‘Reds Organize in Cedar Rapids’ from the Daily Worker. Vol. 2 No. 25. February 10, 1925.

‘Reds Organize in Cedar Rapids’ from the Daily Worker. Vol. 2 No. 25. February 10, 1925.

A short visit to the town soon discloses the working and effect of class collaboration schemes upon the mass of workers. Here we see the building crafts, shop crafts on the railroad and the skilled workers in some other plants reaping rewards for their betrayal of the masses at the expense of the masses.

During the past fifteen years class collaboration (in this case some workers protecting their employers against sympathetic strikes, agitation or suspension of work, in return for average wages, working conditions and perpetuation of their “union”) has been practiced in this city by the building crafts.

Every craftsman on the job was a “card man.” His local had to affiliate with the Building Trades Council which was the guardian of his behaviour on the job. Cedar Rapids, to the labor faker is a good and a union town to the rebel it is reactionary and a good union town, and to the unorganized and unskilled it is hell and a “no-good union” town. Canfield and Stewart “Sitting Pretty.” The class collaboration plan is operated thru a board of arbitration.

The labor unions and chamber of commerce are quite friendly. The leaders often met, they boost for the town, are very patriotic to the institutions of “oar” country, even to the stand-pat parties. Stewart is editor and publisher of the Cedar Rapids Labor Tribune, a sheet well patronized by advertisers and, in turn, he keeps the town free from radicals and his hand on the throat of the unions. He gets a good income and has no worries.

Canfield was president of the Iowa State Federation of Labor for a number of years and prepared for himself an easy berth. He is now government conciliator for the department of labor in Iowa state. These two, Stewart and Canfield, with a few more of their dupes and tools, dominate the labor movement in Cedar Rapids. Any rebellious worker or anyone who commits “lese majeste” against them or their system has been hounded until compelled to quit the city, for he could not stay on a job in town.

Packingtown and Quaker Oats Workers.

The result of this betrayal of the masses by the bell wethers of the skilled union crafts, is best seen in the packing plants and Quaker Oats factory, which has a large plant here. There are about one thousand workers employed in the packing plant, a subsidiary of Wilson company. The butchers, the highest paid workers, receive 48 cents per hour.

More and more of the work is being done by girls who receive 16 cents an hour for a ten-hour day. This has been further aggravated by a speedup system, five girls now doing the work of eight and in some instances two doing the work of four.

Cedar Rapids meat packers.

One rebel woman who was working in this plant last year urged the girls to demand a raise in wages. This is how it worked, as told to the reporter:

“You girls can’t live on such low wages,” said the rebel to them. “Why don’t you ask a raise? They must have girls to do the work.” But not one had the courage to take the lead.

Girls First Strike.

The rebel was working in another department so could not speak for them. A few weeks went past and more agitation and then the girls told the rebel to come at noon hour fifteen minutes before time, the girls would have a meeting. The rebel was there, she talked some more. Yes, they would ask for a raise.

So at one o’clock the whistle blew but no girls went to work. Meat was piled high on the tables, but ten, then fifteen minutes went past and no girls were at work.

“What’s the matter?” says the foreman, “why don’t you go to work?” No answer from the girls huddled behind the rebel.

Quaker Oats workers.

Then to the rebel: “What do they want?” Up spoke the rebel: “They want a raise, two-fifty a day.”

The superintendent was called in after an hour had gone without any work being done. He agreed to give a raise in two weeks, but still no girl could be made to speak up, so often have they felt betrayed.

Result of No Union.

They got a raise to $2.10, fifty cents a day raise, but that has been taken away by firing them and then hiring again a few days later at a beginner’s rate of 16 cents an hour.

In the Quaker Oats plant the driving system at low wages is even worse. The highest pay for men is 37 1/2 cents per hour, and for girls it is 25 cents.

This is Capitalism.

Lately they have put on new machines and one girl now wraps packages where five were employed. This has forced many girls out of employment and the competition for jobs has given the employers an opportunity to cut wages still further. Such is the result of betrayals of the masses, with class collaboration or arbitration schemes and a little comfort for the craft union aristocrats of labor, soft berths for their fat boys; while the great mass are ground to earth and their spirit crushed by misleaders and traitors.

Workers Party Enters Field.

Cedar Rapids cast a good vote for Foster and the Workers Party, and in an effort to locate and organize the rebels in that territory, J. E. Snyder, district organiser, assisted by Comrade David Coutts; will hold a mass meetings at the Trades and Labor Assembly Hall, In the Don Cook building, First Ave. and Second street, East; on Sunday afternoon Feb. 18. Then we shall see what we shall see.

The Daily Worker began in 1924 and was published in New York City by the Communist Party US and its predecessor organizations. Among the most long-lasting and important left publications in US history, it had a circulation of 35,000 at its peak. The Daily Worker came from The Ohio Socialist, published by the Left Wing-dominated Socialist Party of Ohio in Cleveland from 1917 to November 1919, when it became became The Toiler, paper of the Communist Labor Party. In December 1921 the above-ground Workers Party of America merged the Toiler with the paper Workers Council to found The Worker, which became The Daily Worker beginning January 13, 1924.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/dailyworker/1925/1925-ny/v02b-n025-NYE-feb-10-1925-DW-LOC.pdf

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