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Jerry Kirk

Daily Worker Smear of Flint Militants Boomerangs;
Repudiated by Union Officer

(9 January 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 3, 19 January 1946, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

FLINT, Mich., Jan. 9 – A red-baiting “anti-Trotskyite” attack on the Flint auto union militants in the Stalinist Daily Worker, January 5, has aroused great indignation among the General Motors strikers here and boomeranged against the Stalinist slanderers.

Tex Owens, UAW Chevrolet Local president here, who is “quoted” in the Daily Worker as one source of its “information” against the “Trotskyites,” has repudiated statements attributed to him in the Stalinist article, Why Chevrolet Local Fights The Trotskyites. Owens gave the lie to the article in the presence of this reporter.

After seven weeks of the GM strike, this article provided the occasion for the first public appearance of the Communist (Stalinist) Party in Flint. This issue of the Daily Worker was distributed to CIO auto workers attending a mass meeting addressed by top UAW officers on the progress of negotiations with the corporation.

It is obvious that the Stalinists hoped that this article, written by William Allan, a professional hack writer, would lay the groundwork for a campaign against the Flint progressives, the Trotskyists and The Militant, which has gained great popularity among the GM strikers for its accurate and sympathetic reporting of their strike.

Allan’s article is based on statements allegedly made by Tom Kelly, recording secretary of Chevrolet Local, and confirmed by Tex Owens. Interviewed by Allan, Kelly is reported as saying, “He would be glad to tell us about the Trotskyites.”

Horrendous Tale

Then comes a horrendous tale, attributed to Kelly, about some “Trotskyites” posing for newspaper pictures before the Chevrolet gate, with copies of The Militant in their hands. Kelly stated, according to Allan:

“I checked up later on this quartet and found that they had sent the workers home. Let me tell you some more about these people because we are sick of them in Flint and we are going to do a job on them, right, Tex?”

Tex Owens is then said to have replied, “That’s right, Tom, tell him about the meeting.” Throughout the article Owens is quoted as a chorus to Kelly.

The article continues with a harassing account about the “Trotskyites” allegedly disrupting a Chevrolet Local meeting. Kelly is then quoted as saying:

“In conclusion we passed a motion in our local that their lousy sheet, The Militant, shall not be allowed to be distributed ... They are the fifth column alright and it’s time we stopped ignoring them throughout the union and take the bull by the horns like we did in Chevrolet. Our next move is to boot them out if they continue to disrupt and we know they will.”

Allan then writes:

“We asked Tex Owens, union president, what he thought of Kelly’s statement. Tex said, ‘Tom speaks my sentiments about these birds, exactly.’”

Answers Stalinists

Immediately after the mass meeting at which the Daily Worker with this lying account was distributed, I sought out Tex Owens and found him surrounded by Chevrolet workers.

One executive board member was questioning Owens in regard to the article. He asked, “Was it true that there was any disruption at the last meeting of the local?”

Owens replied, “No. There was none.”

He was then shown a copy of the Daily Worker. In answer to a question from this reporter about the other statements attributed to him in Allan’s article, Owens said:

“I never confirmed any of these statements in this paper. I don’t recall Kelly making any such statements to Allan. You can quote me on that.”

Kelly did not deny giving the report to Allan. However, he sheepishly dissociated Owens from his own remarks to Allan!

The statement about the Chevrolet Local barring The Militant by passage of a motion is a pure Stalinist invention. One wonders how even the brazen Stalinists hoped to palm off such a piece of outright fiction on the Chevrolet workers.

Pure Invention

No ruling against The Militant has ever been passed by the local. Even Kelly has admitted to this reporter that this is the real fact of the matter. On the contrary, The Militant is being distributed, and has been each week, to thousands of Chevrolet pickets, who receive it eagerly.

As for the truly fantastic charge that Trotskyists, who fought the no-strike pledge throughout the war and have called for extension of the CIO strikes to aid the GM workers, sent pickets home – that is a lie that requires no answer for any thinking person. Only a Stalinist poison pen artist would have the gall to attempt to peddle this to the GM strikers here.

The Chevrolet local has the best picket lines in the city of Flint, perhaps in the state of Michigan. After reading The Militant for seven consecutive weeks, these workers know that The Militant wholeheartedly supports the GM strikers in every way possible. It is for this reason that the paper is accepted in the most friendly spirit by all workers on the picket lines.

Thus, from beginning to end, the Daily Worker article is constructed with crass falsehoods. It is an attempt to stir up the corporation stooges and the conservative elements in the unions to begin a red-baiting campaign in Flint and elsewhere.

Red-Baiting Campaign

For the last few days General Motors Corporation has hinted to their stooges through paid advertisements that such a disruptive red-baiting campaign is in order. Walter Reuther, UAW vice-president, in his speech at the GM strike mass meeting, nailed this attempt immediately when he pointed out that in the eyes of the corporation all new demands of the workers are viewed as “revolutionary.”

Several members of the Communist Party of Flint have openly expressed to this reporter dissatisfaction with the Daily Worker’s article. As one of the CP leaders at Chevrolet put it, “I don’t know why Allan had to lie about those points. He sure botched the job!”

These Stalinist rank and filers know that a red-baiting campaign in Flint, such as this article attempts to provoke, will be directed not only against the Trotskyists, but also against members of the Communist Party. Only the corporation and its stooges can benefit from it.

This first attempt of the Stalinists to open a smear campaign against the militant workers here has boomeranged. But this miserable flop should serve as a warning to all thinking workers and members of the Communist Party of the lengths to which the cynical and corrupted Stalinist leaders will go to halt the advance of the militant forces in the union.

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