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New Jersey C.I.O. Calls For Unity

Convention Draws Plans for Anti-Hague Fight

(October 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 45, 15 October 1938, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

NEWARK, N.J. – A strong desire for unity with the A.F. of L. was the outstanding sentiment at the two-day convention of C.I.O. unions here that set up a state-council.

A spirited demonstration followed the unanimous approval of a resolution calling for unity, and the delegates instructed the newly-formed state executive committee to attempt to coordinate the activities of the C.I.O., the A.F. of L., and the railroad brotherhoods in the state.

Plan Fight on Hague

The fight against Mayor Hague was another main theme of the convention. The Steel lodges introduced a very good resolution on how to struggle properly against the Hague machine. It emphasized the need for more independent action and self-reliance by the labor movement. The struggle against Hague was a major topic in Carney’s report to the convention. These ideas were embodied in a recommendation to the incoming executive board.

The confidence of the workers in the battle to organize Jersey City, Hague’s strong-hold, was strikingly revealed in the action to hold the next convention in that city.

W.J. Carney, New Jersey C.I.O. director, was unanimously elected president of the state organization.

Using the provision that all international unions at the convention be represented on the executive board, the Stalinists were able to pack a majority on that body through inclusion of men from unions like the architects, office workers etc. However, the executive officers are nearly all non-Stalinist.

Real power in the new set-up is the Hillman group from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, and the national C.I.O. through W.J. Carney.

The main line of division in the convention came over the question of either appointing or electing an executive secretary who will naturally head the work of the state organization.

A bloc between the progressive steel workers and the delegates from the Dyers Federation ably led by Joseph Knapick, their president, fought for election of that officer. The Stalinists wanted appointment since they hoped to squeeze in Len Goldsmith, of the Newspaper Guild, who had acted as convention secretary. The Amalgamated delegates wanted appointment because they know that Hillman has a candidate in mind.

Force Apology

After a stupid and provocative speech by Al Barkin, Stalinist from the textile workers, that turned the convention into an uproar when he hinted that the steel-dyers bloc was using “Hague arguments about democracy,” quiet was restored and a good discussion followed with a majority voting for appointment. The Stalinist was forced to apologize. It remains to be seen if a qualified unionist will obtain the post or if the Stalinists will put in a stooge.

Although two unions presented resolutions calling for the transformation of Labor’s Non-Partisan League into a Labor party now, parliamentary rules were used to break off serious discussion and a resolution endorsing the present League policy passed by a large majority.

Discuss War Question

Lengthiest discussion came on the war question. The resolutions committee recommended a Stalinist “Endorse the Kellogg-Peace pact” resolution. Two unions introduced an anti-imperialist war resolution that also called for a popular referendum on war.

Attempts of the Stalinists to heckle and boo the opposition were quickly stopped by Carney who insisted on democratic discussion, and debate followed. The Stalinists had a large majority in the vote.

Soon after the convention opened and a progressive delegate fought against a Stalinist measure, the credentials committee, under their guidance, voted to unseat him. The bloc of steel and dyers delegates along with all other non-Stalinists got ready to expose this maneuver if the credentials committee went through with its plan, so Carney and other top C.I.O. officials squelched the C.P. move.

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