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Gordon Haskell

WP Branch Protests Attack
on Labor Action Distributors

(4 April 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 15, 14 April 1947, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

April 4, 1947

Joint Labor Committee to Combat Anti-Labor Legislation,
2111 Webster Street, Room 115,
Oakland, Calif.

Dear Brothers:

Last night, in front of the public mass meeting organized by your committee at the Oakland Auditorium Arena, a number of men led by Jack Reynolds of the Building Trades Council attacked some girls who were peacefully selling our paper Labor Action and distributing leaflets addressed to the workers going into the meeting.

These men threatened and insulted the girls, then tore the literature out of their hands and began shoving and striking the distributors. When two men who were also distributing our material attempted to protect the girls, they were set upon and an attempt was made to beat them up too.

As a result of these goon-squad tactics, Brother Reynolds was arrested by the police on a charge of battery.

We would like to draw to the attention of the committee that the actions of Brother Reynolds and his accomplices in this matter are exactly the kind of thing the bosses and their representatives in government like to use to discredit the labor movement.

Brother Reynolds, it seems, does not like our paper. That is his privilege. But it is not his privilege to attempt, by physical force, to keep other workers from reading what we have to say. The labor movement has a proud tradition of being the greatest defender of free speech and a free press in America. Labor has not defended these rights only because it knows that any infringement on them will be used first of all against the labor movement, but because it is confident that its cause is just, and that in a free play of information and opinion its cause will be vindicated ...

Your committee called this mass meeting to protest the anti-labor drive in Congress. It is attempting to unite all sections of the labor movement, regardless of differences of opinion on other matters, to fight the reactionary drive directed against it. Labor Action has been supporting labor 100 per cent in its opposition to the attack by Congress. Actions such as those by Brother Reynolds and his accomplices last night can only serve to throw discredit on your committee and the good cause in which it has been organized.

The fact of the matter is that Brother Reynolds’ attack was not incited by anything written in Labor Action or in our leaflet. He and his friends kept repeating that our distributors were “Commies” and were selling the Peoples World, though anyone within the labor movement who has bothered to inform himself knows that the Workers Party and Labor Action disagree violently with the Communist Party and the Peoples World. This shows that he had not read what we had to say, but was simply intent on beating up any “radicals” around. Thus, if his tactics are not denounced and rejected by your committee, it is plain that he and like-minded people will continue to launch physical attacks on all groups within the labor movement with whom they disagree, thus disrupting the joint fight of labor against reaction rather than helping it ...

The Workers Party is determined to do everything it can to prevent the vicious and irresponsible actions of certain representatives of the labor movement from bringing discredit on labor as a whole. We have therefore prevailed on Miss Drasin, one of the people attacked, to withdraw her charges against Brother Reynolds.

We are confident that your committee will condemn the actions taken by some of its representatives in this case, and will see to it that such things do not happen in the future, either to representatives of the Workers Party, or to others who peacefully sell or distribute literature to gatherings of workers. If, however, our distributors are subjected to repeated attacks we will see to it that they are adequately defended, both physically and legally. We, and our comrades in other countries, have not ceased our struggle for the rights of labor and for socialism out of fear of the bosses’ goons, or of the murderers of the Gestapo and the GPU. We are not going to be intimidated by those who ape their tactics in the labor movement itself.


Fraternally yours,
Gordon Haskell,
Organizer, S.F. Bay Area Branch
Workers Party

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