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Jos. C.

I.L.G.W.U. Leaders Seek to Corral Youth

(February 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 6, 11 February 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

At the call of the Dressmakers’ Joint Board of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, a conference of “radical youth” groups was held in New York, February 3, to aid the union in its organizational drive. Representatives of the Young Peoples Socialist League, the Inter-Collegiate Student Council of the League for Industrial Democracy, the Lovestoneite youth, the Young Circle League and the Vanguard (anarchist) group had a short while previously participated in a pre-conference to arrange for this conference. The Left Opposition youth – the Spartacus Youth Club – was not invited to either gathering. It had an observer at the conference.

After the chairman explained the purpose of the meeting, Max Bluestein, manager of the Joint Board, spoke in glowing terms of the history of the union and the need of the cooperation of the youth assembled to help the union organize the dressmakers. Following this, representatives of the youth groups present spoke.

The YPSL, LID and Young Circle League pledged their support and readiness “to take orders”. The speaker for the Lovestoneites endorsed the campaign and spoke for a “clean, fighting, militant union” which would fight racketeering and organize the youth in the trade. The chairman, an official in the union, greeted this mild and meaningless speech. The spokesman of the Vanguard (anarchist) Group launched into an attack upon the leaders of the A.F. of L. and the ILGWU, and their sell-out policies and agreements. He exposed by direct references fake agreements made in the dress and cloak industry in New York by the ILGWU. He protested at the original refusal of the officials of the ILGWU to invite the youth of the CPLA and the Left Opposition to the Conference. They had finally consented to invite the Musteite youth (but did not do so) and refused to invite the Left Opposition youth. He then proceeded to enumerate the conditions under which his group would participate in the “action committee” which was to be elected: workers’ democracy in the union, the right of revolutionary groups to propagate their views, the abolition of political control, and its conversion into a “revolutionary industrial union”!

The chairman explained that the discrimination against the CPLA youth was accidental, but that the Left Opposition youth was not invited “because we don’t want to bring in unnecessary discussion”.

Julius Hechman, one of the leaders of the Union, replied to the anarchist speech.

It was obvious from Hochman’s speech that gangsters and bribery were too expensive financially, and free aid from enthusiastic youth was needed by the decimated union. Flourishing radical phrases formed the bait with which these labor fakers tried to enveigle the radical youth into their campaign.

The youth conference is an attempt on the part of the Right wing leader’s to mobilize the radical youth of the city in a campaign in competition and against the drive being made by the Industrial Union to organize the dressmakers.

A motion made by a delegate from the Vanguard Group to permit a representative of the Left Opposition Youth to speak to the Conference was “overlooked” by the democratic chairman. Later a motion by a Yipsel to invite representatives from the CPLA youth and the Left Opposition youth to join the “action committee” was carried unanimously. The Young Communist League, the largest working class youth organization in the City, was not invited. This ended the latest move of the ILGWU officialdom which deserves to be watched and upon which we will comment in the near future.

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Last updated: 23 July 2015