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Burke Cochran

Dillon to Pack Convention of Auto Workers

Faker ‘Somewhere in the West’ Organizing Sky Blue Locals

(August 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 35, 24 August 1935, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

TOLEDO, Ohio, Aug. 19. – Dillon and. Co. are girding their loins for the convention of the automobile workers to be held in Detroit, Aug. 26–31. The usually quiet office of Dillon at the Hoffman Building is bustling with activity. Dillon himself is reported to be “somewhere in the middle west.” We are informed he will visit Cincinnati, various points in Wisconsin and also St. Louis.

The pleasant news is also released that in the last few weeks the American Federation of Labor has granted charters to two “large” locals in Detroit, while a third “large” local has applied for a charter and will receive one in time to participate in the convention. This spirited campaign of organization has not been confined to Detroit alone. Several cities in Wisconsin, in South Bend, Richmond, Ind., Waukegan, Ill., Cleveland, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Mich., Birmingham, Ala., etc. etc. have had new locals formed recently.

Toledo, because of the successful battles waged at Auto-Lite and the Chevrolet plants, has developed a comparatively strong and large progressive group, out to challenge the rotten “leadership” of Dillon. Toledo has therefore become in a certain sense the beacon light for the automobile workers throughout the country. Therefore the Toledo progressives had to be kept out of Detroit at all costs. Therefore even the discredited former business agent of the Toledo federal local 18394 was used by the executive board to put through a motion to have convention delegates hand-picked by the executive board. The president of the union refuses to allow any democratic discussion on the floor; all motions are ruled out of order; the convention call is not even read and twenty cops are stationed at the entrance of the union hall to terrorize the membership and to prevent any distribution of the progressive program.

The Flint Buick local, it will be recalled, wanted to strike in solidarity with Toledo, during the Chevrolet strike. Dillon had a pretty hard time keeping them out of the fight. It was rumored that some progressives were gaining influence in the Flint local. Therefore one of the militants, Killinger, is brought up on charges by Dillon. The executive committee drops the charges; Dillon proceeds to read him out of the union. No troublemakers from Flint must be permitted to disturb the convention at Detroit.

Labor Skates “Not Interested”

The progressives are demanding an International union with full jurisdiction over all who work in or around automobile or automobile parts plants. This program is popular with the membership. It corresponds to their interests. The petrified officialdom at Atlantic City, however, have more important matters to worry about than the demands and needs of the automobile workers. These “labor leaders” have their own vested interests to look after. That is why Dillon is so busy “somewhere in the middle West.” That is why the American Federation of Labor is granting charters so hastily to newly organized “large” locals.

Most of the federal unions of the United Automobile Workers are, as is well known, in bad shape. Every attempt at organization has been deliberately sabotaged by the Dillon office. It is becoming increasingly clear why the convention was called at this time, and why a convention of the rubber unions will be called next month. The executive council felt that today they are still strong enough to place their heavy hands around the throat of an automobile International; if they waited, things would perhaps get out of hand.

Obviously they are not leaving things to chance. The Dillon machine is working full steam ahead. The credentials committee will probably be able to report quite a few “large” locals formed “somewhere in the middle west” and receiving charters just in time to participate at the Detroit convention.

The progressives are making preparations to fight any steamrolling tactics of a corrupt bureaucracy. Their forces are probably still too weak to dominate the convention, but they have been effectively innoculated’ against the “virus” of quitting mass unions, because their leaders betray them. They are planning to enlarge their numbers, and strengthen their ranks for the inevitable battles of the future.

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