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Jack Wilson

Progressives Fight for Sway in Rubber Union

Claherty Gerrymandering Meets with Stiff Opposition

(17 August 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. I No. 34, 17 August 1935, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AKRON, Ohio. – Two problems occupied the attention of progressive rubber workers this week as they continued to organize a bloc to wrest control of the federal unions away from the A.F. of L. bureaucracy at the approaching convention for the formation of an international union.

Attempts of Coleman C. Claherty, notorious betrayer in the threatened strike this spring, to reduce the number of delegates from the Akron unions was being fought successfully by the progressives. At the Firestone local, Claherty’s efforts to reduce the delegates from 16 to 4 were defeated. However, he will try the same thing in other unions.

His purpose is to cut down the Akron delegation so that he can control the convention through the out-of-towners who are more under his influence. Progressives at Goodyear local are meeting this week to plan their fight next Sunday when delegate election comes out.

The problem of selecting a slate of candidates which will swing the majority of delegates behind the progressive bloc is another question confronting them.

Claherty’s Maneuvers

Claherty will back either George B. Roberts, his assistant, who was a rubber worker, or else back John House, president of the Goodyear local, who while sincere, is easily led by Claherty. Many workers seem to like either Sherman H. Dalrymple, Goodrich local president, or Thomas Burns, A.F. of L. organizer from New England rubber plants for the presidency. Burns led a strong fight-against Claherty last year at the rubber workers convention and has a good deal of prestige. Since then he has become an A.F. of L. organizer and his position is not clear. The workers will have to prevent a split in their votes or else Claherty’s candidate will win.

The progressive bloc will announce a slate of candidates this week too. A serious attempt will be made by the progressives to coordinate the local workers so that they will present a united front against the bureaucracy.

William Green is expected to preside at the convention which means that he, personally, will try to place into office a hand-picked bunch of reactionaries so he can control the rubber workers in the future. His presence will make the progressives’ job more difficult but they realize it. One thing however appears certain, Coleman Claherty is definitely on his way out as rubber organizer for the A.F. of L. He has been told he will be removed by virtually every union in Akron. The Mohawk local won’t let him even come to any of its meetings!

The convention must be used to place progressives in control. Then the unions must be built up so that they can wage a successful strike for wages and recognition and reduction of the speed-up.

Engrossed in the trade union work, rubber workers are inclined to forget at least momentarily the long time perspectives necessary for the rubber industry to insure the working class correct preparation for its historic task – the overthrow of American capitalism. For this the Workers Party pledges its loyal assistance and support.

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