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Susan Green

Giant Parade Proves Labor
Is Ready to Fight

(10 June 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 24, 16 June 1947, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

NEW YORK CITY, June 10 – Today this city saw a tremendous demonstration of labor’s might. CIO leaders called it the greatest demonstration in CIO history. From 5 p.m., starting from 24th Street up Eighth Avenue, tens of thousands converged on Madison Square Garden, protesting the Taft-Hartley slave labor bill and calling on President Truman to veto it.

The first contingents in the parade came right from work, tired and hungry. Old and young, white and black, Italian and Jew and Irish, marched carrying their union banners. Across their chests and in their hats they wore streamers with the slogan: “Veto the Taft Slave Labor Bill.”

Well into the night they were still marching, these CIO workers of New York City. After the Garden was packed and the streets outside jammed like a subway train, they were still coming. One section of workers marched bound together by a chain, like chaingang labor, to make graphic what the Taft-Hartley bill will do to the workers of America. Other marchers carried huge make-believe pencils to suggest a written veto by the President.

nside the Garden, speakers estimated the number of marchers and demonstrators at 120,000. This giant CIO demonstration, together with the protest of the tens of thousands a week ago in the AFL parade and meeting at the Garden, told oft both the National Association of Manufacturers and their political office boys in Washington.

Opportunity Missed

The workers of New York City have warned the “good Samaritans” of NAM, with their full-page ads proclaiming their desire “to protect” the workers from the unions, that they recognize union-busting when they see it. The workers of New York City have told the capitalist politicians in Washington who claim to have a “mandate from the people” to bring back the days of the Pinkertons and the sweat shop, that they lie with brazen contempt for the people.

The keynote of the speeches inside the Garden was a call to the workers to fight. But nowhere , was it stated how they should fight. Joseph Curran of the Maritime Union, who acted as first chairman, declared that “tonight the fight has really begun.” Ruth Young of the United Electrical Workers said there is “no limit to what the working people must do in the next few days to defeat the bill.” Yet a limit was definitely set. For no other kind of action was indicated by any of the speakers. CIO President Philip Murray, in his closing speech, described the New York City demonstration as an “example to other cities.” This apparently is the only kind of fight the leadership advocates to kill the Taft-Hartley bill.

What an opportunity missed to call for really effective working class action! Here is this vicious bill, described by Murray as the first step toward fascism in this country, aiming to smash the labor unions and to take away the right to strike. What could be a better index of labor’s will and power than for these unions to call upon the workers, organized and unorganized, to join in a nationwide strike demonstration – a twenty-four-hour work stoppage to proclaim to the capitalists and their political henchmen that the fight to strike Cannot be taken! away from the workers? But no such call was made.

Again, as one looked around the Garden filled with signs reading: “Mr. President, veto the Taft-Hartley Slave Labor Bill!” – one could well become mindful of the fact that the President was in Washington. And as one heard the lusty voices sing: “We’re going to roll the union on!” – arid if Taft stands in the way, we’re going to roll it over him, and if Hartley stands in the way, we’re going to roll it over him – one could well feel the distance between New York and Washington. Why; since the time has come to fight, as all speakers agreed, should not the fight be taken to Washington, in the form of a March oh Washington by labor? Let the politicians see a living demonstration of labor’s determination to be free. Let the Voices of tens of thousands of workers singing “We’re going to roll the union on!” – rise through the windows of the halls of Congress to the ears of the political servants of capitalist reaction.

Pull Labor’s Punches

But while Phil Murray belligerently states that the NAM wants “a showdown with labor” and they want it now, he is pussyfooting on the methods to meet the challenge. Yes, the labor leaders are pulling labor’s punches, Whereas the workers are showing by such demonstrations as this at Madison Square Garden that they are ready to fight with all they have.

The labor leaders are pussyfooting not alone on the methods to fight the Taft-Hartley bill but on the entire political front. They suffer from self-induced blindness. For instance, there was Phil Murray earnestly and painstakingly, point by point, analyzing the vicious slave labor bill. He showed how it would make a mockery of collective bargaining, bring back the company union, restore rule by injunction and even subvert elementary principles of democratic procedure, and h’ow the bill would make the government the direct servant of business to do this dirty job. Murray knows, of course, as do all labor leaders arid everybody else, that both Republicans and Democrats are responsible for this enslaving measure. Yet when it domes to a program for political action, Murray sees no further than the cesspools of the Republican arid Democratic Parties, and abides by . the friary arid discredited tenet to reward labor’s friends arid punish its enemies.

The political confusion of labor is thus made more confounded, as was amply illustrated at the Garden. Take, for example, Joseph Curran, who loudly declaimed that “labor must have SOME independent political action from now on.” Thereupon he introduced Mayor William O’Dwyer as the “people’s man.” O’Dwyer’s speech was an open politician’s bid for labor’s support for the Democrats against the Republicans, for nowhere did he mention the Democratic Party’s shameful part in the Taft-Hartley bill and in the other anti-people’s measures in Congress. When he finished, Curran again hailed O’Dwyer, this newest messiah-from the Democratic Party, as the “people’s man.”

Labor Wants to Fight

In the same vein of political confusion, Hyman Blumberg of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and of the American Labor Party, this tail to the kite of the Democratic Party, was honored as “the political voice of the workers in New York.”

Along the same line of confusion, Murray concluded his speech by calling for the support of all workers, organized and unorganized, of professional people, farmers and small business people, “to perfect a powerful political instrument.” Which is correct, for labor is the natural leader of all the little people. But what kind of political instrument was Murray talking about? The same old chipped and loosened ax – the policy of trying to send home from Washington labor’s Democratic and Republican enemies (who were elected in many cases as labor’s “friends”) and to send in their places other members of the same Democratic and Republican Parties.

To sum up the importance of this monster demonstration of labor in New York City: it proclaimed the will and the militancy of the workers to fight the Taft-Hartley bill and all attacks on their rights and their freedoms.

On the other hand, the labor leaders made a public demonstration of their timidity by limiting the methods for fighting this bill and similar attacks on labor. They also showed their cringing reliance on President Truman and on the capitalist political patties. They showed their unwillingness to mold labor’s political might into an independent labor party at this time when the capitalist class has called for a showdown.

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