Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

that is, the ability of labor organizations to stop production for profit by refusal to work until their demands have been acceded to, or an acceptable compromise reached. That is all that so-called "bargaining power" is. Conflicts between employers and employees

Senator WAGNER. Could I interrupt you there or would you rather finish?

Mr. DUNNE. No, if you do not mind spending the time.

Senator WAGNER. You do not agree with the large employers of labor who say it gives the worker too much power?

Mr. Dunne. This will be made clear as I go along, Senator.

Conflicts between employers and employees, between workers and capitalists, over questions of wages and hours, working condition's the union shop versus the open shop or nonunion shop, are never decided on the basis of "right", "justice”, “human welfare", and so forth, or other shibboleths used by well-meaning but misguided people, or by conscious demagogues in the leadership of labor organizations, in Government positions and the spokesmen of the industrial and financial overlords, for the purpose of deluding workers and others into believing that the present mode of production, capitalism, is something else than a cold-blooded system of production for profit.

A dispute over wages and working conditions is in essence a test of power between capital and labor-with Government always on the side of the employers as a class. This is necessarily so because socalled impartial government is a polite fiction. Government that does not represent the interest of the dominant class in any given epoch of society is a paradox. Government is the organized power of the dominant class. In the United States this is the capitalist class. In the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics government represents also the interests of the dominant class—the working class.

All this is, of course, elementary. Conscious representatives of the capitalist class know this just as well as do Communists and other class-conscious workers. But capitalists and their representatives are very anxious to conceal this fact from the great mass of the toiling population. If they cannot succeed in doing this and the present sconomic crisis, now of 44 years' duration, with its indescribable misery for all sections of the toiling population, makes it increasingly difficult-political crises inevitably develop.

More and more the ruling class and its spokesmen and general staff are forced to resort to complicated maneuvers. As the purpose of these maneuvers are discovered by the workers, a whole series must be invented, one following the other. As these fail to achieve the desired results, that is, to confuse the whole working class, especially that section in decisive industries, divide its ranks, create suspicion and dissension, and make its struggles hesitant, weak, and ineffective, and prevent the outbreak of conflicts between employer and worker, more forcible measures are indicated.

We see this strategy at work in the railway and auto situationwith President Roosevelt and Mr. Green duplicating the role of Wilson and Gompers in the steel campaign of 1919, when the full pressure of the Government and the official A. F. of L. leadership was brought against the struggles of terribly exploited and oppressed steel workers. Promises to workers whose burdens have become intolerablepromissory notes that always have and always will be repudiated much faster than the war debts, are much in vogue now.

But these kinds of promissory notes have a feature all their own; foreclosure proceedings take place against those to whom they are given-not against those who sign them. In between the lines of these documents there always lurks the threat of further suppression or jeopardy of workers' rights, either by force in one form or another, or by cajolery and deception, or by a mixture of both.

The Wagner bill is this kind of a document. This we will show later. First it is necessary to be specific in regard to the present economic and political situation in the country-a situation whose main features must give the greatest concern to the general staff of American capital and its government. It is out of these specific instances that the Wagner bill arises. Since the Wagner bill is intended to strengthen or replace clause 7 (a); since clause 7 (a) brought about the greatest development of company unionism ever seen in this country; since clause 7 (a) was intended to substitute futile negotiations under control of Government agencies for effective organization and struggle by workers; and since the economiz and social status of the American working class as a whole has been reduced, by price rises, inflation, and the actual operation of clause 7 (a), as representatives of the Trade Union Unity League and its affiliated unions told workers would be the case, and since in spite of clause 7 (a) many hundreds of thousands of workers have seen the necessity of organized struggle for better wages and conditions, thus cutting into profits, it follows logically that the Wagner bill, if it is not a mere literary exercise, must be intended as part of the recovery program, to protect profits; to make it more difficult for workers to exercise effectively their bargaining power, i.e., the strike weapon.

The following outstanding recent developments are some of the main features of the present situation which gives rise to such measures as the Wagner bill:

1. The contradiction between lowered income of the working population, increased production, giving concentration of capital, a huge increase in profits, and rising prices—the economic basis for the present wage demands, organization movements, and wage of strike struggles.

2. The contradiction which has impelled the Roosevelt administration to expose big bankers in order to allay popular discontent and win popular support; the same contradiction, that is, the necessity of winning support from workers and working farmers whose interests are opposed to monopoly capital for a program of monopoly capitalthe contradiction which in the President's anniversay speech impels him to praise the bankers and make a congratulatory telegram from them the high point of his speech. This results in loss of moral prestige for the administration-especially among ruined farmers, small business men, and the upper stratum of more highly paid workers who lost their savings in the bank crashes.

It also necessitates the invention and use of new weapons against workers--the announcement of General Johnson, for instance, in regard to a 10-percent increase in wages and a 10-percent reduction in hours.

*

*

[ocr errors]

Right here, Mr. Chairman, I would like to quote from a letter sent out by the Kiplinger Service in which they give their estimate of General Johnson's proposal. They say:

It is not necessary

Speaking to the employers, of course to cut your hours to 36 from 40 in any impulsive or panicky spirit. Take your time. Figure whether you can afford it, whether you can manage a larger pay roll, whether you can spread employment. The Government must put on the pressure for shorter hours because labor demands it, and labor has great political power. But the Washington orders are not meant to apply uniformly to all. Actually there's considerable difference of opinion within the Government as to the propriety and the results of the move toward 36 hours.

Wise managements will recognize as a fact (not a theory) that political forces are in position to force down the general level of weekly working hours, and force up the average hourly rate of pay. It seems wise to go along to whatever extent you can, stretching all the points you can.

Purchasing power in the aggregate will not be increased by as much as 10 percent and there will not be a 10 percent increase in employment, as the effort to cut hours to 36. The administration's expectation on these points are moderate.

According to this Employers' Agency Service, General Johnson's proposal is not to be taken very seriously.

Now, one of these new weapons mentioned above is the Wagner bill.

The fourth point in regard to the situation in the country is that there are huge new contingents of workers in basic industries, never before involved in struggle, who are now engaged in big wage, organization, and strike movements of a scope never before seen in this country

The unstable character of the A. F. of L. leadership and that of its affiliated unions is an outstanding fact in these movements. The control of these leaders is secured only through concessions to rank and file sentiment and by continuous promises that the Government will give them justice. The slogan of these leaders now is: “The employers kept clause 7 (a) from being applied. Wait for the Wagner bill. Wait for the President to act.

5. There is a Nation-wide revolt against company unions and all forms of so-called "employee representation" even in their recently "liberalized” form.

6. The stubborn nature of these movements and struggles is a significant fact-never before seen to the same extent in the United States. This is shown by the length of these strikes in the face of unprecedented use of forces-mass arrests, clubbings, gassings, shootings, and actual murder of strikers and pickets-by the employers' private forces and various Government agencies. Furthermore, there is to be seen the phenomenon of strike, restrike, and strike again, by the same groups of workers in coal mining, auto, steel and metal, seamen, taxi drivers, shoe and leather workers, agricultural workers, textile workers.

7. There is the beginning of a definite revolt against the present wages and working conditions and reduction of working forces among railway workers—who hitherto have taken little or no part in the struggle against the devastating effects of the crisis and the capitalist offensive against the workers.

8. There is to be seen the development of a new corps of leaders direct from the ranks of the workers, who have received their training during the present crisis, who are much closer to the working class and represent the interests of the workers as the so-called “recognized” trade-union leadership does not.

9. There is an increase of sympathetic strikes-as in auto, sections of the metal industry, among steel workers (statement of Weirton workers regarding strike with auto workers) and such significant movements as in Centralia, Ili., where a whole working-class community and even some small business men struck in sympathy with 400 shoe workers.

10. There are growing manifestations of a great desire for unity among workers irrespective of union affiliations, as seen in an Ohio conference of steel workers, where A.A. members invited members of the steel and metal workers union to attend, as in Chicago where the Federation of Labor endorsed the movement of the unemployment councils against the starvation relief plans of C.W.A. as among shoe workers in New York and Massachusetts, where four or five unions have united, etc.

11. There is the special and extremely significant fact of the conjunction of all these movements and struggles with the mass movement developing against the C.W.A. program, among the unemployed, and uniting with them many unions both A. F. of L. and T.U.U.L. unions, as well as some independent unions.

12. There is to be noted an unprecedented solidarity between employed and unemployed workers.

13. Many of these struggles and movements have developed, or are developing, a definite political character, that is, they take place in defiance of N.R.A. and its local and regional boards. This is to be seen especially among coal miners, aluminum workers, in such incidents as that of the boycotting of the election at the Budd company and the booing of General Johnson. It has been noted among the thousands of striking New York taxi drivers, and in many other places.

So far it consists mainly of refusal by the workers of supervision of their voting on working conditions and wages, in regard to union affiliation and in general is against the theory that the interests of capitalists and workers are identical and that the Government is an impartial authority.

14. There is to be seen the advent of large numbers of negro workers in the South into struggle for better wages and working conditions und union recognition as in the Alabama coal mines, together with white workers. There are such developments as the struggle of negro workers in the Civilian Conservation Camp near Tuscaloosa, Ala., against ir:tolerable conditions, discrimination, and segregation.

15. There is the growing mass support of the workers' unemployment and social insurance bill (H.R. 7598), providing for cumpulsory Federal insurance for all unemployed workers at the cost of the Government and the employers, over the opposition of the heads of the American Federation of Labor. Hundreds of A. F. of L. unions, many city central bodies and State federations of labor have endorsed this bill. There have been no refusals to endorse where workers have been reached with the bill.

16. There is a marked growth of antimilitarist sentiment which the press notes principally in schools, colleges, and among intellectuals

and professional workers, but which is unquestionably developing widely in the ranks of workers. In fact, there is developing in the United States a new labor movement of a character much more militant than in the past, and which is determining as it goes along in the struggles the kind of leadership that it wants. It will make its own selections and may have to proceed by trial and error, but when the process is finished it is stated that it will not be present kind of leadership, and the labor movement as such will not be the present kind of labor movement that exists today.

Senatro Davis. What kind of leadership would you like to see in the labor movement?

Mr. DUNNE. I would like to see a leadership in the labor movement, Senator Davis, that represents the interests of the workers, that is elected directly by the workers themselves and directly responsible to them and removable by them at any time.

Senator Davis. Are not practically all local union officials elected by the membership?

Mr. Dunye. Yes. Of course, there are cases where those elections are managed, too many of them, but it is precisely these local union leaders who are now beginning to take on more than local significance and local activity, as well as the new workers who recently have come into the organized labor movement.

Senator Davis. What sort of activities have these new labor leaders taken on?

Mr. DUNNE. Well, their activities, Senator--
Senator Davis. These local leaders, I mean?

Mr. Dunne. They are exercising leadership in the struggles that I have been speaking about. I think this is perceptible to anybody who follows more or less closely the development of the struggles that are taking place in the country today.

Senator WAGNER. My observations have been that the general bylaws of all local unions have the right to elect their officers. Most of them elect their officers every 6 months.

Mr. DUNNE. Local union officers, however, in normal times, are subject to the orders of the higher officials. Is that not true, Senator?

Senator Davis. No, not always; but, then, after all, usually the so-called international officers are always subject to the referendum of the entire membership in conventions of the officers, and some of them are elected by a referendum, and they come to the Federation of Labor convention and they elect the president and officers of the American Federation of Labor and fix the policy of the American Federation of Labor.

Mr. DUNNE. It all sounds very simple and democratic when so stated, but in practice is quite the reverse.

Senator Davis. It is the same system of election that we have for our own officials where every member can go and vote.

Mr. DUNNE. I do not want to make comparison here because I do not think it is germane to the subject, between the workings of democracy in the United States as it shows itself in elections and the selection of our Government, with a similar process in the tradeunion movement, but I do know from years of experience in the American Trade Union movement that democracy is a fiction except where it is enforced by the referendum and appeal to the workers themselves,

« ForrigeFortsett »