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Hugo Oehler

Right Wing Move to Expel Militants from P.M.A.

(June 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 29, 3 June 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Gillespie, Ill. – The class collaboration policies of the Right wing of the Progressive Miners of America has been weakening the union in its struggle against the operators and their agents. The red baiting campaign of the operators aiming to divide and weaken the union forces, has been picked up by the Right wing element and is now being followed up in an attempt in the Springfield sub-district to expel about three dozen militant Left wingers. The first three slated to go are Joe Angelo, Freeman Thompson and Voizy.

In the period of formation of the PMA, special provisions were made to admit into the progressive union all militants expelled by the Lewis-Fishwick-Walker group. Workers who were the first to lead the struggle against Lewis and company and who laid the groundwork upon which the PMA was built. Now, President Pearcy does not remember or is trying to forget these provisions. The Right wingers tell these militants to first get a job and then they will obtain a card. However, all are members of the union and have been functioning for months. Further, one cannot get a job in the mines unless he has a union card. Perhaps Pearcy wants them to get a job in the scab mines?

The Left wing is organizing to smash this attempt to exclude and expel the most militant element in the PMA.

The need of an organized Left wing in every local of the PMA to fight for a program of class struggle and against the steady shift to the right and the policy of class collaboration, as pointed out for months in the Militant, is now a living reality in the coal fields. The Stalinites are trying to catch up with events in Illinois.

After the National Miners Union

was defeated and became a paper organization in Illinois and the Left Opposition proposed the return of the Left wing in the UMWA, the Stalinites opposed the Left wingers who took this course. Later when the rank and file movement split away from Lewis and company and the Left Opposition proposed that all Left wingers enter and build a Left wing in the new union movement the Stalinites boycotted the movement and its conventions. Still later, when the revolt broke out and the Progressive Miners of America was established, the Stalinites did not understand the movement, stayed out of it and used most of their energy and the columns of the Daily Worker to throw mud at the union and its leaders and at no time did they present proper political criticism and directives.

Such a policy by the Stalinites played into the hands of the more reactionary element, split the forces of the Left wing, and thereby helped intrench the Right wing in the saddle at the very start.

The turn of the C.I. toward the united front after the German defeat forced a turn in America and in the coal fields. The Stalinists changed their policy in the coal fields and in the last few mouths have had a proper program that was far superior to their previous wrong program in the coal fields. The Stalinists have realized the necessity of a Left wing in the PMA, for more than one reason. But their method of building a Left wing shows no improvement upon the past. They have already forgotten their new turn and returned to their old formula.

On May 21, they decided to organize a Left wing and start at once to call a state conference one week later on the 28th. They consulted no one who is not a Stalinist or close sympathizer of the party and preceded to call the state conference. They said they tried to reach everybody but did not have time, and with such a flimsy excuse proceeded to exclude everybody except themselves and those who stumbled upon their plan and broke in on them.

In the caucus, they proceeded, over the advice and motions of the Left Opposition miners’ fraction and others to organize a provisional committee, and adopt a draft program. They gave the committee power to call another conference later and to get in touch with all other Left wing groups, some that were formed before the caucus.

Instead of a provisional committee on the narrow foundation of Stalinism and the adoption of a draft program, asking other groups and tendencies TO COME TO US, the Left Opposition miners’ frac-tioh. proposed that we elect a negotiations committee and that this caucus GO TO THE OTHER LEFT WINGERS, and that together, these forces, upon a broad foundation, through the united front, call a meeting where a provisional committee is established. In the meantime, as a first step the L.O. miners proposed that we organize Left wing groups in as many locals as possible.

The Left Oppostion miner’s fraction will do all that is possible to iron out the difficulties created by the Stalinites and bring all Left wing tendencies into one broad united front Left wing group. The Left Opposition miners fraction at the same time realized that many of the other Left wing tendencies will not go as far as we desire. But at the same time we realize that only the inclusion of the broadest layers will be able to defeat the Right wing, the Operators and their Lewis agents.

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