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Yesterday's break up in the automobile strike truce shows quite clearly, that it is the public which is being sat down on. Like a referee in a wrestling match the masses of the people are kicked while the fighters grapple at each other, a situation which may last three months as did the maritime disorders. Martin and Knudsen have climbed out to the end of their respective limbs, for in justice's sake General Motors cannot recognize the United Automobile Workers as the sole voice for its employees, nor dare labor, egged on by John Lewis and the C.I.O., back away from its extreme demands. The perfect efficiency of the sit-down method has achieved a disheartening deadlock: a minority of the workers have the power and the arrogance to ask for a representation plan to which they are in no way entitled.
Although the public is just as concerned in the length of the strike and its results as the original parties, its machinery for intervention is feeble Governor Murphy's desperate efforts to start up negotiations were based on nothing stronger than his personal charm, which inevitably was not enough to conciliate the intemperate leaders, one backed by millions of workers, the other speaking for hundreds of millions of dollars of captial. Section 7a of N.R.A., providing collective bargaining, would now rescue the corporation which was so jubilant at its overthrow. The law would give labor a strong organization in the plants, but General Motors is reconciled to that, hoping only that the arrangement represents a majority of the employees.
Without doubt the United Auto Workers would be repudiated if 7a were applied, for a majority of the men seem to be opposed to that union. A form of compulsory arbitration is the pass word out of the impasse, assuring justice as far as it can be determined and saving the faces of both sides. Owners and unions alike ought to be haled into court if they cannot work together smoothly, for just as it has police power to coerce disorderly citizens, the public should have machinery to stop the endless and costly bickering of the current strikes.
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