Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Plant organizers meet in Atlanta

First Published: The Guardian, December 13, 1972.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A national conference of communist organizers representing many groups and collectives from around the country was held here over Thanksgiving weekend.

A hundred delegates from groups working in auto, steel, rubber and other basic industries, listened to presentations from participants in some of the major labor struggles taking place in the country and took part in workshops on “organizing the rank-and-file caucus,” “agitation and propaganda,” “the national question in the plant” and “work with women workers.”

The conference, sponsored by the October League, a national Marxist-Leninist organization, heard presentations by Odis Hyde, a black veteran communist organizer with more than 40 years of organizing experience; Don Williams, a leader of the Black Workers Congress (BWC), and Sherman Miller, chairman of the Mead Caucus of Rank-and-File Workers in Atlanta.

Hyde spoke on the role of the black workers in the black liberation movement. He pointed out the historical necessity for the black workers to move to the forefront of the movement as well as the need for black-white unity.

Williams gave a presentation on the tactics of in-plant organizing. He stressed the need to base tactics on the concrete conditions within the plant and called for the development of left rank-and-file organizations, similar to those like DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement) which was organized by black organizers during the 1960s. A proposal supporting the development of such organizations, named “Solidarity Committees” was adopted by the conference.

Miller, a leader of the seven-week Mead wildcat strike in Atlanta, summed up the lessons of the strike, stressing the need to work among white workers and for communists to integrate into the day to day struggles of the masses of workers and not simply to try and win the “two or three advanced people in the plant through discussions only.”

A film about the strike, “Strike at Mead,” was shown along with Miller’s speech. The film, made entirely from live footage of the Mead struggle, showed the political character of the strike and the role that communists played in it. The film also demonstrated the unity of the workers’ struggle with that of the national movement of the Afro-American people, especially in the South.

Statements were drafted out of the workshops which unified the delegates around the special need to bring women workers into the struggle and to oppose the male supremacist policies of the capitalists in the plants. The conference also found a common approach for building unity among black and white workers through the day to day struggle. The special need for white communists to work among the white workers and’ oppose “great nation chauvinism” and the special need for minority communists to wage the struggle against narrow nationalism was also stressed.

The conference also found unity on the need to build a multi-national communist party. Pointing out the CPUSA’s abandonment of the rank-and-file workers’ movement, especially that of the black workers, speaker after speaker pointed out that without a communist party, the “workers have nothing.”

One significant thing about the conference was that it enabled communists from various groups to discuss the question of communist unity and party-building from the standpoint of practice and concrete work done among the workers and minorities, rather than simply on the basis of abstract principles. The fight against dogmatism and sectarianism were the main themes running through the meeting.