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Jack Ranger

Workers Dictionary

(7 April 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 14, 7 April 1947, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

American Federation of Labor, a central organization composed of affiliated trade unions in the United States and Canada, founded in 1881. The most important unions affiliated to the AFL are the international unions, approximately 105 in number, each of which has considerable independence and which charters its own local unions. The stated purposes of the AFL are to promote cooperation and mutual assistance among member unions, to further legislation in the interests of members, to encourage the sale of union- made goods and to extend unionization into unorganized fields. The CIO is a rival central organization of unions, and there are some unions such as several of the railroad brotherhoods which are» independent of both AFL and CIO. Whereas the CIO generally represents the basic industries of the nation, and assumes the industrial form of unionism (industry-wide), the AFL generally represents the older forms of industry – construction, transportation, service, printing – and is organized on a craft union basis. At the head of almost every AFL union, local and international, is an entrenched and well paid bureaucracy, Jong divorced from actual work at the trade, conservative, cautious, disdainful of the ranks, with an unbounded faith in capitalism. Almost without exception, officials of the AFL are members or sympathizers of the Republican or Democratic Parties and represent the policies of those parties within the union movement.

American Labor Party, a party formed in 1936 in New York City which organized the workers independently of the two old parties,, but, which supported and continues to support candidates of the two old parties. For some years tfie ALP has been controlled by the Stalinists.

Americans for Democratic Action, an organization of liberals – some real, some not – representing little beyond themselves, formed late in 1946 with the stated purpose: of “giving, the United States what it has lacked for many years – a broad and militant progressive movement unattached to any old-line party and free of the often constricting embrace of the Communist Party.” Its program is vague and general – expand the New Deal; protect civil liberties “from both concentrated wealth and overcentralized government”; support the United Nations and the American plan for international control of atomic energy; “raise standards of living and support civil and political freedom everywhere.” Born of the five-year-old Union for Democratic Action, the ADA is largely representative of that section of liberal capitalist thought which prefers American imperialism to Stalinist imperialism. Its leaders include Chester Bowles, Wilson Wyatt, Leon Henderson, Eleanor Roosevelt and other ex-governmental bureaucrats. Like its counterpart in the Stalinist camp, the Progressive Citizens of America, the ADA’s main political role lies in preventing if possible the development of a national labor party based;upon the trade unions.

American plan, a name employers use for the anti-union cgpei), shop. A patriotic term for union-smashing. Also the name of a former unionsmashing organization.

Americanism, fundamentally American nationalism in its most publicized usage. Many different groups claim to represent “real Americanism.” Like nationalism in all other countries, Americanism is typified by rabid patriotism, attempts to settle all problems on a national basis rather than on a world basis; it is opposed to conflict within the nation, such as to any attempt on the part of labor to fight for its rights. Reactionary interests use slogans of Americanism to whip up hatreds against other nations and races in order to divide the workers.

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