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CP Licks Hillman’s Boots

But Gets Kicked in the Face as Reward
for Cheering Hillman at IUMSW Convention

(4 October 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 40, 4 October 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A face which had not graced the pages of the Stalinist Daily Worker in many a moon suddenly appeared on the front page ot the September 25 issue.

It was a portrait of the lean and wily features of Sidney Hillman, associate director of the OPM, and leader of the CIO faction which has long sought to tie the CIO to the Roosevelt Administration’s war machine.

To those who know the Daily Worker’s policies, the appearance of Hillman’s picture is a significant symbol. The Daily Worker publishes pictures only of those who represent Stalinist views or with whom the Communist Party is seeking to gain favor.

Thus, up to June 22, did John L. Lewis receive recognition and publicity from the Stalinists.

While of Hillman, the Daily Worker (May 17) wrote in those days:

“The workers can now see that when a war government selects a union leader to sit in its councils, it is only for one purpose: to have him act as the spearhead in the open-shop and wage cutting drive against the workers. And Hillman, it can be said, is faithfully living up to these duties.”

Whitewash for Hillman

No such condemnation of Hillman is included in the story accompanying his picture in the September 25 issue. This reports Hillman’s speech to the Seventh Convention of the International Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers (CIO) held last week in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Daily Worker approvingly reports Hillman’s address “praising the shipyard workers for the production records they have already set – but records that he said must still go higher ...”

Hillman, whom the Daily Worker formerly correctly called “the spearhead in the open-shop and wage-cutting drive,” is paving the way, in these words, for longer hours, speed-up, wagefreezing, in the interests of Roosevelt’s war program. That, today, is the program of the Stalinists also, and therefore their one definite aim in the CIO is to establish a formal unit with the Hillmanites against the militant and anti-war sections of the labor movement, and against that sector of the CIO which opposes sacrificing the gains of industrial unionism for the sake of pro-war “unity” with the AFL.

From first to last, in the Daily Worker reports of the IUMSW convention, the Stalinists have sought to establish their affinity with the Hillmanites and their policies. And since the Hillmanites hold outright control of the IUMSW, almost the entire convention was consumed with speeches and resolutions in support of Roosevelt’s war policies, calling for the repeal of the Neutrality Act, etc. All this was fulsomely reported in the Daily Worker.

But. in the very act of bending over to polish Hillman’s boots with their tongues, the Stalinists received a resounding blow on their protrudent posteriors from these same boot tips. On September 26, the Daily Worker, in the middle of an IUMSW convention story, suddenly whines:

“The harmony that marked the convention for two days was broken this morning, and, as usual, red-baiting was the instrument through which prejudices and old squabbles were raked up. It came with a resolution ... throwing Communism into the same basket with Nazism.”

Unity with Red-Baiters

After going down the line on their hands and knees with the IUMSW Hillmanite leaders on support of the war, the Stalinists were confronted with a resolution which stated that the union “would not condone the workings of fascism, nazism or communism within our ranks” and “that any member who advocates the overthrow of the democratic constitutional government of the United States shall be, on proven guilty, asked or be forced to resign from national or local membership, in our union.”

Nowhere does the Daily Worker indicate that this resolution, which the convention passed, was the product of Hillman. Instead, the Daily Worker attempts to spread the idea that the resolution doesn’t mean too much and isn’t going to affect the Stalinists materially.

“In some respects,” reports the Daily Worker, “the red-baiters retreated, as from all indications a move to insert a bar to Communists in the constitution was abandoned.”

At the very same session of the convention, however, me Stalinists found out whether the Hillmanites “mean” it, when Carl Bradley and Edward Dorland, expelled from the union’s general executive board and their union local on charges of “communism,” were refused reinstatement into union membership, and even denied the right personally to appeal their case to the convention.

On the last day of the convention, the delegates, led by the Hillmanites, passed a resolution barring “Communists, Nazis and fascists” from holding any union offices. That is how the Hillmanites “retreated”!

Once more, the Daily Worker, September 27, had to report about the red-baiting actions of the Hillmanites – without mention of the Hillmanites.

Small Favors Gratefully Received

John Green, Hillmanite president of the IUSMW, gave the Stalinists some small consolation in his final remarks before the convention adjourned. He indicated Hillman’s present position toward the Stalinists when he stated:

“Employers hire communists, and as long as they hire them we’ll organize them. But they’ve got to keep their philosophies out of the councils of this union.”

In a word, Green is telling the Stalinist that they can pay their dues and belong to the union so long as they’re “good boys,” raise their hands promptly for everything the Hillmanites propose, sit in the back rows and keep their mouths shut.

The Stalinists, for all their eagerness to support the Hillmanites under any conditions, have a long row to hoe before they will be accepted on any equal terms by the Hillmanites.

Hillman’s Line Toward Stalinists

Hillman and his followers are quite willing to take whatever the Stalinists offer them gratis, but they propose to grant the Stalinists as little influence or control as possible, particularly in those unions, like the IUMSW, where the Stalinists have relatively little strength.

The Hillman gang represents a different bureaucracy than the Stalinists. The Hillmanites are part of the labor bureaucracy directly representing the interests of the American bourgeois democrats, specifically the Roosevelt administration. The Stalinists, as the Hillmanites are well aware, are the agents of the Kremlin bureaucracy. Within the limits of this difference in bureaucratic loyalties, the Hillmanites continue to be wary of any too close ties with the Stalinists.

For their part, the Stalinists want to gain as much union influence as they can, within the framework of their political unity with the Hillmanites on the war question. But the Hillmanites hold the whip-hand. It is they who have the “in” with the Roosevelt administration, and they will not permit the Stalinists to approach the administration except through the Hillmanite pipeline.

The Stalinists are willing to pay any price in servility and treachery to the workers for a bloc with Hillman. That is clearly indicated by the actions at the IUMSW convention and the Daily Worker’s response to them. Hillman’s program includes concretely a red-baiting attack on all militant and progressive elements in the labor movement. “Deplore” as they might this red-baiting – and it is merely to save their own organizational hides that they do so – the Stalinists cannot escape the responsibility for defending and endorsing Hillman’s basic political policies, whose inevitable consequences are just as vicious anti-labor tactics as red-baiting.

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