THE CIO IN POLITICS

Villard, Oswald Garrison

The CIO In Politics By OSWALD GARRISON VILLARD THE campaign has now gone far enough to make it plain that the CIO's Political Action Committee is going to be a liability to Mr. Roosevelt with many...

...Of course Eric Johnston, the President of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, would and should be similarly looked upon with suspicion and dread if, with large sums of money, he lined up large numbers of manufacturers and business men for the express purpose of dragooning them into the support of a man and a platform and let every business man know that it would be well for him to vote on the right side...
...Roosevelt used the phrase "clear everything with Sidney," the fact plainly is that Mr...
...Dewey...
...Hillman.stand the Communists who are likewise penetrating the Democratic Party to achieve their aimsó-hiding behind it and expecting to reap a tremendous harvest of political favors from Mr...
...Alongside of Mr...
...The Maine Results Whether it is true or not that Mr...
...Hillman says that he is innocent of any intention to snap the whip and he also asserts that he has no desire to capture the Democratic Party and run the Government, as Republican speakers are charging...
...While results in other communities may turn out differently, there was certainly nothing in the outcome in the three Maine districts to warrant anyone's assuming that the average American working man has put his political conscience into the harids of his labor union leaders...
...Yet it is undeniably true that the founders were well within their political and civic-rights in organizing as they did...
...Roosevelt if the latter is reelected...
...What then is wrong with the CIO move into politics...
...Roosevelt wins, and the CIO has plainly made a big contribution to the victory, the former will be a tremendously powerful person in the White House and in what is left of the Democratic Party...
...Democrats Stand To Lose I venture to say that many thousands of people, like the writer of these lines, refused to join under these circumstances, and I am equally certain that this attitude alone will prevent its developing into an important political movement...
...Hillman is the outstanding political figure in the Democratic ranks today, and that if Mr...
...Yet no politicians in Washington, according to the latest reports, are taking him seriously...
...It is composed largely of more conservative members of the American Labor Party who left it when Sidney Hillman took over the control of the organization...
...Roosevelt in toto in this one, despite the strong endorsement of his candidacy, not only by the CIO but by several state organizations of the AFL...
...I am particularly sorry that Sidney Hillman has come to occupy the position that he does, because I have long considered him one of the ablest and cleanest and most truly liberal of the labor leaders...
...wishes it...
...Yet there are instances constantly cropping up where it is announced that in this community or that CIO plans to raise a dollar from every union member for campaign expenses...
...It has never been possible to deliver the labor vote as a whole, and it is certainly not going to be handed over to Mr...
...Hillman admits that he had to change his program of assessing labor in order not to come into conflict with the election laws, but he maintains that he never intended to compel members of the CIO unions to contribute to the cause...
...Hill man's Role It is the way in which Mr...
...And I resent the reflections upon him because he is Jewish and foreign-born...
...Everybody who joined was informed that he had to vote for Roosevelt...
...Every American group has the right to organize along legal lines for a political purpose in order to persuade as many people as possible to further a cause or a candidate...
...This is another factor which leads me to believe that on the whole the Democrats will lose more than they will gain by the activities of PAC...
...It is true that most of those who will actively resent the CIO-PAC are already in the conservative camp, yet there are plainly many others who are alarmed and concerned by this concerted venture of a powerful labor organization in politics...
...They made the mistake of announcing in advance that they were out to support Franklin Roosevelt...
...In the South Portland shipyards of the great Todd organization there are more than 185,000 workers and it was confidently believed that the CIO would make a great dent in the Republican vote and perhaps even defeat the sitting Congressman, Robert Hale...
...Now the organization of labor unions is usually such that when a member is approached by one of the big men in the union and asked for a campaign contribution he promptly comes across whether he desires to or not...
...Of course...
...But he now typifies to multitudes of his fellow-citizens a determined attempt to force labor to vote as he...
...Roosevelt nor his new ally were able to make inroads upon laboring men and women in the great Maine shipyards, the President's chances for re-election are not so good as his followers think...
...Hale polled more 1;han double the vote of his rival, Andrew A. Pottis, who is president of the Portland Shipworkers' Union, and had the full endorsement of the Maine United Labor Committee, an affiliate of the PAC...
...The worst of this Sidney Hillman political development is that it contributes largely to the splitting up of the electorate into classes and groups...
...They did not wait until their party was organized and then call upon the membership in a referendum to state its wishes...
...Then take the case of the new Liberal Party in New York...
...Actually Mr...
...Hillman has started his movement, the arbitrary methods he has favored, and the evident intention to dragoon large numbers of people to vote for the chosen candidate that repels people and the piling up of huge sums of money for political ends...
...Roosevelt with many people, and a corresponding gain to Gov...
...But shouldn't labor have the right to organize for political action when capitalists do so and bIso some other groups like Socialists, Negroes, and farmers and single-taxers, and what not...
...Undoubtedly the PAC will contribute enormously to the getting out of the vote on ejection day, but if the results of recording the vote are no more encouraging than the elections in Maine, where neither Mr...
...in order to stand well with the men who can exercise such a great control over his career...
...That would be highly un-American, to be resisted for.it is obviously demoralizing and undemocratic...

Vol. 8 • October 1944 • No. 40


 
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