Martin Harvey

Frankensteen vs. Jeffries

(15 October 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 42, 15 October 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DETROIT, Sept. 25 – The thin coating of non-partisanship has just about worn off in the Detroit municipal elections in which Mayor Jeffries and UAW Vice-President Richard T. Frankensteen are running for mayor of Detroit.

In recent issues of Labor Action it was pointed out that Frankensteen, although a union official, represents capitalist politics in the labor movement and that only the “non-partisan” election laws of Detroit which prohibit candidates from running on party tickets made it possible for Frankensteen to appear as an independent labor candidate.

As if to confirm our stand, the Democratic Party of Wayne County (Detroit and environs) made it official. Joseph Wisniewski, Democratic County chairman, announced recently that the six congressional district chairmen of Wayne County endorsed Frankensteen for mayor and were giving him the full support of the Democratic Party including use of all Democratic headquarters. Wisniewski explained the move by saying that “Frankensteen has always been Democratic, and we know Jeffries is not. So naturally we would back Frankensteen.”

Jay G. Hayden, Washington correspondent of the Detroit News, had predicted this development a few days earlier and stated that it would result from Democratic National Chairman Robert E. Hannegan’s desire to keep labor tied to the Democratic Party and to offset any dissatisfaction with Truman’s policies. Detroit Democrats, however, denied that they had consulted with either Hannegan or the national committeeman from Michigan, E. Cyril Bevan.


Detroit Republicans who have been the chief benefactors of the non-partisan setup, immediately charged the Democrats with violating the city charter and election laws but announced at the same time that they would back Jeffries.

That just about sums up the Detroit municipal election: Democrat Frankensteen against Republican Jeffries. Another case of Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

An incident reported from the CIO Michigan summer school finishes the picture. Several CIO members wearing Frankensteen sweaters were discussing the Detroit election. Frankensteen’s election, they held, would greatly benefit labor. “Why if Dick becomes Mayor of Detroit, the next step would be to run him in the Democratic primaries for Senator or Governor.”

While just a casual conversation, this Incident is very revealing. Frankensteen’s campaign is not helping to further the idea of independent labor political action, and a labor party. It is doing the reverse. Workers who support Frankensteen, are led to believe that they can expect gains for labor from participating in capitalist politics and maneuvering with capitalist parties.

These misconceptions must be cast aside if labor is to achieve its own emancipation. The working class must strike out on the road to independent political action, independent of the two capitalist parties. The working class needs a labor party. It must build one now.

Last updated on 29 January 2018