Industrial Worker (February 14, 1933)

The February 14, 1933 (Vol. 14, No. 109, Whole No. 842) issue of the Industrial Worker, the newspaper of the revolutionary union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

CONTENTS

-Strikers close down Hudson Body plant

-Too many "isms" and not enough action in worker's trouble

-Unorganized slaves in Washington are beginning to think

-Utah miners paying dreadful price for lack of strong union

-Revolt in breadline brings improvement

-Direct action by farmers defeating mortgage sharks

-Editorial: So you're out of a job!; Up against the real thing; Don't you think it's time?

-Turning the cat loose? by T-Bone Slim

-Jobless on increase under Mussoloni's anti-labor fascism

-Technocracy group fired from Columbia for urging 4-hour day

-"Back to the land" or forward to freedom: which?

-Revolutionary Spain: unionists vs politicians

-Work Peoples College youngsters study and frolic

-Seismograph: the weekly record of cracks in the system prepared by Work Peoples College

-Non political industrialism: a bitter pill for theorists

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Strikers close down Hudson body plant

An article by L.B. about the strike at auto-parts manufacturer, Briggs, in Detroit. Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker February 14, 1933 (Vol. 14, No. 109, Whole No. 842)

Strikers close down Hudson body plant

Three thousand more join strike, strong picket lines organized, demand pay raise and overtime

Picket lines undaunted by snow and bitter cold. Auto kings firm but strikers more determined than ever. Scabs have hard time.
(SPECIAL WIRE TO INDUSTRIAL WORKER)

DETROIT, Mich., Feb. 7.—Strikers from Briggs Plant Oust Communists in meeting today. Three thousand Hudson Bay workers walk out. Hudson main plaint shut down. Strikers demand twenty per cent wage increase and time and a half for overtime.—LOUIS GRACY, JOHN TARAZUE, JACK KENNY

Detroit, Mich., Feb. 6.—The strike of auto workers at Briggs body plants has passed into its third week with strikers still holding out. The entire strikebreaking machinery of Detroit and the State of Michigan—press, police and employer's associations—has been brought into play against those unorganized but determined strikers. The majority of the 6,000 men and women, however, who walked out of the four Briggs slave-houses here, Jan. 23, refused to return to work.

Police Guard Scabs

The company-set deadline for striking employees to return to their jobs with guaranteed base rates much lower than the strikers demanded was passed Monday, Jan. 30—picket lines still intact at all plants and would-be scabs excluded. Since then ruthless strike-breaking tactics have been employed to disrupt the picket lines and demoralize the ranks of the strikers. This offensive of the Briggs bosses was directed especially at the Highland Park Plant. Here most of the Ford bodies are manufactured and Briggs officials, spurred on by Ford Motor Company's threat to start producing their own bodies, were desperate in their attempts to establish a flow of the much-needed bodies to River Rouge assembly lines.

Highland Park police, state police, and fire department hose brigades were concentrated at Highland Park Plant's main gate. Stragglers from the ranks of the unemployed, degenerate from long unemployment, were encouraged to take advantage of Briggs wide-open employment office by this imposing array of "law and order" forces. Under escort of heavy police guard, they were ushered through the dwindling line of Highland Park Plant pickets and hired in as workers in almost every department of the factory. These scabs were booed by pickets and sympathizers who thronged Manchester Avenues but no direct action was taken to prevent scabs from entering the plant all during the day. Scabs who left the plant at the end of the shift, however, were set upon by groups of strikers as they attempted to board streetcars. During the next couple of days several scabs were severely beaten by infuriated men on strike and several arrests were made. Briggs management protected these scabbing slaves by billeting 900 of them right in the plant.

Finally the picket line at Highland Park, which at the beginning of the strike numbered 2,000, was entirely disbanded. Company officials claim that the plant is completely manned, that many of the strikers have returned to their old jobs and that loads of Ford bodies will soon be escorted by squadrons of motorcycle cops to Ford River Rouge Plants daily.

So far, practically none of the 40,000 men laid off by Ford Motor Car Company because of the strike at the Briggs plant have been called back to work. Members of the Strike Committee, moreover, maintain that most of the metal-finishers, the division of body builders who started the walk-out, have refused to scab. Metal-finishers are about the most highly skilled workers in the whole body-building process. Without an adequate department of these workers at the Highland Plant, no bodies can be completed—even for Ford.

The strike at the Highland Park Plant cannot be considered a dead issue by any means. Encouraging rumors are filtering through the ranks of the Briggs workers still picketing at the other three plants, that attempts to organize and strike on the job are being made in departments of the Highland Park Plant. Organized, these men may soon join their fellow workers in a final effort to win the original strike demands for all concerned.

The strike at Murray Body Plant failed to make headway. Most of the 4,000 men who went on strike last week have gone back on the job. Leaders of this abortive strike are making every effort to organize Murray Body men for a real strike in the near future.

Picket Line Intact

Strikers at Mack Plant, whose ranks numbers four thousand, still maintain their orderly picket line day and night. Toward the end of last week, scabs hired in at the Highland Park Plant were rushed through the Mack Plant gates in buses under police escort. Strike-breaking tactics of the auto bosses have called forth reprieves from strikers and sympathetic unemployed of the East-end community in the form of minor acts of violence. About 300 men charged a truck load of panels as it left the plant Wednesday. The driver was pulled from his seat and the panels scattered over the street. Saturday noon three streetcars which had been filled with scabs at the factory gates were stoned by a crowd of angry people a few blocks from the plant. All the windows of the car were broken and several scabs were injured. Mounted police charged down the sidewalk and dispersed the mob. Now a strike zone has been marked off both sides of the plant and the police line has been increased. Men wearing Briggs badges are allowed through to take their place on the picket line, which is still functioning 2,000 strong despite the zero weather. Officials at the Mack Plant have dipped into the slush fund maintained by the employers' associations of Detroit auto bosses for strike-breaking purposes. They have equipped an unoccupied wing of the plant with double-deck cots and a full-fledged cafeteria. 1,300 strike-breakers are now being accommodated by this set-up and so are saving their hides. Residents of the community remain friendly to the strikers and their cause.

Bosses Refuse Hearing

The Briggs officials still refuse to arbitrate with the strikers as a group. They even snub the overtures of the mayor's sky-piloted "Fact-Finding Commission" whose preachers have offered to act as mediators. Repeated attempts of the Negotiations Committee to gain a hearing have been met by deaf ears on the part of the Briggs brothers.

W.O. Briggs, president and big-muscle man of the Company, is busy issuing high-handed manifestos to the local papers:

...I repeat, this strike can end in only one way, so far as I am concerned—upon the basis of the traditional American policy of free contract between employer and employee. This cause we will maintain in defense of every other American industry as well as our own.

At a conference with R.M. Pilkington, Commissioner of Conciliation of the U.S. Department of Labor, Wednesday, Judge W.F. Connoly, Briggs big-shot coupon-clipper, said it was "a long standing policy of the Briggs company not to recognize any labor unions."

Politicians Squabble

These comic chimpanzees are staging a regular circus for those in the ring-side seats.

Edward J. Murphy, Judge of Recorders Court, scored Mayor Frank Murphy for "permitting police to lock up strikers." Murphy claims the city is following a "hands off" policy.

"The strikers don't like them," naively complains Rev. Ralph Higgins, chief "fact-finder" of the Mayor's Commission, to Chief Dan Patch of Highland Park, regarding State Police.

Norman Thomas in a lecture here intimated that the powerful position of Judge Connoly, Briggs Treasurer, in the Democratic Party of Michigan, may have considerable to do with Democratic Governor Comstock's reply to Chief Patch: "State Police will remain as long as you need them."

Politicians from the Communist Party are playing a strong hand for the favor of the Briggs strikers and the Detroit proletariat in general but are queering themselves with the rank and file as well as most of the outstanding men among the strikers by too much ballyhoo.

Rank and File Carries On

The majority of the 6,000 men and women who went out on strike are far from feeling that their struggle against starvation wages and Briggs brand of industrial tyranny will end in defeat. The dogged determination with which the Mack Plant, from which 4,000 of the strikers come, is evidence that the rank and file have plenty of fight left for carrying on the battle. The weather is freezing cold and it snows, but these courageous men and women take their turn at marching in the picket line. This Mack Plant line, which during the day reaches a strength of 2,000, is an inspiration to the strikers—to all Detroit workers who have seen it in action. Great credit must be given to Robert (Slim) Darrow, who came from the ranks of the strikers at Mack Plant as captain of the picket line, organized this fine picket line and has been its leading spirit since the strike began. Cornell, Mush and Johnson have also been doing excellent work, according to opinion current among picketers, as rank and file leaders of the Strike Committee.

Families of the Briggs strikers are holding out with aid of relief administered by their strikers own relief organization. At present they are also being aided by donations of food and clothing collected by members of the Detroit Council of Labor Youth Groups. The Council has plans under way for other relief activities.

The rank and file carries on. The metal-finishers, key men among the body-builders, are still out solid. Public sympathy remains with the strikers. Relief is reaching the strikers' families. The main picket line is still intact. The Briggs auto workers-strike determined to go back on the job with demands won, ranks organized.

—L.B.

Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker February 14, 1933 (Vol. 14, No. 109, Whole No. 842)

Transcribed for libcom.org by Juan Conatz

Revolutionary Spain: unionists vs politicians

An article by 'Vizzittelly' on the situation for revolutionary syndicalism in Spain. Originally appeared in the [i]Industrial Worker[/i,] February 14, 1933 (Vol. 14, No. 109, Whole No. 842).

Occasionally the old Madrid Socialists put their senile heads together to devise new laws and devise more intrigue and intimidation through which they hope to suppress the revolutionary unions of Spain. But invariably these clandestine efforts against the working class are quickly shattered by the united action of the syndicates, whose splendid fighting qualities has aroused the admiration of all the militant workers.

Before the fascist De Rivera became dictator of Spain, the number of the revolutionary syndicalists there was put up to a million. De Rivera rode into power en he arms of the blackest reaction of Europe; the Spanish Catholic Church, the "very poor but very haughty" nobility and the degenerated members of the royal house. The Dictatorship was necessary. The "scum" was to be suppressed by all costs and De Rivera was the man. During the comparatively long period of the dicatorship the syndicalist element seemed to have been stamped out, but in reality it was only the revolutionary cry that was muffled, for with the passing of the dictatorship, in a very short time, the syndicalist unions numbered again to hundreds of thousands of members. This proved again the contention that the C.N.T. (the National Confederation of Labor) is too deeply rooted in the soil of Spain and in the hearts of its proletariat, and it will triumph.

The membership of the National Confederation of Labor—which embraces all revolutionary syndicalists—is put up to one million and three hundred thousands. It publishes many regional weekly and bi-weekly papers, also two daily papers of large circulation - The Solidaridad Obrera and the C. N. T., which is the official paper of the Confederation.

Syndicalism, as it is exemplified today by the C. N. T., differs in many respects from the pre-war syndicalism and the classic French type of it. One of these differences, and which will ultimately effect the whole structure of the C. N. T.—is that he syndicates must not be abolished, as was their prewar position, but they must retained and strengthened and be the units of production and distribution and the deciding factors of all social questions. Naturally, once upon such theoretical grounds the C. N. T. will more and more orientate towards more centralization and Industrial Unionism.

Deeply involved in the affairs and workings of the Confederation is the F. A. I. (Iberian Federation of Anarchists). This federation is claimed to have about 800 to 1000 groups, each group averaging six or five members.

According to these Anarchists the relations of their groups towards the syndicates is simply one of guidance and propaganda. That is, to keep the unions from falling into the hands of politicians and keep said unions on the revolutionary line. However, the contacts between the syndicates are more than ideological as it was shown by the expulsion of Pestana, the erstwhile secretary of the C. N. T. The case of Pestana and his group is interesting. Ostensibly his expulsion was occasioned by theoretical errors on the part of Pestana and his group. According to the F. A. I., Pestana flirted with the socialists and had become a conservative. The facts are, however, always Pestana stood against any outside control of the union no matter who they may be. He demanded even from the anarchists to keep their hands off the syndicates and fought against them, sometimes, just as savagely as he fought the communists. For a while the squabble seemed as if it would split the C.N.T. and as yet the matter of the relations of the F. A. I. to the C.N.T. have not been settled. All the editorial boards of the papers are now Anarchists and they also hold the most strategic positions of the unions.

Other organizations in Spain are the U.G.T..—Socialist--and the Communist Trade Union Unity Committee, which was organized for the sole reason of "penetrating" the syndicalist unions..

The socialist U.G.T. at first collected a large membership, but it was quickly discredited to the eyes of the workers for it became apparent that the sole aim of the socialist unions was to scab the syndicalists out of existence. Now the U.G.T. has not more than about 156,000 members.

As to the T.U.U.C. (communist) its membership is put to from 2,000, but the strength of this organization can better be judged, by the total circulation of their papers—the "Frenter Roho", which has a circulation of about 2,000 and the "La Masa" with a circulation of five to six thousand. There is still other group in Spain, the Troskyites.

Small as these groups may be, under the mask of friendship they have caused much harm within the C.N.T., and especially the one controlled by the "official party" which sabotaged all the efforts of the Spanish workers for no other reason than that they were directed by other organization than the communist "leadership".

Presently the eyes of all militant workers, tired of looking at the hopeless sterility of Russia, have sifted towards the other extermity of Europe. A syndicalist revolution in Spain holds possibilities. The reverberations of it may shatter the exclusive and conservative barriers of the English Trade Unions. It may even arouse from its stupor the once very militant French syndicalism. Portugal will surely go with Spain, so will Northern Africa. (The C.N.T. has organizers in those parts). And who knows, syndicalism is not dead in Italy, either.

But on the other hand, will the black crow of Italy shut its bulging eyes at a conflagration in Spain, only a short distance away? During the last riots in Spain, Mussolini said, "I can land 150,000 black shirts in Spain in 24 hourw." Or will the militaristic and reactionary present day Spain abide the company of a red Spain.

But the' revolution in Spain holds probably far greater possibilities than these. The future developments there may swerve the labor movement into a different course. Continuous, abortive efforts or an unsuccesful revolution may be the death-knell of present day syndicalism.

-Vizzittelly

Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker February 14, 1933 (Vol. 14, No. 109, Whole No. 842)
Typed up by Juan Conatz for libcom.org

Work Peoples College youngsters study and frolic

A short article about the activities of Work Peoples College, an IWW run school in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker (February 14, 1933, Vol. 14, No. 109, Whole No. 842).

DULUTH, Minn - Does the studious atmosphere at Work Peoples College give the students headaches? We'll say not. The class in labor drama takes the sad story of Mr. Peel in the famous 33rd chapter of Capital Volume I and dramatizes it. You know the story:

Capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons, established by the instrumentality of things. Mr. Peel took with him from England to Swan River, West Australia, means of subsistence and of production to the amount of 50,000 punds sterling. Mr. Peel had the foresight to bring with him besides, 3,000 persons of the working class, men, women and children. Once arrived at his destination, 'Mr. Peel was left without a servant to make his bed or fetch him water from the river.' Unhappy Mr. peel who provided for everything except the export of English modes of production to Swan River!

The drama class is also busy with T-Bone Slim's new masterpiece, "The Uplifters", a comedy on the charity racket. They are putting their heads together to scheme apropriate action for the lines that portray the T-Bone-Marxian analysis of capitalism.

Another student persists in trying to sing the opening lines of the 32nd chapter about the historicaly tendency of accumulation to the tune of the Irish Washerwoman; another tries to reduce it all to rhyme as well as reason - but the less said about these aspects of the case, the better. Anyway we actually do study, even though at times we do find outlets for extra energy. Should we let enthusiasm drag, all we need do is look out the window at the empty silent steel mill to start us anew. - O.K.L.

Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker February 14, 1933 (Vol. 14, No. 109, Whole No. 842)

Transcribed for libcom.org by Juan Conatz