• U.S.

LABOR: Again, Mr. Smith

2 minute read

Ended last week was a labor strike which had kept the port of San Francisco closed for 54 days. Exporters, importers, custom brokers, shipping lines picked up business where they dropped it last Nov. 10. Back to work went longshoremen, teamsters, the 1,300 waterfront clerks whose union started the whole futile mess by demanding that only C.I.O. clerks be hired. In a note to their editor, reporters and copy boys on the San Francisco News voiced the general sentiment of San Francisco: “PLEASE, BOSS, LET’S NOT HAVE ANOTHER STRIKE FOR A LONG, LONG TIME.” Settlement of the strike gave C.I.O.’s mighty little Longshoreman Harry Bridges the first real setback he has had since he rose to power with the San Francisco general strike of 1934.

What made the waterfront employers close their port and reject one compromise offer after another to fix up this minor dispute was the chance to hone down Harry Bridges before he brings up new wage demands for his longshoremen this spring. The man who finally came through with a satisfactory compromise was the San Francisco Chronicle’s Manager Paul (“I’m just a squirt”) Smith, who also settled the costly waterfront tie-up 15 months ago.

California’s Governor Olson called on 31-year-old brassy Mr. Smith after all others had failed. Paul Smith for once kept himself in the background, negotiated quietly with able, chubby President Francis Patrick Foisie of the Dock Checkers Employers Association, then with C.I.O.’s Bridges, who by last week was looking for a face-saving way out. What Paul Smith sold both sides was the proposition that everybody goback to work, let arbitration settle the controversy. So simple was this solution that San Franciscans wondered for the umpteenth time why Messrs. Foisie and Bridges had not agreed to it for themselves.

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