[Marxism] Fwd: Howard Fast: They Remember Girdler
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Sat Nov 19 17:22:31 MST 2016
For all of this drive and his large talk about "free enterprise,"
Girdler's tactics were toward monopoly. He interlocked with Youngstown
Sheet & Tube; he interlocked with Jones & Laughlin. He thought and
talked combine--and he operated in that direction with a ruthlessness
that bowled over his competitors like tenpins. And when it came to
dealing with his 50,000 workers, he chose the same tactics of
ruthlessness and direct aggression.
He liked to refer to himself as a worker, but that was an out-and-out
fiction; from his very beginnings in the industry he had been an ally of
management, and then, very soon, he became a part of management.
He entered the industry as a salesman for Buffalo Forge. Then he was
employed by the Oliver Iron Company. He was an assistant superintendent
with Colorado Rail, and he held similar jobs elsewhere. But always it
was over labor or apart from labor. It was Tom Girdler getting ahead and
using his brains in the best Horatio Alger tradition, while all around
him heavy-set, heavy-muscled men by the thousands worked long hours to
turn the ore into metal and to shape it, forge it, tool it. One would
surmise from his later actions that he had never held anything else but
contempt for those who worked with their hands.
He was well schooled for the battles of 1937. Jones & Laughlin's
Aliquippa mills were known as the "Siberia of America." Their company
town was a place where the few brave union organizers who dared to enter
faced beatings and even death, literally, at the hands of the goon
squads. The town was also called "little hell," a fitting name.
Apparently it was a place that suited Girdler excellently, for in a
space of four years he rose from an assistant to president. After that
he continued to climb steadily on the irreproachable ladder of success.
As he climbed, his technique of dealing with the men he employed became
progressively more ruthless. When the Memorial Day Massacre occurred, he
was earning $130,000 a year. One might consider his statement that he
would go back to hoeing potatoes before he bargained collectively with
his employees as a piece of not-too-original verbiage. At the same time,
he never gave any indication that the dead men and wounded women and
children strewn over the Chicago prairie disturbed either his sleep or
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