were Cravath, DeGersdoff, Swaine and Wood, 
and here we meet again the same firm who helped put the N. R. A. 
'out of business. They are the backbone of the Liberty League. 

We do not yet know precisely who bought the espionage, or just 
how the munitions were bought. Of the great business names only 
Paul Litchfield of Goodyear Rubber Company and E. T. Cunning- 
ham of RCA appeared. There seems to be a limit to govern- 
mental authorities, tackling such ticklish things as espionage, armed 
strikebreaking, munitioning of plants, and the deputy sheriff sys- 
tem. And these limitations spring from the close relation of big 
business to the legislators themselves who are called upon to in- 
vestigate the practices of their own world. 

It should be possible to call before the Board the great purchasers 
of munitions and tear gas for industrial plants and the great em- 
ployers of espionage, and to find out if any legislative process can 
be followed to keep arms, rifles, and gas out of the plants. 

Still to be investigated are the private detective agencies and the 
spy systems which are directly maintained by employers or groups 
of employers cooperating together. These "private police" are 
more powerful and less subject to legal control than professional 
agencies and they frequently dominate all working conditions in a 
company town. Forced trading at company stores and even the 
intimidation of grand jurors are not unusual by-products of this 

The real connection between the police and the munitions con- 
cerns is yet to be investigated. There was much evidence before the 


committee that police and private employers cooperated in buying 
arms and gas. The Bureau of Internal Revenue had occasion to 
look into the purchase of four machine guns through the West 
Point, Georgia, police. These guns were paid for by the West 
Point Manufacturing Co. and loaned to other employers. 

At Massillon, Ohio, two workers were killed and scores were 
wounded by arms supplied to hand-picked deputies by Republic 
Steel. In the face of strong opposition from Chief of Police Switter, 
Republic furnished sawed-off shotguns and shells, tear gas guns 
and projectiles. Later, Chief Switter testified before the N. L. R. B., 
"I said all right, I would appoint the whole damned outfit. I would 
give them everything they wanted. I could see there would be a 
battle and bloodshed as soon as they put guns in those rookies' 

Something more is known about how munitions are sold. Mr. 
Ignatius McCarthy, San Francisco drummer for the Lake Erie 
Chemical Co., writing almost daily to the home office, gives a re- 
markable picture of his sales efforts. During a California cannery 
strike he reported: 

I have orders on my desk right now for sheriffs' and chiefs' 
friends who have held up their purchases for thirty days in an 
effort to give me the business, but gradually have had to give 
Federal the business on account of pressure of bankers and 
others that they get machine guns for protection. Every village 
here has gone gun-crazy, and the only way gas can be sold now 
in the future (sic) will be with machine guns. [Mr. McCarthy 
did not handle machine guns, but he obviously kept busy.] I 
have about eight or ten invitations a month to speak at 
various clubs, lodges and even high schools, but I only take 
those engagements I can't very well get out of taking. Near 
the end of the month I must talk before a large gathering of 
Odd Fellows at Stockton. You have to do a lot of things out 
here to sell gas. 

[Mr. McCarthy stood ready to do whatever was needful.] 


I have a few remarks to make (to local police) at the beginning 
to the effect that our whole desire is to cooperate . . . but that 
the only way I can take active part in any riots is as a special 
officer or deputy sheriff and not as a representative of the 
company. This is a crack at Quinn who allowed Rausch [a 
rival salesman] to shoot at will without any control. Rausch 
shot a fellow in the face with a long-range shell (gas) and then 
asked the officers witnessing the same not to say he did it. I 
was on the waterfront as a special police officer. . . . You 
might as well insist on this policy in other parts of the country. 

[In another letter to the home office McCarthy gives some 
interesting instructions.] Herewith special information on the 
orders: No. 316 This was a present to the highway patrol 
from the growers' secret fund. They want the check cashed 
personally by some one and not cashed by the Lake Erie 
Chemical Co. ... It is important that this procedure be 
carried out if we want any further business with them. 

[There were rival concerns in the field, notably Federal Labo- 
ratories Inc., and Mr. McCarthy's correspondence shows them 
at work on San Francisco's waterfront.] The Federal man ap- 
peared on the front with a machine load of ammunition and 
guns and passed a lot out one day to various cops. . . . 
Federal's men shot dozens of long-range shells aimlessly and 
without effect. ... I then fired a shell in the same direction 
asking the reporters and Federal's assistants (the two cops) to 
watch a real shell in action. Our shell having a longer range 
went over the head of the man who picked up Federal's shell 
and landed about a hundred feet behind him but directly in 
front of the mob. Another member, thinking it was the same 
type, stooped to pick it up when it exploded in his face scatter- 
ing the mob in consternation. [Incidentally, this particular 
letter was addressed to B. C. Goss, president of Lake Erie 
Chemical, who had reproved McCarthy for not getting enough 


Yet McCarthy scoured the country, driving six or seven hundred 
miles each week, hunting for strike scares, contacting police and 
employers in a frantic search for business. 

The La Follette Committee has stated that industry bought over 
$450,000 worth of gas in the years 1933 to 1936. During the months 
of May and June, 1937, steel companies in the strike area invested 
nearly half a million dollars in gas and munitions. Moreover, 
known locations of machine guns sold and supplies of gas coincide 
closely on the map with heavy concentrations in industrial centers 
of population. And the Committee makes this pertinent observa- 
tion: "The size of private stocks of munitions is no indication of 
their effectiveness in the intimidation of striking workers, since 
only one side is armed. Workers do not buy either armaments or 
gas .. . " 

Like Mr. McCarthy's trade, industrial espionage and strike- 
breaking thrive on industrial strife. In the years when unions were 
making a concerted drive under the N. I. R. A. and the Wagner 
Act, the net income of the Pinkerton Agency jumped from $76,760 
in 1933 to $268,703 in 1934 and $243,351 in 1935. General Motors 
Corporation and its subsidiaries paid this firm $167,586 in 1935. 

Doing double service as spies and strikebreakers, the detective 
agencies find an alarmist technique highly profitable. Even employ- 
ers who do not anticipate trouble with their workers have been 
frightened into buying protection. A partial list of the firms served 
by Pinkerton includes ninety names such as Bethlehem Steel Co., 
Radio Corporation of America, Campbell Soup Co., Montgomery 
Ward & Co., and the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. 

Since 1933 the National Corporation Service has been in the 
employ of 142 known industrial clients, including such firms as 
Otis Steel, Midland Steel, Wheeling Steel Co., Hazel Atlas Glass, 
the Goodrich Rubber Co., and Fostoria Glass. 

Railway Audit & Inspection Co., whose records were mutilated, 
is known from various authenticated sources to have serviced 
sixty-seven companies, including the Aluminum Co. of America, 
the Borden Milk Co., the Consolidated Gas Co. of New York, 


Frigidaire Corporation, Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation, and 
H. C. Frick Coal and Coke Co., both subsidiaries of United States 
Steel, Kelvinator Sales Corporation, National Dairy Products, 
Truscon Steel, Western Union, Westinghouse Electric & Manufac- 
turing Co., Woodward Iron & Coal Co., and the Pennsylvania 

The operative (stool pigeon) has several qualifications which 
make him useful to the agency and the employer. C. M. (Red) 
Kuhl, strikebreaker and hooker with twenty years* experience, 

Well, first you look your prospect over and if he is married, 
that is preferable. If he is financially hard up, that is number 
two. If his wife wants more money or he hasn't got a car, that 
all counts. 

The next step is to try to relieve employer, agency, and the 
perpetrator, of responsibility for damage done to person or prop- 
erty. It would appear that Mr. McCarthy's method is used; danger- 
ous and questionable persons are deputized as officers of the law. 
The quoted letter continues: 

We (R. A. and I.) would not take over the job unless we 
secured for our men deputization by the local police or the 
sheriff. If you run into a strike job, tell the president or the 
owner of the mill that we will not handle the matter unless we 
secure the help and assistance of the local sheriff as well as his 
cooperation. It is dangerous to do otherwise. 

A Chicago guard, who took twenty-one armed men from New 
Orleans to Lake Charles to operate against a longshoremen's 
strike, testified that he "and these men were all sworn in by the 
harbor and terminal police of the State." Although on private pay- 
rolls, accepting employer's money through the agency, and al- 
though taking orders from both employer and agency, they wear 
the authority of the State. 

Since violence means more business, it is not unusual to find these 


agents deliberately provoking it, either by posing as troublesome 
strikers or by goading those on strike to defensive tactics that are 
made to look like an attack. The personnel selected for this sort of 
"service'* cannot be distinguished from the second-rate gangster. 

Drawn from the underworld, a large number of these men have 
criminal records. An interesting example is Sam Cohen, alias Sam 
Goldberg, alias Chowderhead Cohen, alias Charles Harris, who 
testified before the committee. His preparatory work in industrial 
relations included a term in Atlanta for conspiracy, four years in 
state prison and four years in Sing Sing for burglaries, and deten- 
tion as a material witness in a notorious murder case. Out of thirteen 
strikebreakers furnished by Railway Audit & Inspection for the 
General Motors strike in St. Louis in 1932, seven were wanted by 
the police of other cities on charges including burglary, forgery, 
larceny, inciting to riot, and assault. A large proportion of the 
strikebreakers furnished to the Pioneer Paper Stock Co. of Phila- 
delphia by Mickey Martel, a character known to the police, turned 
out to have police records. The list reads similarly to its end and is 
duplicated in other instances when the authorities have made the 
effort to learn the character of men brought in by employers, 
allegedly to keep the peace. 

These men are sent by train or car to the strike scene, sometimes 
long distances. The Byrnes law, which went into effect in June, 
1936, made it a felony to transport men across state lines with the 
intent to employ them to interfere with peaceful picketing. The 
La Follette Committee report makes plain the unholy community 
of interest which prompts both employer and agency to foment 

It is being developed that employer and agency have two 
separate vested interests in violence. The agency's interest in 
violence, and that of the strikebreaker's, is that it will prolong 
and embitter the fight so that a stronger guard will be called 
out and more money expended through the agency. The em- 


plover's interest in violence is that it shall, by being attributed 
to the workers, bring discredit to them, thus alienating public 
sympathy for their cause. In those States where anti-picketing 
injunctions are still freely served, violence is provoked in 
order to obtain an injunction against the strikers. 

Despite the shocking nature of its disclosures the La Follette 
Committee has by no means covered all the dark alleys and extra- 
legal employer tactics that abridge workers' civil rights, prevent 
union organization and spread violence along the industrial front. 
Indeed, the findings to date leave the full scope of these activities a 
mystery, and some of them have scarcely been examined at all. 

Have the states endeavored to control these instruments of in- 
dustrial warfare and has this control been successful ? Is there need 
for federal regulation of these practices and, if so, is there a basis for 
effective regulation within the framework of federal power? These 
are questions posed by the Committee. They remain largely 

It is an encouraging sign, however, that the Committee now 
proposes to examine the practices and procedures of the National 
Association of Manufacturers as they affect civil rights. Despite its 
power and prestige, the tactics of the N. A. M. should prove a 
fruitful field, for the Senate Committee is the most powerful in- 
vestigating force in the world. The parliamentary powers of the 
U. S. Senate are the most drastic and tremendous engine of investi- 
gation which exists today. 

This body, if it chooses, can uncover the whole area of vigilante- 
ism, the labor spy and munitions rackets, the collusion between 
employers and officers charged with law enforcement. It should be 
able to segregate potential fascist groups in employer associations 
and call them before the Board. It should amass evidence which 
would : 

1. Pass legislation to get munitions and gas out of factories. 

2. Stop completely any financial connection between the police 


and the mills, such as was proved at Crown Point and Repub- 
lic Steel. 

3. Change the deputy system. 

4. Make public the spy employers and the names of spies, and 
pass laws which should cover armed strikebreakers and 

XXV. A. F. of L. and C. I. O. 

LABOR'S GAINS have been listed. The failure of the A. F. of L. 
and the C. I. O. to come to an accord in this critical time is the 
greatest menace confronting the workers. After two months of 
negotiations, the efforts for peace between the A. F. of L. and the 
C. I. O. bogged down, with each side blaming the other. Philip 
Murray, Chairman of the C. I. O., stated, "We offered them our 
entire membership. They refused to take them. The onus must be 
placed on the leadership of the A. F. of L." 

There has been both confusion and a sharp difference of opinion 
over this issue. David Dubinsky of the I. L. G. W. U. has strongly 
intimated that the C. I. O. was at fault in the collapse of the "peace 
talks," whereas Daniel Tobin, president of the Teamsters, charged 
that the A. F. of L. was responsible. Most progressive labor leaders 
and unions, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers being an example, 
share Mr. Tobin's view. 

The A. F. of L. offered to take back ten unions and wanted all the 
other twenty-two national and international unions to adjust their 
differences separately. This looked to the C. I. O. like a polite way 
of saying that these unions were to be dismembered and parcelled 
out among the craft unions. 

In examining the bitter differences that have grown out of this 
split two facts should be borne in mind. First, the A. F. of L. rank 
and file, composed of sound trade unionists, did not seek this divi- 
sion of labor's forces; rather these millions of workers followed the 
dictates of their own leaders. Second, with few exceptions these 
leaders were acting sincerely in what they believed to be the best 
interests of organized labor. Just as many confirmed Republicans 



fought Roosevelt because they believed that the New Deal's policies 
were ruinous. Such convictions, however mistaken, make adjust- 
ments doubly difficult. 

All hopes for immediate peace were killed by the action of the 
executive committee in Miami, February, 1938, when John Lewis* 
reiterated peace offer was refused and the U. M. W. A., the Mine 
Mill and Smelter Workers, and the Flat Glass Workers Unions 
were expelled from the American Federation of Labor. 

At this time when peace negotiations have failed, it is necessary 
to look closer at the relations of the A. F. of L. with the C. I. O. 
A study of the rise of the various unions discloses an almost invari- 
able pattern. During the N. R. A. days, when union membership 
was stimulated by Section 7 A, independent unions formed all over 
the country within the mass industries. Invariably they took the 
industrial form. As they strove to affiliate with the A. F. of L. they 
were frequently raided by craft unions, their original impulse to 
organize came to nothing and their union membership rapidly fell 
away. Other unions, like the Woodworkers or the Electrical Work- 
ers, who did affiliate with the A. F. of L. were given B ratings. 
That is to say, that while living history was proving every day to 
the A. F. of L. that craft unionism was inadequate, the members of 
the executive council ignored history's lesson. The persistency with 
which the A. F. of L. snubbed new membership and refused to give 
new unions international charters, indicates that the old bureau- 
cracy of the Federation did not want a large new membership be- 
cause it feared for its own power should it include extensive new 
membership to its councils. Apparently the final refusal to admit 
the four million members of the C. I. O. was based on a similar fear. 
In this A. F. of L. leaders are in no way singular. All groups in 
power seek to perpetuate themselves. 

We have already seen the attempts which forward looking 
A. F.of L. unions made to profit by the lessons of history and to 
fulfill the perennial demand of the membership to organize the un- 
organized. After a three-year fruitless attempt to galvanize the 

A. F. OF L. AND C. I. O. 263 

executive council into action, the C. I. O. was formed on Novem- 
ber 9, 1935, announcing its purpose as follows: 

To encourage and promote organization of the workers in the 
mass production and unorganized industries of the nation and 
affiliated with the A. F. of L. Its functions will be educational 
and advisory, and the committee and its representatives will 
cooperate for the recognition and acceptance of modern col- 
lective bargaining in such industries. 

In the light of events, the various acts against the C. L O. grow 
more and more unrealistic. We see these aging men, who had failed 
to recognize that they were living in a different world from that in 
which the A. F. of L. was founded, trying ineffectually to stem the 
new movement which proceeded on its triumphant way, gathering 
in its hundreds of thousands. 

The executive council acted soon after the formation of the 
C. I. O. At the meeting of the council, November 26, 1935, it con- 
demned the C. I. O. and expressed the unalterable opinion, which 
Frey had stated at the convention, that craft unionism fulfilled all 
of labor's needs. The council also refused an industrial charter to 
the radio and electrical workers, as it had, at different times, re- 
fused industrial charters to the cement workers and other workers 
in mass industries. 

In their convention the United Mine Workers of America voted 
to withhold their per capita from the A. F. of L. and endorsed their 
affiliation with the C. I. O. in spite of an impassioned appeal from 
William Green. 

On December 5, the C. I. O. sent copies of the minority conven- 
tion report to unions and central labor councils all over the country. 
John L. Lewis offered in a public letter to William Green to yield 
him the chairmanship of the C. I. O. He recalled to Green his 
former allegiance to industrial unionism, in which Green had stated, 
"The advantage of such a form of organization is so obvious that 
one can scarcely conceive of any opposition thereto." 

"Why not return to your Father's house?" Lewis urged Green in 


the open letter. "You will be welcome. If you care to dissociate 
yourself from your present position, the Committee for Industrial 
Organization will be happy to make you its chairman in my stead. 
The honorarium will be equal to that which you now receive, the 
position will be as permanent as the one you occupy." 

On February 20, 1936, President Green sent a warning against 
any affiliation with the C. I. O. to 1,354 local and federal unions, 49 
state federations of labor and 730 central labor councils. 

When Michael Tighe, President of the Amalgamated Iron, 
Steel and Tin Workers, after flirtation with both sides, accepted the 
C. I. O. offer to organize the steel workers, the executive council 
addressed another letter to the C. I. O. on May 26, giving them two 
weeks in which to disband and ordering the unions to appear on 
June 7 before them to answer charges. 

By this time the C. I. O. had been joined by the Flat Glass 
Workers, the Electrical Workers, the United Auto Workers and the 
Rubber Workers. The C. I. O. unions did not appear and Colonel 
J. P. Frey asked for the suspension of the C. I. O. The Council now 
ordered the twelve unions to appear for trial on August 3. Again the 
C. I. O. unions didn't appear and the executive council voted to 
suspend them, the order to go into effect on September 5, 1936. 

When the executive council expelled the C. I. O. unions, their 
friends contended it had committed an unconstitutional act, since 
authority to expel unions rests with the convention alone. When 
Lewis made a counter-suggestion that the suspension order be lifted 
and that all the unions attend the convention and abide by the 
majority decision, the executive council refused Lewis' offer. 

Apparently a substantial part of the A. F. of L. membership 
shared John L. Lewis' view that this was an act of incredible 
and crass stupidity. For the A. F. of L. headquarters was stormed 
with telegrams from three internationals, four state federations, 
and from innumerable local unions protesting against the suspen- 
sion. Nevertheless, the action of the executive council was upheld 
at the Tampa A. F. of L. convention. A standing committee of 

A. F. OF L. AND C. I. O. 265 

three was appointed to confer at any time with the C. I. O. This 
committee had no power to make any adjustments. It apparently 
existed to accept complete capitulation of the C. I. O. Commenting 
upon this committee, in his first press conference at the Tampa 
convention, William Green stated in a shaking voice, "We have 
stood with our hands outstretched to them. . . ." 

A voice from the rear queried, "Did that hand hold an ax or an 
olive branch, Mr. Green?" 

At a special meeting of the executive council in Cincinnati, on 
May 25 and 26, 1937, the state and labor councils were instructed 
to expel the C. I. O. members from central bodies and state fed- 
erations. The council voted a two cent per capita tax with which 
to fight the C. I. O. 

It remained for the convention at Denver in October, 1937, to 
express itself freely on the subject of the recalcitrant unions. Never 
was Mr. Green so spirited as in his opening address and also in his 
address before the Metal Trades, whose convention, according to 
custom, preceded that of the A. F. of L. He there declared war upon 
the C. I. O. and stated that a fighting machine would be created 
against it such as this country had never seen and that he would 
"wipe out" the C. I. O. 

But it was in the convention resolution blaming the C. I. O. and 
its leaders that the A. F. of L. rose to new rhetorical heights. Stating 
that "unity is not only the basis of our strength, it is the very 
essence of trade unionism which must be preserved at all costs," 
this resolution found the C. I. O. completely responsible for the 
lack of unity. Then it recited the long-suffering actions of the 
A. F. of L. and pictured it as encouraging industrial unionism. Next 
came the now famous blast against the C. I. O. leadership: 

We find on the one hand, the dominating and fulminating 
Caesar of the C. I. O. marching his Roman legions to the White 
House with bludgeoning threats, while on the other hand we 
find the Machiavelli of the same C. I. O. pursuing the methods 


typical of that old master of cunning and conniving, working 
through the catacombs of politics, pouring oil upon the 
troubled machinery of national politics, so that, where the one 
smashes through in ruthless effort at conquest, the other 
follows after with soft words, with the trappings of intellectu- 
alism and the tenuous and slithering tactics of the ancient 
masters of deception and ensnaring. We refer to one called 
Sidney Hillman. 

After this burst of eloquence, the resolution appealed to the rank 
and file of the C. I. O. over the heads of its leaders. It called upon 
the United Mine Workers, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, 
and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, to return to 
the A. F. of L. 

We cannot do otherwise than believe that their great mem- 
bership wishes above all to be again within the fold of the 
American Federation of Labor, honored as a part of the Amer- 
ican Federation, their rights and liberties respected. 

Especially touching was the appeal to the United Textile Workers: 

We cannot believe that the membership of the United Tex- 
tile Workers of America can approve the action, which in their 
case is peculiarly startling and especially naked in its tempestu- 
ous disregard for rights and autonomous self-government. For 
in this case a treasury was confiscated, a constitution torn to 
shreds, officers driven to abdicate a union demolished and 
made into a vassal province of the Prince Machiavelli who is 
now its overlord. . . . 

With all the facts in mind, and because we believe there is a 
great rank and file that ardently wishes to return to the fold of 
the American Federation of Labor, we recommend, first, that 
our special committee for peaceful negotiations be continued. 

A. F. OF L. AND C. I. O. 267 

Certainly within the ranks of the C. I. O. there has been no 
inclination to "return to the fold" without positive guarantees 
that the outworn policies of craft unionism would not be forced 
upon the new membership. 

Moreover the A. F. of L. had sided with the employer against 
C. I. O. unions. This was especially exemplified by William Green's 
action during the General Motors strike. His behavior then was 
ably described by John L. Lewis during the United Auto Workers' 

On one side of the table in the little room, in which the 
Governor of Michigan sat at the head, were the representatives 
of the United Automobile Workers and the Committee for 
Industrial Organization, and on the other side of the table were 
the representatives of the General Motors Corporation, corpo- 
ration executives, multi-millionaires in their own right, who for 
days and days and nights and nights had been sitting there 
saying, "No," "No," "No," to every suggestion of your repre- 
sentatives that an agreement be made. 

The passing hours made everyone haggard, and almost 
drained them of their strength, and at that time and under 
those circumstances the telephone bell rang, and the Governor 
of Michigan answered the telephone, and a voice in Washing- 
ton, D. C., began to talk to the Governor and the voice was 
none other than the voice of the President of the American 
Federation of Labor, William Green, and William Green, be it 
said to his eternal shame, demanded over the long distance 
telephone in our presence that the Governor of Michigan not 
permit any agreement to be made in that conference between 
the United Automobile Workers and the General Motors 

Again during the steel strike, Mr. Green made a common front 
with Tom Girdler. He expressed regret that "thousands of workers 


were persuaded to sacrifice themselves as victims of ill-advised and 
untimely strikes/' and explained the failure of the steel strike by 
emphasizing "the violent policies pursued by the C. I. O. in auto- 
mobiles and steel during the past year." 

Early in the dispute of the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O., the 
A. F. of L. stepped out to replace the company unions. In the tri- 
state district of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, an area where 
lead and zinc ore are mined, lead poisoning, silicosis, and tubercu- 
losis kills the miners. The workers live in tumble-down shacks 
among the piles of chat heaps. Schools as well as homes are built in 
the valleys between the chat piles and children breathe air heavy 
with silica dust. Here, when the workers tried to better their condi- 
tion, the notorious Blue Card Union was formed. 

This company union had been set up with the help of the militia. 
A minor mill official headed it. Workers had been paid ten dollars 
apiece for leaving the A. F. of L. to join this phony outfit. No 
workers except those who held the blue card could have jobs. 
Five thousand miners were thrown out of work. The strike was 
broken with troops. Strikebreakers and thugs manned the 

Yet when the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers became a C. I. O. 
affiliate, this same company union was chartered by the A. F. of L. 
Given the name of the Tri-State Metal, Mine and Smelter Workers, 
its members were armed with ax handles with which they attacked 
and wrecked union locals and beat up scores of union workers. 

Again, in East Pittsburgh, the Electrical and Radio Workers 
had organized 6,200 of the 8,000 Westinghouse employees. Of the 
old company union, all but sixteen of the fifty-seven officers had 
gone over to the new C. I. O. union. The A. F. of L. sent in an 
organizer and gave a charter to the remaining sixteen officers and 
their small and timid following. 

These are only examples of the part played by the A. F. of L. 
In many cases it has claimed to be the bargaining agency where it 
did not represent a majority of the workers. In factories where the 

A. F. OF L. AND C. I. O. 269 

C. I. O. was already making good progress and had set up a bona 
fide union, it would be found that the A. F. of L. had made a con- 
tract with the employers. This tactic was used in the Consolidated 
Edison Company in New York. The A. F. of L. local there had 
gone over to the C. I. O. in a body, joining the United Electrical 
and Radio Workers. While the U. E. R. W.'s organizing drive was 
in progress, the company signed an agreement with the A. F. of L. 

I have had many girls tell me that foremen circulated among 
them and told them to sign up with the A. F. of L. or else. . . . 

According to the reports of the N. L. R. B., there have been 
various occasions when the power has been shut off and employees 
have been called together to hear speeches by company officials 
urging them to join the A. F. of L. union. One of the most notorious 
cases was that of the National Electric Products Company. The 
United Electrical and Radio Workers had nearly a thousand mem- 
bers out of a total of 1,600 employees, when the company hastily 
signed a closed shop contract with the A. F. of L. which did not 
even have an organized local. Not much good came of this because 
the workers struck in favor of the C. I. O. union. It is said that a 
great part of the new membership of the A. F. of L. has come 
through appeals to employers begging preference for the A. F. of L. 
unions over the "red" C. I. O. 

Sixty thousand agricultural workers in California woke up to find 
themselves in the A. F. of L., having been signed up by Vandeleur, 
as was so eloquently described by the workers in the Agricultural 
and Cannery Workers Convention in Denver. 

The employers also contacted the A. F. of L., urging them to 
come in and sign up the workers before the C. I. O. could get there. 
There are innumerable cases like that of a concern in Toledo in 
which the company union was no sooner disbanded than it promptly 
popped up again and was chartered by the A. F. of L. These are 
merely sample cases. There are many others. 

But few could rise to the heights of A. O. Wharton of the Ma- 
chinists, in the following letter: 



Washington, D. C. 
April 20, 1937. 


Dear Sirs and Brothers: 


Since the Supreme Court decision upholding the Wagner Labor 
Act many employers now realize that it is the Law of our Country 
and they are prepared to deal with labor organizations. These em- 
ployers have expressed a preference to deal with A. F. of L. organi- 
zations rather than Lewis, Hillman, Dubinsky, Howard and their 
gang of sluggers, communists, radicals and soap box artists, pro- 
fessional bums, expelled members of labor unions, outright scabs 
and the Jewish organizations with all their red affiliates. 

We have conferred with several such employers and arranged for 
conferences later when we get the plants organized. The purpose of 
this is to direct all officers and all representatives to contact em- 
ployers in your locality as a preliminary to organizing the shops 
and factories. 

With best wishes, I am fraternally yours, 

A. O. Wharton, 

History however will probably judge the American Federation of 
Labor more severely because it joined with employers in the red- 
baiting campaign. This has been its principal line of attack. The 
cry of alien red agitator, which was undoubtedly hoary when the 
Israelites in Egypt refused to make bricks without straw, has been 
used by members of the executive council and by William Green. 

Up to this time no responsible writer has ventured to call John L. 
Lewis a Communist. But implications of Moscow control have been 
frequent. An inaccurate, clever, red-baiting pamphlet called "Join 

A. F. OF L. AND C. I. O. 27! 

the C. I. O. and Form a Soviet America," is perhaps the most 
scurrilous. It was published by the Constitutional Educational 
League of New Haven exposed by the La Follette Committee as 
a red-baiting outfit having nothing to do with the Constitution or 
education and was distributed by the thousand in Cleveland 
during the steel strike. With the exception of old Colonel John 
Frey, who even his own friends say is hipped about the red scare, 
and is passing his declining years seeing a Communist behind every 
tree, every one of the leaders from William Green on were deliber- 
ately using the red bogey to discredit the C. I. O. 

John L. Lewis' attitude toward the Communists was well known. 
He expressed it when he answered the question, in an interview, as 
to whether there were many Communists in the ranks of the 
C. I. O. 

I don't know. There may be some, as there are some Repub- 
licans, Presbyterians, Buddhists and Kiwanians. In our move- 
ment we have to accept the fact that if men are good enough to 
work for the corporations, they're good enough to join the 
C. I. O. We don't turn them upside down and shake the litera- 
ture out of their pockets. Labor unions are the only voluntary 
organizations selected by others. Our membership is hand- 
picked by the employers, so if we get some communists or 
fascists, we can't help it. 

When a worker was a good organizer, no one inquired what his 
politics and religion were. Anyone who has followed the labor move- 
ment dispassionately can testify to the many able organizers and 
union members among the Communists. As to whether the Com- 
munists are dictating the policies of the C. I. O. to John L. Lewis, 
everyone knows that no outside organization dictates policy to 
him, either in his own union or in the C. I. O. 

These perpetual attacks against Communists have but one aim 
to discredit labor unions by using the ever serviceable cry of "Red! 
Red!" Whether these attacks come from outspoken red-baiters 
like Girdler, Mayor Hague, Gerald K. Smith, and Representative 


Hoffman of Michigan, or from William Green, from newspaper and 
magazine articles which thinly disguise their purpose under the 
cloak of being informative, or, more subtly, from "former radi- 
cals," the objective is the same however the methods may differ 
to make the general public fear the C. I. O. 

The Communist point of view as stated by Louis F. Budenz is: 

The Committee for Industrial Organization is not a Com- 
munist organization. All of Green's efforts to label it as such 
following the lead of Weir of Weirton and the other enemies of 
labor will fall to the ground. That is said by way of fact, and 
not of apology. 

The Communist Party stands for Socialism. 

The Committee for Industrial Organization does not stand 
for Socialism. It is a trade union movement, which of its very 
nature at this hour includes American workers of all races, 
creeds, colors, national origins, and political beliefs. The great 
bulk of its membership has not yet come to accept Socialism 
as their goal. Its leader, John L. Lewis, does not stand for 
Socialism. The Communist Party understands that. And so 
does William Green. 

And William Green also knows that as most of the Communists 
are workers, there are proportionately as many within the ranks of 
the American Federation of Labor as/there are within the C. I. O. 
He should know that red-baiting is an employer's tactic, which 
will help only the employer, and will react on the A. F. of L. 

It should be understood that the chartering of company unions 
of timid workers, or thug unions like that of the blue card, was the 
action of the small bureaucracy. During these offensives the rank 
and file of the A. F. of L. continued on many fronts to cooperate 
with the C. I. O. In the steel strike, all through the Mahoning 
Valley, the A. F. of L. workers demonstrated their sympathy for 
the steel strikers. Twice the C. I. O. prevented general strikes of 
A. F. of L. unions, once in Massillon and again in Warren where 
fourteen unions came out in protest. 

A. F. OF L. AND C. I. O. 273 

Labor bodies from Seattle to Sacramento on the West Coast, 
throughout the Middle West into New England, refused to expel 
C. I. O. unions, though some of them later yielded to A. F. of L. 
pressure. The same was true within the state federations. Resolu- 
tions were adopted at many conventions. In other parts of the 
country, the A. F. of L. and the C. I. O. either cooperated on the 
labor front as has been described or formed a truce and divided 
territories between them. In almost all industrial centers, the 
A. F. of L. rank and file has known that its cause and that of the 
C. I. O. were one, and has already demonstrated sympathy for the 
C. I. O. in its strikes just as the C. I. O. has done for the A. F. of L. 

We have seen what happened to Beck's teamsters when the sub- 
ject of their quarrel was explained to them in the Battle of the 
Sound Trucks. The demand for unity has been persistent and it 
will grow even louder with the lapse of the peace conference. 

Since the suspension of the C. I. O. unions there have been 
numerous efforts to promote peace. Various organizations have 
come forth as mediators; plans were made which included Presi- 
dential intervention. Taken by surprise in the midst of its red- 
baiting festival in Denver, the A. F. of L. could scarcely refuse a 
proposal from the C. I. O. leaders for a peace conference. 

The Committee of Ten appointed by the C. I. O. was made up of 
Philip Murray, Sidney Hillman, David Dubinsky, Harvey Frem- 
ming, James B. Carey, Sherman H. Dalrymple, Homer Martin, 
Michael Quill, Joseph Curran, and Abram Flaxer. Charles P. How- 
ard, Secretary of the C. I. O. and President of the International 
Typographical Union, substituted for Sidney Hillman, who was 
unavoidably absent. The A. F. of L.'s Committee, which they 
would not enlarge, was composed of Matthew Woll, George Harri- 
son, and George M. Bugnaizet. 

A week later when the Committees met again, some progress was 
made. For a time it seemed as if peace would be inevitable. William 
Green and John L. Lewis met to discuss the terms. But, although 
neither of them committed himself as to the nature of their dis- 
cussions, it was evident before the final parley of the Committee 


on December 21, 1937, from statements that both made in public 
meetings, that they had come to no fundamental agreement. The 
method of how the C. I. O. unions were to be accepted into the 
A. F. of L. caused the failure of the peace negotiations. 

John L. Lewis, together with his spokesman, insisted that the 
A. F. of L. must digest all the rival unions and not merely the ten 
suspended ones, for it seemed easy enough for the A. F. of L. to 
"swallow" the ten large unions it had first cast from it. By its very 
acceptance of these unions it admitted that the tragic split in the 
labor movement had been unnecessary. It had long before dis- 
claimed that the issue was industrial unionism. The end of the peace 
conference came when John L. Lewis declared that he would not 
desert any of the twenty unions formed since the original twelve 
were suspended or had left the Federation. "This would be trea- 
son," he said. The A. F. of L. countered that it would be "treason" 
on their side should they take back these "dual" organizations. 

For a time it seemed that some progress toward peace had been 
made. The very fact that the A. F. of L. was willing to reinstate 
the original C. I. O. unions showed progress. The analysis made by 
Matthew Woll indicated that the difficulties in the way of peace 
were not insuperable. Over only four out of the thirty-two unions 
concerned was there any serious controversy, he stated. These were 
the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, the Marine Shipbuilding 
Workers, State and City Municipal Employees, United Radio & 
Electrical Workers. Slight, if any, jurisdictional difficulties ap- 
peared, according to Mr. Woll, with respect to the others. Yet the 
fact that the S. W. O. C. was included indicates that the A. F. of L. 
has not receded from its first position analyzed by Advance, organ 
of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, which states that the 
A. F. of L. insists on a return to the situation which existed before 
the formation of the C. I. O. 

Yet labor unity can and must be achieved. It can be achieved 
through increased pressure from the rank and file within the 
A. F. of L. Peace is important, not only to labor but to the whole 
country, to employers, and to the general public. 

XXVI. Labor Enters Politics 

ALMOST as spectacular as the gains of labor in the field of organi- 
zation have been its gains in the political field. Labor has been 
rapidly emerging as a power. The successes of labor in the municipal 
and county elections from the East to the West in 1937 foreshadows 
what one may expect in the state elections of 1938. 

The old A. F. of L. political slogan, "reward your friends and 
punish your enemies," failed to protect labor, just as craft unionism 
failed to organize the mass production industries. Always fearful of 
direct political commitments, the unions, led first by Gompers and 
then Green, had confined their activity to intensive lobbying for or 
against legislation affecting their membership. 

Labor's Non-Partisan League was formed in the summer of 1936 
for the purpose of helping elect President Roosevelt. Chosen to 
head the organization were John L. Lewis of the United Mine 
Workers, Sidney Hillman, President of the Amalgamated Clothing 
Workers of America, and George L. Berry, President of the Print- 
ing Pressmen's Union. George L. Berry was the first president of the 
organization and John L. Lewis was chairman of the Executive 
Board. E. L. Oliver is executive vice-president of the League. The 
C. I. O. contributed half a million to the Democratic campaign 

In New York State, the American Labor Party aligned labor for 
the same objective. Springing up independently of the Non- 
Partisan League, the Washington Commonwealth Federation 
(first called the Commonwealth Builders), appeared on the West 
Coast with a program of welding together all elements and organi- 
zations that supported the New Deal. The formation of these 



political groups combining all labor elements yet working for 
candidates within the two old parties was significant. It marked a 
recognition of the fact that our political history is strewn with the 
wreckage of third parties. And in spite of the insistence by all the 
enemies of labor that John L. Lewis was in the process of forming 
a new party with himself as candidate for President of the United 
States, no national third party has been founded by labor as yet. 

The League's purpose is simply to serve the interests of labor in 
politics. Where those interests can best be served by working 
through the Democratic Party, it will be Democratic. Where those 
interests can best be served by working through the Republican 
Party, it will be Republican. Where they can best be served by 
starting a labor party, it will start a labor party. 

The Non-Partisan League and its affiliates, the American Labor 
Party in New York and its state units in every industrial and 
several farm states, support the objectives of the New Deal. They 
emphasize the civil rights of the people as outlined in the Constitu- 
tion. They are " for the uncompromising preservation of the nation's 
priceless inheritance as incorporated in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence and the Bill of Rights." They demand full protection of 
labor's right to organize, its right to bargain collectively, and its 
right to strike. 

Adequate unemployment compensation, adequate old age pen- 
sions and adequate insurance against sickness and injury is an im- 
portant plank. They support other New Deal legislation for labor 
such as the Child Labor Bill, wage and hour regulations, an ade- 
quate relief program, a housing program, a program to conserve 
national resources. These are the basic demands of labor, adjusted, 
as in Detroit, to particular instances such as municipal or state 
ownership of utilities. 

Labor's Non-Partisan League began its first campaign in the 
summer of 1936. The immediate program after the election of 
President Roosevelt was to put in public office men and women 
pledged to support the Administration's plans for progressive 
farm, labor, and social legislation. A national convention of Labor's 


Non-Partisan League established a permanent organization with 
branches in all states. These bid for the active support of progres- 
sive labor organizations everywhere. All over the country the 
American Federation of Labor and the C. I. O. unions generally 
worked together, even in localities where there was a severe split in 
the union field. 

This was true even on the West Coast where the fight between 
the two groups has been the most bitter and where the A. F. of L. 
under the leadership of Dave Beck has promised itself " to push the 
C. I. O. into the Pacific Ocean." There the recent Commonwealth 
Federation Convention was attended by 104 delegates from the 
C. I. O. and 103 delegates from the A. F. of L. The A. F. of L. and 
the C. I. O. were unable to get together in Detroit in the municipal 
campaign. The A. F. of L. candidate in the primaries lagged far 
behind the auto workers' Patrick H. O'Brien. But elsewhere it was 
almost universally true that in spite of some differences the two 
groups continued to cooperate in the political field. 

Events of the past summer spurred the workers' political drive. 
Especially was this true in Ohio and Illinois. 

The workers saw their efforts to organize, which had only re- 
cently been underwritten by the Supreme Court of the United 
States, everywhere thwarted by city, county, and state officials who 
in greater or lesser degree were acting as agents of the steel mills. 
Sometimes, as in Massillon, Ohio, or in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 
the mills bought munitions and tear gas and placed them in the 
hands of policemen and deputies for the purpose of shooting down 
the workers. 

In Chicago, the La Follette investigation exposed the fact that 
the police actually were being furnished by the mills with tear gas 
and with hatchet handles. This collusion of police officials and em- 
ployers for the express purpose of rendering void a federal law and 
interfering with the workers' constitutional right to organize into 
unions has never been more clearly shown than in the summer of 
1937. These murdered workers, the hundreds of people jailed on 
framed-up charges, the efforts made to railroad leaders to jail in 


many different communities, have all had an electrifying effect 
upon the workers. 

Every one of the eighteen men who was killed has made labor 
realize that it must organize politically; that there is no use in 
organizing only in unions; and that unless the laws can be admin- 
istered by local officials who are not bought by the mills, collective 
bargaining, insured them by federal law, will be only a farce. 

So throughout the country, union halls became the center of 
political ferment. At headquarters in Washington, every congress- 
man, every senator, every red-baiter, who spoke against the Na- 
tional Labor Relations Act, or attacked labor, was listed. Account 
was kept of every city, county, and state official who had betrayed 
his trust and made himself a creature of the employers. The need 
for labor to enter politics to clear out corrupt officials was impera- 

In the Northwest, where Beck controlled the political machine, 
Mayor Dore denounced the C. I. O. unions and declared his inten- 
tion of keeping them out of Seattle. 

In Chicago the collusion of the underworld and the police, and 
the underworld domination of the A. F. of L. have long been known. 
The Chicago massacre revealed its extent and threw a startling 
light upon the corruption of city politics. 

Van A. Bittner, regional director of the S. W. O. C., speaking 
before the October conference of the C. I. O., pointed out that the 
only way the city of Chicago can be delivered from the present 
dominance of the underworld is through the formation of a strong 
labor's Non-Partisan League. He declared that only labor could 
rescue the city from those who now control it. He stated: 

Chicago no doubt is controlled by the underworld interests 
to a greater extent than any other city in America. The gang- 
ster influence from the days of Capone and his crowd still 
prevails not only in the police political department, but in the 
general life of the citizens of Chicago. As for the trade union 
movement generally, outside of organizations such as the 


Amalgamated Clothing Workers, the Ladies Garment Work- 
ers, the S. W. O. C. and the Typographical Union and a few 
others, instead of labor's having any influence on the political 
life of Chicago, the politicians of Chicago through the under- 
world control the organized labor movement of that city. To 
this extent, that when a resolution was prepared and presented 
to the Chicago Federation of Labor condemning the policies of 
the mayor for the South Chicago massacre, the chairman of the 
meeting declared the resolution was out of order because it 
dealt with people who were killed and belonged to unions affi- 
liated with the C. I. O. That is the situation we have in that 

I know that every union that has been fighting has had simi- 
lar massacres occur, but this has been condoned this South 
Chicago massacre has been condoned and those who perpe- 
trated it have been held up as great Americans by every news- 
paper in the city of Chicago. . . . 

This is a situation that exists nowhere else except in Chi- 
cago, and the reason I say that is because I have been in many 
strike fields from Alabama in the south, to the north, west, and 
the east, and we have had men shot down in all of these fields, 
but never before were we up against the same dastardly under- 
world political control of a city as we have in Chicago. 

The only way out of this situation which Mr. Bittner says "will 
make the men convicted in the Seabury investigation in New 
York City have a special heaven set aside for them as clean politi- 
cians," is through complete organization of the steel workers, the 
packing house industry, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, the 
I. L. G. W. U., the Typographical Unions. Then their vote must be 
combined with other progressive forces. 

Outstanding among the achievements of Labor's Non-Partisan 
League has been the development of a formal working alliance with 
the most progressive group of organized farmers, the Farmers 
Union. Besides providing for mutual legislative support, each 


group undertakes to promote a better understanding of the other's 
problems among its own members. 

Many lessons for Labor can be drawn from the 1937 elections. 
In New York City, where Mayor La Guardia was returned with 
an overwhelming majority and the forces of Tammany suffered an 
almost complete defeat, the American Labor Party wisely made 
allies of other progressive anti-Tammany elements. In Detroit, 
Labor was beaten after a good showing in the primaries. Here 
Labor had no allies. Nor was it the desertion of the A. F. of L. alone 
which caused its defeat. A too narrow concentration on the union 
labor aspect of the election alienated middle-class elements that 
were progressively inclined. 

Labor made a remarkable showing in Pennsylvania, electing 
candidates in many steel towns where formerly voting as the mills 
decreed had been part of the process of getting or holding a job. 

On November 2, union men or sympathizers were elected up and 
down what had been called the dark valleys. In the towns around 
Pittsburgh, thirteen burgesses and mayors were elected, and forty- 
two other officials, including school board directors, justices of the 
peace, tax collectors, etc. For the first time since the historic battle 
of 1892, the Republican regime was routed in Homestead. Johnny 
Mullen, S. W. O. C. organizer, was elected Mayor of Duquesne, 
defeating Jim Crawford, who had stated that "even Jesus Christ" 
couldn't hold a meeting in his city. 

Throughout the state of Pennsylvania, labor actively showed 
how moved the workers had been by the lessons of the steel strike 
and how determined they were to elect their own candidates. 

Two Congressional successes, that of Lyden B. Johnson, whose 
district includes Austin, Texas, and the sweeping victory of Con- 
gressman Lister Hill, candidate for United States Senator in a 
special Alabama election held in January, 1938, further emphasize 
labor's new political power. 

These campaigns were aided by the fact that throughout the 
C. I. O. unions a new and vital press has sprung up. There are 


over two hundred papers in the C. I. O., many of them ably edited 
and written in good working class English. 

Labor will need these new weapons to combat the pressure of 
groups demanding a program of hostile labor legislation amend- 
ment of the Wagner Act and the incorporation of unions. 

Labor's viewpoint on incorporation was well summarized in 
Advance, published by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers: 

Incorporation would give the courts, corporation-minded as 
they are in most cases, a free entry for meddling in all and 
every legitimate union activity each time unions contemplate 
strike action or anything else that may not suit a powerful and 
juridically well-connected labor employer. Labor has had 
ample experience with injunction judges to justify lack of 
confidence in the impartiality of the dispensers of justice in the 
thousand and one jurisdictions of the courts. 

Furthermore, incorporation of unions would make it particu- 
larly easy for anti-union employers to have union funds tied 
up interminably and thus to cripple union activity. This they 
would do through lawsuits for damages caused by strikes or 
less conspicuous breaches of contracts initiated by their under- 
cover agents, disguised as union members and acting contrary 
to union advice and interest. The extent to which anti-union 
employers will go in such practices has been brought to light 
by recent senatorial investigations. Such double-crossing, 
provocative, and deliberate labor union-wrecking activities of 
employers are not quite so easy to achieve under the present 
manner in which unions function. 

In other words, the incorporation of unions which has been so 
much talked about is merely another strikebreaking device of the 
employers, because it would permit the state, still largely in the 
hands of big business, to revoke charters on any and all pretexts. 

Labor foresees that there will be a drive for such legislation 
throughout the country. Accordingly, at the October, 1937, con- 


vention of the C. I. O. in Atlantic City, a legislative program was 
presented which proposed the following: 

(1) A bill establishing a State Labor Relations Board to prevent 
unfair labor practices. 

(2) A bill limiting authority of the courts to issue injunctions 
in labor disputes. 

(3) A bill prohibiting evictions of persons who are unemployed 
and involved in labor disputes. 

(4) A bill protecting civil liberties and prohibiting any local laws 
which may interfere with the free exercise of such civil liberties. 

(5) A bill limiting and regulating appointments of deputy 
sheriffs and prohibiting payment by private corporations for 
deputy sheriffs. 

(6) A bill limiting and regulating activities of private detectives, 
private police and private guards. 

(7) A bill incorporating collective bargaining provisions in con- 
tracts between the State and private individuals. 

(8) A bill protecting the payment of wages by employers to 

Foreseeing increased unemployment in the major industries, with 
layoffs already placing the burden of a recession squarely upon 
labor, the C. I. O. proposed a four-point legislative program to 
further union organization and to insure each worker his right to 
a job: 

1. That all business engaged in interstate commerce be obliged 
to comply with a code protecting the rights of labor guaranteed 
under the laws of the United States. 

2. That federal wage and hour legislation be enacted, which 
would include a basic minimum wage and a maximum hours clause, 
designed to guarantee a decent standard of living. 

3. That the federal government recognize the right of every 
worker to have a job and enlarge the W. P. A. and P. W. A. to pro- 
vide for those workers now being deprived of their jobs in industry. 
That special legislation be enacted to promote education for the 
youth of this country. 


4. That the federal social security laws be amended and en- 

The past year has seen sharp cleavages in the old political parties 
splits which foreshadow new political alliances. Another year 
may well see repeated throughout the country the situation which 
has developed in New York City. There, labor and its allies became 
organized as an independent force supporting the Mayor, while 
those opposed to the administration in both the Republican and the 
Democratic parties united to oppose Fiorello H. La Guardia. Un- 
doubtedly this division of forces will be repeated in the state election 
of 1938 and the presidential election of 1940. 

As has been pointed out these millions of new union members are 
bound together in support of the New Deal as against the profit- 
makers. The conflict which they are engaged in is not merely a 
fight between John L. Lewis and Tom Girdler, or between Little 
Steel and the S. W. O. C. What has emerged is a battle on a nation- 
wide front with Reaction ranged against Democracy. The same 
elements which make violent attacks on labor will be found oppos- 
ing all constructive government aid to the farmer and tenant 
farmer, and all help to the unemployed and the aged. In other 
words, they are the enemies of all that progressive legislation for 
which the overwhelming majority of the people of this country 

For the first time in its history labor is determined to safeguard 
its economic progress through political action. Now that labor has 
recognized its political power it can look forward with confidence 
to seeing all those factors which are hostile to it big business and 
reactionary groups unite. 

In becoming conscious of itself, labor has realized that with its 
prosperity goes the prosperity of the country; that its bettered 
economic situation, especially the billion dollars added to the wage 
workers' payroll, is a bulwark against depression. It has realized, 
too, that its political power is also a bulwark against those fascist 
forces in this country which menace the fundamental principles of 


"The United States," said John L. Lewis, "is the greatest 
example of a democratic state remaining within the fabric of 
our imperilled civilization. It is our responsibility, as its citi- 
zens, to preserve democracy within its borders. No one can tell 
what events the next few years may bring forth. Europe is on 
the brink of disaster and it must be our care that she does not 
drag us into the abyss after her. . . . What has happened in 
Germany must not happen here. The establishment of a Fas- 
cist dictatorship in the United States would undoubtedly as- 
sure a retrogression from which civilization might not recover 
for ages and from which it would certainly not recover for many 
years. I know of only one means of insuring our safety the 
workers of America must find self-expression in economic, in 
social, and in political matters. . . . 

"I know of but one method to insure safety for the future 
labor must become articulate. The millions of workers must 
express themselves through the medium of organization of 
their industries or callings. The workers must be made econom- 
ically free, in order to assure them the maximum of opportunity 
to champion and defend the elemental principles of human 
liberty. It was for this purpose that the Committee for Indus- 
trial Organization was formed and it is toward this end that 
we are struggling." 

XXVII. What Labor Wants 

Let him who will> be he economic tyrant or sordid mercenary ', pit his 
strength against this mighty upsurge of human sentiment now being 
crystallized in the hearts of thirty millions of workers who clamor for 
the establishment of industrial democracy and for participation in its 
tangible fruits. He is a madman or a fool who believes that this river of 
human sentiment , flowing as it does from the hearts of these thirty 
millions ', who with their dependents constitute two-thirds of the popula- 
tion of the United States of America^ can be dammed or impounded 
by the erection of arbitrary barriers of restraint. 

John L. Lewis' radio speech, July 6, 1936 

THE FIRST EPIC phase of the C. I. O. is over. With the recession 
a new challenge has come to a reborn labor movement to make 
the cause of the unemployed its own. It is meeting the challenge. 
The C. I. O., with its form of industrial unionism, its dynamic 
leadership, was an answer to the unspoken wish which had existed 
in the hearts of literally millions of workers. 

Labor has shown in its struggles an inventiveness, intelligence, 
and power greater than anything before in its long history. Whole 
communities of workers have been transformed. The workers have 
felt their political power, and for the first time they appear in the 
political arena, saying clearly they will elect their own state, county, 
and federal representatives. They are asserting that they must have 
adequate legislation to protect labor in its relations with business. 

These questions have arisen on all hands: "What do they want, 
these millions of newly organized workers? Where are they going?" 

Security first of all. They want the right to work. All men have 



always wanted that. And this security, this right to work, they have 
seen taken from them year by year. Opportunity has shrunk with 
the frontier. We see hundreds of thousands of men displaced each, 
year by new inventions. The strip mills soon to be put in operation 
by Carnegie Steel, where the ratio of employment will be cut nine 
for one, is only one small example. 

Up to now, workers could make only an individual feeble protest 
when their means of livelihood was taken from them, whether by 
"business cycles" or the changing tide of events. 

With the advent of the C. I. O. the worker can make an effort 
toward his own collective security. The short time that has elapsed 
since the so-called recession has shown what the C. I. O. intends to 
do. At the Atlantic City convention of October n, 1937, a business 
recession with an ever-increasing tide of unemployment was faced, 
and the four-point legislative program, already referred to, was out- 
lined to safeguard the workers. 

Since then John L. Lewis has called on Congress for a great 
housing program as an immediate means of putting people to work, 
while individual unions, notably the S. W. O. C., have devised 
relief programs for their members as well as outlining a great 
housing program. 

For the first time a politically powerful group of workers emerges 
with a constructive program at a time of national crisis. It is as yet 
only a tendency. It exists only as a program, but it is the first time 
in the history of this country that the millions of organized labor 
have attempted to grapple with a national crisis and to propose 
constructive measures to keep the workers employed. 

Indeed, a little analysis will show that labor's new millions are 
asking only what those millions asked who endorsed the President 
in the last election. When the voters of the country rose to endorse 
the principles of the New Deal, they asked first of all security in 
their jobs and an American standard of living. And if you analyze 
why the people of this country so vehemently endorsed the New 
Deal, it is: (i) to make the national income greater; (2) to see that 


it is distributed more equitably among the people. Labor's new 
millions are helping the processes of democracy, which will hasten 
the accomplishments of such aims. They are restating in union 
meetings, in large halls, that they believe that it is the function of 
good government to promote the welfare of people, rather than 
that of the small class whose one aim is profits. There has been this 
conflict between people and profits since the day of our founding 
fathers. Jefferson said we could have a democracy, or we could 
have a number of great, autocratic fortunes, but we could not have 

They are reaffirming what all our greatest statesmen have said 
that a political democracy cannot coexist with an industrial 

Senator Robert M. La Follette stated: "While the American 
people have always been vigilant against governmental tyranny, 
they have been slow to observe a greater tyranny in the growth of 
unrestrained private economic power over the life, property, and 
liberty of a once free people.'* This industrial tyranny is becoming 
apparent to all. 

Marching with the workers are all those forces which wish to 
abolish the rural and city slums in which one-third of our people 
live. For we have learned during the New Deal that one-third of our 
people are ill-housed, ill-fed, and ill-clothed. We know that the great 
majority of our industrial workers still do not make what is consid- 
ered a decent standard of living. 

We have learned that death and low wages walk hand in hand. 
Death comes twice as often among the submerged two-thirds of the 
population as it does among the upper one-third. The death rate of 
tuberculosis is seven times greater among unskilled workers than 
among professional people. In the richest nation on the earth, 
poverty is the greatest cause of death. 

We have seen the inroads made on our national wealth by greed. 
We know that our forests have been plundered, that the very soil 
itself has been destroyed, and that for every ruined acre of land, 


there is also a ruined man. The wastefully slashed timber meant 
slashed human lives as well, and the livelihoods of people have 
flowed down to the ocean on the crest of unnecessary floods. 

We have learned that we are rapidly becoming a dispossessed 
people. A vast expropriation of business and land has been going on. 
Chain stores and great enterprises progressively swallowed the 
small merchant and individual manufacturer. 

An unmortgaged farm today is a rarity. A depression or a drought 
will send hundreds of thousands of these mortgages into, the hands 
of insurance companies. Nor is this all. Instead of farms, vast food 
sweatshops have arisen throughout the nation. Again our thinking 
has lagged behind the actuality. The average person thinks of the 
farmer as a man who through hard work on his own farm makes his 
livelihood. Increasingly the farmer is becoming a sweated employee. 
Fifty years ago more than half the workers were on the farms, 
where now there are less than a third. 

The world has changed. Its industrial organization, its work 
pattern and scheme of ownership have altered profoundly. A hun- 
dred years ago, 80 per cent of the people owned their own farms or 
businesses. Now, only 10 per cent own them. Small ownership is 
dying. And this radical change has swept away the old firm moor- 
ings of middle-class life. A mounting sense of insecurity has invaded 
millions of once independent and self-reliant lives. Formerly rooted 
in the property-owning middle class, they discover that their new 
status is indistinguishable from that of labor today. Indeed, it is 
they who help swell the ranks of those thirty millions for whom 
John L. Lewis speaks. 

It has been said repeatedly that no labor movement could be 
broad enough to take in such different people as West Coast 
fishermen, New Jersey school teachers, Duluth bank clerks, and 
Georgia tenant farmers, not to mention the sweeping range of 
technical professions. There is no common denominator that could 
serve to unite such disparate elements say many. Yet the C. I. O. 
is already proving that its aims and program offer the middle class 


a means to the very end these people sought when they supported 
the New Deal. The C. I. O., opposing the unfair, ruthless methods 
of business, large and small, is fighting for security, for better 
homes, and a higher standard of living everywhere. These are the 
aims of the New Deal which millions voted for. 

;Labor has looked at industry and said, "You produce profits and 
you acknowledge your responsibility to your investor. Now we are 
going to demand that you also acknowledge your responsibility 
toward your workers. For you not only produce profits, but also 
business cycles which doom everyone to insecurity. You make 
profits but your by-products are infant mortality, insecure youth, 
indigent old age, and industrial disease, while you wage a warfare 
against us when we try to exercise our constitutional rights of 

Labor has realized that to attain security, to banish the three 
fears which forever have shadowed the lives of all workers the 
fear of unemployment, the fear of illness, the fear of old age it 
must enlarge its economic power and fortify this power with politi- 
cal action. And this means the transference of power back from a 
small group of employers to the majority of people, in whose hands, 
under a democratic society, it was intended to be. 

This transfer of power in part from one group to another does not 
imply that labor's aim is the taking over of business, but the neces- 
sary regulation of business. 

And so we come at last to what all the disturbance has been 
about: the inner meaning of the yellow dog contracts, black lists, 
spies, strikebreakers, and industries transformed into fortresses 
with arsenals of munitions and tear gas. All this is not to prevent 
wages rising (how many times has a sop of higher wages been 
thrown to the workers for the very purpose of keeping them from 
organizing?), all this has been to keep power in the hands of 

The fear of the bankers and industrialists of losing a modicum 
of their power; the czars' unwillingness to transfer a little power to 


the Duma; the opposition of the open shoppers to labor unions and 
of the A. F. of L. to the C. I. O. all have their roots in the same 

This explains why in the steel communities the employers will 
list you five events which made the outlook brighter for them. In 
the order of their importance, they are: The Chicago Massacre, 
Tom Girdler, the Little Steel defeat, Monroe, and Governor Davey. 
In other words, they list as happy circumstances: massacre, vigi- 
lantes, the use of troops, the betrayal of labor by public officials and 
the defiance of federal laws by high business executives. But these 
are all measures of war. These are not good arguments for the per- 
petuation of the old oppressive regime. These massacres and kill- 
ings, these spies, this use of munitions and tear gas against unarmed 
workers have nothing to do with the business of society. 

The business of society is to get food out of the ground and make 
and distribute goods and services along with the happiness 
which should attend such activities in such a fashion that man 
can turn his mind from his bodily needs alone to those things which 
through the ages have distinguished him from animals his pre- 
occupation with science, art, and religion. 

At present the division of food, goods, and services is so uneven 
as to be fantastic. For society to function at all a better distribu- 
tion must be attained, and labor must attain it. 

Before labor can get the security it wishes, before goods and 
services can be distributed so society will not be menaced by one 
depression after another, many tasks, many battles lie ahead. 

We have been considering how much has been accomplished. In 
reality we should think how little. Only a beginning has been made. 
From any point of view, that legislation which people need to safe- 
guard them from greed is only in its infancy. The security which 
should be extended to youth and to age has been only inadequately 
formulated by law. The organizational campaign, the political cam- 
paign of the workers have only begun. The royalists still are in- 
trenched and still can buy legislatures and mercenaries. 

The tasks before labor are the consolidating of its gains within 


its ranks, the formulation of its new techniques, and their applica- 
tion in a less desultory fashion. Labor must educate its membership 
and cement the bonds between industrial and white collar workers 
and the farmers. The white collar unions have a double duty to 
perform: they must help the middle class recognize its place in 
society and make plain the danger of fascist adventures. These 
tasks are only the foundation stones on which labor's future power 
will rest. 

Its immediate tasks are the solidification and extension of the 
organizational and political gains and the battle in both fields 
against unemployment. 

A great piece of human engineering must be accomplished if 
labor and the rest of the country are to achieve security, and labor 
is to realize its claim of its right to work. Every step along the way 
it will meet its hereditary enemy, the great intrenched interests, 
which to their disadvantage will attempt to frustrate these de- 
mands for security, since security is unattainable without a shift 
in power toward the workers. 

In all the noise of industrial warfare, people lose sight of what a 
labor movement is. It has, first of all, to do with the enhancement of 
human dignity, since a worker enrolled in a labor union has some- 
thing to say about the conditions under which he will work. His 
status toward his employer and his fellow workmen and the people 
in the town in which he lives is changed. It is this change from a 
semi-slave status to that of a man full of self-respect which is one 
of the most important aspects of a labor movement. A labor move- 
ment means a man's solidarity with his fellow worker. He ceases 
being an isolated, powerless individual. He joins the other millions 
of marching men and partakes of their strength. He exchanges iso- 
lation for solidarity and impotence for power. He has the dignity 
which men throughout the ages have had when they have been 
banded together for a high purpose a dignity which is the an- 
tithesis of mob spirit. 

The labor movement has to do with homes, with what chance 
children are to have in the world, and whether children are to live in 


slums or decent places, and even whether they are to have enough 
to eat. That is why men go out on strike and why their women 
uphold them. In the dramatic incidents of a strike, people are apt 
to lose sight of the fact that the workers are striking for women and 
children at home for human dignity and for democracy. 

Taken by and large, workers have got nothing except what they 
have got for themselves. Through years of struggle they have 
achieved the right to strike, the right to organize. Frightful disasters 
involving horrible loss of life have called the attention of an in- 
different public to the justice of the wage earners* demand for a 
union. More and more workers realize that only through a union is 
there any security for their jobs and, therefore, for their homes and 
the children in those homes. That is why over 50 per cent of the 
strikes of 1937 were for union recognition. 

That is why the workers of Little Steel went out to fight. Only 
through constant agitation have the workers raised their wages and 
decreased their hours. Thus only has progress been made in con- 
testing industrial diseases and hazards. 

In this country there has been a sudden, joyful recognition by 
the workers of their power. It was not only a figure of speech that 
John L. Lewis used when he spoke of "the aspirations in the hearts 
of thirty millions of workers." 

A new unionism is arising from this. This new unionism does not 
stop at the formal lodge meeting. It sees the union as a way of 
life which involves the whole community. 

One of the most important things that has happened in this vast 
movement has been the revision of labor's conception of itself. It 
is not thinking in the terms of industrial labor any more. It has seen 
that industrial labor, white collar, and professional workers, agri- 
cultural workers, and the small farmer are all one. The service trades 
and the manufacturing trades must walk hand in hand. It has 
seen that so long as there is a pool of cheap labor in the disinherited 
tenant farmers and sharecroppers, industrial labor is not safe. 

One of the basic ideas which drove John L. Lewis to the C. I. O. 


was that all labor is interdependent. This has always been a the- 
ory, but now people feel it and live it. 

" By the workers of America," Lewis says, " I do not mean only 
unskilled laborers and skilled artisans. Labor no longer signifies 
'the man with the hoe.' It is the voice of the people of the world, 
regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Labor, 
to us, extends from the unskilled industrial and agricultural work- 
ers throughout the so-called white collar groups, including tech- 
nicians, teachers, professional groups, newspaper employees, and 
others. I believe also that the fundamental interests of labor and 
farmers are interdependent and that they should work together for 
the same democratic and economic objectives." 

Who is labor? All of us. All the people who make things, sell 
things, who farm, teach, write, make scientific discoveries. All of us 
are labor. On the other side is the profiteer and the racketeer, the 
industrial royalist and the people that they can buy or fool. This 
is the current of thought which is. swinging through the country. 

This new labor movement had a spokesman long ago. His name 
was Abraham Lincoln. Thousands of workers are entering politics 
and reaffirming that we have a government, or should have, "of the 
people, by the people, and for the people." 

Lincoln and labor had an idea this country really belongs to the 
people and not to the Henry Fords, the Mellons, and the Tom 
Girdlers. He said once that, as all things come from labor, it should 
be the object of all good government to return to the worker as 
much of the profit of his toil as was possible. 

He also said, in his message to Congress, December 3, 1861: 

There is one point ... to which I ask a brief attention. 
It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not 
above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that 
labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody 
labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow, by the 
use of it, induces him to labor. . . . Now, there is no such 


relation between capital and labor as assumed. . . . Labor is 
prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of 
labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first ex- 
isted. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the 
higher consideration. 

On Labor Day, 1937, John L. Lewis said: 

Not for the selfish interest of labor as a group, but for the 
welfare of the country as a whole, labor must become strong 
enough to hold its proper place at the council tables of industry 
and of the nation. 

The great so-called middle class of the American people 
farmers, merchants, small business men, and bankers, lawyers, 
physicians, clergy, economists, writers, engineers, teachers in 
the public schools, colleges and universities, public officials, 
members of legislative, administrative, and judicial agencies, 
and many other groups detached from or not directly involved 
in the labor movement must assist in the great task of de- 
mocratizing our modern machines and technological improve- 
ments which our inventors and industrial engineers have con- 
ceived and put into practical operation. 

In non-technical language this means that the machine 
must be so managed as to extend, and not to reduce^ the field 
of employment and their greater productivity must be ac- 
companied by shorter hours of work, lower prices of output, 
and a general advance in mass-purchasing power, of economic 
well-being, through all groups of the American people. 

Without the support of labor which constitutes two- 
thirds of our population this great constructive problem of 
American democracy cannot be properly solved. 

This movement of labor will go on until the purchasing 
power of the American people is restored; until we have the 
means to buy and consume the products of American industry. 

This movement of labor will go on until there is a more 
equitable and just distribution of our national wealth. 


This movement will go on until the social order is recon- 
structed on a basis that will be fair, decent, and honest. 

This movement will go on until the guarantees of the 
Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution are en- 
joyed by all the people, and not by a privileged few. 

Let us hail then, the coming of this new day in the life of 
labor. Let us resolve in the spirit of our forefathers to do our 
part in building the foundation upon which we can erect a real 
superstructure of industrial democracy and social security. 

To this end we can all dedicate ourselves to unselfish service 
in the cause of progress and humanity. 


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Manufacturers. 7ist Congress, 1st Session, No. 21028. Govt. 

Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1929 
Review of Strikes in 1936. U. S. Department of Labor. Govt. 

Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1937 
Revolt Among the Sharecroppers, by Howard Kester. Covici-Friede, 

New York, 1936 


Rich Man, Poor Man, by Stuart Chase > Henry Pratt Fairchild, Harry 

A. Over street. Harper & Bros., New York, 1935 
Rise of American Civilization, The, by Charles A. and Mary R. 

Beard. The Macmillan Co., New York, 1933 
Robber Barons, The, by Matthew Josephson. Harcourt, Brace and 

Co., New York, 1934 
Seeds of Revolt, The, by Mauritz Hallgren. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 

New York, 1933 
Shadow Before, The, by William Rollins. Robert M. McBride & 

Co., New York, 1934 
Sit Down, by Joel Seidman. League for Industrial Democracy, 

New York, 1937 
Spy Overhead, The Story of Industrial Espionage, by Clinch 

Calkins. Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1937 
Steel-Dictator, by Harvey O'Connor. The John Day Co., New York, 


Steel Labor, Files. Official Paper S.W.O.C., Pittsburgh, Pa., 1937 
Steel and Men. Social Action, Vol. Ill, No. 8, April 15, 1937, by 

H. 0. Hatcher. Council for Social Action. Congregational and 

Christian Churches of America, 289 Fourth Ave., New York 

City. Pilgrim Press, New York, 1937 

Steel Profits and Your Wages. S.W.O.C., Pittsburgh, Pa., 1937 
Steel Strike of 1919, The. Report by the Commission of Inquiry, 

Interchurch World Movement. Harcourt, Brace and Howe, New 

York, 1920 
Steel Workers, The, by J. A. Fitch. Russell Sage Foundation, New 

York, 1910 
Story of Civil Liberties in the United States, The, by Leon Whipple. 

The Vanguard Press, New York, 1927 

Story of the International Ladies Garment Workers, The. Educa- 
tional Department, I.L.G.W.U., New York, 1935 
Strike for Unionism, by Heber Blankenhorn. The H. W. Wilson Co., 

New York, 1924 
Struggle of the Marine Workers, The, by N. Sparks. International 

Pamphlets No. 5, New York, 1930 
Sweden: The Middle Way, by Marquis W. Childs. Yale University 

Press, 1936, New Haven, Conn. 


They Told Barren, by C. W. Barron. Harper & Bros., New York, 

Trade Unionism in the United States, by R. F. Hoxie. D. Appleton 

and Co., New York, 1923 
Truth About the Waterfront, The. International Longshoremen's 

Assoc. San Francisco, 1936 
United Automobile Worker, Files. Official Publication, U.A.W.A., 

Detroit, Mich. 
U. S. Senate Document 418 74th Congress. U. S. Commission 

of Industrial Relations. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, 

D. C., 1937 
U. S. Steel. Five Numbers of Fortune Magazine, New York City. 

March, April, May, and June, 1936, May, 1937 
Vigilantes Hide Behind the Flag, The, by Isabel Walker Soule. 

Natl. Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners, New York, 

Way Rockefeller Looks at It, The, by McGregor (pseud.). Harper's 

Weekly, May 23, 1914 
What's On the Workers Mind, by Whiting Williams. Scribner's 

Sons, New York, 1920 
What's Wrong With the Carpenters. Progressive Building Trades 

Workers. Chicago, 1925 
When Labor Organizes, by Brooks. Yale University Press, New 

Haven, 1937 
World Resources and Industry, by E. W. Zimmerman. Harper & 

Bros., New York, 1935 
Workers Education C.I.O. Model. Social Frontier, New York, 

December, 1937 
Women Who Work, by Grace Hutchins. International Publishers, 

New York, 1934 
Yellow Dog Contract, The, by Elliot E. Cohen. International 

Pamphlet, New York, 1932 
You and Your Union. Educational Dept. I.L.G.W.U., New York, 

J 934 

Your Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act. C.I.O. 
Publication, No. 14. Washington, D. C., October, 1937 


A.A.A. legislation against farm laborers, 

Agricultural, Cannery and Packing 
House Workers, 191 

accord, A.F. of L. and C.I.O. failure 
to come to, 261 ff. 

A.F. of L., 6, 9, 109, 132, 187, 191, 
278; breach between C.I.O. and, 
221, 261 ff.; Central Labor Union 
and, 211 ff.; claims of, 268 ff.; concep- 
tion of labor of, 185; electrical prod- 
ucts in, 202; employer and, 267; 
Executive Council suspended C.I.O. 
affiliates, 26; farm laborers refused 
by, 192; Gompers was the, 21; history 
of, 21 ff.; longshoremen and, 219; 
membership under War Labor Board, 
39; Negroes kept out of, 18; N.L.R.B. 
and, 245; in oil, 208; policy of, 21; 
revolutionary changes within, 20; 
shoe industry leaves the, 207; textiles 
attempted by, 175; trades remaining 
in, 27; transport workers refused by, 
206; unity between C.I.O. and, 14, 
186; on West Coast, 210 ff.; wood- 
workers and, 215 ff. 

agricultural and cannery workers, 17, 
190, 196, 211, 222; composed of, 194; 
national groups among, 193; position 
of, 192 

Akron, Ohio, 5 ff., 86; Employers Asso- 
ciation, 10, n, 252; general public 
in, 7; rubber strike won in, 10 

Allegheny Steel Corporation, 49 

Allis-Chalmers, 202 

Aluminum Workers of America, 13, 
115 ff. 

Amalgamated Iron, Steel and Tin 
Workers, 12, 26, 46, 51, in, 264 

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of 
America, 6, 12, 14, 25, 26, 120 ff., 175, 
209, 211, 222, 224, 236, 266, 274, 279, 

American Bridge, 36 

American Communications Assoc., 13 

American Federation of Labor, see A.F. 

American Munitions Company, 159 

American Iron and Steel Institute, 31, 
37, 49, 132, 133 ff- 

American Labor Party, 280 

American Newspaper Guild, 13, 186, 

211, 212 

American Legionnaires, 159, 212 
American Woolen Co., 178, 179, 223 ff. 
Annalist, Tht, 225 
arms, see tear gas and ammunition 
Armstrong Cork Company, 113 
anti-union activities, 38, 98; techniques, 


Atallah, Albert, 114 ff. 
Auto Worker, Flint, 68 
automobile industry, 59; profits in, 60; 

speed-up and autocracy in, 59, 60 
auto workers, 26, 59; attend classes, no; 

demonstration at Coliseum, 100; 

Ford, 104 ff.; slogans, 95, 97, 100; 

working conditions, wages, industrial 

diseases, 60 ff. 

back-to-work movements, 10, 63, 98, 
179, 221; Camden, 201; Johnstown, 
164, 166; Mohawk Valley Formula 
and, 129 ff.; Monroe, 4; strikebreak- 
ers, 36 

Baggett, Violet, Mrs., 80 
Battle of Bulls Run, 69 ff., 76 
"Battle of the Overpass," 103 
Beck, Dave, 210 ff., 214 ff., 221, 277 
Bergoff, Pearl, 8, 38, 86, 247 ff. 
Bethlehem Steel Corp., 49, in, 113, 

134, 141, 162, 166, 167, 240 
big business, 28, 151 ff.; assault on Ad- 
ministration by, 132 
Bill of Rights, 16 
Bittner, Van A., 47, 153, 207, 278 
Blankenhorn, Heber, 34 
Blue Card Union, 268, 272 
Blue Eagle, 9 

Bogavitch, George, death of, 143 
Boyeson, George, 63, 64 
Briar Hill Sheet and Tube, 138 
Bridges, Harry, 198, 199, 201, 210, 212, 

214, 219, 221 

British Trade Commission, in 
Brophy, John, 13, 14, 25, 47, 67, 79, 

IO2, 114, Il6, 175, 212 

Brotherhood of Carpenters, 215, 2l6 
Broun, Heywood, 182, 186 
Budenz, Louis F., 272 




Bullis, Harry A., 43, 44 
Burns Detective Agency, 253 
Business Week, n 

C.I.O., 145, 150, 158, 165, 175, 178, 
180, 186, 187, 190, 278, 292; A.F. of L. 
sided against, 267; in agriculture, 193 
ff.; Akron victory of, 10; anti , 210; 
Atlantic City Conference of, 10, n, 
13, 17, 25; breach with A.F. of L., 
261 ff.; build-up, 132 ff.; Central Labor 
Union, 211, 212; Committee of Ten, 
273; cornerstones of, 59, 60, 61; criti- 
cism of, 108; education, 225; electrical 
products in, 202; farm laborers, 192; 
four-point program of, 174; finances, 
222; first big strike of, 5; first nation- 
wide strike of, 62; industries in, 27; 
industrial unionism and, 20; Interna- 
tionals in, 12 ff.; legal information 
and, 223 ff.; Lewis' reason for forming, 
284, 285; maritime unions in, 216 ff.; 
new tactics in, 8, 9; N.L.R.B. and, 
245; N.R.A. and, 8; organizers of, 
102; organizes without regard to 
color, etc., 18; oil and, 208; plans for 
govt. employee organization by, 188; 
progressive aims of, 45, 46, 288; scope 
of, 16; seamen and, 200 ff.; set up, 25; 
shoe industry and, 207; source of 
power, 221 ff.; statistics of, 18 ff.; 
successes of, 113, 114, 122, 127, 131; 
suspended by A.F. of L., 26; S.W.O.C. 
and, 47, 51, 56, 57; toolmaking and, 
209; transport workers and, 205; 
U.E.R.M.W. in, 201; unity between 
A.F. of L. and, 14, 15 

Camden R.C.A. strike, 10, 62, 201 

Carnegie, Andrew, anti-labor policy, 51 

Carnegie-Illinois, 138, 239, 257 

chemical industry, 203 ff. 

Chevrolet-9, 74, 76, 233 

Chevy No. 4, 72 ff., 76, 78, 79, 82, 89, 

Chicago massacre, 42, 118 ff., 133, 140, 

145, 278, 279 

child labor, 44, 176; laws, 192 
Children's Day, in Indiana Harbor, 154 
Chrysler Corp., 34, 60, 62, 91, 93, 96, 97 
Chrysler, Walter P., meeting with 

Lewis, 95, 99 ff. 
Citizens Industrial Assoc., 38 

Citizens Committees, 10, 36, 73, 130 ff., 
156 ff., 162, 164, 167, 169, 183, 189 

civil liberties, protest for, 95; strikers, 
223; of workers, 251; taken from 
Youngstown labor leaders, 148 

Clapper Raymond, 152 

collective bargaining, 17, 20, 36, 133, 
141, 170, 226, 268, 282; right of work- 
ers to, 41, 44; in steel contract, 112 ff. 

collusion, 33, 147, 278 

Committee for Industrial Organization, 
see C.I.O. 

company unions, 9, 33, 56, 57, 116, 139, 
140, 155, 170, 205; on California 
ranches, 194; Goodyear, 5 

Corporations Auxiliary, 34, 253 

cotton, problems of organization in, 178 

craft union, 20, 23, 40; A.F. of L. chiefs 
clung to, 21 ; approach of, 9; futility 
of, 9; surrounded by unorganized, 18 

Cravath, DeGersdoff, Swaine and Wood, 


Crucible Steel Company, 49, 113 
Cunningham, Elmer T., testimony of, 

156 ff., 253 
Curran, Joe, 199, 200 

Dalrymple, Sherman H., 10, 14, 273 

Davey, Governor, 136, 140, 146 

Davis, Jerome, 186 

De Caux, Len, 25 

depression, 8, 50, 52, 108, 181, 184, 185, 
1 86; caused labor's awakening, 44 

detective agencies, see espionage 

Detroit Free Press, 95 

Detroit Times, testimony of photog- 
rapher of, 103 

Dodge, 61, 96 

Dorfmuller, Anton, 135 ff. 

Draymans Association, 212 

Dubinsky, David, 14, 261, 273 

Earle, Governor, 133, 164, 167 

"economic royalists," 72 

education and research, workers', 224 ff. 

electrical products industry, 202 

Eliot, Charles H., 38, 39 

Emergency Federation of Fraternal and 

Civic Organizations, 165 
employers, A.F. of L. sided with, 267; 

Assoc. of Akron, 10; first, 39; and 



means of retaining power, 289; Pacific 
Coast, 199; violence of, 244 
espionage, industrial, 32, 34, 35, 36, 
37, 44, 58, 59, 112, 155, 205, 244, 
251, 252, 256, 289; General Motors 
and, 97; in open shop program, 45 

Fagan, Pat, 65 

Fairless, Benjamin, in 

farmers, no, 189, 190, 191, 288; organi- 
zation, 196 ff.; Union, 195 

Farmers Holiday Assoc., ineffective, 195 

Federal Laboratories, Inc., 251, 255 

Federal Mediation Board, 133, 141, 144, 
J 49, J 57 conference broken down, 
145; members of, 141 

Federation of Architects, Engineers, 
Chemists and Technicians, 13, 186 

Federation of Flat Glass Workers, 12 

Federation of Woodworkers, 211 

Feltz Baldwin, 36 _ 

Firestone, strike victory in, 10 

Fisher No. 1, 62, 63, 67 ff., 82, 89; a night 
in, 64 ff. 

Fisher No. 2, 62, 67, 69 ff., 78, 79, 82, 89 

Fiske, Rev. Charles B., 125 ff. 

flat glass workers, 62 

Flint Alliance, 63 ff., 71, 72 ff., 86 

Flivver King, The, no 

Flynn, John T., 134 

Fontecchio, Nicholas, 153 

Ford, Edsel, 166 

Ford, Henry, 60, 61, 100, 102 ff., 166, 
169, 240, 244; and higher wages, 106; 
and N.L.R.B., 105 ff.; war chest to 
organize, 108; worker's letter, 107 ff. 

Fortune Magazine, 49, 50 

Foster, William Z., 23, 51 

Frankensteen, Richard, 61, 96, 99, 102; 
attack on, 105; lookout for, 103 ff. 

Frey, Colonel, J. P., 264 

Garrison, Lloyd, 141 
General Electric, 202 
General Motors, 26, 34, 59, 60, 62 ff., 

91,97, in, 112, 131, 183 
Germer, Adolf, 102 
Girdler, Tom, 44, 118, 132 ff., 135 ff., 

141, 143, 145 ff., 151, 169, 171, 173, 

267, 271, 283 
Golden, Clinton, 47, 114 
Gompers, Samuel, 21, 23, 184, 275 

Goodrich, strike victory in, 10 

Goodyear, 5, 233, 239, 252, 253; dues- 
paying members, 9; financial position, 
7; settlement in, 8; strike, n 

Gorman, Francis A., 175 

Grace, Eugene, 141 

Green, William, 24, 180, 186, 187, 193, 
264 ff., 267, 272, 273 ff., 275 

Guide-Lamp, 71 

Hapgood, Powers, 102 

Harlan County Coal Operators Assoc., 

Harper, Harry N., testimony of, 124 ff. 
Harpers Magazine, 38 
Hatfield, Sid, shooting of, 55 
Hillman, Sidney, 14, 175, 176, 178, 179, 

181, 266, 273 
hiring halls, 198 ff. 
Hoffmann, Clare, Congressman, 164 ff., 

243, 272 

Holding Company Act, 202 
Homestead, 53, 57, 126, 280; memorial, 


Howard, Charles P., 25 
Hubbard Steel Co., 54, 55, 113 
Hutcheson, 25, 216 ff. 

I.W.W., 23, 175, 216, 217, 218, 236 
independents (in steel), in, 113, 116; 
1 1 8, 132, 133, 134, 142; Administra- 
tion attacked by, 132 
Indiana Harbor, 153 ff., 234 
Industrial Commission (of 1894), 41 
industrial disease, 44, no, 225, 268, 287 
injunction, 145; abuse of the, 39; picket- 
ing, 148; proceedings in autos, 82 
Inland Boatmens Union, 13 
Inland Steel, 118, 135, 141, 154 
Insurance Agents Union, 183 
Interchurch World Movement, 156 
International Assoc. of Machinists, 270 
International Fur Workers, 12, 211 
International Ladies Garment Workers 
Union, 6, 12, 14, 15, 25, 102, 222, 224, 
235, 236, 261, 266, 279 
International Longshoremen and Ware- 

housemens Union, 13, 198 
International Nickel Company, 113 
International Typographical Union, 12, 
25, 279 

3 o8 


International Union of Marine and 

Shipbuilding Workers, 13 
International Union of Mine, Mill and 

Smelter Workers, 12, 208 
International Woodworkers of America, 

12, 215 ff., 234 

Johnson, Genora, 77 
Johnson, Hugh S., General, 134, 243 
Jones, John Price, 162, 166 
Jones & Laugh lin Steel Corp., 49, 113, 
115, 116, 118 

Kazinsci, Father, 52, 54 
Kelsey Hays Wheel Corp., 62 
Kennedy, William, 46 
King, Mrs. Fred, 151 
Kirkley, Donald J., 167 ff. 
Knaggs, Mayor Daniel, 158 
Knights of Dearborn, 169 
Knights of Labor, 23 
Knudsen, William S., 60, 71, 97; con- 
ference with Martin, 99 
Krzycki, Leo, 7, 120 
Ku Klux Klan, 168, 178, 180 

labor, attacks against, 228; "average 
citizens" and, 229; when C.I.O. was 
formed, 18; criticism of leaders of, 42; 
division in ranks of, 261; education 
and organization of, 183; in fall 
of 1937, 26; fights for security, 289 
ff.; forward march of, 198; growing 
movement of, 45; leaders arrested in 
Youngstown, 147; migrating, 194 ff.; 
new statistics of, 27, 28, 29; in political 
field, 275; records of crafts, 19; recov- 
ery, n; relationship between govt. 
and, 246; sings, 235; smashing 
methods, 34; struggle of, 184; takes in, 
288; tasks before, 290 ff.; unity in 
movement of, 6; women in movement, 


Labor Marches On, 236 

La Follette, Senator, 122, 124, 126, 251, 

La Follette Civil Liberties Committee, 

10, 28, 33, 35, 58, 59, 120, 126, 136, 

156, 159, 223, 228, 246, 251, 258 ff., 


La Guardia, Mayor Fiorello, 205, 280, 

Lake Erie Chemical Co., 254 

Lament, Thomas, 112, 170 

Landon, Alf M., 141 

laundry workers, 209 

Law and Order League, Akron, 8, 86; 
in Massillon, 159, 160, 161, 167 

letters, of auto striker's wife, 81, 85; 
to Canton Forum, 149 ff.; of Ford 
worker, 107 ff.; to Voice of the Federa- 
tion^ 214 

Levin, Meyer, testimony of, 126 

Lewis, John L., 13, 15, 31, 55, 63, 69, 
82,99ff., in, 114, 133, 134, 135, 141, 
165, 173, 174, 179, 1 80, 190, 283, 284, 
292, 294; agricultural workers and, 
192; attitude toward Communists, 
271, 272; blows between Hutcheson 
and, 25; meeting with Chrysler, 95; 
met Green to discuss terms, 273 ff.; 
in Non-Partisan League, 275 

Libbey-Owens Ford, 62 

Lincoln, Abraham, 293; and message to 
Congress, 293 ff. 

Litchfield, Paul, 7, 252, 253 

Little Steel, 10, 16, 17, 31, 32, 118 ff., 
127, 128, 131, 132, 133 ff., 152, 153, 
162, 167, 229, 283 

Ludlow, Colorado, 31, 39, 126 ff. 

Lundeberg, Harry, 198, 214 

McCarthy, Ignatius, testimony of, 254 


McCulloch, Frank W., testimony of, 125 
McGrady, Edward P., 141 
McKeesport Tin Plate Company, 49 
Maguire, J. W. R., Father, 72 
Maritime Federation of the Pacific, 198, 


Marshall, Lupe, Mrs., 121, 122 ff. 
martial law, 149, 167 
Martin, Homer, 60, 61, 63, 67, 69, 79, 

88, 90, 94, 96, 100, 101, 109, 273; 

conference with Knudsen, 99 
manufacturers' associations, 37, 39, 40, 


mass production, 9, 19, 31, 46, 112, 220 
Michaelson, Clarina, 187 
Middleton, Deputy Sheriff, 33 
Midland Steel, 62 
Mitch, John, 47 



Mohawk Valley Formula, 128 ff.; 139, 

140, 157 ff.; 167, 221; in Johnstown, 

Morgan, house of, in, 112, 182; U.S. 

Steel controlled by, 134 
Morgan, J. P., 170, 202 
Mortimer, Wyndham, 61, 88, 90, 96, 102 
munitions factories, see tear gas and 

Murphy, Frank, Governor, 62, 63, 71, 

73, 82, 83, 87 ff., 91,95, 98, 99 ff. 
Murray, Philip, 14, 47, 48, IO2, 118, 

141, 171, 173, 229, 273 

N.I.R.A., 40, 203, 256 

N.R.A., 5, 8, 9, 17, 28, 48, 51, 115, 191, 
192, 253; gains made in unions under, 

Nance, Steve, 178 

National Association of Manufacturers, 
39, 42, 43, 243, 259 

National Die Casting League, 13 

National Farm News, The, 167 

National Guard, 32, 33, 155, 160, 161; 
troops arrive in Youngstown, 147 ff. 

National Industrial Maritime Federa- 
tion, 199 

National Labor Relations Act, 16, 28, 
132, 223, 278 

National Labor Relations Board, 34, 58, 
118, 125, 133, 141, 147, 162, 178, 179, 
212, 228, 254 ff.; attacks on, 244 ff.; 
cases before the, 239 ff.; cases han- 
dled, 237; and Ford, 103; Ford ordered 
by, 105 ff.; how it works, 242 ff.; in 
Massillon, 160 ff.; Mohawk Valley 
Formula outlined by, 128; Remington 
Rand hearing before, 247; President 
Roosevelt's approving of, 237 ff. 

National Maritime Union, 198, 199, 200, 

National Steel Corporation, 49, in 

Negro workers, 17, 18, 52, 53, 56, 93, 
184; in Ford Foundries, 109 

Nelson, James, 14-15 

New Deal, 9, 27, 132, 169, 229, 275, 
286, 287 

Newspaper Guild, see American News- 
paper Guild 

Non-Partisan League, 211, 275 ff., 279 

Norman, Frank, 169 

Norris-La Guardia Act, 39, 246 

oil industry, conditions and wages in, 

207 ff. 

Oil Workers International Union, 6, 12 
open shop, 9, 17, 31, 36, 37, 39, 40, 44, 

45, 48, 101, 155 ff., 177, 208, 209, 223, 
240, 290; attack on N.L.R.B. of the, 
245; beginning of the, 46; cost of the, 
32; Detroit, stronghold of the, 91; 
lives lost in fight against, 33; terrorist 
methods of, 251-2 

organization, agricultural workers, 192 
ff., 196; aluminum, 115; Armstrong 
Cork, 114; auto industry and, 59 ff.; 
auto strike, 68; auto second phase, 
100; cotton, 178; Detroit, 92 ff.; 
difficulties in steel, 48; drive not 
checked in, 131; electrical workers, 
201 ; employers' means to prevent, 289; 
Ford, 102 ff., 108; govt. and, 9; in 
industries related to textiles, 178, 181; 
lumbering and woodworking, 216; 
manufacturers Assoc. to prevent, 37; 
in the mass industries, 31, 32; N.R.A. 
and, 51; pickets, 139; Pittsburgh and, 
47; Pontiac, 98; right of, 31, 277; sea- 
men's, 201; steel gains because of, 
112; terrorization met, 56; textile 
workers, 175, 177; transport workers, 
204 ff.; W.P.A. workers, 185; white 
collar and professionals, 183; Youngs- 
town, 138 

Paramount Newsreel, 121, 122 ff., 127 

Parsons, A. T., 86 

Pele, Mary, 115 ff. 

Pengally Hall, 67 ff., 77, 79, 84 ff., 89, 


Perkins, Frances, Secretary of Labor, 

46, 72, 73, 141, 200 
Philadelphia Record, 245 
Photo- History, statistics in, 18 

picket line, 7, 99; Indiana Harbor, 154; 
Johnstown, 163, 213; Monroe, Michi- 
gan, 159; reduced, 148; steel strike 
core was, 138; Warren, 145; Youngs- 
town, 142, 152, 231 

Pinchot, Gifford, Mrs., 72 

Pinkerton Detective Agency, 34, 36, 46, 
86, 156, 251 ff., 253, 256 

Post Office hearing, 151 ff. 

Pressman, Lee, 14, 47, 212 

Progressive group, in the C.I.O., 108 ff. 



propaganda, 33, 37, 127, 133, 156; busi- 
ness interests, 229; against C.I.O., 
204; Hitler's, 189 

provocators, 97, 109, 252 

Pullman Company, 41 

Quill, Michael, 205, 273 

radio, 7, 13, 42, 43, 138, 155, 199, 285 
Railway Audit & Inspection Co., 38, 

251, 253; firms serviced by, 256; 

strikebreakers furnished by, 258 
Rand, James H., Jr., 128, 244 
Remington Rand, 139, 240; N.L.R.B. 

hearing, 247 
Republic Steel Corp., 31, 49, III, 118, 

134, 135, 138, 140, 141, 142, 144, 

158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 240, 244 
Reuther, Roy, 76, 86, 109 
Reuther, Walter R., 61, 104, 109 
right to work, 155, 164, 285 
River Rouge, 102, 103, 108 
Rockefeller, John D., Jr., 39, 182 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 16, 28, 58, 82, 

91, 132, 133, 140, 141, 144, 152, 192, 

211, 237, 240, 246, 262, 275, 276, 286 

rubber workers, 145, 223; in Gadsden, 
Ala., 10; reinforced by organizers, 6; 
response to the New Deal, 9; first 
sit-down, 7; wage cuts, 6; union, 5 

Ryan, Joseph P., 198, 200-201 

S.W.O.C., 12, 14, 46, 53, 112, 117, 118 

ff., 135 ff., 141, l62, 222, 227, 229, 

274, 278, 279, 283; achievements of, 
170 ff.; brilliant organizing by, 56, 
57 ff.; C.I.O. and the, 47 ff.; charges 
made by, 147; four-point program, 
174, 175; Lewis a power in the, 15; 
in Massillon, 159 ff.; set up, 47; in 
toolmaking industry, 209; U.S. hous- 
ing authority and, 173; U.S. Steel 
contract with, 112 ff., 114 

"Sam's Place," 120, 124 

Sawmill and Timber Workers Union, 


seamen, conditions of, 200, 214 
Seattle Star, 211 
Securities and Exchange Commission, 


Sellins, Fannie, 115, 126 
"service men," Ford's, 103 ff., 244 

sharecroppers, 192; need for education 
of, 226 

Shatoc, Smiley, 54, 146, 147 

Shields, Daniel J., Mayor, 162, 164, 165 

shipyard workers, 10, 207 

shoe industry, 206 ff. 

sit-down, 1 6, 61, 229; by auto workers, 
26; in Chevy No. 4, 67, 71, 82 ff.; 
development of, 109; in Detroit, 91, 
93; first 24-hour, 7; in Flint, 63; in 
Guide-Lamp, 71; history of, 230 ff.; 
outbreak of, 97 ff.; provocators in, 
97j 99; seamen's, 200; used indis- 
criminately, 10; women's part in the, 
79 ff. 

Sloan, Alfred P., Jr., 60, 63, 71, 73, 82 

social security, 174; laws, 246, 283, 295; 
in Old Age Pensions, 192 

Southern Tenant Farmers Union, 192; 
representatives of, 193 

spy system, see espionage 

Steel and Men, 50 

steel industry, 114, 172; agreements, 
oral and in writing, 141; area, 47; 
arrogance of, 49; anti-labor policies 
of, 112, 113; backward technologically 
in, 50; drive for organization, 26, 58; 
favoritism in, 52; first victory of 
workers in, 55; masters, 133; men 
employed in, 49 ff.; power of, 47; 
salaries for heads of, 49; working 
conditions and wages in, 51 

steel strike, 17, 51, 126, 128, 131 ff., 
133, 170; governors appealed to 
Roosevelt to end, 140; Post Office 
hearing, 152 

steel towns, living conditions in, 48, 
53; conditions in Aliquippa, 116; 
organized, 114 ff.; the S.W.O.C. went 
into, 57 

Steel Workers Organizing Committee 
see S.W.O.C. 

Stonkus, Albert, 202 

strike methods, see strike techniques 

strike, auto, 16, 26, 61; Battle of Bulls 
Run, 69; Cambria Steel, 162; casual- 
ties, 75; Chrysler, Reo, Hudson, set- 
tle, ico, 102; cost to workers of, 33, 
34; deadlock, 72; flat glass workers, 
62; in Flint, 67 ff., 90; in Ford 'plants, 
62, 103, 113; general, 94, 198, 272; 
Goodyear and R.C.A., 10; Indiana 


Harbor, 153; iron molders, 37; Jones 
&Laughlin, 116, 138; Little Steel, 10; 
longshoremen, 219; Pullman, 41; two 
major, 91; power behind, 229; Rem- 
ington Rand, 247; rubber workers, 5 
if.; at Seattle Star, 211; sit-down used 
indiscriminately, 10; situations and 
T.W.O.C., 223; first victory of steel, 
55; success, 73; textile, 178 fL; unau- 
thorized, 97; for union recognition, 
32, 292; victory and gains, 10, 62 

strike technique, new, 7, 8, II, 16, 29, 
221; strategy board of Detroit, 68, 73; 
Indiana Harbor, 153; no strategy 
board in Johnstown, 163; modern and 
old, 224, 226; sit-down as, 230 fL, 235 

strikebreakers, 32, 33, 36, 103, 116, 149, 
156, 251; furnished by Railway 
Audit, 258 

strikebreaking technique, a new, 36, 
156, 157 

strikers, auto, 84; Camden, 201; in 
Chrysler, 93; demonstrations marked 
return of, 99; evictions of, 94, 98; 
Reo, 100; Republic, 149; Youngs- 
town, 144, 147 

Switter, Chief of Police, testimony of, 
160 fL, 254 

T.W.O.C., 175 ff, i?8, 181, 224 

tactic, see strike techniques 

Taylor, Myron, in, 112 

Teachers Union, 186 

tear gas and ammunition, 32, 37, 44, 53, 

70, 74 fL, 116, 121, 142, 146, 159, 

251, 253 fL, 289, 290; inventory of 

steel masters, 136 fL 
tenant farmers, 17; problem of, 195; 

need for education of, 226 
textile, drive, 17, 178 fL; Passaic, 1926, 

233; 1912 strike, 223; 1934 strike, 157; 

workers organize in, 175; workers 

killed, 127 
textile industry, confusion in, 175 fL; 

education of workers and public in, 

180; future organization in, 181 
Textile Workers Organizing Committee, 

see T.W.O.C. 

Thomas, Roy, 140, 142, 157 
Thomas, Senator, 126, 251 
Tighe, Mike, 26, 51, 264 
Timko, Joe, 1 16 fL 

toolmaking industry, 209 
Trade Union Educational League, 23-4 
Trade Union Unity League, 24, 236 
transit industry, conditions in, 206 
Transport Workers Union, 12, 201 

unions, agreements with, 138; Black 
Valley crushed the, 115; California, 
193; Cincinnati, 208; coming of, 85; 
criticism of, 42; General Motors, 73, 
87; govt. employee, 184, 188; and 
human dignity, 291; incorporation 
of, 281 fL; "independent," 140; 
membership increase in, 9, 10; offices 
raided of, 147; recognition of, 32, 
292; research in, 224; technique of 
Pinkertons, 251; techniques, 221 ; 
tenant farmers, 17; treasury of auto 
workers, 60, 62; white collar, 183 

United Automobile Workers of Amer- 
ica, 12, 59, 60, 94, 95, 96, 99, 101, 
103, 108, 109 fL, 131, 222, 227, 235, 

United Auto Worker, The, 81, 85, 92, 

United Electrical, Radio and Machine 
Workers, 12, 201, 202, 209, 269, 274 

United Mine Workers of America, 6, 12, 
15, 25, 33, 47, 48, 102, 126, 145, 153, 
163, 175, 203, 204, 222, 224, 236, 266 

United Office and Professional Workers 
of America, 13, 187 

United Rubber Workers of America, 12 

United Shoe Workers of America, 12, 

United States housing authority, 173 

United States Steel Corp., 26, 33, 49, 
So, 51, S3, 59, "I ff- 133 ff-, 170, 239 

United States Supreme Court, 16, 28, 

45, "3 133, 2 4, 277 

United Textile Workers of America 
(later T.W.O.C.), 12, 175, 266 

unity, between C.I.O. and A.F. of_L. 
1 86; of labor, 221, 274; of industrial, 
professional, agricultural, manufac- 
turing workers, 292 

Unity faction, 108 fL 

utilities, profits, organization of, wages, 
202 ff. 

Utility Workers Organizing Committee, 



Vandeleur, 193, 194, 210, 269 
vigilantes, 37, 117, 129; met agricultural 

organization with, 192, 221, 259; 

Flint Alliance as, 73, 86 ff.; in Monroe, 

Mich., 158 ff., 166 ff., 180 

W.P.A., 164, 185, 186, 187, 213, 227, 

Wagner Labor Relations Act, 45, 113, 
238, 240 ff., 251, 256; amendment of 
281 ff.; provisions of, 241 

war chests, 6, 108 

West Virginia, organized, 55, 126 

white collar workers, 17, 18; effects of 
depression on, 185; insurance against 
fascism by, 188, 209, 292; number of, 
21, 182 ff.; union of, 188, 209, 292 

Women's Auxiliaries, 67, 69, 78, 79, 99, 
no, 153, 205; Mrs. Raggett's letter 
of, 81; in Little Steel, 234; wood- 
workers, 217 

Women's Day, in Flint, 84; in Youngs- 
town, 142; in Indiana Harbor, 154 

Women's Emergency Brigade, 69, 74, 
76 ff., 84, 97 

World War, 39 

Young, Owen D., 170 

Youngstown killings, 142 

Youngstown Sheet and Tube, 113, 118, 
134, 138, 144, 145, 158; "independ- 
ent" union of, 140