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E.R. Frank

A Letter to the Lovestone Group

Proposing Effective Labor Action
Against the Coughlinite Menace

(July 1939)


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 56, 4 August 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Independent Labor League (Lovestonites), through its New York District Organizer, D. Benjamin, recently communicated with the New York District of the Socialist Workers Party suggesting joint street meetings held on selected corners, against the growing Coughlin menace. Below we publish the reply of E.R. Frank, secretary of the New York District S.W.P.:

* * *

July 25, 1939

D. Benjamin,
New York District Organizer,
Independent Labor League of America,
131 West 33rd Street,
New York, N.Y.

Dear Comrade:

We regret the delay in replying to your letter of June 26. The press of work connected with our Anti-War Convention interfered with a prompt reply to your communication.

We fully agree that the Coughlin movement, like the rising fascist movements in general, constitutes an acute and immediate menace to all labor organizations. Wherever any Coughlinite hoodlums have been disturbing or threatening meetings of any labor organizations, our Party is ready, for its part, to cooperate to the fullest extent in protecting such meetings.

An Effective Means

However, it is our conviction that the Coughlinite and, in general, the fascist movement, can be effectively counteracted only by the militant, organized action of the unions themselves.

The fascists have demonstrated to the hilt that they mean business, and Labor can meet the menace they represent only if it means business. By that we understand the mobilizing of the most devoted and militant elements in the trade unions into Union Defense Guards. Several union organizations in Ohio, Minnesota and elsewhere have already initiated the establishment of such Guards and with excellent effect from every standpoint.

As you are aware, the proposal to form such Union Defense Guards is now being widely discussed in the more advanced sections of the labor movement in New York, particularly among members of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. Were one or more Locals of this powerful Union to endorse and organize a genuine Union Defense Guard, it would constitute a great step forward in the struggle against Fascism.

Zimmerman Support Asked

We consider highly desirable cooperation among all elements looking toward such a goal. It would be especially desirable, in our opinion, if so prominent a leader of the I.L.G.W.U. as Vice-President Zimmerman, a member of your organization, were to give his support to the proposal in question.

We are interested in hearing from you on the matters raised in this letter.


E.R. Frank,
New York District,
Socialist Workers Party

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