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Carl Cowl

Unemployment in Minneapolis

(May 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 19, 10 May 1930, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

MINNEAPOLIS – Twelve thousand people jammed the Minneapolis Municipal Auditorium and five thousand more were turned away from the monster unemployment protest meeting called April 23rd by the Organization and Education Committee of the Central Labor Union.

Unemployment Severe

This turnout proves positively the deep-growing inroads unemployment has made into the lives of Minneapolis workers and demonstrates how they will respond to a [call] to aid themselves during the present crisis in industry. The railroads are putting into effect a 15% reduction in payroll. The building trades see no great pickup in spring building. Layoff, speedup, and wage-cuts are the order of the day. Only the Ford plant seems to be running full blast with 3,300 men, but they also are planning a short season. All conditions were excellent for a packed meeting. The Auditorium was donated by the City Council. Floyd B. Olson, the Farmer-Labor Candidate for governor was the big drawing card. Walter Frank, R.D. Cramer and other labor officials scheduled to speak, Eddie Dunsteder, the theatre organist; and the Kiddie Review, to amuse the crowd.

The stage was set. Amplifiers broadcasted the speeches to every corner of the building. Thousands roamed the corridors trying to sneak in against the Fire Marshall’s orders. Yet with all these favorable circumstances the meeting lacked spirit. The speakers quibbled and hedged with the main problems ... the chain store hokum was stressed ... buy union label card goods and solve unemployment ... vote tor Floyd B. Olson for governor: Labor’s friend. Walter Frank’s attempt at a real analysis was weak and lacked any concrete proposals for the solution of unemployment, which the workers could profit from.

It is not surprising that over one half the audience dribbled out before the main speaker got the floor. The reason was obvious: No program was laid down to combat and abolish unemployment. Workers know and no spellbinders can convince them otherwise, that the union label hocus-pocus is no solution for unemployment) or any other big problem of the labor movement. Frank’s vague reference to an “industrial and political democracy” which he somehow picked up in his brief stay in the Communist movement is a cheap “socialist” fig-leaf concealing his seat on the Olson bandwagon.

Cramer Has Ross Pinched

And behind the scenes what do we find? We find a connivance with the police to prevent a real message getting to the workers. The only piece of literature on unemployment distributed at that meeting was put out by the Communist League. R.E. Cramer, editor of the Labor Review, who apparently has influence at police headquarters ordered the literature banned. The cops led us a merry chase and finally arrested Joe Ross who is a member of Cramer’s own local, and well known for his activity in the Brooks Parlor Furniture strike. Cramer claims that these leaflets were likely to disrupt the meeting. This proves Cramer’s lack of faith and hypocritical disbelief in his own program—or lack of it. Eight thousand of the leaflets were distributed.

It should be noted that the Communist Party in line with its latest tactics “boycotted” this mass meeting of workers as “social-fascist” and went off to talk to itself on Bridge Square about the Communist duty to go to the masses.

The success and fine spirit of the May Day meeting held by the Communist League proved the correctness of our program of working among the masses of workers.

The May Day parade, what it lacked in numbers, made up in spirit and the “Trotskyites” contributed most of the spirit. We introduced the singing of revolutionary songs on the line of march.

The terms “counter-revolutionary” and “renegade which so sneeringly rolls off the tongues of Party bureaucrats these days ring rather hollow and stir resentment in the hearts of non-Party workers, who on revolutionary holidays like May 1st want to see unity of Communist forces before the masters.

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