Reds in Trade Unions

July 22, 1949

Report Outline
Labor Union Offensive Against Communists
Radicals in United States Labor History
Recent Communist Activity in Labor Field
Place of Marxism in the Labor Movement
Decline of Communist Influence in Unions
Special Focus

Labor Union Offensive Against Communists

Within the last two years America's two great trade-union federations—the A. F. L. and the C. I. O.—have become prime movers in efforts to rid the labor movement of Communist influence. When the Taft-Hartley Act was passed in 1947, labor leaders voiced strong objections, not only to the law in general, but particularly to the provision designed to force union officers to execute non-Communist affidavits. Labor resentment at being singled out for such special treatment has not lessened. Nevertheless, trade union leaders have been taking increasingly vigorous steps to clean their own houses and have been cooperating to combat Communist infiltration of international labor groups. The full results of such efforts will become clearer during the coming autumn, when the C. I. O. holds its annual convention at Cleveland and when the constituent assembly of a new non-Communist world labor organization meets in Western Europe.

The executive board of the C. I. O., meeting May 17–19 in Washington, gave notice to left-wing officials of affiliated unions to comply with convention and executive board instructions and support C. I. O. policy or resign from the executive board. The United Farm Equipment and Metal Workers, allegedly Communist-dominated and accused by the board of carrying on “anti-democratic activities,” was ordered to merge with the United Auto Workers or face revocation of its charter.

The executive board was implementing and extending decisions made at Portland, Ore., last November by the full C. I. O. convention. In a resolution aimed at some of the smaller left-wing affiliates, the convention had empowered the executive board “to investigate the situations involving these affiliates of the C. I. O. which have failed to make substantial progress in organizing the unorganized, and to take such appropriate action with respect to such affiliates as may be … necessary to bring about effective organization of the working men and women within the jurisdiction of these affiliates.” President Philip Murray declared that he was “not going to protect… small cliques of men whose interests are promoted and propagated by the Daily Worker and the Communist Party.” William Z. Foster, chairman of the Communist Party, commented later; “No A. F.L. convention has surpassed the November 1948 convention of the C. I. O in wild, reckless red-baiting.”

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Aug. 19, 1949  Church and Communism
Jul. 22, 1949  Reds in Trade Unions
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Feb. 05, 1947  Investigations of Un-Americanism
Nov. 13, 1946  Communism in America
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Unions and Labor-Management Relations