July Political Economy Newsletter

Spying on Labour Pre-dates Edward Snowden’s Revelations

(or “How Canada’s ‘Finest’ Watched the Rand Formula Come About!”)

 

George Hewison         Political Economy Newsletter            15       July, 2014

 

This month’s political economy newsletter is from a long-hidden, now-released 1945 RCMP report (minus their redacted parts with the names of labour spies) on how they viewed the Ford Windsor strike in1945, a strike settled by arbitrator, Justice Ivan Rand. It is interesting to see that momentous historical event cast from the perspective of such a vital cog in the corporate state. History, again, demonstrates the connection between politics and economics.

 

* * *

 

 

462 WAR SERIES: PART II

MONTHI.Y COMMENT

The strike at Windsor, Ontario, affecting thousands of workers, appears

to be nearing an end. Members of Local 195 and others who went on strike

in sympathy with the Ford workers have now gone back to work and it

appears that the newly advanced Government formula for settlement of the

Ford dispute will be accepted.

The few clergymen who interfered in the Ford strike and had their

knuckles rapped took it from several quarters including the press. Several

papers carried editorials attacking their "unchurchlike" actions and statements.

The "Montreal Star" took exception to the "inverted logic" of the

Rev. PERKINS regarding his attitude toward the automobile blockade.

Adding to the controversy were the remarks of the Secretary of the United

Church of Canada. He took issue with the "Montreal Gazette" press report

of a meeting held in Carleton Street Church, Toronto, at which it was

reported "three hundred United Church members many of them ministers

and their wives" attended and went on record with a resolution "Urging

Church support both morally and financially for Ford Motor Company

strikers".

The U.C. of C. Secretary decried the false impression created and said

there had only been seven ministers out of a total of 290 in the Toronto

area. Furthermore, many of the 350, "not 300" present were not members

of the church at all. It was declared that those clergymen present were

members of the Fellowship for a Christian Social Order.

(8^deletion: pages 2-30 inclusive are missing]

[31]

L.P.P. & FORD MOTOR STRIKE

WINDSOR. ONTARIO

Further to the report on the Ford Motor strike in this "Bulletin" for

November, following is a resume of more recent developments. November

1st saw the strike in its seventh week with no signs of terminating. The

company and the union jockeyed for advantageous positions and all plans

for terminating the dispute had failed. Events took a rather ominous turn

following the abortive attempt by the Windsor City Police to escort the

Protective Staff through the picket line. Dissenting rumbles became even

more particularly pronounced when members of the Ontario Provincial

Police and this Force arrived on the scene after assistance had been

requested by the Attorney General.

Agitation stirred in the ranks of Local 195 and soon a vote was held to

decide whether or not that Local should go on strike in sympathy with Local

200 U. A.W. The vote was "Yes" and Local 195 representing 33 other plants

in the Windsor district took strike action effectively tying up the entire

automotive industry in the area. Considerable discussion took place on the

possibility of the A.F. of L. unions in Windsor also taking sympathy strike

action but the local Trades and Labour Council voted to withhold such

action until such times as the police endeavoured to break through the

picket lines.

 

Vehicle Blockade 

The strikers introduced something new in the way of blockade tactics.

They jammed the street in front of the Ford Plant and office building with

automobiles, buses and trucks. They diverted all traffic into this vehicle jammed

area and those drivers unwilling to obey the directions found no

result in opposition, for their vehicles were pushed or pulled into the

blockade. The jam began at 6:00 a.m. and by 7:00 a.m. there were at least

100 automobiles, 10 buses and one truck packed in a block-long area. By

the end of the day however the blockade extended for 20 blocks. That same

day it was estimated that there were six to seven thousand strikers in the

vicinity of the plant. The vehicle blockade remained for two days until an

announcement to end the barricade was made in a formal statement by

Harry ROWE, U.A.W. Publicity Director, following a meeting of the union

executive on November 7th. The removal took place before the Provincial

and Federal Labour Ministers and the Provincial Attorney General began

a conference. Dominion officials also met with union representatives and

endeavoured to work out a basis for settlement. Both conferences however

were unsuccessful.

[>^deletion: 1 paragraph, 3 lines]

[32]

[^deletion: 7 1/2 lines]

 

L.P.P. & C.C.L. Disagree

The National Ford Strike Committee met in Windsor on the 10th instant.

The Committee consisted of C.H. MILLARD of the United Steel Workers,

CS. JACKSON of the United Electrical Workers. Pat CONROY,

Secretary-Treasurer of the C.C.L. and George BURT of the U.A.W. They

met with officials of the U.A.W. for the purpose of discussing the broadening

of the Ford strike issue by C.C.L. affiliate Unions taking sympathy

strike action. CONROY and MILLARD made no secret of their opposition

to sympathy walk-outs throughout Canada at this time. The meeting is

reported to have been quite hectic and developed into what might be termed

a brawl between the C.C.L. and the L.P.P. faction. The L.P.P. wanted the 

C.C.L. affiliate Unions to strike in sympathy but the C.C.L. would not agree

[8«deletion: 6 lines]

 

Power-house Employees Return

It was not until the middle of November that the L.P.P. faction showed

signs of weakening. A union delegation which had been to Ottawa, recommended

that the power-house be re-opened and Company officials allowed

into the offices. The L.P.P. had been against any action of this nature but

changed their minds and agreed to support the proposal. At first the Union's

offer was turned down by the company and further negotiations were

entered into. On November 23rd the company accepted the Union's offer

and power-house employees reported for work.

 

Attorney General Makes Radio Address

Commenting on the Ford dispute in a radio address, Attorney General

BLACKWELL said:

"I wish to clarify the much distorted issue of maintenance of law and

order at Windsor, from the first day of the strike it was apparent that

the extreme radical element in labour unions was determined to introduce

a new element into strikes in the Province of Ontario. That element

is that strikers be permitted to prevent not only [33] the lawful right to

enter or leave premises but also to prevent by force, without interference

by those responsible for law enforcement, the continuance of fire

protection and maintenance of an industrial plant.

The extreme radical element in labor unions demanded that they be

allowed to hold over an employer's head the economic threat of the

destruction of premises to force upon the employer an acceptance of

what is involved in the slogan union security. That this was the intention

was made apparent by the fact that ministers of the Crown at Ottawa

and Queen's Park and members of Parliament and members of the

Ontario Legislature were deluged with wires from Communist Labor-

Progressive Clubs protesting the sending of police assistance to Windsor

long before that question ever arose.

Under the practice in law enforcement in the Province of Ontario, in

the first instance it is the obligation of the local authorities. In the case

of Windsor it is the responsibility of its police commission. There is no

doubt that the police commission was embarrassed throughout the

whole of the strike by the unwillingness of the mayor of Windsor to

undertake his responsibilities to all the citizens.

The course pursued by the Windsor Police Commission was to

refrain from assuming in advance that a formidable picket line was

necessarily unlawful. The Windsor Police Commission confined them

selves to taking action when someone was actually prevented by the

picket line from entering the Company premises. Several summonses

were issued against individuals in the picket line responsible for refusing

admission.

This relationship between the law enforcement agencies in Windsor

and the picket line continued until about three weeks ago. Then the

policy committee of the striking union issued a decree that of 145

security personnel previously admitted to the premises they would

permit to enter 15 only, five on each shift, for the express purpose of

preventing this personnel from maintaining the plant.

This was an unlawful decree by highly organized minority backed

by a force of thousands of picketers intent by the use of force to substitute

the law of the minority for the laws made by the representatives of all

the people of Canada in Parliament"

L.P. P. Replies

The L.P.P. felt it necessary to reply and did so through a resolution

passed at the annual convention of the Windsor-Essex-Kent [34] Branch

of the Labour Progressive Party. The resolution was couched in the usual

vicious style peculiar to the Communists. It stated:-

"Having heard the outrageous speech of Leslie Blackwell, Ontario

attorney-general, attacking the U.A.W. in Windsor and charging it with

'open insurrection' for the purpose of 'bringing on a general strike or

revolution', this second annual convention of the Windsor-Essex-Kent

L.L.P. declares:

1. That the speech of Mr. Blackwell is from beginning to end

calculated to assist the Ford Motor Company's desire to disrupt labour-employer

relations and the economic life of this community, by denying

union security and smashing the union.

2. That his red-baiting is not only an attempt to hit the L.P.P., but is

really an effort to isolate the Windsor auto workers in order to weaken

their morale, split their ranks and break the strike. It is a classical

example of the final result to which Tory politicians turn in an effort to

cover up their own reactionary policies.

3. That the responsibility for this strike and its attendant human

suffering rests as much on the Ontario cabinet as it does on the Dominion

cabinet, because of the failure of the Drew government to enact provincial

labor legislation pending the necessary agreement for national

labour legislation, something which Drew and Blackwell have had to

recognize, if only to sabotage, by twice agreeing to set up special

committees of the legislature to propose an Ontario labour code.

 

4. That this Tory attack on the union and the smear tactics of Mr.

Blackwell must arouse the labour movement of Ontario to the danger

of oppressive measures by the Drew-Blackwell government and bring

about greater solidarity than ever behind the Ford strikers and their just

demands.

5. That this convention condemns the statements and actions of

certain labor leaders such as Charles Millard, whose irresponsible

statements regarding 'revolution' served both to give the Tories a lead

in their attack on the Ford workers, and to deny their own responsibility

for uniting the C.C.L. unions behind the Ford strike and giving the

proper leadership to workers who, all across Canada, were solidly

behind the Ford workers.

6. That the reply of the L.P.P. in this region to Blackwell's attack on

labour rights will be to build itself into a stronger party, better able to

give leadership to workers and to assist them in defending their

economic interests."

 

Local 195 Discuss Back-to-work Move

On November 25th, the Chrysler Unit of Local 195 held a confidential

meeting and the question of a back-to-work movement was discussed. It

was pointed out to the members that since Local 195 has gone on strike

without authority from the International Office, benefits from the strike

[35] fund were not available to them. [S^delelion: 1 1/2 lines]

In the meantime. Union and company representatives were in Ottawa

conferring with Labour Minister Mitchell on proposals for settlement of

the dispute. The proposals finally agreed upon were that an umpire would

be appointed to deal with any questions that the Union and company could

not agree upon during the period pending the execution of a collective

bargaining agreement. It allowed the appointment of an arbitrator to deal

with any points in the collective bargaining agreement that could not be

agreed upon by the Union and company. Further, that the company would

re-open its plants and recall the employees back to work as rapidly as

possible, without discrimination and, in accordance with seniority principles.

The Union was to declare the strike at an end. These proposals were

voted upon by the Union members and were rejected by a very narrow

margin.

[S^deletion: 4 lines] The responsibility for the rejection of the proposals

can be charged to Thomas McLEAN, Assistant Regional Director of the

U.A.W. and Harry FORD, a member of Ford Local 200 Negotiating

Committee who, at a meeting called to discuss the proposals for settlement,

urged that they be rejected although George BURT and other Union

officers spoke in favour of the proposals.

 

Local 195 Start Back

At the end of November there was every indication that the strikers were

convinced that the strike was lost The General Motors and Chrysler Units,

the two largest units of Local 195, had voted to return to work and their

actual return started on November 30th. The remaining units of Local 195

were to take a vote immediately on the question of returning. That then was

the way the situation lay by the first of December after about twelve weeks

of strike.

[Kdeletion: bottom 1/4 of page 35 is missing]

[36]

 

F.C.S.O. BACKS

FORDSTRIKRRS

On November 14, 1945, at Carlton Street United Church, Toronto, some

three hundred United Church members, many of them ministers and their

wives, went on record with a resolution urging Church support "both

morally and financially" for Ford Motor Company strikers at Windsor,

Ontario. This meeting was sponsored by five of a group of clergymen who

earlier made first-hand investigation of labour conditions involved in a

local strike at the Imperial Optical Company. It was held under the auspices

of the Fellowship for a Christian Social Order. Rev. Dr. John COBURN.

presided and on the platform with him were John ELDON, International

Representative of the U.A.W. (CI.O.) and Rev. A.E. WILSON of St. Paul

United Church, Windsor, Ontario.

The resolution stated "we believe the Ford strike is more than just a local

disturbance, it is the point at which organized labour in Canada has decided

to fight out the question of union security and some decent form of

industrial democracy." It further pledged churchmen to make congregations

"aware of the tremendous issues involved and to urge them to support

the Ford strikers both morally and financially." "We endorsed the basic

principles of maintenance and improvement of the wage and labour standard;

full employment and guaranteed annual income for all workers; and a

larger measure of union security, namely, a union shop."

Rev. I.G. PERKINS, one of the group dispersed by the Toronto City

Police at the Imperial Optical Company strike on the 13th instant, condemned

this "show of strength" on the part of the police and told the Church

meeting the vehicle blockade at the Ford plant during the previous week

"was credited in some quarters with preventing bloodshed. From what I

have seen in the past few days at the Imperial Optical place I believe it is

correct. What I saw of the treatment the police here are giving the Optical

strikers made me shudder."

 

Rev. A.E. MILLSON, Secretary of the Essex County Council of Churches,

which includes forty or fifty churches of different denominations, told

the meeting he endorsed the Ford strike. "There are times when, in the

interests of humanity you have to be lawless", he stated, in reference to

statements that the strike was not within the law. Such statements "all smell

of fat cigars and leather upholstery", he added.

An editorial in the "Montreal Star" of the 15th instant condemns Rev.

MILLSON for this contentious statement, stating "this is strange talk from

a man of God and we wonder how far Mr. MILLSON would pursue the

logic of his argument." "But we may be permitted to doubt the contribution

made to their (strikers) spiritual welfare by this incitement to violence."

[37]

This editorial also gave the Rev. PERKINS a literary drubbing concerning

his "inverted logic" concerning the automobile blockade, as the

editorial states, "had Mr. PERKINS been in one of the private cars pushed

around by the strikers, he might have taken an opposite view, for we can

think of nothing more conducive to bloodshed to bloody noses, at any rates,

than an unruly mob to seize the property of another, with the owner in it,

and shanghai both him and it into a traffic tangle in which his car probably

suffered damage. By the same perverse logic Mr. PERKINS would doubtless

conclude that if any one of these motorists had defended himself by

physical means against what in fact was theft of his car, he would be guilty

of inciting to violence." "It would be advisable for these cobblers to stick

to their last" states the "Montreal Star".

Writing on the same theme the "Montreal Herald" of the 16th instant

issued an article entitled "Dangerous Ground" in which it states, inter alia,

"the clerics and laymen who endorsed both moral and financial support of

the strikers after hearing this principle voiced (MILLSON's statement) ran

the risk of seriously compromising the spiritual authority of their church."

Order Now Defunct

The October issue of "Christian Social Action" contains an edict from

the National Executive of the F.C.S.O. stating that this Order now ceases

to exist as an organization and is solvent at the end of its existence.

[9^deletion: last 1/3 of page 37 is missing]