First Published: In Struggle! No. 177, October 23, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Immediately after Cape Breton miners voted to accept the third contract proposed to them, Bill Marsh, president of United Mineworkers’ District 26, spoke to the media and charged that IN STRUGGLE! leaflets had been outside interference. He declared that he was going to launch an Investigation of our Organization and that he was going to come after it.
The next day, IN STRUGGLE! held a press conference in a hotel in Sydney to which all the media in Cape breton (the three radio stations, the two TV stations and the newspapers) came. We publish here excerpts from IN STRUGGLE!’s statement at this conference.
What are Marsh’s charges and threats?
1) That the leaflets were by an unnamed communist group and that the leaflets contained no names.
This is a ludicrous charge! Both of the attached leaflets clearly identify the full name of our Organization, our Cape Breton address, and the dates of the leaflets. This is a not-so-subtle attempt to try and make people believe that IN STRUGGLE! is conducting a clandestine campaign of infiltration and that we are somehow ashamed of owning up, by name, to our views.
2) The leaflets are “outside Interference”.
Perhaps we should give Bill Marsh a little history lesson on the development of the UMW in Cape Breton. The UMW in Cape Breton was founded and built here directly through the untiring efforts of communists, such as J.B. McLachlan, and other militant workers. There has long been a current of interest and support for socialist and communist ideas in the Cape Breton coal fields. It was thus not it all surprising that there was eager interest among many DEVCO workers to read a communist leaflet on the contract.
Bill Marsh is so concerned about “outside interference” in the trade-union movement, we have a lot of important issues for him to take up, starting with the interference – indeed, the ever increasing policies of repression – being organized by the State against the Canadian trade-union movement.
What about the absence of local control and democracy within the international UMW Itself? Is it not blatant interference in a possible strike situation when, according to Marsh, the International UMW would not have paid a cent in strike pay if Cape Breton miners had decided to strike? IN STRUGGLE! is not alone in asking questions about this.
3) Marsh says he plans to “launch an investigation” of this communist group”. He says, “We are going to go after those fellows”.
As far this so-called “investigation”, if Marsh and Co. send $5 to our Cape Breton address, we will send him copies of our various publications – our weekly newspaper, our Programme and Constitution, and the documents from the last Congress of the Organization. They set out clearly what we stand for.
These latest attacks by Marsh must be denounced. Bill Marsh said to the press that he would meet these communists “anywhere, any place, any time” to talk about the leaflets. IN STRUGGLE! is, thus proposing that a public meeting be organized soon in Glace Bay to debate the various questions involved. The meeting would elect a neutral chairperson, and then Marsh would have an opportunity to make his charges and threats publicly. An IN STRUGGLE! spokesperson would have the chance to reply. The assembled audience could then ask questions and make statements.
As well, our Organization will be sending out a letter to all UMW locals in Cape Breton requesting that we be invited to attend an upcoming local meeting. If rank-and-file UMW members have criticisms or comments on our two leaflets, we would like an opportunity to hear these comments first-hand and reply to them.