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David Coolidge

What Policy Shall UE Ranks Follow?

(23 February 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 8, 23 February 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

While it is true that every union in the country is faced with,great difficulties in connection with the operations of the Taft-Hartley Act, the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) membership has two problems in connection with the act. One is the Taft-Hartley Act itself, with all its anti-labor provisions and implications. The other is the “Communist Party” (Stalinist party) leadership of the UE. The UE is one of the internationals which has refused to sign the political party affidavit called for in the Taft-Hartley law. In this affidavit, officers of unions must say under path: “I am not a member of the Communist Party or affiliated with such party.”

It is well known that the UE is under the leadership and domination of the Stalinists. The top officers of the UE are either members of the CP, Stalinist sympathizers and fellow travelers, or stooges of the Stalinists. This means that this large international in the electrical industry is controlled, managed and dominated by the Stalinists. The president of the UE, Fitzgerald, is only a wooden Charlie McCarthy sitting on the lap of his Stalinist masters, who work his mouth in accord with the political line of the CP.

Why are the Stalinists in. the United States holding out on the signing of the above quoted affidavit? Is it because they haves principles against signing such affidavits? Is it because they are opposed to the interference of the capitalist government in the affairs of the unions and other workers’ organizations? Is it because they believe that the affidavit is “unconstitutional” and a violation of fundamental political rights and immunities of American citizens? No! The Stalinists do not oppose signing for any of these correct reasons.

Stalinist Line Swings

They demonstrated during the imperialist Second World War that they have no such principles and no such scruples. They supported that war after June 22, 1941, and called it a “sacred war” after that date. They were against the war before June 22, 1941. but after that date they began bellowing for move war and for the U.S. to get into it immediately. They wanted a “second front,” full production of war equipment, less production of consumer goods, full support to the government, the War Labor Board, to the “progressive capitalists,” “incentive pay” (piecework wages), and no strikes. They insisted on every union signing and abiding by the no-strike pledge. Because the Workers Party opposed the war and called it an imperialist war, the Stalinist party labelled the WP “German agents” and “Japanese spies.” They demanded that the government take action to deny newsprint to the WP for the publishing of Labor Action.

Now they have made a swing. They call it going back to “Marx ism-Leninism.” They talk about the evils of “American imperialism.” They are for strikes again. They are against the Marshall Plan and American “imperialism in Greece.” They are behind Henry Wallace and want to make him President of the United States. And the top three officers of the UE, Fitzgerald, Matles and Emspak, have been touring the locals of the UE presenting the Stalinist political line on Wallace and the Marshall Plan.

If the Stalinists are not against signing the affidavits for reasons of principle, then why are they? Well for one reason, there is really such a thing as being a member of the “Communist Party.” More important, however, is the fact that the Stalinists now have a new line. Conflict is going on between the U.S. and Russia. When the line changes in Moscow, it changes in the “Communist Parties” of every country in the world. The Russian Stalinist bureaucrats are against the Marshall Plan, against Truman and against the U.S. now. Refusal to sign the affidavits is part and parcel of their opposition to the “Truman government.” At the moment, if that moment should come, there is a change in the relations between Russia and the U.S., the Stalinists will go for the Marshall Plan, dump Henry Wallace, support Truman for re-election and begin yelling for more production and fewer strikes.

That is the way the Stalinists drag the workers around; that is, all the workers who are backward enough or stupid enough to follow them. That is what they are doing right now in the UE. They are disrupting that international and betraying its members by taking the position they do against the signing of this affidavit. The union is in difficulty at Remington-Rand. The International Association of Machinists, supported by the Westinghouse Co., is endangering the Westinghouse Local. This is true in Pittsburgh, Beaver and Meadville, Pa. One local in New York City has voted to get out of the UE. The UE will face other difficulties as time passes. It will have difficulties getting contracts renewed and in getting bargaining rights for UE members.

All the answer the Stalinists give is that “we will strike if we do not get bargaining rights from the companies.” What they will more likely do is attempt to make some kind of backdoor, shady, “sweetheart” deal with the electrical manufacturers. That’s the kind of “principles” these disrupters and betrayers have.

Workers in the UE should not confuse the attitude of their leadership on the affidavits with that of the printers or the steel workers, who also have not signed. Whatever the motives of the printers and the steel workers, they are not the same as those of the Stalinists. The Stalinists are acting solely in support of the present political line of Stalin and the Stalinist bureaucracy. They have no interest whatsoever in the fundamental and primary welfare of the trade union movement and the working class. Therefore they place the UE in very grave danger.

On the Affidavits

The Workers Party has already expressed its position on the Tart-Hartley act and on the affidavit. We are against the act and are opposed to the affidavit. We believe that the organized labor movement should have refused to sign this affidavit. At first the big AFL and CIO unions did refuse to sign. Then they began one by one to vote for the signing of the affidavit. The Workers Party believes that they were incorrect. We believe that by an organized and militant struggle against the whole Taft-Hartley law it could have been rendered ineffectual and useless. The unions did not take this course.

It is the position of the WP that after so many of the big unions have signed, it was pointless for the remaining unions to jeopardize their bargaining position and their memberships by refusing to sign. Furthermore, we do not believe that this affidavit is the most dastardly section of the Taft-Hartley law. We believe that the section dealing with political contributions is far more damaging to the welfare of the unions and of labor. There are other sections of the law which are far more detrimental to the progress of the labor movement than this anti-“Communist Party” affidavit.

We are doubly concerned about the situation in the UE, when we know that this international is under the strangling influence of the “Communist Party.” We know these scoundrels, these purveyors of anti-labor politics and all manner of Stalinist filth. We believe that the membership of the UE should take steps at once to protect their international from disruption and from being weakened by a leadership only bent on doing the will of their master in the Kremlin. The UE membersliip should take steps to protect their international from inroads by the AFL’s machinists’ and electricians’ unions.

Oppose Union Wreckers

While we fight against the Stalinists and Stalinism; we oppose them for the reasons the Workers Party has stated again and again. The “Communist Party” is a reactionary outfit. It is a party led by an aggregation of totalitarian gangsters.

The Workers Party opposes the “Communist Party” because it is not a communist party and not a socialist party. It is an anti-working class party, a police party serving the interests of a police state. The Workers Party is also in opposition to such organizations as the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists (ACTU) on this question. the anti-Stalinist position of the ACTU is a reactionary position. This organization is against socialism and against the struggle of the working class for socialism. The ACTU would be just as strongly opposed to real socialism and a real socialist party as it is against the phony brand of socialism paraded by the Stalinists. The ACTU and the Stalinists both are enemies of the struggle of labor to free itself from the toils of capitalist oppression.

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