V.R. Dunne Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Vincent R. Dunne

V. Dunne Lashes Fakerdom
Before Mpls. Mass Meeting

(8 November 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. 1 No. 47, 16 November 1935, pp. 1& 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 8. – As chairman of the mass meeting, Bill Brown introduced V.R. Dunne by saying: “I have saved the best speakers for the last. Next I am going to call on a man who, believe it or not, has succeeded in two years in tearing down a union from 90 to 3,000. Some wrecker he is – even Ripley wouldn’t believe that one. Ray Dunne.”

“We must not,” began Dunne, “forget the more serious and fundamental aspects of this struggle. Meyer Lewis didn’t come into town to take a thrust at the reds because he had a bright idea one fine morning. Meyer Lewis is the personal agent of Bill Green who represents the craft unionist element in the executive council of the A.F. of L. Recently there has been brought about a deep split in the A.F. of L. leadership. But a short time ago – not even six months ago – no one would have been so rash as to predict that eleven thousand votes could be gathered for industrial unionism. No one can understand the present drive against local 574 unless one has an insight into the maneuverings going on inside the A.F. of L. The capitalist crisis has thrown capitalist industry into panic and the workers into the breadlines. American capitalism has been the hardest hit, because it was the farthest advanced. Now the boss class knows that they are caught in a trap, that they cannot keep their place in the sun – that they can’t make any more profits unless they crush the spirit of labor. And this can be done only if the workers are divided into small, weak craft unions. The workers sensing this fact, have entered into the A.F. of L. hoping that it would provide them with the industrial form of organization. They found that the craft structure of the A.F. of L. stood in the way. Ten to fifteen million workers stand ready to be organized – but they want industrial unions so they can strike back effectively at their exploiters.

Drive for Industrial Unionism

”Now some union leaders have felt this pressure coming from the workers – John L. Lewis, Dubinsky, etc. These men understand that the workers are determined to drive forward to real industrial unionism. Therefore they have brought the issue into the open because they are interested in maintaining their positions in the unions. This split has tolled off, like a death bell, the fate of Green, Hutcheson, and other arch-reactionary craft-union fakers. They understand that their life in the organized labor movement is limited to months unless they can tear the unions apart, terrorize the workers, and strike fear into all of those who are making the drive for industrial unionism.

“At the last convention they decided that they would have to strike and strike fast. They decided to throw their whole resources into the battle. They decided, also, that they had to make a spectacular start – to begin with a bang. They had to write in letters of fire across the sky that it meant death to any worker who dared raise his head for any progressive idea.

“But why did they choose Minneapolis as the place at which to strike the first blow? For two very good reasons. Minnesota is like an island that is looked upon by the workers of the rest or the country, struggling for their rights. Whatever you may think of the Farmer-Labor Party, you must recognize that it represents a new course – the workers here have struck off upon the path of independent political action through the Farmer-Labor Party. Bill Green, the old Republican wheelhorse, and other craft unionists, closely allied with the two old capitalist parties, resent this political expression of the workers. And so they come here hoping to smash the Farmer-Labor Party. At the same time they intend to strike a blow at the industrial unionists. Tobin and Green understand that if they can make a spectacular and smashing blow at 574, they can smash the industrial union movement a severe blow. It is pure business logic with them. They didn’t come to Minneapolis simply to get after reds, radicals, and communists; they wish to blaze a trial here that will terrorize the workers all over the country.

The ‘‘Purge” of 1924

“In 1924, Paul Smith, personal representative of Green, purged the unions here of reds. Between that time and 1934, when 574 came into the picture, not a single strike was won in Minneapolis. The Citizens Alliance succeeded in making Minneapolis an open shop town. Woe to the people who back red drives. They are only the bureaucrats of the labor movement, and the capitalist enemies of the workers.

“All of the newspapers here have taken up the cry of communism ... These are the methods and tools of the capitalists. But this is not simply a flash in the pan – it is going to be a long drawn out, a hitter fight. Lewis can’t move a single step forward – he has fired his best shots. Publicity and newspaper articles do not take over unions. Maybe we’ll see fellows double up, and bend their heads before the onslaughts of the bureaucracy as if their heads were upon hinges. On the other hand, a young, new militant leadership will be thrown up in the process of the struggle.

“But let us be on our guard – watch out. Lewis plans deliberately to perpetrate some outrage. To frame somebody. That is the next card which they intend to play. We offer Meyer Lewis – they say he comes from Iowa – a passport back to where the tall corn grows. Let’s send him back!”

Vincent R. Dunne Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 3 February 2018