James P. Cannon

Lewis “Purge” Stopped Cold

574 Heads Confident of Smashing Victory

Cannon, on the Scene, Reports Drivers Local Stronger than Ever
and the Center of the Minneapolis Labor Movement

(20 November 1935)

Written: 20 November 1935.
Published: New Militant, Vol. 1 No. 48, 23 November 1935, p. 1.
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MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 20.One doesn’t have to be here very long to learn that William Green picked the poorest spot in the country to begin his ill-fated campaign against radicalism and militancy in the A.F. of L.

Meyer Lewis, the man selected by Green to do the job here, has made such a miserable showing that his early elimination from the scene is freely predicted on all sides. The stormy reception accorded him at the Central Labor Union the other night – his first appearance before a labor body after numerous speeches before employers’ meetings, luncheons and teas – showed that he has ceased to inspire any fear even among the old-line labor leaders and has become a nuisance and a joke.

Meantime Local 574, the spearhead of progressivism and militancy, which met his red-baiting campaign with a savage counter-offensive, is still fighting, going stronger than ever and recruiting new members daily.

574 Demands Return of Charter

In a direct move to conciliate the struggle, the Central Labor Union has appointed a special committee, supplementary to its executive board and jointly with it, to negotiate with local 574. These negotiations are now in progress. In conference with the C.L.U. committee, and in a statement prepared today, the executive board of Local 574 reiterated its basic position that a fundamental settlement of the issue necessitates the restoration of its charter and the recognition of the jurisdictional rights obtaining prior to its revocation. Local 574, in its statement, showed from the record that it had not infringed on the jurisdiction of any other unions but, on the contrary, had cooperated with them in their struggles and helped to build them up. At the same time it asserted the firm determination to maintain the organization it has built at the cost of so much blood and sacrifice and to defend itself against attacks from any quarter, regardless of whether they come from the Citizens Alliance, Mayor Latimer’s police, or misleaders sowing disruption in the labor movement.

Local 574 is well-equipped for the fight. Its leaders count on victory with a superb self-confidence. The magnificent organization which went through the great strikes of 1934 with such a shining record is not fighting with its back to the wall any more. The morale of its membership, tested and hardened in heroic battles, is on the heights. Job control is more secure than ever. The authority of the leadership is undisputed. The sympathy of the rank and file of organized labor is outspokenly on the side of local 574. Unless all signs fail progressive unionism will come out of the present conflict in Minneapolis with a smashing victory which will herald the collapse of the anti-“Red” campaign on a national scale.

Next week I will provide the readers of the New Militant with a first-hand account in some detail of the present situation of local 574 and the facts in the situation which justify every militant in the labor movement in looking to the outcome of the struggle here with enthusiasm and hope.

Last updated on: 2 February 2018