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THE COST OF THE CHRYSLER STRIKE

 
This speech was given during the Truman administration in 1950.  My father, a Republican, was generally in favor of limiting the power of unions to shut down large portions of the American economy for months at a time ... which would happen again in the steel strike nine years later.


Good evening, radio audience.

How many dollars did the Chrysler strike take from your pocket?

Chances are, you can't answer that question.  But it's a positive fact that many, many more people had their pocketbooks affected by the 99-day Chrysler strike than is generally realized.

• Seventy-three working days lost by 89,000 workers, plus the unknown amount of time lost by material suppliers' employees, has been estimated to cost $113 million.

• The cost to the 10,574 dealers in Chrysler products has been estimated at $980 million worth of merchandise.

• The cost to 6,500 suppliers was purchases worth $292 million,

making a total direct cost of the astounding figure of 1 billion 385 million 720 thousand 880 dollars.

The strike cost many, many dollars in indirect costs.  For example:  There is no accurate estimate of the amount lost by owners of Chrysler products because of lack of replacement parts.  There has not been, and cannot be, a dollar value placed on this type of loss.  Mr. John Q. Public pays this bill.

There are an estimated 100,000 employees of Chrysler dealerships who suffered as a result of the strike, and in such a way that there can be no dollar value placed on their loss.  They were merely 100,000 innocent bystanders who happened to get in the way when the shooting started and who suffered serious financial injury — because our labor laws offer them no protection.

This state of affairs is not going to be permitted to go on indefinitely.  And the most hopeful thing to be said of the Chrysler strike is that it may have contributed in some measure to hastening the end of this state of affairs.

The strikers' setbacks were not financial only.  They drew strike benefits from assessments on non-Chrysler United Auto Workers members, true; but strike benefits fall short of normal weekly wages.

Some results:  Many of these folks' children went on tight rations, and a lot of homes, cars and house furnishings were sold under the Michigan requirement that you have to get rid of all assets before you can go on state or city relief.  Even so, Detroit's welfare department dealt out relief money to a total of 1¼ million dollars — a record for a strike in Detroit.

This strike cost many merchants many dollars and many lost their businesses, especially those east-side Detroit merchants in the vicinity of the Dodge plant.  Many distress sales were in evidence after the strike was going into its 12th week.

And the merchants here in Cambridge didn't escape altogether, either.

For 10 weeks straight, the Automotive News overall average price of used cars went up, which is believed to have been caused by the Chrysler strike and the threatened General Motors strike.  So here's how it affects the merchants here:  Contemplated used-car purchases are hurried along, taking, in some cases, money earmarked for purchases of other products, and the prices being high might eliminate many purchases altogether.

Also losing in this deal are the owners:  the stockholders of Chrysler Corporation.  There are nearly 78,000 stockholders, and their average holding of stock is 113 shares.  The company's financial statement shows a loss of $1,782,790 for the first quarter of 1950, compared to a profit of $18,707,951 for the same period of 1949.  Breaking it down to the average, we find that 77,911 stockholders lost an average of over $26 each in earnings.  (This is assuming that had there not been a strike, the Corporation's earnings would have equaled 1949 for the same period.  And that figure does not take in April, during which time there still was a deficit.)

The strike began January 25th and was settled 99 days later on May 4th, and the workers gained very, very little more than they had already been offered before they struck.

So a lot of people suffer because of the lack of adequate laws governing such situations.

What can be done about it?  Well, one definite improvement could be made by electing leaders in our government who aren't afraid to stand up and be heard and fight for what they believe to be right!

 

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