Joseph Hansen

United May Day Group Meets

Police Refuse Committee’s Line of March;
SWP Delegates Seated Only as Observers

(March 1941)

Source: From The Militant, Vol. V No. 14, 5 April 1941, p. 2.
Transcription/Editing/HTML Markup: 2015 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2015. This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

New York City, March 28. – Plans for a united May Day parade were presented to representatives of trade unions and other labor organizations today at a conference in Webster Hall, called by a self-constituted Provisional May Day Committee. The conference passed a resolution to make this committee permanent, with Louis Weinstock, secretary-treasurer of District Council 9 of the Painters, as Chairman, and Harry Weinstcck as Director.

The credentials committee declared that the 216 delegates present represented 60 organizations, 75 of the delegates representing 43 local trade union bodies with a membership of 148,375. Most of these organizations were among those which are generally recognized in the labor movement as led by Stalinist leaders and allies: IWO, Painters, Furriers, Shoe Workers, Pocket Book Makers, etc. etc.

The credentials committee recognized and seated as delegates all the representatives present with the exception of Arthur Burch and Joseph Hansen of the Socialist Workers Party, Local New York. The reporter of the credentials committee declared that this delegation was challenged, on the ground that no invitations has been issued to political parties to participate in the May Day parade.

The representatives of the Socialist Workers Party were invited to remain as observers pending a decision by the permanent May Day committee as to whether or not political organizations of the working class will be invited to participate in the May Day parade.

Police Are Hostile

Harry Weinstock, who is in charge of the organizational details, reported that negotiations with the police for a permit to parade down Fifth Avenue into Union Square had been highly unsatisfactory.

The police at first wished to shunt the parade down Ninth Avenue, which is close to the Hudson river. They later conceded moving it to Eighth Avenue, which is a block closer to Fifth Avenue, the traditional street for parades.

The conference passed a unanimous resolution asking all working class organizations to telegraph Police Commissioner Valentine protesting his arbitrary and undemocratic attempt to detour the May Day parade.

First speaker at the conference was Louis Weinstock, who attacked British, German, and American imperialism without suggesting any program whatsoever as a real alternative to the war plans of the capitalist class. He ended his speech with such purely pacifist and highly misleading slogans as “The Yanks Are Not Coming.”

Featured speaker was Reverend Clarence A. Boyer of the Madison Square Church House. He delivered a sermon on the virtues of peace which could have graced any pulpit in any chapel of any denomination at any time up to the day the professional pulpiteers trade in their “peace is wonderful” theme for a list of army-approved recruiting slogans.

Among the attractions at the conference was a film of last year’s May Day parade, a boys’ band and an elocutionist who spoke of the need of color and drama in May Day parades.

By the time the resolutions committee was ready to report, the greater part of the delegates had gone. A list of 45 slogans were unanimously approved as “official,” and all resolutions were unanimously left up to the resolutions committee for “appropriate’’ action.

The slogans approved were in large part purely pacifist slogans of the type which the Stalinists are now shouting, such as “Get out and Stay out of the War,” “The Yanks Are Not Coming,” “No Gold Star Mothers,” “Defend Democracy by Preserving Peace.”

Such slogans are no different from the stock in trade of professional pacifists who shout for peace only at the last moment to jump in the war chariots and call for “total victory.”

Some slogans were good, however, such as “No Jim Crow Army,” and “Defend the Right to Strike,” although the latter slogan needs as a supplement: “Organize Workers Defense Squads.”

What Is Needed

What is needed now, and especially on this historic May Day, which may well be the last one before U.S. entry in the war, is a set of militant slogans that really provide an alternative to the capitalist war.

The representatives of the Socialist Workers Party are submitting to the Resolutions Committee for consideration the following slogans, NONE of which were included in the official slogans passed by the conference:

  1. Down with Imperialist War!
  2. Defend the Soviet Union!
  3. Trade Union Control of Military Training!
  4. Build an Independent Labor Party!
  5. For a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government!
  6. For a Socialist Society!

The next meeting, of the committee is scheduled for April 19. At this meeting the committee’s decision will be announced as to whether political parties of the working class will be invited to participate in what was announced by the Provisional Committee as a “united” May Day parade.


Last updated on: 24 March 2019