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Albert Gates

Labor Skates Back Mayor Kelly in Chicago Primary

C.P. Paper Boosts Man Responsible for Steel Strike Massacre

(March 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 13, 7 March 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Since the article printed below was written, Mayor Kelly has won the democratic nomination in the primaries. As explained in the article, Mayor Kelly’s nomination, which in Chicago is equivalent to election, was aided by the combined efforts of the labor skates and the Stalinists.

* * *

As the Chicago mayoralty primary draws to a close it appears more certain now that Mayor Kelly will win the Democratic nomination and Dwight Green the Republican.

The campaign of Bill Thompson is almost non-existent, and in addition to the silence of the press in respect to his candidacy, he is certain to lose.

In the Democratic fight, however, during the early days of the campaign, Tom Courtney was conceded an even chance to win over Kelly.

Labor Skates Back Kelly

What has turned the tide? The intervention of organized labor in support of the mayor. The active campaign in behalf of Kelly now carried on by both the A.F. of L. and the C.I.O., the latter through Labor’s Non-Partisan League, has become little short of a scandal.

Within the last two weeks the labor-skates in the Kelly-Nash-Arvey machine have finally succeeded in rallying a large number of local unions to their support. Every day a new list of labor unions who have endorsed Kelly is published. The Executive Committee of the Chicago Federation of Labor through John Fitzpatrick has denounced Courtney publicly and called upon the organized labor movement to support Kelly.

Forget Steel Massacre

Labor’s Non-Partisan League pursues the same policy as the A.F.L. Kelly’s conduct during the massacre of the striking steel workers in 1937 has been completely forgotten. No more mention is made of the fact that during the great wave of sitdown strikes in Chicago, it was Kelly’s police who broke them up by a concerted campaign of brutality toward the strikers. In the first weeks of the primary, L.N.P.L. did not openly advise voting for Kelly, but they did tell the workers not to vote for Courtney or Green. As the voting drew near this straddling position gave way to open exhortations to vote for the regular democratic machine ticket.

Finally, there is the Communist Party and its mouthpiece, the Mid-West Daily Record. Its conduct is far more scandalous than that of the labor-fakers only because its pretensions are mightier. Passing off as a working class party the C.P. plays the game of labor’s misleaders with a great deal more experience and finesse than its union counterpart.

The Chicago Stalinists have their own mayoralty candidate in the person of Jack Johnston. This is an outright piece of fakery since his candidacy is more a matter of form than anything else. Aside from a speech or two made by him in his own favor, few know that he is a candidate. The Daily Record hardly mentions his name since all space is devoted to Mayor Kelly.

Heretofore the C.P. and the Daily Record, following a nationwide practice, without in so many words calling for support of Kelly, denounced Courtney as an enemy of the New Deal, progress, peace and democracy. It is true that Kelly was at all times pictured as the champion of all that is progressive, honest, virtuous and beautiful. It was discovered that he is labor’s champion, the enemy of reaction and the business interests. By inference, Kelly was presented as Roosevelt’s man. And this was strengthened by biographical sketches showing that some twenty-five or thirty years ago Kelly had actually worked for a few weeks. Need one have any more proof that Kelly was the friend of the working man?

But on Feb. 28, the Daily Record published its special local election issue and no longer equivocated. Kelly, the murderer of striking steel workers, was “labor’s choice” and the labor movement was called upon to cast its vote for him. The issue contained paid ads of Kelly candidates. Column after column was devoted to praise of his machine and his aldermanic candidates. In addition to the paid ads, the Daily Record published a list of its own selections of “labor’s” candidates and almost the entire list was culled from the Kelly-Arvey-Nash machine.

The Daily Record has been experiencing financial difficulties and its campaign for sixty thousand dollars has been falling far short of its mark. Yet good copies of this special Kelly issue were distributed free! Reliable information has it that the Kelly machine paid for this issue!

In addition, it has been reported, that hundreds of Kelly’s precinct captains have been compelled to subscribe to the Daily Record! There, no doubt, is the pay-off. This fact is borne out by precinct captains who visit workers’ homes carrying copies of the Daily Record. They exhort these workers to vote for Kelly on the ground that he is labor’s friend and labor’s candidate. The proof is in the numerous columns devoted to Kelly in the Daily Record!

Plays Ball

All in all it is a happy arrangement between the infamous Kelly-Nash-Arvey machine and their Stalinist bootlickers. Kelly no doubt realizes that in his fight against Courtney he requires every possible vote and he is prepared to play ball not only with the trade unions but even with the Stalinists. He wants their backing because it may mean the margin between victory and defeat – and, he is prepared to pay for it. There is no doubt too, that the Stalinists received this little remuneration, no matter in what form it is given, because it fits in perfectly with its pattern of betrayals of the working class.

The great task of the workers in Chicago, as elsewhere, is the establishment of a strong party of their own, an independent labor party, representative of its interests.

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