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SWP Election Tour

Humphrey and Labor

(17 January 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 3, 17 January 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Minnesota militants read Arthur Naftalin’s article on Senator Hubert Humphrey in the Jan. 1 New Leader with a jaundiced eye. They do not find themselves in agreement with Professor Naftalin’s confident conclusion that Senator Humphrey has the Minnesota labor movement in his vest pocket.

Not that the former secretary to Mayor Humphrey and the present Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota says it just that way! Professor Naftalin puts it in far more academic language, to be sure:

“The labor leadership is bringing to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party activity a strong feeling of identification with the welfare of a great rank-and-file, and the labor leaders have demonstrated an attentive, conscientious interest in the future progress of the entire liberal movement.”

But weeks before Naftalin’s article appeared in the New Leader, Minneapolis “great rank-and-file” of the labor movement demonstrated their devotion to the “future of the entire liberal movement” by decisively repudiating the so-called charter reform plan advocated by Humphrey, Naftalin and their followers.

Despite the earnest pleas of members of the United Labor Committee in Opposition to the Proposed Charter, Humphrey went on the radio several times to call for support of a new and more undemocratic city charter. The Minneapolis labor movement fought back! Leaflets, billboards and other propaganda agencies blazoned out labor’s opposition to the new charter:

“The new charter permits sales taxes on the necessities of life ...”

“Labor opposes the proposed new charter because one man (The Mayor) would make appointments to the Park Board, the Library Board, City Treasurer’s office and City Comptroller’s office.”

“Under the present charter, the Mayor is elected for two years. If the Mayor should turn out to be a strike-breaker, labor could undoubtedly defeat him the next time he came up for ejection. Under the new charter, the Mayor who has the police power at his disposal, holds office for four years and could continue to break strikes for four years before we could remove him.”

With these and similar working class arguments against the charter, Humphrey and the “liberals” were defeated in the special Minneapolis charter election. Here is the way Minneapolis Labor, the state CIO paper, summed it up:

“Buried under a deluge of labor votes, the proposed city charter went down to resounding defeat in the special election Dec. 6. The tally was 39,459 for the change; 54,378 against.

“‘It is a wonderful victory for labor,’ said Robert I. Wishart, president of the Hennepin County CIO. Council and one of the outstanding opponents; ‘Labor was 98 percent opposed to the new charter’.”

On the night of the charter election, Senator-elect Humphrey was honored at a special banquet by Minnesota’s “civic-minded” citizens. But trade union renresentatives stayed away in droves!

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