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The Militant, 6 April 1946

Art Sharon

Stalinist Record Shows Who Served
Shipowners Throughout the War

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 14, 6 April 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


A recent series of articles on the CIO National Maritime Union by Stalinist hatchetman George Morris, Daily Worker, March 20, 21, 22, has been greeted with wide indignation inside the NMU.

Morris’ articles, obviously written in dose collaboration with the top Stalinist spokesman inside the NMU, Vice-President Frederick (Blackie) Meyers, deliberately sanears the opposition led by NMU President Joseph Curran, as “agents of the shipowners.”

Making up by invention and slander what they lack in truth, the Morris articles leave no doubt that the Stalinist machine now under attack in the NMU is preparing to do a job on its opponents.

Curran’s recent partial exposure of the stalinist machine’s crimes inside the NMU has thus far been heard by only a tiny minority of the union as the Stalinists have successfully kept it from the general membership.

Belated Tale

When Morris writes: “The same disrupters who tried to mar the union’s war record in 1944 with an effort to precipitate a general strike at the crucial point of the war are now trying to minimise the union’s wartime achievements,” he is writing of an episode that the membership only learns about now with surprise.

In 1944 the War Labor Board handed down a decision which gave the union exactly nothing but which was nevertheless hailed as a great victory by the entire leadership led by the Stalinists.

Inside the NMU leadership, however, some were dubious about accepting the decision. Those who didn’t follow the Stalinist line on the WLB decision Inside thb National Council were systematically slandered mid eventually some were forced -out of office. Curran revealed that the Stalinist machine tolerated no opposition to the WLB order and virtually jammed it down the throat of the Union.

The membership learned about this only a year and half later when those in opposition to the Stalinist machine saw fit to tell the inside story.

Skirts Issue

Carefully avoiding any answer to Curran’s charges against the Stalinist machine, Morris only refers to “petty differences or irritable matters which always exist; in an organization” and which are being “cunningly exploited.”

The current fight to loosen the stranglehold of the Stalinists upon the union is labeled by Morris as “deliberately inspired confusion peddled by agents of the shipowners and their collaborators.”

Who are the real friends of the shipowners Inside the NMU? A took at the record for the past five years will demonstrate that paid agents of the shipowners could hardly have created more .confusion in the interest of the shipowners than did the reactionary Stalinist leadership of the NMU.

It was the Stalinist machine that attempted to scuttle the union hiring hall, the very heart of the NMU.

They did their utmost to secure a joint shipping pool of all unions, the War Shipping Administration, the Army Transportation Corps, and the unorganized shipping lines, which they painted up as necessary in the interest of “national unity.” Had they been successful it would have meant bringing back the conditions of the old U.S. Shipping Board pool that proved so disastrous to the seamen in World War I.

Try to Cover Up

Now, to repair its shattered reputation, the Stalinist machine is attempting to appear as the most militant defender of the union against the shipowners. But, as the following facts demonstrate, it was the Stalinists who led the NMU overboard in a whooped-up program of collaboration with and confidence in the shipowners.

Utilizing the streamlined education and propaganda apparatus of the union, they left no stone unturned to reach every member of the union With the new message of NMU-Shipowner Collaboration.

At the NMU “Leadership School” the new young members of the union were taught a brand of capital-labor collaboration that made Old-time capital-labor peace advocates sound like wild radicals.

The central theme of the school was that “strikes were out forever.” Danny Boano, Stalinist teacher at the school, in one of his typical “lessons” to the young students taught that “when the seamen strike, the shipowner has all his money tied up, his ships are tied Up and the foreign governments are screaming for their goods. And if we seamen don’t deliver these goods foreign seamen will. Then where are we? We’re on a picket line. The shipowner loses his contract, his dough is all tied up. And then where Will we ever get the $200 a month we want for ABs?”

This propaganda program so pleased the shipowners that after a visit to the school, Basil Harris, America’s leading shipowner, promised to send his Port Captains and agents to attend its sessions.

Collier’s Magazine in a leading editorial entitled NMU Sees the Light, hailed the new program as the answer to strikes.

Now that the NMU is preparing to take a strike vote against the arrogant shipowners who threaten to smash the union, the NMU membership has an opportunity to draw the balance sheet and decide who were the real friends of the shipowners.

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