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Leaders of CIO Political Action Committee
Again Boost “Their Friend” at Detroit Meeting

(March 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 13, 27 March 1944, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT, Mar. 12 – The CIO Political Action Conference held here today under the auspices of the Sixth Regional CIO Political Action Committee makes several facts stand out clearly:

Four Points Clear

  1. Despite all the fanfare accompanying its formation and all the energy devoted to its construction, the CIO Political Action Committee has been unable to arouse any real degree of enthusiasm among the membership of the CIO and is making progress, if at all, at a snail’s pace.
  2. The policy of the PAC is to function as a labor adjunct of the Democratic Party. The leaders of the CIO are fully decided on support to Roosevelt for a fourth term, and they subordinate all their political action to this objective.
  3. The Communist Party is the most virulent enemy of the formation of a genuine Independent Labor Party, and in this connection serves as front line fighter for the top leadership of the PAC.
  4. The leaaership of the newly formed Michigan Commonwealth Federation, favoring the formation of an independent party but following a confused and inconsistent policy, are unable to reply to the policy of the PAC with a clear call for support to a Labor Party.

August Scholle, Michigan CIO regional director and chairman of the Sixth Region CIO Political Action Committee, pleading time after time at the conference for volunteers to get the work started on a local scale, emphasized thereby a complete inability to get precinct and ward captains to enroll the membership of the CIO into the PAC.

R.J. Thomas said: “We are in a very confusing position about political action in the state of Michigan.” He complained that local unions pledged to send hundreds of delegates to the conference but never came through on their promise.

It is significant that this conference, officially sponsored by the CIO, could gather together little move than two hundred delegates, which is fewer than the number that attended the conference of the “unofficial” Michigan Commonwealth Federation one week previously – a conference repudiated by the official top leadership of the CIO.

President Thomas Speaks

R.J. Thomas devoted four-fifths of a speech to attacking the Michigan Commonwealth Federation. He made clear that he is for the re-election of Roosevelt. “That's my individual position,” he said. “It is not the official position of the CIO. But, on the other hand, the CIO has not said that it will not take such a position.” Thomas repeated his opposition to the Little Steel formula and the national service act. The CIO program, he said, is the most progressive yet devised and that is the program for the elections.

In his lengthy speech, Thomas was completely unable to solve one big contradiction: If labor is to oppose the Little Steel formula and the “draft labor” act in the elections, how can it further these objectives and at the same time support Roosevelt, who stands for these anti-labor measures?

Senator Novack, in a speech seconded later by Nat Ganley, Stalinist leader, stated: “We must go into the Democratic primaries and get some of our people nominated.”

Role of the Communists

The most virulent speech at the conference against the formation of a Labor Party came from Nat Ganley of Local 155, chief mouthpiece for the latest line of Stalin and Earl Browder: “Either you are for the present CIO policy, which means support to Roosevelt, or you are against it in the third party movement,” he said. It is not necessary to report his speech at length here – one can read it every day in the Daily Worker. Scholle, speaking after Ganley, said: “I am in complete accord with what Ganley said here.”

Paul Silver, organizational director of the MCF, spoke in reply to President Thomas.

The policy of the MCF established at its conference last week favors “neutrality” in the elections wherever the MCF does not run its own candidates. Members of the MCF, in such instances, may vote for whomever they please. In his speech at the PAC conference, Silver made it clear that he is for the re-election of Roosevelt and looks upon the formation of the MCF as the best method of carrying Michigan for FDR in 1944.

Silver is also unable to get himself out of a major contradiction. Favoring the formation of an independent party and critical of the Democratic and Republican Parties, he is at the same time in favor of supporting Roosevelt as a “friend of labor.” But if you can support one friend of labor, why not support them all? If you are for the LEADER of the Democratic Party, how can you oppose rallying behind him WITHIN that same party? This dilemma is what takes the edge off all of Silver’s otherwise fine argumentation for a Labor Party.

It is this same dilemma that compels Silver to string along with the PAC and at the same time prevents him from fighting for his own policy. As he put it: “I am here as a member of the CIO with no thought of capturing the ward and precinct organization of the CIO. I have always gone along in favor of ward and precinct organization.”

No other leaders of the Michigan Commonwealth Federation took the floor. Very eloquent last week at their own conference on the possibilities of winning over the PAC to the support of MCF candidates, they were as close-mouthed as clams at the PAC conference.

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