Letter to the Editor
Re: History of Alcoa
Dear Workers' Forum,
1943 map put out by Alcoa.
I read with interest the recent articles about the fight
of the ABI workers in Bécancour, Quebec against the company
owner Alcoa, and the other anti-worker activities Alcoa has undertaken
elsewhere in its global empire. It is instructive to look at Alcoa's
history, where one sees that it has always acted to serve narrow
private and even reactionary interests, against the well-being of
working people. Faced with such an unprincipled monopoly, workers
should remain convinced of the justness of their cause, and that they
must rely on themselves and the growing support of workers across
Canada and around the world to prevail in their struggle.
The 1889 formation of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company
(PRC) by Hunt, Clapp, and Davis to refine aluminum ore based on Charles
Hall's new aluminum reduction process was mainly financed by the
super-rich Mellon family. Banker Andrew Mellon was then U.S. Secretary
of the Treasury. The family also owned Gulf Oil and had many
other lucrative investments, for example, in U.S. Steel and
PRC was renamed Aluminum Corporation of America (Alcoa)
in 1907. Alcan was founded by PRC in Shawnigan, Quebec in 1902 under
the name Northern Aluminum Company to exploit the vast potential of
Quebec's hydroelectric power resources. A member of the Davis family
was installed as the CEO of each of Alcoa and Alcan, clearly
exposing the link between the companies, although this was denied by
both companies to avoid prosecution for violating monopoly laws.
The Mellon investments in both companies gave the family
control of both Alcoa and Alcan, along with the Davises, and a virtual
monopoly on aluminum production. This was used to continuously
strengthen domination over the entire aluminum industry and to generate
enormous profits. The Mellon fortune continued to grow to the present
day and Arthur Vining Davis died the third richest man in America.
Alcoa was one of the U.S. monopolies which collaborated
with Nazi Germany. Through its aluminum monopoly, before and during
World War II, Alcoa ensured that Nazi Germany had an unlimited supply
of aluminum to build its weaponry, e.g., airplanes, while America
suffered massive shortages. In June 1941, Harold Ickes, U.S. Secretary
of the Interior, said: "If America loses this war, it can thank the
Aluminum Corporation of America."
Alcoa/Alcan's only significant U.S. rival in aluminum
refining over the years has been Reynolds Aluminum, formed in 1910 by
the Reynold's Tobacco family. Alcoa acquired Reynolds in 2000. In 2007,
the Rothschild-controlled Rio Tinto monopoly acquired Alcan after a
U.S.$38 billion deal.
A reader in Edmonton
This article was published in
Number 14 - April 18, 2019
Letter to the Editor: Re: History of Alcoa