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News and Views from the Labor Front

Seek to End Los Angeles CIO Split

(21 March 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 12, 21 March 1949, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

LOS ANGELES – The split between “right” and “left” wings which took place in the Communist-dominated Los Angeles CIO Council a year ago in February over the issues of the Marshall Plan and the national elections, when the “right wing” walked out of the Council, is now in the process of being mended through the intervention of the national CIO. Allan Haywood, representative of the CIO Executive Board, arrived at an agreement last week with representatives of both sides.

An administrative committee composed of Wm. Lawrence of the Los Angeles Council, Albert T. Lunceford of the Los Angeles Committee for National CIO and Richard Leonard of the national CIO has been set up to effect a unification. This committee will be in charge until a new, united council can be elected, with the proviso that each officer is bound to support national CIO policy.

At the time of the split, the Stalinist-dominated CIO Council passed a motion not to endorse a presidential candidate, since they were supporting Henry Wallace in the face of the national CIO’s endorsement of Truman. The “right wing” was in a minority at that time and, being unable to get the Council to adopt the national CIO policy, they withdrew.

Dismayed by Move

Each group conducted its separate election campaigns and has maintained its separate existence for more than a year, with resulting weakness and confusion among the ranks of the labor movement. However, the original anti-Stalinist minority has gained adherents during this period from auto, rubber, steel and other locals until even its opponents concede it a majority at the present time. The Longshoremen’s Union, in San Pedro, represented heretofore in the Los Angeles Council, two weeks ago resolved to withhold its per capita from the Council and not to receive the Stalinist-line Labor Herald, organ of the Council.

Since the issues which provoked the split have receded, the Stalinist wing of the Council has been calling for unity. The anti-Stalinist wing has been more reluctant. For in addition to the political issues dividing the two groups, the non-Stalinists had long been subjected to the undemocratic, log-rolling, filibustering, party-line tactics with which the labor movement is so familiar.

The manner in which the unity is to be accomplished comes with surprise, dismay and shock to many of the orthodox CIO leaders. There arc several reasons for their reaction. They had anticipated and pressed for a lifting of the charter of the non-conforming Council by Murray’s representative, Haywood, as was done in other places where a council split took place. There is a definite feeling that Murray let them down, especially since the initiative for the original walk-out was not locally inspired and was undertaken to assist the general national campaign against the Stalinists. The “right wing” expected to be better rewarded.

The orthodox CIOers do not look forward to happiness to the projected unity. While they have turned their former minority into a majority during the split period, they lack a clearcut distinctive program which the Stalinist party-liners have. They continue to tail politically the Democratic Party. The pseudo-left, while subservient to the Kremlin, is to that extent independent of the native capitalist parties and has a radical appearance. The “right wing” had a tough time before. It didn’t win a majority in the united council. It may again lose its majority unless it develops its own independent program.

It should be pointed out that what unites the anti-Stalinist group is its anti-Stalinism. It is not a real right wing, despite the popular application of this term, just as the Stalinist group is definitely not a left wing. The Stalinists represent the totalitarian arm of the Russian ruling class within the labor movement. The anti-Stalinist group are the traditional American labor leaders, running from conservative to left wing. Labor Action continues to support the latter against the former, although it cannot defend the unwise strategy used against the Stalinists.

The Stalinists will be defeated in the Los Angeles Council, as elsewhere, by a superior program which represents the interests of the rank and file, speaks clearly what it wants and where it is going and not by an organizational maneuver that has now come full circle, leaving the struggle just about where it was before. The weakness of their opponents is the strength of the Stalinists.

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