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B.J. Widick

Akron Labor Defense Hit by Stalinists

C.P. Press Calls United C.I.O.-A.F.L. Committee ‘Trotskyist Plot’

(July 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 27, 2 July 1938, pp. 2 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AKRON, O. – A vicious campaign that can endanger the unity of the Akron labor movement and destroy the militant traditions of the United Rubber Workers of America was opened here last week by the Communist Party following its inability to curb the resurgence of progressive union policies that have revived and strengthened the union movement during and since the Goodyear strike.

The rule or ruin policy of the Stalinists was outlined in the June 18 issue of the Midwest Daily Record, official C.P. paper, by James Keller, Akron Stalinist organizer.

Confronted by the unanimous approval of every action of the United Labor Defense Committee (C.I.O. and A.F.L.), during the recent strike, the Stalinists haven’t dared attack it openly.

Launch Sniping Attack

Instead, they have launched a sniping attack by “blaming” only the A.F.L. leaders in the committee for the “provocative” stand Akron labor took in warning the mayor and police that further violence would not be tolerated.

“Trotskyism!” cried the Stalinist spokesmen, when the Akron labor movement sought to defend its picketing rights and civil liberties in an emergency.

“Trotskyism!” Keller yelped at militants for their outstanding work in the Goodyear situation, hoping thus to terrorize them with his crude red scare.

The Midwest Daily Record criticized the marvelous mass meeting which protested police brutality. It termed the militant speeches given by C.I.O. and A.F.L. officials “ill advised and thoughtless,” claiming them given because of “pressure of the Trotskyites who raised the slogan: Meet force with force – organize squads for labor defense.”

Seek to Wreck Defense

In their frantic efforts to quell militant action, the Stalinists saw in the fine solidarity of the A.F.L. and C.I.O. only “a bid of the Trotskyites for leadership.”

Unable to dictate the policies of the United Labor Defense Committee, the Stalinists seek to wreck it by playing off the A.F.L. against the C.I.O.

The Stalinist program for Akron in essence is: Repudiate the good work of the Defense Committee in the Goodyear strike; exclude all unionists who refuse to take orders and therefore are called Trotskyites; forget the lessons of the Goodyear strikes; and substitute class collaboration for the building of strong, progressive unions.

Fearful of alienating the labor movement, Keller is forced to praise some of the actions during the strike, namely the radio publicity, the frequent strategy board meetings and the calling of a special Goodyear meeting.

These actions, he calls “non-Trotskyite” policies when, as a matter of fact, these policies were adopted unanimously by the Defense Committee, which Keller claims was dominated by the “Trotskyites.”

Record of Militants

After declaring the Trotskyites were responsible for all actions leading to the settlement, and thereby confessing the weaknesses of the Stalinists, Keller tries to save face by claiming the Trotskyites “were badly whipped.”

Unfortunately for Keller’s position, Akron militants know that the so-called Trotskyites pressed hard for A.F.L.-C.I.O. unity for a favorable settlement of the strike; and that they were extremely active in helping the Akron labor movement to achieve these progressive aims.

It is highly significant that the Keller article has not yet been distributed in Akron, because the C.P. fears that the openly reactionary policies expressed in the Midwest Daily Record would further expose them.

Meanwhile, the Akron labor movement is warned and prepared against further attacks on its militancy under the guise of attacks on “Trotskyism.”

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