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David Coolidge

Quill Quits CIO Council

Resigns as Head of Stalinist-Controlled Council, But Plays It Safe

(5 April 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 14, 5 April 1948, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Michael Quill, pro-Stalinist president of the national Transport Workers Union (CIO) and member of the New York City Council, has resigned his post as president of the New York City CIO Industrial Union Council and from membership in that body. Quill says that he will ask the New York local of the TWU to leave the Council. The Council is controlled by Stalinists. The chief executive officer of the Council is its secretary, Saul Mills, an old-time Stalinist.

It is anybody’s guess as to the reasons why Quill has broken with the Stalinists. He is a first-rate opportunist and probably believes that Murray is a safer leader to follow than Foster and Dennis. It would be difficult to convince anyone except the most credulous that any considerations of principle are connected with Quill’s break with Moscow. It would be interesting to know whether or not Monsignor Sheen has been having any conversations with Quill.

Quill attempts to maintain his “independence” by holding on to his support of Wallace which he accepted when the Stalinists came out in support of the Wallace candidacy. As is his custom, however, he leaves the back door open so that he can slip out on Wallace if later he feels it expedient. He is quoted as saying that he favored Wallace among the candidates now in sight.

He will consider supporting the Democratic Party should it nominate “a man of the type of Eisenhower.” He also wants the Democrats to change their domestic and foreign policies. In order to get Quill’s support the Democrats also must get back to the Roosevelt foreign policies. The Stalinists also want the Democrats to get back to Roosevelt’s foreign policies. If that should happen they too will support the Democrats. There is no break here between Quill and the Stalinists. Quill wants the U.S. to remain at peace but he is against “peace at any price.” He believes in “peace with honor.” Mike didn’t say how he stands on the Woodrow Wilson slogan of “peace without victory,” nor did he repeat any of his phrases of an earlier day about “the peace-loving nations getting together for collective security.”

One thing is clear, Mike is getting in out of the rain. His new slogan is: “Keep dry with Murray.” Quill does not want to touch Saul Mills with a forty-foot pole. He will not even go to a meeting called by Mills. From now on out he is a solid Murray man.

The Stalinists are not quite certain yet what they should call Quill but they are working up to their usual steam ... “war-monger,” etc. Their Daily Worker reports that in his letter of resignation sent to Murray, Quill wrote that “a group of strange people within the CIO Council were splitting the unity of the CIO.” They call Quill an opportunist and feel that that will do while something better is being devised. They also suspect that Quill resigned because a fight for higher wages will bring him into conflict with “certain political forces in the Democratic Party.”

We point out that Quill’s break with the Stalinists is certainly not up to the level of Joe Curran’s break. Curran didn’t talk about “strange people.” He called the Stalinists by their names and opened a real fight against them. Curran supports Murray also but he hasn’t gone in for any bootlicking. We’ll wait a while and see where Quill shows up next.

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