Catholic Press Uneasy
Future—Moderate Or Extremist ?
From Our Own Correspondent
THE IMMENSE INTERESTS AT STAKE IN AMERICA'S PRESENT STRUGGLE BETWEEN LABOUR AND CAPITAL KEEPS TILE CATHOLIC PRESS BUSY.
Outstanding as a source of worry is the Committee For Industrial Organisation (C.I.O.), the American working-man's newly-found weapon which is responsible for the present tension between employer and employee.
C.1.0. membership comprises men whose creeds vary • from the highest Christian principlesalmost to anarchism, and while the one group is endeavouring to impress on the employer the need for revision of employment conditions, the other, by sabotage in factories and even bloodshed, threatens practically to throw the U.S.A. into a state of civil war.
Brutal methods are being employed by both capital and labour.
The Editor of a Catholic newspaper has appealed to the C.I.O. to understand that the Catholic body is prepared to lend its support, to labour's claims.
Thus in almost consecutive issues the Michigan Catholic writes first that; " In accordance with Catholic' social teaching as exemplified in the Papal encyclicals, we have always upheld the right of labour to organise and to bargain collectively."
And then: " Like every honest friend of labour, then. we regret to see reckless use made of unions—repeated strikes in the same plant, tying up of whole districts and seizure of a city through sympathetic or general walk-ours. Such reckless show of power is reacting on labour."
Can Catholic Influence Be Exerted?
Unchristian tactics such as those referred to above have brought down sharp criticism on the many Catholic members of the CIO., many of whom are labour leaders and should be able to exert a checking influence on their more extreme comrades.
The question most commonly asked by the Catholic Press is whether the Catholic Labour leaders are capable of influencing the course of the CIO.
The editor of the Pittsburgh Catholic writes:
"What they need, and what they should receive from the Catholic body as a whole, is not criticism, but help; not suspicion, but support; not aloofness, but co-operation. They are our representatives in a trying situation today . . ."
Reminding his readers that Catholic leadership in other fields in American life has offer) been marked by total disregard of Catholic principles, the Pittsburgh editor is of the opinion that if Catholic labour leaders follow in the footsteps of Catholic leaders in finance. politics and business, then there would he good reason to be uncertain about Catholics in the labour field.
Military Welcomed by Strikers Private police organisations, still the magnate's best friend, have made themselves as unpopular as they have made themselves prominent in the American strikes, In the past the summoning of militia was always hailed as welcome by employer as in most cases, if not all, martial law worked to his advantage. Today, in Pennsylvania and in Ohio, labour is welcoming the declaration of martial law, for it knows it can expect more justice from State troops than from vigilante forces. It has reason to hope for fair treatment in this regard. that the militia is now being summoned to maintain public order, not to repress the strikers. It may be recalled that Governor Murphy's prudent and correct use of the militia, not against any faction, but for public order, scandalised the old line fife and drum reactionary forces whose answer to any industrial or social problem is " if they don't like it here. send them back to where they came from! "
The second phase of the Ford-union battle began with the attempt of C.T.O. organisers to distribute propaganda outside the River Rouge plant.
The propagandists had scarcely arrived when a group of Ford plant protection men descended on them. and using old and tried street-fighting tactics, quickly put the CIO. propagandists hors de combat.
The Ford management desperately tried to blame the C.T.O. men for starting the violence, and then claimed that the Ford defenders were workers, not special police.
Labour troubles are an old story with the steel companies. In the past they have been able to handle them with the big stick of private police organisations, industrial storm troopers, as it were, the pick of metropolitan thuggery, but the brutality of these private police forces created such scandals that they have been eliminated or curbed.
Six Workers Killed The steel companies have had to fight pretty much on their own. That they were ready and willing to do so is evident from the opposition they offered to C.I.0„ especially in Chicago, where a mass demonstration against the Republic Steel Company ended with six workers dead and some thirty or more workers and police injured by flying stones and automobile parts.
The police claim that the workers opened the battle by throwing stones and bolts at them, and advancing in a menacing the workers claim that their advance was peaceable, and they intended only a picketing demonstration. Investigations have been set on foot, and it cannot yet be said just where the greater guilt lies.
Labour, from its long experience with the brutal methods of company police, and with other forms of company injustice, naturally places all blame for violence on the company, while the companies, through their suave spokesman, insinuate that unions are controlled by Communists, that the workers provoke violence, destroy property, and so on.