Gordon Haskell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Gordon Haskell

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ...

CIO Representation

(15 August 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 33, 15 August 1949, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

To the Editor:

In Labor Action of July 25 Frank Harper has a letter in which he corrects the figures I gave on the voting strength of CIO councils at national CIO conventions as compared to the voting strength of most of the big internationals.

I am very glad that Brother Harper has corrected me, as it proves two things: first, that someone reads my articles, and second, that we have readers who are alert to correct errors, particularly when they relate to important problems in the labor movement.

Now, Brother Harper is quite right as far as the constitutional procedures governing the voting at CIO conventions are concerned. But I would like to point out that the preponderant strength of the internationals as against delegates from councils would show up only on a rollcall vote.

My error was due to a failure to recheck the CIO constitution. Further, it was due to the fact, that I covered the last CIO convention at Portland, Ore., for Labor Action and that at that convention not a single rollcall vote was taken on any question. On most matters vote was by voice, and I think it can be assumed that delegates from the councils can shout just as loudly as delegates from the internationals.

On the most important matters in dispute at the convention, a standing vote was taken. These were foreign policy, an increase in per capita assessment, and the resolution under which the national executive board was given the right to go into fields in which existing international unions weren’t doing a good job.

On these three extremely important questions there was a standing vote, and no effort whatever was made to distinguish between delegates representing councils and those representing international unions.

Of course, if there were a knockdown-drag-out fight in the CIO between relatively even forces, it’s certain that one or the other side would be demanding rollcall votes on all important issues. That would cut down the weight of the delegates from councils and small internationals to size. It might also involve a very enlightening look into the claims of membership of some of the unions.

So, technically, I was wrong. But, as Brother Harper points out, even though their votes wouldn’t amount to much, 150 delegates from councils sworn to support an existing leadership against all opposition could certainly throw a lot of weight around on the floor and in the corridors. That still leaves open the propriety of prohibiting the councils from discussing matters in dispute between the powers that be and opposition tendencies in the CIO.

Gordon Haskell

Gordon Haskell Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 2 June 2021