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B.J. Widick

Daily Worker Retreats from Anti-Martin
Fight to Escape UAW Wrath

Stalinists Change Their Tune Overnight as News from Detroit
Presages Failure for Their Plot to Capture Auto Union

(May 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 20, 14 May 1938, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The grandiose scheme of the Richard Frankensteen-Earl Browder factions in the United Automobile Workers of America, to oust Homer Martin, international president, and to capture control of this great C.I.O. union suffered a set-back at the first session of the international executive board in Detroit this week.

Martin, took the bull by the horns when he announced at the session that he was abolishing the post of assistant president, which was Frankensteen’s job. This was the first test of opposition forces to Martin’s administration. Martin won.

C.P. Squirms

No sooner had Martin showed his strength by the aggressive stand he took in fighting his unprincipled enemies, than the Stalinists began squirming in an effort to avoid the boomerang created by their deal with Frankensteen.

William Weinstone, Stalinist commissar in the auto industry, declared, “Communists in the U.A.W., are making no move to oust Martin.” He forgot to add that only one month ago the Stalinists openly distributed 100,000 copies of a Daily Worker editorial branding Martin a “fascist,” who should be removed.

The shock in the ranks of auto unionists over the brazen deal between the Stalinists and that arch red-baiter in the auto unions, Frankensteen, aided Martin in exposing the reactionary role of the C.P. in the union movement.

Terms of Deal

This deal was exposed in the May 7 issue of the Socialist Appeal. Frankensteen was promised the presidency in place of Martin and also Stalinist support for achieving his ambition of becoming lieutenant-governor of Michigan if he would join forces with them against Martin.

Walter Reuther, executive board member, and former front man of the unity caucus, who carries a Socialist label, announced before the board session that he would not go along with the Frankensteen-Browder plans.

Only a few weeks previously, Reuther and other S.P. members received a bitter taste of Stalinist double-crossing when Victor Reuther, youngest of the three brothers, was defeated for the post of secretary-treasurer of the Michigan C.I.O. council, after the C.P. promised to support him at a meeting of the unity caucus. The Stalinists openly voted for Reuther’s opponent!

Reuther’s Role

While Walter Reuther refused to go along with the Frankensteen-Stalinist clique (he has been a bitter enemy of Frankensteen for two years) he apparently still tried to oppose Martin by another maneuver. He wanted George Addes, “neutral” secretary-treasurer of the union, to run for presidency in event Martin was kicked out, it was announced publicly. Apparently this proposal fell flat, judging by subsequent events.

The sham of Frankesteen’s slogan, “End factionalism” in the auto union, was evident to every active auto unionist who knows that the Stalinists, also “supporters” of this slogan, meet weekly in fraction meetings, and will continue to do so.

Recently, Martin appeared at a district council meeting in Detroit, and read the minutes of a Stalinist fraction meeting, thereby putting the crimps in maneuvers they had planned for that meeting.

C.P. Covering Tracks

Realizing that their ruthless and irresponsible factionalism is exposing them in the eyes of all militant workers, the Stalinists are trying to cover up their tracks through a belly-crawling retreat announced in the Daily Worker of May 10.

“The Central Committee (of the Stalinist Party) has forbidden its membership to organize fractions or act as a group within unions of the C.I.O.,” the Daily Worker claimed.

This announcement would be funny if it were not intended as a new cover for Stalinist maneuvers. What militant unionist in any C.I.O. union, auto, rubber, steel, or elsewhere, has not been invited to a Stalinist fraction meeting? How about the minutes of the fraction meeting that Martin exposed?

Rank and File Revolted

Again, the actions of the Stalinists in the present crisis in the United Automobile Workers only reveal the depths to which they have sunk. The hypocritical turns in their policy from week to week only emphasize the utter unscrupulousness of their methods in seeking to capture a union.

So revolting has become the policy of the Stalinist commissars (kindly note; the Central committee orders in New York a policy for unionists in Detroit) that the rank and file unionists who joined the Stalinist party have rebelled time and again. In Flint a whole fraction in the Fisher body plants rejected the Stalinist policy foisted from above. The fraction was “reorganized.”

New Deals Ahead

The statement of the “new turn” announced in the Daily Worker of May 10 should serve as a warning to all militants in the union. “Public” opposition to Martin has proven a boomerang. Watch then for undercover and underhanded moves, probably through C.P. agents in the Labor’s Non-Partisan League which has been flooded by Stalinists.

If the deal with Frankensteen fizzles completely, it only signifies that the Stalinists will intensify their efforts for more and bigger, deals, which bring them “fruitful” results.

Against these reactionary maneuvers, the rank and file unionists should exercise the greatest vigilance. The Stalinists were brought out into the open at this executive board session. Each of their future moves must be treated likewise. The life and future of the United Automobile Workers is at stake.

Homer Martin’s defense of the union from outside clique control was a real advance for the cause of progressive unionism in America and must be supported.

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