75 Years Ago (February 1939): UAW Split Brewing; January Sales up 36.9%; 1938 Exports Detailed; Hupp Gets RFC Loan

The long-simmering internal split within the UAW is reaching “crisis” stage, according to Ward’s Automotive Reports’ Feb. 25, 1939, issue.

Rising tensions between forces loyal to President Homer Martin and anti-Martin forces backed by the CIO, most recently manifested itself in a Feb. 22 walkout at the Plymouth assembly plant by the CIO-backed faction, resulting in a shutdown for several days and some parking-lot fights.

WAR expresses concern similar disruptions will take place in plants where the two factions are present until the courts and National Labor Relations Board establish who is in control of the union.

In the meantime the Martin faction plans a Detroit leadership convention beginning Mar. 4, while the CIO group has set Mar. 27 for the opening of its convention in Cleveland.

Auto makers in the U.S. exported more that $229.4 million worth of passenger cars, commercial cars (light trucks) and components to 25 countries in 1938.

Canada was at the top of the list at $38.6 million plus, followed by Argentina at $24.7 million and the Union of South Africa at $19.9 million. Japan, at $10.1 million was eighth while Mexico was 13th at $6.4 million. Cuba, at just under $4.0 million, ranked 21st, a notch ahead of China’s $3.9 million. New Zealand was in last place at slightly more than $2.9 million.

According to WAR’s Feb. 18 issue, Hupp Motor Car is expected to resume operation in the near future, now that it has received a $900,000 loan from the federal government’s Reconstruction Finance Corp.

Hupp reported a net loss of $1.7 million in the first 11 months of 1938, down slightly from a loss of just over $1.8 million in 1937. Although it built some of its new ’39 Skylarks in recent weeks, they all were hand assembled.

Final passenger-car registration figures for 1938 show the top three brands, Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth, racked up 1,114,266 units for the year, down nearly 882,000 cars, or 44.2%, from 1,996,241 in 1937.

Chevrolet was down 39.5%, but still led the industry with 464,337 cars. Second-place Ford’s 363,688-unit tally was off 47.5% and Plymouth finished third with 282,241 units, a 61.5% decline.