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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(4 December 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 49, 4 December 1944, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Daily Worker and George Bass

Last week we wrote in this column on the defeat of George Bass in the Goodrich Local elections in Akron. We pointed out the fact that Bass was defeated by the most conservative members of the local, who were led by a handful of the reactionary scissorbills, acting in league with the labor-baiting Akron Beacon Journal. As was to be expected, Browder’s Communist Political Association (Communist Party) has come out in its Daily Worker in support of these reactionaries and the Beacon Journal.

The Daily Worker for November 27 calls the defeat of Bass “good news from Akron.” Bass is a “pro-Trotskyite” who was defeated through “the patriotic understanding of the Goodrich workers.” Trade “unionists loyal to the CIO no-strike policy and the national interests which it defends, turned thumbs down on him (Bass) and his Trotskyite henchmen.” The “patriotic repudiation of Bass should be a signal to all CIO supporters in the CIO to give the same medicine to his fellow travelers in their ranks.” By this the Daily Worker means that what it calls the “patriotic” workers should vote against the rescinding of the no-strike pledge in the coming UAW referendum.

Why Bass Was Defeated

Bass was not defeated through “the patriotic understanding of the Goodrich workers.” He was defeated because a small group of reactionaries skillfully and very brazenly played on the backwardness and lack of “understanding” of a large group of workers who for one reason or another were not active in the local. They were taken in by these scissorbill-Beacon Journal stooges who were really not fighting the battles of the Goodrich workers but the battle of the Goodrich Rubber Co. They won, not because these rank and file workers want a reactionary leadership but because the scissorbills organized them and the Bass forces did not. We commented on this in Labor Action last week.

Workers Party Members Are Not “Henchmen”

We are not certain what the Daily Worker means by Bass’ “Trotskyite henchmen.” If they mean members of the Workers Party, we want to say that Workers Party members don’t act as “henchmen” for anybody in the trade unions. Furthermore, members of the Workers Party don’t act as henchmen for Roosevelt and the Democratic Party. Neither do we act as henchmen for the Republican Party. We didn’t act as henchmen of Hague in New Jersey, for the rotten Tammany leaders in New York City, for Kelly in Chicago, for Bilbo in Mississippi or for Willkie in 1940.

The members of the Workers Party did not act as “henchmen” for Hitler and never will. We have never made a pact with this fascist butcher and never will. We have never made a pact with the FBI nor called on the government to refuse newsprint to a labor paper.

Members of the Workers Party were never henchmen of John L. Lewis. We didn’t organize a forty-five-minute ovation for Lewis at the CIO convention in 1941. We didn’t oppose Murray for president of the CIO and then spend the next three years crawling up his pants leg trying to make him forget that we were once “henchmen” of Lewis who were now willing to lick Murray’s boots if he would only let us.

No, it wasn’t the “Trotskyites” who did these things. It was Browder’s Communist Political Association (Communist Party) – henchmen for Stalin, Eric Johnston, Hitler, Democratic Party, Republican Party, National Association of Manufacturers, the cops and the employers.

Deep Differences Between Communists and Workers Party

No, the “Trotskyites” don’t act as “henchmen.” Neither do we crawl through the labor movement with an axe in one hand and slime and filth in the other. Browder, the Stalinists and the Daily Worker have undisputed priority in that field. Members of the Workers Party in the trade unions are against fascism and always have been. We fight against fascism; we make no compromises and no pacts with fascism.

We were and remain against the no-strike pledge. We are for militancy in the unions, for real collective bargaining and democratic decisions by the union membership. We are not supporters of the war, because it is an imperialist war for imperialist gain and aggrandizement. These things should be clear even to the scoundrels who edit the Daily Worker. Our ideas and our program have been published in Labor Action week in and week out.

Members of the Workers Party are loyal supporters of the labor movement: of the CIO and the AFL. We give these workers our ideas and our program: the program of democratic and militant unionism, the program of revolutionary socialism. We stand for independent political action by and for the working class. We have advocated and still advocate that the trade unions organize a mass independent Labor Party.

The Program Necessary for Progressives Today

We are not “henchmen.” We go to the ranks of labor as an integral and loyal part of the trade union movement. We propagate our ideas and our program. This is our right, our duty and our responsibility. The Workers Party does not agree with the present program of the organized labor movement on the war, the no-strike pledge, the WLB and the relinquishing of collective bargaining. We believe, and there are thousands of militant workers who agree with us, that such a program can only lead to defeat for labor.

This is what we were saying in this column last week to George Bass and to other militant rank and file leaders in the unions. They have a duty and a responsibility to consider these things seriously. We are not living in the horse and buggy age of the class struggle. The demands on a trade union leadership are different. They must become not only militant trade union leaders but political leaders guiding the labor movement on the road to independent working class political action. If they fail in this the unions cannot and will not escape the clutches of Stalin’s henchmen or the victory of the most reactionary and backward scissorbills.

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