LABOR: Border War

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As 3,700 General Motors of Canada employes continued peacefully on strike at Oshawa, Ont. last week, asking recognition of C.I.O.'s United Automobile Workers, and as Ontario's blatant Premier Mitchell F. ("Mitch") Hepburn continued roaring belligerently that he would never let the "paid foreign agitators" of C.I.O. get a foothold in Canada (TIME, April 19), G. M. and U.A.W. officials met in Detroit, agreed to let their Canadian affiliates get together with the Premier and work out a strictly Canadian settlement. That seemed to save face all around, since "Mitch" Hepburn and G. M. of Canada could claim that they were spurning C.I.O. and U.A.W.'s "international" officers, while Oshawa's U.A.W. local would remain just as firmly affiliated with the Union and C.I.O. as ever. But hardly had the Toronto peace conference begun when Premier Hepburn abruptly broke it off, charging that the Union's Canadian spokesmen were double-crossing him by consulting off-stage with U.A.W. President Homer Martin and C.I.Organizer Hugh Thompson. G. M. of Canada stood fast with the Premier.

Asserting that General Motors had thereby broken its recent union-recognition agreement, which he claimed covered Canada as well as the U. S., impulsive young Homer Martin blew hot on the possibility of a sympathetic G. M. strike in the U. S. Over the week-end things were tense, but this week President Martin went to Washington to consult with his C.I.O. elders, and talk of a U. S. strike abruptly died down. In Oshawa, however, the strikers by unanimous vote turned down the first settlement terms arrived at by their own leaders in conference with the company.

For years every U. S. labor union worth its salt has had locals in Canada, thereby justifying a resounding "international" in its title. For months there have been some 20,000 Ontario members of unions affiliated with C.I.O. But shrewd "Mitch" Hepburn had apparently done himself no harm by waiting until Sit-Down alarm had boiled across the border to begin his one-man stand against an alien invasion. As a coming man in Canadian politics, pointed to succeed Mackenzie King as Dominion Prime Minister, his rousing blasts at "John L. Lewis and communism" were nicely calculated not only to make a surefire appeal to Canada's patriotic masses, but also to placate conservative voters hitherto repelled by his loud New-Dealishness. Nor could his countrymen be unaware that the U. S. headlines "Mitch" Hepburn was making were prime advertising of Canada as a haven to which timorous U. S. Industry might flee from upsurging U. S. Labor.