View Full Version : Did Business Find President Kennedy Guilty of Treason in the Industrial War on Labor Unions?

Myra Bronstein
12-18-2008, 05:13 PM
[This is copied from my post in another forum.]

In all the excellent discussion on the many motives to murder President Kennedy I have yet to see talk about his support of labor unions, which IMO was a huge factor. If there is such discussion, on this forum or elsewhere, please point me to it.

Here’s how I see things.
Communism is the code word for “trade union.
Organized labor (“labour” for our British colleagues ?) is the lone counterbalance to the immense power that corporations wield.
Obviously corporations don’t want that counterbalance.
They want slaves.
The old South in the US. The forced labor in circa WW2 Germany. The new South in the US.
That’s utopia for industrialists.

The war on “communism” is the war on organized labo(u)r.
As part of that war the Big Bad has intentionally made the word “communism” a dirty word when in fact it’s merely an economic political framework, as is capitalism. And like capitalism it can be implemented by fascists, but isn’t inherently bad.

Hitler’s rise to power depended on his support by industrialists.
They supported him because he planned to crush organized labor.
Sure ‘nuff he did; in fact he wasted no time outlawing unions and lowering wages.
Then he had his cheap war machine and his “business friendly” environment resulted in huge profits for businessmen like Thyssen, Bush, Sullivan & Cromwell, Harriman.
Hitler “understood business.”
He was, and is, an industrialist’s wet dream.

Of course another critical component of the war machine, perpetual war for perpetual profit, is steel.
This brings us back to Thyssen, P. Bush, Sullivan & Cromwell, Harriman Bros.
United Steel Works.
Consolidated Silesian Steel Company.
And US Steel.

When President Kennedy took on US Steel it was a clash with the Titans.

In 1911 the US government tried unsuccessfully to break the monopoly of US Steel, the first billion dollar corporation in history & a company symbolic of the high tide of banker power in America. It was largely run by Rockefeller through JP Morgan.

“After World War I, trade unionism surged forward. Membership doubled; organization expanded into meat packing, textiles, motors, and other open-shop fields. The key was steel. If unionism entrenched itself here, the entire mass-production sector could be swept into the labor fold. A steel drive, launched in August 1918, gathered force in the postwar months. By the summer of 1919 more than 100,000 steelworkers had joined up. In September the steel movement struck the industry and, despite the heroic scale of the conflict, expired. From that defeat there would be no reprieve until new forces were unleashed by the Great Depression.”

In April of 1952 Truman ordered the US Army to seize the nation's steel mills to avert a strike.
Good ol’ Truman.
Now there’s a man who “understood business.”
However, he didn’t understand the law.
His seizure was ruled illegal by Supreme Court two months later.

In 1956 650,000 US steel workers went on strike.
In 1959 the Taft-Hartley Act was invoked by the US Supreme Court to break a steel strike.
We’re talkin’ epic battles here, decade after decade.

Then in 1960 John Kennedy became president.
He did not “understand business.”

“Kennedy did not regard profit-making as the most esteemed of vocations.”
The horror.

“Brought up in a family of millionaires and a millionaire himself, he was not impressed by other millionaires, nor did he consider the successful businessman the most admirable of beings. He liked to quote from Dr. Johnson:

"A merchant's desire is not of glory but of gain; not of public wealth, but of private emolument; he is therefore rarely to be consulted on questions of war or peace, or any designs of wide extent and distant consequence."

He was well aware of their power, but he did not trust the Titans. When he became President he declared,

"Taken individually, labor leaders are often mediocre and egotistical, but labor as a whole generally adopts intelligent positions on important problems. On the other hand, businessmen are often individually enlightened but collectively hopeless in the field of national policy."

Eisenhower sought out the Titans, respected their advice, and treated them as they thought they deserved to be treated -- in other words, as representatives of the most influential body in the nation. Kennedy kept his distance. Prior to his election he had had little contact with industrial circles, and once he was in the White House he saw even less of them. Businessmen were generally excluded from the Kennedys' private parties. Not only did he "snub" them (in the words of Ralph Cordiner, President of General Electric), he also attacked them. Kennedy did not consult the business world before making his appointments. The men he placed at the head of the federal regulatory agencies were entirely new.(2)

Since the end of the war, the businessmen had become accustomed to considering these bodies as adjuncts of their own professional associations. They were more indignant than surprised. They attempted to intervene, but in vain. The President had a mind of his own.”

In March of 1962 President Kennedy persuaded the United Steel Workers to accept a contract he hailed as "non-inflationary." A few days later, the United States Steel Corporation announced an increase of 3.5% in its prices, and most other steel companies did likewise. US Steel, who had fought unionization for decades, punked the United Steel Workers and punked the US President. In the three days that followed, Kennedy put intense pressure on US Steel.

On April 11, at his press conference, the President declared:
“. . . the American people will find it hard, as I do, to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans."

This denunciation of the Titans stunned the nation. It marked the birth of a legend. The President's remarks made headlines throughout the world and were even quoted in Pravda, which expressed its surprise and satisfaction. The businessmen were disconcerted by the violence of his reaction and by the apparent extent of his public support, but Roger Blough maintained that his decision had been made "in the interest of the stockholders" and that the profits of the largest steel producers were 33% lower in the first quarter of 1962 than they had been in 1959.(18)

The administration replied that the dividends paid to the stockholders of the steel corporations in 1958-61 were 17% higher than those paid in 1954-57. The steel industry rejoined that profits had exceeded $1 billion in 1959, but that they had fallen to $807 million in 1961, endangering investment possibilities, the future of the steel corporations, and consequently the future of American industry. But, faced with FBI investigations, the pressure of public opinion, and the cancellation of government contracts, it yielded and revoked the increase.(19)

On May 7, 1962, US News and World Report wrote: "What happened is frightening not only to steel people but to industry generally . . . President Kennedy had the public interest at heart in acting as he did, but the results may not in the long run be what he intended them to be."

“…Business reaction was unanimous. Ralph Cordiner, President of General Electric, declared that Kennedy ought to reread his Lincoln,(23) and David Lawrence(24) wrote:

"The heavy hand of government has just won a pyrrhic victory . . . Economic facts cannot be changed merely because politicians dislike them. Nor can America's private enterprise system survive very long if the Federal Government itself engages in the mudslinging of class warfare and, in effect, tells an industry it must disregard profits, disregard dividends, and pay labor whatever the Administration says shall be paid even if, as in this case, it costs the industry an additional $100 million a year.

"Apparently (Mr. Kennedy) believed that the Administration could coerce the industry into submission. For what else was meant by Mr. Kennedy's statement that the 'Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are examining the significance of this action in a free, competitive economy? . . . This implied a threat of criminal prosecution. It was a move designed to terrorize those who disagreed with the Administration . . . While denying any inclination toward state socialism, the President's action on steel prices points inevitably to a federal dictatorship over business."

And he concluded, "Socialism (is) often a forerunner of Communism.

…Some months later, Kennedy explained his reaction:

"I think it would have been a serious situation if I had not attempted with all my influence to try to get a rollback, because there was an issue of good faith involved. The steel union had accepted the most limited settlement that they had since the end of the second war . . . in part, I think, because I said that we could not afford another inflationary spiral, that it would affect our competitive position abroad, so they signed up. Then, when their last contract was signed . . . steel put its prices up immediately. It seemed to me that the question of good faith was involved, and that if I had not attempted . . . to use my influence to have the companies hold their prices stable, I think the union could have rightfully felt that they had been misled.

In my opinion it would have endangered the whole bargaining between labor and management, which would have made it impossible for us to exert any influence from the public point of view in the future on these great labor-management disputes which do affect the public interest."

President Kennedy took the side of a labor union, a massive interruption of the ongoing—decades old, international process—to crush trade unions.
He clearly indicated his intent to do so in the future.
President Kennedy, most definitely did not “understand business.”

I wondered if that bastion of big business, the American Security Council (ASC) could have played a role in the US Steel war with President Kennedy.
So I looked at:
According to them, quoting Russ Bellant’s work, the ASC:

“Works with officials from the Pentagon, National Security Council, and organizations linked to the CIA discusses cold war strategy with leaders of many large corporations, such as United Fruit, Standard Oil, Honeywell, US Steel, and Sears Roebuck.”