Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

CPUSA in Local 2: What side are they on?

First Published: The Call, Vol. 8, No. 25, June 25, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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San Francisco – The question posed in the May 30-31 union elections of Hotel and Restaurant workers here was who would control Local 2 – the rank and file or the sellout union machine?

One group was silent before the voting, but has now gathered the courage to state which side it’s on. The revisionist Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA) has come down squarely on the side of the reactionary bureaucrats in Local 2 who managed to keep effective control of the union in the elections.

In the June 9 issue of their West Coast newspaper, People’s World, the CPUSA applauded the election of a slate headed by Charles Lamb, the bureaucrat’s man. The article described Lamb’s slate as representing the “progressive” forces and said his victory would bring “stability and unity” to the local.

The CPUSA is wrong on both counts, ignoring key facts and turning truth on its head in an effort to back up its position.

The Charles Lamb slate, Local 2 members will recall, was organized by the same international union officials who last year suspended all local rights, placing the union in trusteeship directly under their control. The international imposed the trusteeship in order to squash a rank-and-file movement that had voted out the old Joe Belardi clique, a corrupt group with ties to organized crime that had run the local for 40 years.

The pro-international Belardi clique had engineered a whole string of sell-out contracts over the years that made hotel and restaurant workers among the lowest-paid in the country. They also consistently refused to translate contracts into Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog to prevent immigrant workers, the majority of Local 2, from participating fully in union affairs.

This is the same group that also refused to organize the growing number of non-union hotel and restaurant workers in the city, presiding over the decline in Local 2 membership from 24,000 to its present 17,000.

Naturally, these policies generated tough resistance by the time of last month’s elections, so the bureaucrats had to make a few cosmetic changes. They put in a new face (Lamb was a turn-coat from last year’s reform movement) and incorporated some of the membership’s own demands on their election program.

The background of the Lamb slate, then, is hardly “progressive.” And less than 24 hours after taking office, Lamb reneged on his campaign promise to let the membership choose its business agents. He fired union officials Ricci Cornell and Ed Saam and threatened to fire several other business agents. A mass petition campaign, however, forced Lamb to rehire the two.


It would be interesting to see the People’s World comment on this.

Another People’s World lie:

The voting was not the “complete sweep” for Lamb’s forces that the CPUSA claims. He wouldn’t have won at all had not rank-and-file forces split into three slates – Workers for a Strong Union (WSU); another slate under last year’s reform president David McDonald; and the Coalition Against Trusteeship (CAT).

Together, these opposition forces rallied a great majority of the votes, and would have won all 10 executive board and all three leadership posts had they united. Even so, three rank and filers took positions.

Now about the so-called “stability and unity” that Lamb’s victory supposedly represents?

The first question is, what was the “instability” the CPUSA is so dead-set against?

It’s the membership’s stubborn struggle for a fighting and democratic union, of course. Local 2 workers fought a tough campaign against the undemocratic trusteeship and the sellout policies of the international-picked bosses of the local. Finally, their efforts were recognized by a court, which ordered the international to grant its members an election.

The CPUSA bemoans this victory for democracy. “The union had to take time out to comply with court ordered elections,” says People’s World. In other words, the local union bosses had to interrupt their dictatorship to hold an election!

Now that the election is over, what will the bureaucrats do?

“The first goal of the new administration will be to reunite this union,” Lamb told People’s World. The question is, reunite on what basis? It seems what Lamb’s forces have in mind is uniting around the same old sellout policies; the status quo with a few concessions to the rank and file.

The reasons for the CPUSA’s stand against the membership also deserve comment. One reason perhaps was the presence of genuine communists and trade union militants in the opposition slates.

But a stronger reason stems from the CPUSA’s long-standing ties with the reactionary clique that has run Local 2 historically. The revisionists were long-time backers of Belardi and opposed his removal from office.

The CPUSA also worked closely with Belardi on the San Francisco Labor Council, encouraging him to praise “detente” and other revisionist pet projects. Through this, they also hoped to ride on his clique’s coattails and expand their own power in the city’s labor movement.

The CPUSA’s revealing comments on the Local 2 elections shows that they are on a collision course with the rank and file.