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Hugo Oehler

Borders Loses in Split

Majority of Group Refuses to Quit Jobless Federation

(June 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 30, 10 June 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Springfield, Ill. – The Workers’ Committee, led by Karl Borders, was the main organizing force of the Chicago unemployed conference on June 13th, which ended in a broad united front of the existing unemployed organizations and the establishment of a National Unemployed Federation.

The call for the conference stated that no Communist would be seated. The press reports further emphasized this fact and the credentials committee appointed by the Borders’ Committee ignored the credentials of the Unemployed Councils and fraternal delegates from the workers’ political organizations until a heated, three hour discussion on the credentials committee report obtained a majority vote against them and for the seating of all delegates present.

This first victory against the Right wing was an open revolt of that very select conference called by the Borders’ Committee itself. It was a revolt of delegates from all parts of the country who realized that Communists cannot be excluded from the Unemployed Federation.

After the report of the credentials’ committee, the conference divided into two sections, the Right and the Left, with plenty of struggles within these two main floor tendencies in the caucuses and committees.

The determining factors of the Left wing bloc fought for the seating of the Unemployed Council delegates, for an Unemployed Federation, for the Leninist United Front tactic as proposed by the Left Opposition, and for an executive committee to include representatives of all political tendencies from the Left to the extreme Right.

The struggle to have unity on the floor by the Left wing bloc enabled the Left to carry every major struggle and thereby, to take another step forward and to save the conference from any reactionary decisions.

After the committee reports were amended, they were then adopted unanimously, except that of the constitution committee, with Dennis Butt as chairman, which received a vote of 87 to 17.

This means that the Right wing endorsed the decisions of the conference which it had called.

Now we are informed by Borders and his committees that they are splitting away and that they advise others to do the same.

The Borders Committee desired mechanical control of the Executive Committee. When it could not obtain this and when the enemies of working class unity, who fear unity, put pressure on Borders, he attempts to split our ranks.

Borders learned a second lesson this time. First he learned that the workers demanded a genuine united front, and second, he learned from his own organization that his attempt to split the Unemployed Federation brought a split in his own Workers Committee. The majority of the Workers Committee, led by George Leach and others, are continuing with the Federation. Borders received a majority vote on the city central committee, but the Unemployed Federation received the majority of his members and the largest locals!

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Last updated: 4 September 2015