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Sam Adams

CIO Council Split in Los Angeles

State Body Also Splits as Stalinists and Anti-Stalinists
Divide on Issue of Wallace Support

(March 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 10, 8 March 1948, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A split in the California and Los Angeles CIO Councils was completed with the resignations of the chief officers of both bodies at their recent meetings to consider the position of the CIO on the forthcoming political campaign.

The state board met over the weekend of February 14 and 15 and voted on a Stalinist-sponsored resolution which duplicated the action of the Los Angeles Council as reported in Labor Action of February 16. Avoiding a direct collision with the action of the national Executive Board, which had condemned the candidacy of Wallace, the third party and endorsed the Marshall Plan, the Stalinist majority in the state council proposed unity of the California CIO in support of “progressive and pro-labor congressmen and legislators.”

With the passage of this resolution, Morris Zusman resigned as president of the stale council, declaring that he could not serve as head of a body which refused to carry out CIO national policy. He was accompanied in his walkout by the representatives of the Steel Workers, UAW, Newspaper Guild, Oil, Amalgamated, Rubber, Retail and Wood Workers, whose support made the division in the state body very close. The Stalinist-sponsored resolution carried by a vote of 63,367⅔ to 40,122.

Los Angeles Council Splits

The split in the Los Angeles Council took a somewhat different form. It had already voted in favor of the Stalinist resolution one week before the state council met. The anti-Stalinist bloc, made up of a curious conglomeration of reactionaries and progressives, merely bided its time awaiting some response from the national office of the CIO, knowing that, in view of the action of the council, intervention of the national office was certain.

This intervention came in the form of a letter from John Brophy, national CIO director of union councils, calling on the Los Angeles body to rescind its action of February 6 and that it oppose Wallace, the third party and endorse the Marshall Plan.

A motion by Phillip Lerman, delegate of the UAW, to endorse the letter and rescind the previous action precipitated a sharp dispute at the meeting. But the Stalinist majority prevailed. President Lunceford of the rubber workers and Vice-President Clark of the steel workers resigned and together with their supporters walked out of the council. The Stalinists and their supporters remained in control of the Los Angeles Council, which they proceeded to reorganize.

The tactic of the anti-Stalinist bloc is to force the appointment of administrators, or receivers, for both the state and Los Angeles bodies. Already it has stepped up its campaign for the removal of Harry Bridges as director of Northern California on the ground that while he has a right to support Wallace as head of the Longshoremen’s Union, he has no right to do so as a national appointed official.

Where To Now?

What will emerge from this situation? It is difficult to foretell at this moment. One thing is certain: there will be in effect two state and two Los Angeles Councils. The anti-Stalinist bloc is meeting in a rank and file caucus on March 1 to decide its course of action. In any case, the long honeymoon between the Stalinists and their fellow travelers and the CIO top bureaucracy is ended. The unity which prevailed between them during the long years of the war made possible the stranglehold acquired by the Kremlin’s agents in the West Coast labor movement.

For the first time in the long history of the CIO a fight has opened up against the Stalinists which contains many progressive features despite the ugly and reactionary nature of the present dispute. The fight in California, as everywhere else in the CIO is over whether this great trade union body shall support the mystic Henry Wallace or the Missouri mule Harry Truman, for president, and to endorse either the Stalin Plan or the Marshall Plan! What real interests can the workers have in such a struggle?

The saddest thing in this situation is the absence of a powerful, organized and determined voice in behalf of independent labor political action, for a Labor Party, against all the capitalist candidates, and their parties, including the latest Stalinist stooge, Wallace; of an independent political voice against the war plans of the two imperialist rivals in the world today. Within this situation, however, there are signs of a real awakening.

But if the struggle revolves solely around the appointment of receivers and administrators, around the bureaucratic manipulations of both sides, it can only disgust the rank and file in the labor movement and forestall the healthy development of the working class politically.

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