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Wm. Simmons

Packinghouse Workers Win NLRB Election

Dies Investigation Fails to Break Solidarity of Workers

(1 December 1939

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 91, 1 December 1939, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

CHICAGO, Ill. – In spite of the most adverse high-pressure publicity the CIO packinghouse workers union won an election for collective bargaining last week at the Chicago Armour plants, by about two to one.

It just so happened that the Dies Committee reopened its hearings in Chicago a couple of days prior to these elections. And by a mere coincidence it chanced to pick on this particular union as the first victim to be investigated in the search for “un-American” tendencies. Naturally the daily papers made the most of this, never forgetting to mention the scheduled elections jointly with the hearings.

Both Herbert Marsh of the packinghouse workers union and his assistant director, Johnson, were cited to appear before the Dies Committee. Both denied membership in the Communist Party. Yet the predominant Stalinist influence in the leadership of this union is no secret. If nothing else the miserable record of belly-crawling and kowtowing to Armour and Co. by practically all of the higher officials would be a sufficient indication.

Also cited to appear was the former president of the Chicago Armour local, who complained that several times the heat had been put on him when he resisted joining the C.P., and that finally, when he persisted in his refusal, found another occupant at the president’s desk.

Protest was made to Dies of his arbitrary manner of picking on only one union while there was another in the field contending for the favor of the packinghouse workers. So as a matter of form he subsequently invited a couple of officials from the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen (the AFL affiliate) to appear and have their say. What they said could not have been much; nobody payed any attention. But now the sum total of these valiant efforts by Mr. Dies is a resounding victory for the CIO.

Win Resounding Victory

There were 7,253 workers eligible to vote in the Chicago Armour plants elections – those in the production and maintenance departments who were on the payroll Oct. 28, excepting certain supervisory employees. Of the total 785 did not vote, and 161 of the ballots cast were disqualified or challenged. The tabulation showed 4,006 votes cast for the CIO union, 1,047 for the AFL union, and 1,254 workers voting for neither union. Obviously a large majority of the packinghouse workers in Chicago, Dies Committee or no Dies Committee, are perfectly conscious of the fact that they want a union right in the yards, an industrial union, which they know to have been associated with militant activities. Hence they voted for the CIO. They have done so once before. To disappoint these workers would be criminal.

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