Submitted by Juan Conatz on April 24, 2015

The I.W.W. received the news with a certain amount of satisfaction that their Hungarian language paper Bermunkas had been placed on the list of those publications whose entry into Canada was forbidden. Bermunkas like other I.W.W. papers frequently contained strong statements against war, whether waged by Germany, England, Canada or any other country.

Most of the I.W.W.'s activities in 1940 were centered in Cleveland.1 At Cochrane Brass they were able to obtain their sixth wage increase, since the workers in that plant had been organized. At the same time, in January, they persuaded management to install certain health protecting devices. One of these was a blower, used in the polishing department. Management had objected at first because of the cost. There was a short strike at this plant in October, when a request for another general raise was turned down. Although trouble was anticipated, and although the workers expected the strike to be of long duration, it was settled in one week. The workers agreed to an adjustment slightly less than their original demand.

In November, at the American Stove plant the workers voted unanimously to enforce a closed shop. They also decided to seek a general increase of ten cents an hour. On November 20, a work stoppage began. It was the result of a number of accumulated grievances, in addition to the desire for an increase and the closed shop. This stoppage continued for eleven days. It was ended when the workers agreed to a three cents per hour increase and a union preferential layoff and recall arrangement. The union had accused management of discrimination against members, and of having to build up a company union. Management agreed to take the necessary steps to discontinue both of these practices. 2

Considerable effort was made to organize the plant of the Mitchell Metal Products company in Cleveland. However, these efforts were unsuccessful.

In Lorain, Ohio after a bitter 63 day strike at the Steel Stamping Co., an agreement was finally reached. This agreement called for the reinstatement of an employee previously fired because of a struggle with his foreman. This incident started the strike. The union members threatened to walk out if tne employee was fired. Management decided to call the union's bluff only to find out that it meant business.

In addition to protesting this discharge, the union made several other demands against the company. It also charged tne company with violation of Section 7a of the Wagner Act; with hiring girls at lower rates to replace men; with refusing to bargain in good faith; with threatening to move the plant to another city; and, with discrimination against union members in terminations. The union demanded discontinuance of these practices. It also demanded higher pay, time and one half for overtime and improved working conditions. Much ill will was generated between management and the men in this strike. The labor board sent a conciliator to try to straighten it out, but to no avail.

After weeks of picketing the following terms were finally agreed to:

"Strict observance of seniority in layoffs and rehirings; the company must meet with the Shop Committee within 72 hours of demand for conferences; four hours of pay if men report for work and there is no work or less than four hours work; time and one half for all holiday work; two cents an hour general wage increase; additional wage increases and other points In dispute to be negotiated."

In addition to these activities in Cleveland, the I.W.W. also did some organizing work in Pittsburgh at the Duquesne Smelting Corporation, and at Cle Elum, Washington as well as among the track workers at the yards outside of Tacoma, Washington. In the first two cases there was violent resistance None of this organizing activity was particularly successful.

  • 1Industrial Worker, 2/5/1940, 3/17/1940, 10/17/1940
  • 2Ibid 11/24/1940, 12/8/1940