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Jack Wilson

News and Views from the Labor Front

Fight on Stalinists Imminent in UAW
as Leonard-Thomas Seek Way Out

(8 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 27, 8 July 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT, July 1Behind the sensational reports that George Addes, secretary-treasurer of the UAW-CIO, and Richard T. Leonard, vice-president, held a secret caucus meeting of their supporters and planned a purge of all Communist Party members in the UAW and the subsequent denial by these two officials of any such plan lies a significant development within the CIO.

Early this week the reports came from Washington that Addes and Leonard had pledged Philip Murray, CIO president, that they would purge the Stalinists; and that they had held a secret meeting of twenty UAW local presidents who support them and had promised that a real break with the Stalinists was coming.

The fact that Walter Reuther, UAW-CIO president, won such a smashing victory at the recent Michigan CIO State convention caused a crisis in the anti-Reuther bloc within the UAW.

Stalinist Coup

The Reuther victory was made easier by the fact that within the anti-Reuther bloc, the Stalinists boldly took over organizational control of the bloc and put up their slate against the Reuther slate. For example, the notorious Stalinist hatchetman, Nat Ganley of Local 155, was a candidate for vice-president on the anti-Reuther slate. Tracy Doll, prominent UAW official, was replaced as chairman of the caucus by John Anderson, another admitted Communist Party member. Then came the defeat and then the dissatisfaction.

So a secret meeting was called by twenty union presidents who support either Leonard, Addes or R.J. Thomas, which brought up the whole question of the role of the CP. Leonard, a right winger, urged a break with the Stalinists, while Addes remained silent. Leonard is rapidly changing his position and it would not surprise anyone if he ended up in Reuther’s camp.

The Detroit newspapers came out with sensational stories about the secret meeting, and said Addes was breaking with his Stalinist collaborators. No one in the Reuther camp, however, took this report seriously.

Deny Purge

Late this week, Addes and Leonard and a spokesman for R.J. Thomas issued statements denying a purge, but insisting that no political party would be permitted to dominate the union. The statements represent a tactical retreat on the part of Addes, for they make it much more difficult for him to function as closely as before with the Stalinists.

It represents a serious rift in the anti-Reuther camp and does indicate that the Stalinists will lose some of their influence in the UAW. It represents a partial victory for Reuther since it is an admission by his opposition that he has a sound view of the impossibility of permitting the Stalinists to play a dominating role in the union movement because they are merely using the unions as pawns for Russian foreign policy.

Later this week, another meeting of West Side presidents in the Addes- Leonard-Thomas camp is supposed to be held. The fact that anyone known as a Stalinist is excluded from these two meetings signifies the extent of the rift within the anti-Reuther camp. A new program has been promised by Addes-Leonard, but this too is to be taken with a large grain of salt.

The full significance of the rift will be revealed in the August meeting of the UAW-CIO Executive Board, where Reuther is expected to make a last bid for support before going to the ranks openly and perhaps calling a special convention of the union to support his program.

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