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Farrell Dobbs

SWP Presidential Tour

A Week in the Twin Cities

(3 September 1948)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 37, 13 September 1948, p. 4.
Transcription & Mark-up: Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

TWIN CITIES, Sept. 3 – High point of my visit here was the large turnout of packinghouse militants at the St. Paul meeting. I welcomed the opportunity to pay tribute to them for their heroic strike struggle against the profiteering meat trust.

The CIO packinghouse workers in Minnesota set the pace for the whole union in the recent nation-wide strike. They stood their ground against court injunctions, police clubs and national guard bayonets.

They fought in the tradition of the famous Minneapolis truck drivers’ strikes of 1934, which smashed the union-busting Citizens’ Alliance and opened the road to unionization throughout the state and region.

In their ranks were a number of veterans of the 1934 battles who are now employed in the packing industry.

When Philip Murray and other CIO leaders failed to come to their aid, the packinghouse workers were starved into returning to work with only a small wage gain. But they went back with their colors flying above firm ranks.

The packinghouse workers came to hear me speak both as the presidential candidate of the Socialist Workers Party and as a leader in the 1934 Minneapolis truck drivers strike. We quickly found a meeting of minds on the need for militant union policy backed up by independent labor political action.

My appearance at the SWP election rally in Minneapolis was the occasion for a reunion of the men who built General Drivers Local 544. After the meeting, we sat up until 4 a.m. discussing the problem of smashing the Tobin dictatorship over the union.

Under Tobin’s present iron rule, the rights of the membership are ruthlessly violated, working agreements with the employers are only a poor imitation of a union contract and little is done to enforce them.

I challenged Tobin’s henchmen to meet me in a public debate on the question of democracy and general policy in the Teamsters’ Union. They didn’t dare accept the challenge. Because the only “arguments” they have are blackjacks and shady deals with the employers to fire workers who oppose them.

Rank and file resentment against Tobin and his goons is widespread. At present the militants are biding their time, preparing to seize the first chance to deal Tobin a real blow. When that opportunity comes, history will again be made in Minnesota.

I also talked with a group of railroad workers. They informed me that sentiment for independent labor political action is gaining momentum in the ranks of the rail unions.

There is much indignation among railroad workers over A.F. Whitney’s endorsement of Strikebreaker Truman.

We got in some licks in defense of James Kutcher, legless war veteran, fired by the callous bureaucrats of the Veterans’ Administration because he is a member of the Socialist Workers Party. Both in the press and over the radio this outrage has been made known to the people of Minnesota.

A former conscientious objector, whom we met in the Sandstone penitentiary, attended two of the public meetings. Then he joined the Party. At the same time, the wife of a Local 544 militant came into our ranks to stand shoulder to shoulder with her husband in the fight for socialism.

The Minnesota comrades are now squaring off for the petition campaign to put the party ticket on the ballot. You may be sure there is going to be a first-class SWP campaign in these parts.

My report would not be complete without mention of the efficient local preparations for my visit. Every detail, from the preliminary press releases to the organization of physical facilities for the meetings, was handled in the Trotskyist manner – it was done right

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