Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Rod Such

Communists meet to discuss labor

First Published: The Guardian, December 5, 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Over 250 activists in the labor movement last week attended a conference on labor work here sponsored by the October League (OL), a communist organization.

The activists represented nearly every major industry and region in the U.S. and reflected the growing numbers of people involved in the new communist movement, as well as their increasing ties to the working class. Particularly heavy representation came from the South. Over 25 percent of the participants were from the oppressed nationalities.

In addition to October League members, representatives of 15 other organizations, mainly Black, Chicano and Latin groups and ranging in political perspective from Marxist-Leninist to Pan-Africanist, also took part in the conference, the second sponsored by the OL in the last two years. Representatives of the Revolutionary Student Movement of Quebec, a group of Haitian workers based in Montreal and a spokesman for the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which is leading the armed struggle in white-ruled Rhodesia, also attended.

A particular focus of the conference and the theme running throughout its various speeches, workshops and panel discussions was the necessity of forging an alliance between the general workers’ movement and the movement of the oppressed nationalities in the U.S. and uniting the working class. “Proletarian internationalism is the cornerstone of our work in the labor movement,” said OL chairman Michael Klonsky in a brief interview.

Klonsky, in a speech on “The current crisis and the tasks of communists,” also announced the OL’s support for the mass movement to oust President Nixon, apparently putting forth the slogan “Dump Nixon, stem the fascist tide.” Klonsky said the growing sentiment for Nixon’s impeachment was “the concentrated expression of the masses’ attitude towards Nixon’s fascist offensive,” as reflected in the threat to outlaw strikes, the creation of Nixon’s secret police, the imposition of wage controls and other attempts to crush the labor movement. He said communists “cannot stand on the sidelines” but must enter this mass movement and raise the political as well as the economic issues involved.

The OL is the second of the new communist organizations to take a position in support of the movement to oust Nixon. Earlier, the Revolutionary Union, in its newspaper, Revolution, also warned of the fascist danger represented by the Nixon presidency, adopting the slogan, “Throw the bum out, organize to fight.”


The principal speeches at the conference, in addition to Klonsky’s, were made by Odis Hyde, a veteran communist and activist in the labor movement and Sherman Miller, an OL member who played a leading role in the Mead wildcat strike in Atlanta, Ga.

Hyde gave a historical overview of the U.S. labor movement and the key role of the Black liberation struggle. Hyde said the Communist party’s strategy of “fighting racism as the way of uniting the working class was key to organizing the CIO unions” in the 1930s.

Miller, in his speech, said the “primary obstacle to moving the working class forward is national chauvinism and racism.” He cited a growing trend toward working class unity due to the leading role in labor struggles of workers from the oppressed nationalities and he warned that the bourgeoisie was using its labor lieutenants to form a “fascist labor front” to put a stranglehold on this movement. Miller blasted today’s Communist party for its “revisionist strategy” of maintaining that “national oppression can be eliminated under the framework of the Constitution and peaceful transition” but said that the main danger within the new communist forces was “ultra-leftism.”

The conference heard reports on the recently concluded Oneita textile strike and the strike by pulpwood workers in the Deep South and on the ongoing strikes and support activities for the United Farm Workers and the Farah strikers. In addition there were panel discussions on “Organizing the women” and workshops on union caucuses, organizing the unorganized, strike tactics and support work, the struggle against the labor aristocracy and the current situation in the steel, auto, textile, electrical and food industries.