B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

B.J. Widick

In the Labor Unions

(2 June 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 38, 2 June 1939, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Ohio Federation of Teachers, affiliated with the A.F. of L., recently held its state convention. In contrast to other localities, the Ohio Federation reported considerable organizational progress.

M.J. Ecke, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio Federation, reported that the past year was the most successful year of the Federation since its organization in 1934.

Gains were made in membership, affiliation of new locals with the Federation and the organization of new locals in the state of Ohio. Then new locals were organized in the past year, bringing the total to twenty-six for the state, of which eighteen are affiliated with the state organization.

Despite undisguised pressure of Ohio State Federation of Labor officials, the convention went on record against any changes in the Wagner Act.

One state official openly told delegates, “If you don’t go along with us (amend the Wagner Act) we’ll withdraw support from your organization.” After a motion to table the resolution defending the Wagner Act was defeated 19 to 61, the convention voted 68 to 13 to oppose any amendments to the Wagner Act.

For Labor Unity

A call to the national A.F. of L. to submit a national referendum on the question of unity between the C.I.O. and the A.F. of L. was also made by the convention.

The referendum would be on two questions:

“Shall a department for industrial unionism be set up within the A.F. of L.”

“Shall all bona-fide labor unions, not now affiliated, be invited to affiliate with the A.F. of L., on exactly the same terms, and to enjoy the same rights, benefits and cooperation in the Federation as the unions now members of the same.”

A blast at all the anti-alien bills pending before Congress was made in a special resolution which condemned the vicious persecution of minorities embodied in those bills.

All Stalinist-supported candidates lost in the elections. E. Glenn Baxter of Elyria was chosen president, George Hammersmith of Toledo, vice president, Eugenia Couden of Cleveland, recording secretary, and Paul Parker of Springfield, sergeant of arms. Ecke was re-elected to his post of secretary-treasurer.

Trainmen Meet

Another convention in Ohio has a different character – the quadrennial convention of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen. While thousands of railroad workers are walking the streets, 975 delegates are leisurely going through a convention that is expected to last at least two months!

What a convention! All sessions are closed. Anyone talking to a newspaperman is subject to expulsion. But despite these steps to keep absolute silence over his moves, President A.F. Whitney is having a little trouble.

There seems to have been a falling out between Whitney and George Anderson, secretary-treasurer. Anderson published a small pamphlet, charging the Whitney administration with exorbitant expenditure of union funds. He claims that expenditures increased $990,000 during the past ten years, compared to a previous period. He also said that a close friend of Whitney’s who handles the union insurance business, got nearly half a million dollars in commissions.

When part of this pamphlet was reprinted by a Cleveland newspaper, Whitney, instead of replying to the accusations, threatened to take the convention to another city where the press would be more favorably inclined to him.

Later on Whitney declared that the increase in the union revenue by $10,000,000 in the past ten years justified the increased expenditures because the union had grown from 57,000 to 123,000.

Whitney can scarcely blame the rank and file of his union for being very suspicious of any explanations in view of the dictatorial control he holds over the convention and its proceedings. Anderson, for example, got the axe because of his opposition to Whitney.

B.J. Widick Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 January 2016