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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(18 December 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 51, 18 December 1944, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AFL Convention Retains Jim Crow

The AFL convention once again has rejected a resolution by A. Philip Randolph calling for the elimination of discrimination against Negroes by AFL internationals. This time the performance of many of the top bureaucrats was just as disgraceful and brazen as in past year. The convention told Randolph and all Negroes in and outside the AFL that Jim Crow is to remain a standing policy of the organization.

Randolph’s resolution called on the convention to condemn and abolish Jim Crow and all Jim Crow auxiliaries organized by internationals. Randolph named the Boilermakers, the Machinists and the Electricians. He accused these internationals of establishing “dual memberships in the AFL under which first-class membership is given to white workers and second-class membership to Negroes.”

One would think that the AFL leaders would at least refrain from denying the truth of Randolph’s charges. The facts are established beyond dispute or refutation. Negroes are Jim Crowed in the AFL. But facts mean nothing to a blundering ignoramus like MacGowan, president of the Boilermakers. He had never listened before to a “more offensive address.” Randolph’s remarks were “arrogant and insolent.” That is, the remarks of a Negro president of an AFL international were “offensive,” arrogant and “insolent” if they condemn a white president of an AFL international for maintaining separate locals for its Negro members.

Ku Klux Klan Mentality

MacGowan is “getting a bit tired of being kicked around by professional agitators.” That’s Randolph, who only insisted that the AFL repudiate Jim Crow inside its ranks. MacGowan perhaps feels that Randolph and the Negro boilermakers should be thankful that they are permitted in the union under any conditions, Jim Crow or otherwise. MacGowan is “tired.” What does he plan to do? Break up the Jim Crow auxiliaries and take the Negroes into the regular locals? Not MacGowan. He’s too ignorant, stupid and cocky to take that course.

What will he do in the next convention? Will he organize a goon squad to throw Randolph out? Or will he organize a lynching bee outside the convention hall? We have an idea that Randolph, with his superior intelligence, especially, in comparison with the intellectual incapacity of the MacGowans, will continue to prove more than a match for the AFL Jim Crowers.

Loring of the Tennessee Federation of Labor also is for suppressing “this professional agitation.” He is also a very bright man; just like MacGowan. Loring got off the following gem: “The white people aren’t raising these problems; it’s the Negroes.” The white workers aren’t kicking against Jim Crow, says this intellectual giant. That’s all we need to say about Loring. Strike-breaker Frey got in his mouthful also. He also has a complaint against the Negroes. They are not thankful “for what the AFL has done for Negroes.” That is, Negroes are not thankful for Jim Crow locals. They ought to be glad that the AFL does not exclude them completely.

Randolph wasn’t thankful. In reply he told MacGowan, Frey and Loring: “Get as mad as you like, but the Negroes are going to fight for their rights no matter how mad you get.”

Earlier MacGowan had questioned if Randolph was in the right organisation. It is our opinion that MacGowan is in the wrong organization. He doesn’t belong in a labor organization. We recommend the Ku Klux Klan.


Goodrich Progressives Fight Back

The progressive forces in Goodrich Local No. 5 at Akron, who recently suffered a setback in the local elections, are not taking it lying down. They are fighting back. This is as it should be. Bass was defeated for president by a reactionary bloc acting under the inspiration of the labor-baiting Akron Beacon Journal. Progressives must fight back. They must stand prepared always to put their program and their case before the whole rank and file. They must keep their roots in the rank and file and depend on the rank and file for whatever strength they hope to achieve. This is the way to wipe out the influence of reactionary and anti-union elements.

It would be an excellent thing if Bass would get back in the shop and participate once again in the day-to-day activities of the workers in the ranks. This should be the perspective of every progressive who meets defeat at the hands of reactionaries.

The progressives in the local are taking the correct course. They are exposing the lies and slanders of the Beacon Journal. They are giving the facts to the local in answer to the slanders, distortions and lies of the reactionaries in the local. This is one way to educate the membership. Let them know the truth. Give them all the facts. This is the way to maintain a democratic local. Union reactionaries and their outside masters can’t thrive for long if the membership knows the facts and understands them.

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Last updated: 18 February 2016