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University o f ' p f-nt 
Austin, Tex*» 

Published by 

Workers Library Publishers, Inc. 

0. Box 148, Station D, New York City 

First edition April. 1936 

Second edition August, 1936 



Read alst 

Unionizing Steel 

by william z, foster 

5 cents 


PRESIDENT William. Green and the entire Executive Council 
of the American Federation of Labor, with the exception of 
David Dubinsky, have sallied forth on a holy crusade to block the 
development of the industrial union form of organization. 

These men, whose principles of trade union organization were 
reactionary even as far back as 1903, insist, yes, fight militantly 
to maintain backivardness in the American labor movement. The 
craft union, paragon of backwardness in unionism, ivhich divides 
the workers against themselves, is what Green and his followers 

William Green not only advocates the moss-covered craft-union 
form; he and his cronies have acted in undemocratic drum- 
head, court-martial fashion against the Committee for Industrial 
Organization, suspending ten of its affiliated unions, menacing 
two others, and threatening to split the whole American labor 
movement at a time wlien unity of labor is needed to uplift the 
conditions of the workmen. 

The great mass of unorganized workers are in favor of indus- 
trial unionism. The Green policy in no sense represents their 
opinions and interests. 

Out of 18 recently held conventions of state federations of 
labor, 16 have gone on record as opposed to the suspension order 
of the Executive Council. The national conventions of the Hotel 
and Restaurant Employees' International Union, and the Ameri- 
can Federation of Teachers, have done likewise. Similar action 
ivas taken by Central Trades and Labor Councils in more than 
a score of cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Birmingliam, 
Detroit, Seattle, Hartford, New Haven, New Orleans, Newark, 
jersey City, Chattanooga, Tampa, Louisville, Ky., Columbus, O., 
and Coshocton, Ohio. 

All forces of labor throughout the trade union movement 
should be united to reject the suspension order and preserve the 
unity and progress of the trade union movement. 



The Committee for Industrial Organization is fighting on the 
side of trade union progress. John L. Lewis and other leaders of 
the C.I.O. see thai for successful unionizing of steel, auto, rubber, 
electrical, printing and other industries, different methods than 
have been used in the craft unions of the building trades, service 
trades and railroads, are necessary — the industrial method. 

William Green aims to saddle this obsolete craft form of 
organization on the American workers even at tlie expense of 
unity of the labor movement, and at the price of keeping twenty- 
five million ivorkers unorganized. He wants to put a bustle on 
labor and drive it around in yesteryear's horse and carriage. 

The fight of the Committee for Industrial Organization against 
horse-and-carriage unionism and for industrial unionism has 
drawn sharp lines in the American labor movement. It goes on with 
the progressives lining up on the side of the C.I.O. 

What this fight means and the forces involved in it have never 
been so clearly revealed as they are by William Z. Foster in this 
pamphlet which is noiv being published in its second edition. 

No man living today can speak with more authority on the 
industrial union question than Foster. He ivas a pioneer in the 
fight for the industrial form of organization since 1900. In the 
Carmen s Union in Chicago, among the packing-house workers 
and as leader of the Great 1919 Steel Strike and hundreds of labor 
struggles throughout the country during his years of courageous 
and militant organizing, Foster ivm always the leader in the 
industrial union fight. 

This pamphlet presents a shrewd and clear analysis of the big 
issue facing the labor movement today. 

A hardboiled literary critic, reviewing Foster's book "The 
Great Steel Strike" several years ago, said: "Here's a man who 
knows labor and he also know how to write." 

What the critic said of "The Great Steel Strike" holds true for 
this pamphlet. It not only tells what it's all about but it's mighty 
interesting reading. 

Harry Raymond. 

HI <•! li 



THEY TELL THE STORY of a sparrow who fell out of a 
tree, and while falling, lightly brushed against the tail of 
an elephant. "Oh, excuse me, sir," the sparrow apologized, 
"did I hurt you?" 

That covers the situation of the weak, powerless craft union, 
up against a powerful group of industrial and financial barons 
in control of any important American industry today. This old 
yarn is all the more apt when you look at a typical craft union 
head and his painful eagerness to avoid offending any big em- 
ployer. But it's not so funny to the three and a half million mem- 
bers of the American Federation of Labor. Nor is it funny to the 
almost two score million unorganized workers, anxious for unioni- 
zation, but left out in the cold, to fight the employers' attacks 
as best they can, because at present, the American Federation of 
Labor, hog-tied by policies that might, have fitted back in the 
horse-and-buggy days, is not able to organize these desperate 
millions of workers. 

No, the old-fogy, craft union, pals-with-the-boss policies of the 
Executive Council of the A. F. of L. are not funny to the masses 
of workers in the United States, but on the contrary, a serious 
tragedy. They are tragic because they have left the American 
workers divided and wide open to any attacks the employers have 
chosen to make. And the employers have grabbed every advantage 
that the policies of the A. F. of L. Executive Council have given 
them. It's only necessary to realize that wages have been jacked 
down to 50 per cent of what they were in 1929. 

Because the result of such policies is so plain to the American 
working class, there has been a great seething going on in the 
ranks of the American Federation of Labor, affecting a growing 
section of the A. F. of L. leadership too. A struggle of the greatest 
importance to the whole American working class is taking place 
inside the A. F. of L. around the issues of industrial unionism. 
The struggle for industrial unionism reached a sharp point at 
the 1935 A. F. of L. Convention in Atlantic City, under the lead- 
ership of the John L. Lewis bloc, which later formed the Com- 
mittee for Industrial Organization. The Communist Party sup- 
ports that struggle, as it has always supported all progressive 
struggles aiming at the unity of the working class and the organi- 
zation of the unorganized. 

Among the rank and file and many of the lower A. F. of L. 
officials, the struggle isn't just being confined to the fight for 
industrial unionism, that is, to a change in the structure of the 
A. F. of L. It's also shaping up as a question of displacing the 
whole rotten gang of reactionary leaders playing ball with the 
employers, as well as a fight on the part of the membership of 
the A. F. of L. to run their unions in a democratic way, without 
bossism and strong-arm rule. The membership of the A. F. of L. 
have sacrificed much for their unions; they've even been willing 
to buck up against machine guns for the unions, on the picket- 
line. They want to see their unions ship-shape in every way. The 
membership of the A. F. of L., and the two score million who 
want to be organized into the A. F. of L., realize that these three 
things — industrial unionism, meaning the unity of the workers 
in each given industry; a policy of fighting against the bosses 
(class struggle), instead of smoking cigars with them over the 
conference table (class-collaboration) ; and third, trade union 
democracy, can go together to make the powerful kind of or- 
ganization that could stop the bosses, as strongly united as they 
are, from taking it out of the hides of the workers through wage 
cuts, increasing speedup, firing and blacklisting workers for 
joining a union, etc. 


The A. F. of L. Membership Takes Stock 

It's just because the employers have been getting away with 
such tricks that the A. F. of L. membership has begun to take 
stock and to realize that the blame must be put on policies that 
might have fitted in when the Civil War was still a fresh memory. 
That's why the masses of workers in the A. F. of L. and the 
many times greater masses outside, who want to be inside the 
A. F. of L., are raising the demand and taking very active steps 
for industrial unionism. One shop, one industry, one union, is the 
demand — one union for each mass-production industry, like auto- 
mobiles, steel, chemicals, rubber, etc. And as for the industries 
which are not mass-production in character, and where the policy 
of anywhere from a half-dozen to two dozen or more craft unions 
in an industry has played hell with the unity and the conditions 
of the workers, the demand is rising more and more for unity, 
and steps toward industrial unionism in the shape of closely 
knit federations (like the Pacific Coast Maritime Federation, 
which unites every marine craft), the commencing and expiring of 
agreements of all crafts in the industry on the same date; or 
in the shape of amalgamation, between a few trades, or on a 
general scale in given industries. 

The carrying through of such steps in every industry with the 
object of finally bringing about industrial unions not only in the 
mass production industries, but in the old time craft-ridden in- 
dustries like building, railroad, etc., together with a fighting, 
class struggle policy, and rank-and-file control in the A. F. of L., 
will find the employers facing a Rock of Gibraltar of working 
class solidarity and joint action whenever they dare plan a wage 
cut, an attack on conditions or a blacklisting campaign against 
union members. 

Horse-and-Buggy Unionism 
How did it start, the present day A. F. of L. horse-and-buggy 

system of craft unionism, and why does it cripple the workers 
in this modern day and age? When trade unionism was young, 
there were no industries as we know them today. Shops were 
small and far between. Each shop employed one kind of trades- 
man only. Blacksmiths worked only in blacksmith shops, and 
only blacksmiths worked there; molders worked only in mold- 
ing shops; wood-turners worked only in shops that did wood- 
turning. The craft unions served a real purpose then. The craft 
unions in those days were able to cope with the employers who 
were for the most part small shopowners. Those were the days 
when the employees usually called the boss Frank, or Tom — by 
his first name. Imagine a man on a Ford belt today walking up 
to Ford and saying: "Hello, Hank, how's the wife and kids." 
Times have changed. 

Gradually, the employers piled up more and more wealth, 
and combined their capital and factories into larger industrial 
units. A fellow like Andrew Carnegie would begin to buy out 
all the little iron works or tool shops he could lay his hands on, 
and pretty soon, the giant United States Steel Corporation took 
shape as a great trust, with competition narrowing down to the 
point where there were only two or three huge trusts instead of 
thousands of little shops in a big industry. These are the sort of 
great trusts which now dominate all American industry. 

Employers also began to form employers' associations — great 
unions of capitalists — to control output and prices ; to fix wages — 
that is, to cut them jointly; to fight the trade unions; to estab- 
lish industry-wide blacklists and spy systems against workers 
who joined unions, or those who tried to organize unions. Billions 
of dollars are behind these employers' associations, in the fight 
against unionization of the industries. 

Here are just a few of these Goliaths of the open shop whom 
the workers are expected to face with the sling shot of old time 
craft unionism: the Iron and Steel Institute; the National Electric 
Manufacturers' Association; the National Metal Trades Asso- 


ciation; the National Association of Manufacturers; the National 
Founders' Association ; the National Industrial Conference Board ; 
the California Merchants and Manufacturers Association; the 
Associated Employers of Seattle, Indianapolis and a host of 
other cities; the Waterfront Employers' Union of San Francisco; 
the so-called "Citizens Committee" of cities like Detroit, Cleve- 
land, Chicago and many others. Just because David was sup- 
posed to have slain a giant with a sling shot in biblical times, it 
can be done now, the A. F. of L. Executive Council figures. 

These are some of the changes that have come about in industry 
since the early days of American trade unionism. (In a few mo- 
ments we'll see some more startling ones, which apparently the 
craft union leaders haven't yet learned about.) Did the tactics, 
the strategy, and the structure of the A. F. of L. change to keep 
step with the great strengthening of industrial and finance capital- 
ism, in such a way that these powerful trusts could be balked in 
their attacks on the working class? They did not. 

There were more than a dozen metal craft unions in the A. F. 
of L. back in the days when shops were small and trusts un- 
dreamed of. There are the same number today, even though lined 
up against the workers in the metal industries there is a powerful 
National Metal Trades Association and a still more powerful Iron 
and Steel Institute. Blacksmiths, boilermakers, coopers, sheet 
metal workers, molders, machinists unions and the rest— they're 
like a bunch of birchbark canoes against a superdreadnought. 
The worst of it is that they're usually sent up against the dread- 
nought, one canoe at a time- 
Asbestos workers, bricklayers, carpenters, operating engineers, 
and the rest of the building trades craft unions— it's like facing 
sixteen-inch guns with bows and arrows, when you consider the 
powerful building trades employers' associations, the powerful 
real estate interests tied up with Wall Street. And now the A. F. 
of L. Executive Council proposes to take the auto workers who 
face Ford and General Motors, the chemical workers who face 

du Pont; the rubber workers who face Goodyear, Goodrich and 
Firestone; the aluminum workers who face Andrew Mellon, and 
separate them into so many canoes against battleships. 

What's Happening to Skilled Trades? 

There are other strong reasons which show that craft unionism 
no longer fills the bill, and must give way to industrial union- 
ism. Machinery and super-machinery in modern industry have 
largely done away with skill. This is not only true in the mass 
production industries, as we shall soon see; it is becoming more 
and more true even in industries where the craft unions have 
always dominated; which seemed the very stronghold of the 
skilled craftsmen. The International Molders' Union, once one of 
the strongest of the A. F. of L. craft unions, when molded cast- 
ings required skilled hand work, has lost nearly all its ground 
because new molding machines have been introduced into foun- 
dries and today handymen aided by machines produce castings 
by methods of mass production. Machines, application of elec- 
tricity, press steel plates, mass production, specialization have 
dried up the sources from which this antiquated craft union was 
once able to draw its membership. The skilled man in this and 
numerous other once skilled crafts is headed where the cigar 
store Indian went. 

Let's take a look at the building trades industry. The Building 
Trades Department of the A. F. of L. may try to ignore it, but 
changes have been going on in their industry affecting at the 
same time, tools, processes and materials. Structural steel, elec- 
tricity, imitation stone, displacement of wood, changes in decora- 
tion and architecture, the assembling of factory-made housing 
units on the job, the cement and plaster gun, paint spray guns, 
and other innovations, have knocked into a cocked hat the 
old craft boundary lines, the skills that it took long years 
of apprenticeship and experience to acquire, and with them, 
the wage scales. 


That's what's happening to skill in the old craft union strong- 
holds. Now let's look at a few of the mass production industries, 
which the craft union leaders want to divide up among them- 
selves on the basis of "skilled trades." 

Timed to 154/1,000 of a Minute 

Let's peep, for a moment, into the big General Electric plant 
in Schenectady, with its 350 buildings, covering 645 acres, em- 
ploying eighteen to twenty-five thousand workers. Let's see what 
the Micromotion System — one of the many speedup systems — is 
doing to "skill." We see the General Electric efficiency experts 
measuring the movements of the employees' hands down to one- 
two thousandth of a minute, by means of a clock, which has a 
hand revolving at the rate of twenty revolutions a minute. The 
clock has a face graduated into 100 divisions; it is placed where 
it will appear in a moving picture taken of the man at work. 
Let's take a glance at a chart of "Micromotion Study," of a man 
screwing studs in a threaded plate and then "swaging" them by 
means of a die and punch press (a study of just the motions of 
the left hand of this worker). 

Time (in minutes) : 

.0155 Gets plate and carries it to meet stud held in right hand. 

.0650 Holds plate while right hand screws in stud. 

.0280 Places the assembly in die. 

.0120 Trips the press. 

.0335 Removes finished piece and drops it in box at left. 

Entire job completed in 154/1,000 of a minute, but the speed up 
experts found the man's right hand was idle 735/1,000 of a min- 
ute, while the left hand was doing the above, so they "re-edu- 
cated" the worker in the use of his hands so he could screw a stud 
into a plate while his left hand was busy on the above motions. 

That's what's been happening to machinists, blacksmiths, elec- 
tricians, molders, etc. The gentlemen who are the head of craft 


unions ought to be told to take their bat-wing collars off; they're 
living in 1936! 

Nineteenth Century Unionism and the Automobile Industry 

A little look in at the automobile industry, one of the most 
highly specialized, will give us a further sidelight into how 
futile the craft union system, the "nineteenth century" trade 
unionism, is, when up against modern industry. Henry Ford, him- 
self, says in My Life and Work, that 43 per cent of all jobs in 
his plant require not over one day's training; 36 per cent from 
one day to one week; 6 per cent from one to two weeks; 14 per 
cent from one month to a year — and only 1 per cent of all jobs 
need over a year to learn. And still an A. F. of L. official like 
Frey of the Metal Trades Department, or Matthew Woll, will tell 
you that "union organization can only be based on craft skill." 

What a laugh, if it weren't so tragic for the workers of the 
United States! What such "leaders" of labor really mean is that 
they don't want to organize the approximately 30,000,000 un- 
organized workers, for if they come into a Ford or a Chevrolet 
plant, where there are hundreds of different special jobs, some 
requiring but one or two simple movements, others several or 
more complicated movements, and propose to put this man into 
the boilermakers, this man into the molders, this one into the 
machinists, and this one into the painters, they're simply not 
going to organize these workers. 

It is easy to see how it would be impossible to fight the em- 
ployers in such industries by pitting one craft union today, an- 
other one some other time, and so on down the line, against a 
man with the power of Henry Ford; or let's say against the House 
of Morgan, which directly, or through subsidiaries like the First 
National Bank and the Bonbright brokerage house or through 
its members on boards of directors, has its fingers in such pies 
as General Motors, General Electric, American Telephone and 



University of Tex*£ 

Austin, Texas 

Telegraph. Baldwin Locomotive, Firestone Tire and Rubber, 
U. S. Rubber, Radio Corporation of America, International Har- 
vester, Kennecott and Phelps-Dodge Copper, U. S. Steel, etc., etc. 
Or against Rockefeller, with his finger in American Smelting and 
Refining, General Foods Corp., White Motors, as well as the 
various Standard Oil Companies, to name but a few. 

Pebbles Against Machine Guns 

Only fools can think of facing machine guns with a hatful of 
pebbles, thrown sparingly as they are under the craft union 
separate agreement system. If a fight against companies like the 
above is to be won, it can only be fought on a basis which can 
paralyze the whole industry — and that means industrial unionism, 
together with a fighting policy and trade union democracy in 
the A. F. of L. Imagine trying to organize and win better con- 
ditions in such industries on the basis of anywhere from a dozen 
to two dozen different craft unions, each with different initiation 
fees, different dues, different headquarters, agreements expiring 
at different dates, different sets of officials, each trying to advance 
their own cause at the expense of others, making raids on one 
another's membership. To come to workers, who are faced by 
such conditions as above, imposed by such powerful interests as 
mentioned above, with craft unionism, is, to call a spade a spade, 
not to want to organize these workers at all. And the A. F. of L. 
top leadership has neither organized the vast majority of work- 
ers in these basic, mass production industries, nor made any 
serious attempt to do so. The records will show this. 

A. F. of L. Hasn't Organized Mass Production Industries 

There are 98,087 workers in the rubber products industry, 
according to the 1931 census of manufacturers as made by the 
U. S. Department of Commerce. To the 1935 A. F. of L. Con- 
vention there came but six delegates from six federal locals of 


rubber workers, with a total of 39 votes (one vote for every 100 
dues-paying members). 

There are 230,377 workers in the chemical and allied products 
industry, according to the above-mentioned census. To the 1935 
A. F. of L. Convention there came but one delegate from one 
chemical workers' federal local (Barberton, Ohio) with three 

There are 598,308 workers in the iron, steel, and iron and 
steel products industries. At the 1935 A. F. of L. Convention in 
Atlantic City, the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin 
Workers had but 86 votes, representing 8,600 dues-paying mem- 
bers. (No doubt this voting strength is an underestimation of 
the actual membership, for many lodges understate their dues- 
payments so that they may retain a part of the per capita for 
themselves; nevertheless it does show how far from being in 
the A. F. of L. are the half million or more steel workers.) 

In the motor vehicle bodies and parts industry, the above 
census lists 151,799 workers, plus 135,426 workers in the motor 
vehicle industry itself. To the 1935 A. F. of L. Convention there 
came but six delegates from eight federal automobile workers' 
locals, with 18 votes. 

In the cigar and cigarette industry there are 87,600 workers. 
At the A. F. of L. Convention in 1935 the Tobacco Workers Inter- 
national Union, which is supposed to organize the big cigarette 
factories, had 104 votes, meaning 10,400 members (it listed 
2,500 members in 1932) ; while the Cigarmakers Union had 70 
votes, for 7,000 dues-paying members (it listed 15,500 mem- 
bers in 1932). 

The electrical machinery, apparatus and supplies industry, 
which includes radio, employs 180,064 workers, according to the 
above census; at the A. F. of L. Convention not a single delegate 
was present from an electrical manufacturing plant, and only 
seven delegates from seven radio factory federal locals, with 75 
votes, representing 7,500 dues-paying members. 


<iiui n 

This is a brief picture of the failure of the antiquated craft 
union system in the A. F. of L. to organize the millions of work- 
ers in the mass production basic industries. The great masses of 
workers in these industries have not been given the protection of 
trade unions, and so have been forced to work under low wages, 
incredible speed-up such as pictured above, spy systems and 
company unions. These workers have not been given the trade 
union protection they need and want, because the A. F. of L. 
craft union leaders have offered them, when they have offered 
them anything at all, not unionism adapted to the industrial con- 
ditions under which they work, but a plan of splitting them up 
into a score or more of unions based on crafts, which either no 
longer exist or are fast fading from the picture. 

Organization into industrial unions on the basis of one shop, 
one industry, one union, means bread and butter, life or death 
to the workers in these basic mass production industries. The 
proposition the A. F. of L. Executive Council tries to force on 
them means death, because it means being split up every which 
way against one powerful foe. 

The A. F. of L. has not been able to organize these mass pro- 
duction workers into craft unions. (A chemical union in Buffalo 
and an electrical manufacturing union in Lynn sent back their 
charters when told they must submit to division into craft unions.) 
These workers, clamoring for trade union protection, went ahead 
and organized themselves on scores of occasions since 1933, 
instinctive!} adopting the industrial union, only to have the craft 
unions come in like a pack of starving wolves to divide them up. 

The workers themselves organized federal locals of auto work- 
ers in General Motors plants in Detroit, Flint, St. Louis, Tarry- 
town, Cleveland, Kansas City, etc. They organized auto-parts 
federal locals in Toledo and other cities. They organized air- 
craft federal locals in Buffalo, Baltimore, and other cities. They 
organized federal locals in rubber factories in Akron, Chicopee 
Falls, etc. They organized federal aluminum locals in the Pitts- 



burgh area, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in Massena, N. Y., etc., 
and other aluminum centers. They organized radio federal locals 
in Philadelphia, New York, etc. 


Industrial Unions Led Most Strikes 

Just to mention these locals — all of them organized on an 
industrial basis by the workers themselves — is to call out of the 
pages of recent labor history some of the most glorious and 
valiant struggles known to America. Who will ever forget the 
Toledo strike of 1934? These are the unions, together with the in- 
dustrial United Textile Workers of America, the industrial United 
Mine Workers of America, the semi-industrial needle trades 
unions, the closely federated marine unions on the Pacific Coast, 
which wrote such brilliant pages of struggle into American labor 
history in recent years; while the Molders Union, the Machinists 
Union, the Patternmakers Union, the railroad craft unions, the 
building trades craft unions and practically every single other 
long-standing craft union took part in no struggles, or at best, 
scattered and minor struggles, even though their members and 
the unorganized masses in their own trades kept taking it on the 
chin and demanding strike action. 

Instead of having led struggles in their own trades, the big 
shots in these craft unions tried to break the backs of the new 
industrial unions in the mass production industries by making 
grabs for their members and splitting them up. Sixteen crafts in 
the metal trades went to divide up the Association of Oil Field, 
Gas Well and Refinery Workers at the present time, to give one 
example of such wolfishness. They are like hungry boarders 
scrambling for the eats with their forks, but instead upsetting the 
whole platter in their greed, so that nobody has anything. 

Another example of such splitting was when the Montana cop- 
per miners had decided on the industrial form of unionism as the 
only form under which they could, and in this case actually did, 
lick the powerful Anaconda Copper Co. (in the Butte district, 

May, 1935 ) . But after the International Mine, Mill and Smelter 
Workers (an industrial union) had fought the copper barons to 
a standstill, the craft unions stepped in and signed some 13 
separate agreements for 13 different craft unions in the building 
and metal trades. 

Against this policy of splitting, of tearing apart the ranks of 
the A. F. of L. and the working class in general, the slogan "For 
a United A. F. of L." must be raised, a slogan which the Com- 
munist Party backs and actively fights for. "For a United A. F. 
of L.", on a basis of "one shop, one industry, one union," plus a 
fighting policy to gain the demands of the workers, and real 
trade union democracy within the A. F. of L. 

Haven't Even Organized Thetr Own Trades 

Not only have the craft unions failed to organize the mass pro- 
duction industries, but the plain fact is that they have failed to 
organize the bulk of the workers in their own trades. 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and here are 
ihe facts. 




of rotes 

Number of 

Number of members 

in A. F. 

unions had 


workers in trade of L. craft unions, 


at 1935 

(1930 Federa 

A. F. of L. 



Blacksmiths, forgemen 

and hammer-men 


Blacksmiths Union 





Boilermakers Union 



Brick and stone masons, 


tile layers 


Bricklayers Union 





Carpenters Union 





Electr. Bro. 



Machinists, millwrights 


and toolmakers 


Machinists Union 



Painters, glaziers — 



Painters Union 



In factories 


Plasterers, cement 

finishers 85,477 

Plumbers, gas & 

steam fitters 237,813 

Chauffeurs, truck, 

tractor drivers 970,916 

draymen, teamsters 111,178 

Plasterers Union 35,300 180 

Plumbers Union 45,000 340 

Teamsters Union 82,000 1,370 

* One vote for every 100 dues-paying members. 

Craft unionism, together with a policy of playing ball with the 
bosses, and gag-rule within the unions, therefore, has been an 
obstacle to organizing the huge majority of workers even in the 
particular crafts they cover, as these examples from the metal 
trades, building trades, etc., show. It may be added that craft 
unionism also has been an obstacle to organizing the huge ma- 
jority of the workers in such industries in which mass production 
is not so well developed, and where the trades still have a grip, 
as transport, food, and the like, and has left large numbers un- 
organized on the railroads. Not such a hot record, even on their 
own "home grounds". 

Union Scabbing on Union 

One of the most disgusting and most vicious results of craft 

unionism is the record of scabbery by A. F. of L. craft unions 
against A. F. of L. craft unions. Such a spectacle is absolutely 
impossible under industrial unionism and with rank-and-file con- 
trol of the unions. It is the direct result of craft ideas, that the 
craft union leaders constantly take advantage of the position of 
each others' unions and of the unskilled, by making a bargain 
for their own craft union at the expense of the rest. Such scabbery 
is the direct result of craft unionism, under which the various 
unions in the shop have agreements with the same employer, but 
expiring at different dates, so that if one craft strikes, the others 
cannot on the excuse that they are bound to the job by their 

Let's hold our noses as the sickening pageant of scabbery re- 
sulting from craft unionism, and the consequent splitting up of 
the workers, goes by. It cannot be blamed on the membership 
themselves; they don't like craft unionism; they have it forced 
on them by policies which were already outliving their useful- 
ness when Steve Brodie took a chance. 

John Olchen, chairman of the trustees of the Cleveland Metal 
Trades Council, a craft organization, member of Machinists Local 
439, a craft union, gives his experience of craft unionism in 
action. In 1915 he struck in Youngstown with 1,500 machinists. 
The molders were ordered to remain at work. The scab machinists 
used molds made by union molders. The strike was lost. A year 
later the molders struck, on the expiring of their agreement, but 
the machinists were ordered to scab. As a result, both strikes 
were lost and both unions practically wiped out. 

No wonder Olchen has had his bellyfull of craft unionism and 
is strong for industrial unionism for the entire A. F. of L. ! 

In the big 1921 shop crafts strike, seven crafts tied up the 
mechanical departments of all the railroads in the country. But 
transportation kept right on: train crews, trackmen, clerks, teleg- 
raphers stayed at work. The railroad companies had one or- 
ganization, one center, one head, to combat the strike; the rail- 



road workers were divided up into many unions with as many 
sets of leaders, headquarters, dues systems, agreements, etc. 

Scabbery of this sort, of craft union against craft union, has 
happened innumerable times on building trades jobs. No won- 
der: on one building job there may be as many as 20 different 
agreements with 20 different business agents. 

The only reason it's hard to give many examples of craft 
union scabbing on craft union in the most recent years is because 
the craft unions have ceased calling strikes altogether, except in 
small and isolated cases. And in most of those cases the same 
sickening story of scabbery, particularly in building trades 
strikes, holds true. 

But wait. There have been some strikes called by craft unions 
in recent years. They were jurisdictional strikes— in which a craft 
union called a strike, not against the boss, but against another 
craft union. 

Paralysis by Jurisdictional Fights 

And this brings to mind another one of the poisoned fruits of 
craft unionism, jurisdictional disputes, in which the craft unions 
battle each other, in some cases, in order to steal jobs away from 
each other, or in other cases, to steal members from each other. 
When it comes to fighting for relief jobs at union wages for the 
unemployed, the craft union leaders are usually somewhere else. 
When it comes to stealing jobs from other unions you'll find 
them Johnnies-on-the-spot. When it comes to getting new mem- 
bers by conducting a real campaign for organization of the 
unorganized the craft union top leaders aren't around. When it 
comes to getting a handful of new members by "swiping" them 
from other unions, they're always willing. Let us see some ex- 
amples of this method of dividing the ranks of the workers by 
the craft unions. 

The Tobacco Workers International Union has been able in 
all its years of existence to organize only two of the cigarette 


factories, the Axton-Fisher and Brown-Williamson plants in 
Louisville. Even at that, the Tobacco Workers International has 
had to divide 232 out of the 2,684 Brown-Williamson employees 
up with 14 other craft unions. The Tobacco Workers International 
had a contract with Axton-Fisher for 39 years, when, suddenly, 
in 1936, the Machinists Union stepped in and demanded a con- 
tract for 138 employees whom it claims in Brown-Williamson, 
and the machine-fixers in Axton-Fisher, which means an attempt 
to open up a war between the craft unions in these plants. 

The Glass Blowers Union has fought the Flint Glass Workers 
Union for control of neon signs. The Teamsters Union fought the 
Railway Clerks for control of the employees in the vehicle de- 
partment of the American Railway Express. The Flint Glass 
Workers Union has fought the Machinists Union for control of 
the machinists working in glass factories. Naturally, the employ- 
ers sit back and smile. Instead of fighting for better conditions 
and wages these unions keep fighting each other. 

The main business of the Building Trades Department of the 
A. F. of L. has been concerned with jurisdictional disputes 
between the unions. As far back as 1918 these jurisdictional 
scraps got so sharp that an attempt was made to work out a 
solution by setting up a National Board of Jurisdictional Awards, 
composed of men from the A. F. of L. Building Trades Depart- 
ment and the American Institute of Architects. But it didn't last 
long; in a year the Carpenters Union quit the Board because an 
award went against it. When this Board broke apart, attempts 
were made to form local boards to settle jurisdictional disputes; 
but certain building trades unions wouldn't take part on the 
grounds, as one of them stated, that "no two local boards would 
settle the questions in exactly the same way". The truth was 
evident. The building trades craft union leaders saw the juris- 
dictional disputes not only preventing the organization of the 
majority of building workers, but also bringing about the loss 
of members already in these unions. Still they weren't interested 


in putting a stop to these fatal inter-union fights by means of a 
closely-knit federation, leading to amalgamation of the unions 
in the building trades industry, through which they could get 
down to the real business of organizing the hundreds of thousands 
of unorganized building trades workers. So the same warfare 
between the building unions goes on today. 

The craft union leaders often hate each other so bitterly that 
when the plumbers, painters and molders tried to get admission 
into the Railway Employees Department of the A. F. of L., con- 
sisting of nine craft unions, they were turned down, "to avoid 
jurisdictional disputes". 

The Ambition of a Craft Union Leader 

For the past few years Tobin and the rest of the top leaders 
of the Teamsters Union seem to have had one all-consuming am- 
bition. Has this ambition been to organize the more than one mil- 
lion teamsters and chauffeurs in the United States? Wrong! Their 
sole ambition has been to snatch away from the Brewery Work- 
ers (an industrial union) all the drivers employed in breweries. 
The Brewery Workers Union naturally has resisted this; they 
don't want the forces of the brewery workers split up. The A. F. 
of L. Executive Council has ordered the brewery workers to sur- 
render the drivers to the Teamsters Union ; they even were respon- 
sible for the lockout of the brewery drivers in some of the plants 
in Washington and Oregon, because these drivers want to stick 
with the other brewery workers in an industrial union. The mere 
fact that a referendum in April, 1934, held by direction of the A. 
F. of L. in very brewery in the country resulted in 24,161 votes 
for the industrial Brewery Workers Union and only 170 against 
doesn't mean a thing to the A. F. of L. craft union leaders. 

Scabbing by union against union in strikes, the calling of 
strikes against other unions instead of against the employers and 
for improvement of wages and conditions, a mad scramble for 
jurisdiction over jobs and for who shall control a handful of 


members instead of going out and organizing the many millions 
still unorganized— these are the miserable results of craft union- 
ism and its division of the workers. 

Industrial Unionism in Action 

Is this possible under industrial unionism? Let's look at a 
typical strike of an industrial union and see. In September, 1935, 
the soft coal miners wanted a wage increase. They struck for it— 
they went on strike 400,000 strong, tying up almost every soft 
coal mine in the country. There was no scabbing of a coal cutter 
against a mine electrician in this strike; nor of mine carpenters 
against slate-pickers. They all went out, to a man. Why? Because 
they were members of an industrial union, the United Mine 
Workers of America, embracing every man who works in and 
around the mine. And as a result the soft-coal miners won a 10 
per cent increase. And in April, 1934, by a strike threat, this in- 
dustrial union won the seven-hour day. 

Or take the marine industry on the Pacific Coast, where, as a 
step toward one industrial union for the marine industry, long- 
shoremen, ships' clerks, seamen, masters, mates and pilots, marine 
engineers, marine firemen, oilers and wipers, marine cooks and 
stewards, and other unions working in connection with the ship- 
ping industry formed the closely knit Pacific Coast Maritime 
Federation. Demand after demand has been won for these unions 
because each marine union had all of the others behind it. The 
members of the International Seamens Union on the Pacific Coast 
have won a wage scale of $62.50 a month, while the Atlantic 
Coast seamen, not part of such a federation, work under a lower 
scale of $52.50 a month. One would suppose that the staunch 
advocates of craft unionism in the A. F. of L. leadership might 
learn something from these facts. They not only learn nothing, 
but they hate the guts of the Pacific Coast marine workers for 
having accomplished so much through solidarity, and therefore 
they order the charter of the Sailors Union of the Pacific revoked 


and a new dual union established in its place. Talk about splitting 
the labor movement! 

Making More Money — For the Bosses 

The top leaders of the craft unions have shown great willing- 
ness to allow warfare between the unions to go on. But they don't 
show a willingness to fight the employers. Quite the opposite; 
they seem to prefer collaborating with the bosses, working hand 
in hand with them, even going to the extent of working out 
schemes by which the employers' profits can be increased at the 
expense of the employees. Here are some examples of it: 

The International Printing Pressmens Union maintains a spe- 
cial bureau to study methods of improving the processes of print- 
ing and engraving, which means methods of speed-up and elimi- 
nating thousands of workers from their jobs. 

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, in com- 
bination with the electrical contractors, has set up machinery for 
establishing standards of work in the industry and for settling 
disputes without recourse to strikes. 

And who does not know of the Baltimore and Ohio Plan, 
originated in 1923 by the railroad shop craft unions, whereby the 
unions cooperate with the management on that railroad to speed 
up and cheapen the cost of production. Shortly after the plan was 
adopted, 5,000 men in the B. and 0. shops were permanently laid 
off through efficiency schemes. In the spring of 1934, through a 
drive to get more work in the B. and 0. shops, 1,500 were laid 
off. The plan has been adopted in essence by the Chicago and 
Northwestern, the Milwaukee, Canadian National and other rail- 
roads. There are many cases of industrial or semi-industrial 
unions, such as in the United Textile Workers and the Amalga- 
mated Clothing Workers, where such schemes are practiced. The 
leaders of these unions who fight for industrial unionism must 
realize that this only weakens the fight for industrial unionism 
and the organization of the unorganized. 


Organize the Negro Workersl 

Craft unionism has not only resulted in splitting the ranks of 
the workers generally, but the top leaders of the craft unions have 
been the leaders in splitting the ranks of the workers as between 
white and Negro workers. It is in the craft unions especially that 
the Negro worker has been met with the color bar. Many of the 
craft union leaders have actively fostered the practice of prevent- 
ing the Negro workers from obtaining skilled positions. In their 
apprenticeship systems young Negroes have strictly been barred, 
closing up the avenues leading toward the holding of skilled jobs. 
Not content with barring Negroes from membership in many 
unions, not satisfied with keeping them from holding skilled jobs, 
the craft union leaders have made little or no attempt to organize 
the Negro workers generally. In most cases where Negro workers 
spontaneously organized themselves, they have been isolated in 
little federal locals of "laborers", and given no attention there- 

It was only in October, 1935, that the Brotherhood of Sleeping 
Car Porters, consisting entirely of Negro workers, was given an 
international charter. The Pullman porters were kept out of the 
A. F. of L. for four years, and then given federal local charters 
in 1929. Craft unions that never lifted a finger to organize the 
porters claimed the dues, and on the excuse of these jurisdictional 
claims, the A. F. of L. Executive Council help up the porters' 
national charter for six years. One of the craft unions which 
claimed the porters' dues, the Pullman Car Conductors, itself had 
a color bar, and offered to organize the pullman porters as a 
lower caste within the union, on condition that no porter could 
rise to the rank of pullman conductor. The result of craft union- 
ism and its accompanying policies is that only about 50,000 out 
of the million or more Negroes employed in American industry 
are organized into the A. F. of L. 

In permitting jim-crowism in its locals and allowing the prac- 


lice of keeping Negroes out of the skilled jobs in southern cotton 
mills, an industrial union like the United Textile Workers, even 
though it fights for industrial unionism, also must stand guilty of 
helping to split the ranks of the workers. 

Craft unionism has also left the huge majority of the millions 
of young men and women workers in the lurch, without trade 
union protection. Women and young workers do not work in large 
numbers in the strongest crafts and trades which the A. F. of L. 
Council considers its ''backbone", and little or no attempt has 
been made to organize those industries where large numbers of 
young workers and women work. In those cases where large num- 
bers of young workers and women have been organized, it has 
been done by unions industrial or semi-industrial in form, like 
the textile workers and the needle trades unions. 

Poisoned Fruits of Craft Unions 

These are the fruits of craft unionism, of a class-collaboration 
policy and lack of trade union democracy in the A. F. of L. : 
splitting the ranks of the workers; leaving the vast majority of 
them, both in the mass production industries and in the trades, 
unorganized and at the mercy of the employers 1 attacks; scabbery 
of unions against unions in strikes; fierce warfare between unions; 
working with the employers to dope out new schemes of elim- 
inating hundreds of thousands of workers from their jobs; setting 
up bars between Negro and white workers; leaving the bulk of 
ihe women workers unorganized. 

Despite all this, which has left the unions pale shadows of the 
powerful bodies they could be, the A. F. of L. Executive Council 
persists in basing policies affecting 30,000,000 workers in the 
United States on the antiquated Scranton Declaration of 1901. 
This Declaration itself went back to conditions of the eighteen- 
sixties, seventies, and eighties, and compels the A. F. of L. to be 
shackled by strict adherence to organization based on craft lines 
throughout the years, come what may in the shape of mechaniza- 


tion of industry wiping out craft lines, in the form of huge trusts 
dominating industry, of powerful open-shop bosses' organizations. 

Fight for Industrial Unionism Not New 

The present great and ever-growing demand within the A. F. 
of L. for industrial unionism is not the first such demand. The 
unions were being enfeebled right along by the effects of craft 
unionism. As far back as 1903, reactionary old Sam Gompers 
himself said that "scarcely an affiliated organization is not en- 
gaged in a desperate fight with one or more other unions", and 
that unless they changed their course the unions would destroy 
one another. 

Such self-destruction — in the face of the ever-increasing attacks 
on wages and conditions by the employers who were steadily 
growing stronger, integrating mines, mills and plants into giant 
holding corporations with billion-dollar financial interests, taking 
control of the main industries through subsidiary corporations 
and seats on boards of directors— such self-destruction was tragic. 
Trade union members who had sacrificed, and were willing to 
sacrifice considerably more, for their unions began to press hard 
for a change in the structure of the A. F. of L. away from the 
hide-bound craft lines, on the basis of plant and industrial unions. 

In the years immediately after the World War, when the big 
corporations, bloated with war-time profits, began to launch plans 
to take away the hard-fought gains made by organized labor dur- 
ing the war, the craft form of unionism was more seriously than 
ever before felt to be a handicap for the workers. The 39th Annual 
Convention of the A. F. of L. in 1919 found the craft union lead- 
ers hard pressed by the demand for industrial unionism. In the 
great 1919 strike wave, craft unionism was the main cause of 
the loss of strikes, as it was in the ensuing railway and printing 
trades strikes. In 1922, 23 and 24 agitation, led by the Communist 
Party and the Trade Union Educational League for amalgamation 


of the craft unions into industrial unions, assumed large propor- 
tions, especially making itself felt at the 43rd Annual Convention 
of the A. F, of L. in 1923. 

In the following years, the deadly toll of craft unionism began 
to be felt so sharply that no one could fail to notice it. As a re- 
sult of the warfare between craft unions, as a result of the no- 
strike policy, the policy of playing ball with the employers, the 
policy of expulsion of members who had the guts to say what they 
felt on the union floor, the membership of the A. F. of L. declined 
from its highest point of 4,078,740 in 1920 to about two and a 
half million in 1929. 

The result was that at the 1929 Annual Convention a resolu- 
tion was introduced for the appointment of a committee of 15 to 
formulate a plan for reducing the number of international unions 
and for consolidating them. The stodgy craft union leaders suc- 
ceeded in voting down this expression of the sentiment of more 
and more of the membership. The craft union leaders reaffirmed 
the Scranton Declaration of 1901 as the expression of the A. F. 
of L. policy — on the principle of the fellow who says, ''What was 
good enough for my great-great-grandfather is good enough for 

Communists Played Big Part in Fight 

The fight for industrial unionism in this period was guided by 
the fighting Left-wing elements in the various A. F. of L. unions, 
marshalled by the Trade Union Educational League and by the 
Communists whose aim in the trade unions was to lead the work- 
ers in the struggle for industrial unionism, amalgamation of the 
various crafts in each industry, rank-and-file control of the unions, 
a policy of real struggle against the employers for improvement 
of wages and conditions instead of boot-licking on the part of 
the top leadership of the A. F. of L. These fighting elements 
formed influential movements for amalgamation in the railroad 
industry, the metal trades, the building trades, etc. Later, when 


the fighting independent unions of the Trade Union Unity League 
were formed on an industrial basis, the example they set of soli- 
darity in strike action, of rank-and-file control of the unions, of 
a policy of fighting the bosses for what the workers wanted in- 
stead of trying to lick their boots — this example had a great 
effect on the A. F. of L. membership in increasing their disgust 
with the effects of the craft union policy. 

When, for the sake of the unity of the working class, the Trade 
Union Unity League dissolved its unions, its members entered into 
the unions of the A. F. of L., and brought to the welcoming A. 
F. of L. membership the fruits of their experience in hard-fought 
struggles against the employers. Inside the A. F. of L. they con- 
tinued to be among the staunchest fighters for industrial unionism, 
for trade union democracy, and for a policy of struggle against 
the employers, instead of palship by the top leaders with the 

The Importance of the Fight Today 

However, never before has the struggle for making the A. F. 
of L. into a powerful, unified weapon against the employers' 
attacks been so great as now. And here are the reasons for the 
intense seething going on in the A. F. of L., with the eyes of the 
entire working class on the struggle for a powerful A. F. of L. 
based on industrial unions. 

For one thing, following the introduction of the N.R.A., the 
craft union policy was shown up by the great upheaval of the 
workers during the 1933-34 strike movement and the great de- 
sire for unionism expressed the determination of the American 
working class once and for all to take a fighting stand against 
the repeated wage cuts, loss of conditions, layoffs, etc. This 
time, the workers in the big mass production industries — alumi- 
num, automobiles, rubber, steel, for example, who had been 
absolutely ignored by the craft-ridden A. F. of L. leadership 



— determined to take matters into their own hands, and organ- 
ized hundreds of locals by themselves. They took part in some 
of the best-fought strikes ever known in American history. In 
most cases where the craft unions showed any interest at all in 
these workers, it was either to try to settle their strikes behind their 
backs or to come in during or after the strikes and attempt to 
split up these fighting, industrial locals among themselves. The 
great fighting spirit of the workers following the N.R.A. showed 
that if the A. F. of L. had had a policy of industrial unionism 
and a policy of struggle against the employers, from ten to a 
score of millions of these workers could have been organized, so 
anxious were they to fight and to have the benefits of trade union 

For another thing, company unionism began to grow by leaps 
and bounds, under Roosevelt, and the craft union policy could do 
little against it in the industries where it was especially rampant, 
—steel, radio, electrical apparatus, oil refining, chemicals, auto- 
mobiles, etc. In these industries the only A. F. of L. organizations 
which existed, if there were any, were a few small crafts, like 
bricklayers in oil refineries, or a molders local here and there 
in an electrical apparatus plant, and the like. It is significant 
lhat an industrial union like the United Mine Workers of America 
was able to lick the company unions to a frazzle in nearly every 
case, organizing nearly 500,000 miners into an industrial union. 

Fight Against Fascism Needs Unified Working Class 

Then, fascist tendencies, like the Liberty League, Coughlin, 
Hearst, blue, black, brown and many other colored shirt move- 
ments began to raise their ugly heads, one of their avowed aims 
being to smash trade unionism, as the fascists did in Germany, 
Italy, and Austria. What chance has a trade union movement, en- 
feebled and torn asunder by craft unionism and weakened by an 
anti-struggle policy — what chance has such a trade union move- 


ment against fascist movements which can develop into organiza- 
tions as powerful as in Germany, Italy and Austria, if the working 
class doesn't unite to stop them? This fact set millions of workers 
thinking, and that's one of the big reasons why the demand for 
industrial unionism has become greater now than ever before. 

To the three and a half million workers inside the A. F. of L., 
and to the nearly 30,000,000 other workers watching them in their 
fight for industrial unionism, it's a bread and butter proposition. 
The protection of powerful unions, industrial in form, demo- 
cratically controlled, with a policy of fighting the bosses with 
a determined front, would mean not only a halt to the attacks of 
the employers, but a chance to take the offensive and get back 
what has been taken away from the workers in the shape of wage 
cuts, hacking away at conditions, etc. 

The rumbling in the ranks of the A. F. of L. that foreshadowed 
the present big fight for industrial unionism was felt at the 1934 
Convention of the A. F. of L., held in San Francisco (the scene, 
a few months earlier, of the historic general strike). At that 
Convention 14 resolutions for industrial unionism were intro- 
duced. In an attempt to stave off the revolt they felt coming, the 
A. F. of L. Executive Council pretended to agree to allow the 
unions in at least a few of the mass production industries — 
automobiles and rubber — the status of international indus- 
trial unions. As for taking any steps toward industrial unionism 
in general, that was strictly taboo to these gentlemen. They were 
forced to talk glibly of organization campaigns for the steel, auto 
and other mass production industries, which they later never even 
attempted to carry out. Instead of organizing the steel industry, 
they allowed the Tighe machine to expel those leaders and locals 
of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers 
who wanted the campaign for organization of the steel industry 
carried out. Instead of organizing the mass production industries 
they busied themselves after the 1934 A. F. of L. Convention in 
scrambling to divide among the craft unions whatever organiza- 


tion the workers themselves had been able to bring about in the 
mass production industries. 

The Lewis Bloc at the 1935 Convention 

The 1935 Convention in Atlantic City showed that a great 
movement for industrial unionism had begun to sweep through 
the ranks of the A. F. of L., a movement of such determination 
that international union leaders like John L. Lewis, president of 
the United Mine Workers; Charles P. Howard, president of the 
International Typographical Union (a craft union) ; Sidney Hill- 
man, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; David 
Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers 
Union; Thomas P. McMahon, president of the United Textile 
Workers; Harvey C. Fremming, president of the Oil Field, Gas 
Well and Refinery Workers; Max Zaritsky, president of the Cap 
and Millinery Department, United Hatters, Cap and Millinery 
Workers Union ; Thomas H. Brown, International Union of Mine, 
Mill and Smelter Workers, and other higher officials found it a 
good idea to become leaders of the movement for industrial 

Lewis and Howard led a powerful minority at the Atlantic 
City Convention in the fight for industrial unionism in the mass 
production industries. A minority report signed by five members 
of the Resolutions Committee, including Howard, Dubinsky and 
Lewis, pointed out that "the time has arrived when common sense 
demands the organization policies of the American Federation of 
Labor must be molded to meet present-day needs". Showing that 
in its 55 years of existence the A. F, of L. has enrolled only about 
three and a half million members out of thirty-nine million organ- 
izable workers, the minority resolution stated that "we refuse to 
accept existing conditions as evidence that the organization pol- 
icies of the American Federation of Labor have been successful". 

The resolution further stated that "in those industries where 
ihe work performed by a majority of the workers is of such 


nature that it might fall within the jurisdictional claim of more 
than one craft union, or no established craft union, it is declared 
that industrial organization is the only form that will be accept- 
able to the workers or adequately meet their needs". The resolu- 
tion went on to show how fears of jurisdictional claims dividing 
the workers and preventing their unity had prevented organiza- 
tion of these workers to an\ large extent. 

Why Not Industrial Form for All Unions? 

A seriously weak point in the minority resolution was this: 
"It is not the intention of this declaration of policy to permit the 
taking away from National or International craft unions of any 
part of their present membership, or potential membership in 
establishments where the dominant factor is skilled craftsmen 
coming under a proper definition of the jurisdiction of such Na- 
tional or International Unions." This means that the curse of 
division into many craft unions, the curse of scabbery of craft 
union on craft union in strikes on the railroad, in the building 
trades, printing trades, etc., would continue, that jurisdictional 
fights sapping the life of the A. F. of L. would go on as merrily 
as ever. 

The Committee for Industrial Organization 

The minority resolution on industrial unionism was defeated 
at the craft-dominated A. F. of L. Convention by 18,025 votes 
against 10,924. About a month after the Convention, in Novem- 
ber, 1935, a Committee for Industrial Organization was formed, 
with Lewis, Howard, Hillman, Dubinsky, McMahon, Fremming, 
Zaritsky and Brown as its members and John Brophy, of the 
LInited Mine Workers, as its Director. It aims to "bring the unor- 
ganized into the American Federation of Labor ... by carrying 
on education within the Federation for industrial unionism, in 
order to win over a majority, and by giving advice and help to 


groups of newly organized workers in the mass production in- 

Some of the strong arguments against craft unionism and for 
industrial unionism made in the speeches and literature of the 
Committee for Industrial Organization are here given: 

"There are forces at work in this country that would wipe out, if 
they could, the labor movement of America, just as it was wiped out 
in Germany or just as it was wiped out in Italy. 

"There are those of us who believe that the best security against 
that menace and against that trend and against that tendency is 
a more comprehensive and more powerful labor movement. We be- 
lieve that the way should be paved so that those millions of workers 
who are clamoring for admission into our councils might be made 
welcome upon a basis that they understand and that they believe is 
suited to their requirements. And in consequence of that we are 
assembled in this Convention with the eyes of these millions of 
workers upon the Convention to decide this momentous question. 
Methinks that upon this decision of this Convention may rest the 
future of the American Federation of Labor, because upon this de- 
cision will rest the question of whether the American Federation of 
Labor may be forged into an instrumentality that will render service 
to all of the workers or whether the American Federation of Labor 
and its leaders will rest content in that comfortable situation that 
has prevailed through the years, where they are only required to 
render service to a paltry three or four or five million of the forty- 
odd million wage workers of this country, who, after all, want to he 
union men." (Speech of John L. Lewis at 1935 A. F. of L. Conven- 
tion in support of the Minority Resolution on Industrial Unionism.) 

"Our own experience in the headwear industry is a striking illus- 
I ration of the dangers to which our movement is exposed when 
several organizations claim or hold jurisdiction in the same field. 
While these jurisdictional claims occupied our attention many thous- 
ands of workers remained unorganized. The evolution of our industry 
compelled us to recognize that our own methods must be changed 
if we are not to become impotent as an instrument for the protection 
of the workers employed in the industry. It was only when this fact 
was recognized that we were able to sacrifice charter rights and 
surrender conflicting claims, and begin the work of organization, with- 
out regard to jurisdiction. As a result, thousands of new members 
have been enrolled in our organization." (Letter to William Green 
by Max Zaritsky, President, Cap and Millinery Dept., United Hatters, 
Cap and Millinery Workers International Union.) 

"The American Federation of Labor has not done anything with 


:he problem [of organizing the steel workers — Editor \. The Executive 
Council report says that it has done so because there has been turmoil 
in the Amalgamated Association, an organization of six or eight 
thousand men. Well, there are four or five hundred thousand outside 
of it clamoring to join an industrial form of union. We are assured 
the way is now open for an aggressive campaign of organization in 
the steel industry. What kind of a campaign — a campaign to organ- 
ize them in fifty-seven varieties of organizations? You ought to know 
without my telling you how effective that kind of campaign will be, 
and with several hundred thousands of members of the United Mine 
Workers of America who understand the position of interests of 
that character and who also understand the practical problems of 
organization in these big industries, they know that the officers of 
the American Federation of Labor might as well sit down in their 
easy chairs and twiddle their thumbs and take a nap as to conclude 
that any results will come from that kind of organization in the 
iron and steel industry. . . . 

"If you go in there with your craft union they will mow you down 
like the Italian machine guns mow down the Ethiopians in the war \ 
now going on in that country; they will mow down, and laugh 
while they are doing it, and ridicule your lack of business acumen, 
ridicule your lack of ordinary business sagacity in running your own 
affairs, because of the caviling in your own councils and the feeble- 
ness of your methods." (Speech of Lewis at the 1935 A. F. of L. 

Feeble Arguments by Craft Union Advocates 

These are strong indictments of the great and tragic harm that 
has been dealt to the American working class by the evils arising 
out of the antiquated craft-union system, but they do not go far 
enough, as we shall see a little later. 

The answers to these arguments by the enemies of industrial 
unionism, at the Atlantic City Convention and since, are feeble 
in their defense of craft unionism. The enemies of industrial 
unionism among the craft union leaders made no attempt to 
deny any of the arguments that crafts are disappearing; that 
mechanization, specialization, mass production in industry as it 
is today make industrial unionism necessary (as has been shown 
above) ; that the trustification of industry has placed enormous 
power into the hands of the bankers and capitalists who control 


the major industries, and that a system of unionism which di- 
vides the workers, as does craft unionism, is ineffective against 
such enormous power. They are not able to deny that craft union- 
ism has been responsible for the scabbery of union against union, 
for bitter fights over jurisdiction between unions, which has par- 
alyzed the trade unions in face of the sweeping attacks of the 

The majority report of the Resolutions Committee at the At- 
lantic City Convention could only answer the arguments against 
craft unionism made by the industrial union advocates, by rein- 
dorsing the craft unionists' declaration at the San Francisco Con- 
vention in 1934 to the effect that "Experience has shown that craft 
unionism is most effective in protecting the welfare and advancing 
the interests of the workers. . . ." 

Let us see. We have mentioned the gains made by the indus- 
trial United Mine Workers in the past two years. Let's see what 
the craft railroad unions did, in the same period. Wage cuts of 
$200,000,000 were made on the railroads and extended two years. 
The longshoremen on the West Coast, protected and aided by the 
Maritime Federation, of which they are a member, won a six-hour 
day through their July, 1934, strike; the railroad unions are still 
finagling around Washington, trying to get the six-hour day 
through legislation. In the railroad industry, 800,000 are out of 
work, while the union leaders stand helpless before the federal 
coordinator who O.K's a plan of consolidating the roads — a plan 
which will throw tens of thousands more out of work. On the 
Mobile and Ohio Railroad, the national wage agreement was 
violated for two years before the grand lodge officials found it 
necessary to take a strike ballot. Instead of calling a strike they 
accepted an Emergency Board Ruling allowing the railroad to 
keep 6% per cent of all back wages and extending a 3^ per cent 
cut in addition to the 10 per cent cut prevailing on all roads. On 
the Chicago and Northwestern, basic changes in working rules, for 
the worse, were authorized by the Unions. These are just a few 


examples of the "effectiveness" of craft unionism in protecting 
the welfare and advancing the interests of the workers. The fact is 
that the only definite gain made by the railroad workers in recent 
years was through the Railroad Retirement Act (pension act), 
the fight for which was led by a Pension Association which cut 
across all craft lines and even bucked the opposition of many of 
the craft union heads. 

The Joke on Frey 

The same sort of an argument was raised by Frey, head of the 
Metal Trades Department, who stated that "if an organization 
wants to convince me that the form they have adopted is more 
effective than my own International Molders Union they will 
have to show me that they have made more progress." He got the 
answer he deserved in the statement by Philip Murray of the 
United Miners, who told that among the 100,000 or so steel 
workers in the Pittsburgh area from which he comes, the Molders 
Union had not one member. Frey ignored the fact that the 
Molders Union membership is on record for industrial unionism. 

Another feeble argument the craft union leaders gave against 
industrial unionism was the fact that such industrial organiza- 
tions as the American Railway Union and the Western Federa- 
tion of Miners have gone out of existence. But they ignored the 
fact that the American Railway Union was scabbed out of exist- 
ence by the A. F. of L. craft union leaders; that these organiza- 
tions mentioned also fought some of the most valiant battles in 
American labor history and through those battles won much of 
what the American workers have today. They tried to pull a fast 
one by not mentioning the fact that such industrial unions as 
the United Mine Workers, the United Textile Workers, the semi- 
industrial needle trades unions are far from having disappeared 
off the map. 

The craft union leaders don't come out with the real reasons 



why they want to hang on to the craft union system. They're 
afraid, for one thing, that by bringing into the A. F. of L. the 
masses of unorganized, semi-skilled and unskilled workers, and 
through industrial unionism they will lose control of the unions 
and will have to give place to more progressive leaders. They're 
afraid they will lose their fat-salaried positions. They're afraid the 
nice friendships they have built up with open-shop employers, 
bankers, and corrupt labor-hating politicians of the Republican 
and Democratic Parties might be cut off if the unions became 
unified, fighting organizations. These are the reasons they haven't 
wanted to organize the millions of unorganized — their interests 
are not with the working class, but on the bosses' side of the 
fence. The A. F. of L. Executive Council has even rejected the 
offer of $500,000 made by the Committee for Industrial Organ- 
ization to aid in organizing the steel workers! 

There remained only one other answer for the craft union 
leaders. And that answer they gave when William Green and 
the Executive Council, unable to meet the strong arguments of 
the Committee for Industrial Organization, ordered the C.I.O. to 
disband on pain of severe action. Reports are that the Executive 
Council will go to the length of splitting the A. F. of L. by 
expelling those unions which support the Committee. Yes, these 
so-called labor leaders would split the A. F. of L. rather than 
adopt forms and methods which would unify the working class 
by enabling the A. F. of L. to organize the big majority of the 

C.I.O. Doesn't Go Far Enough 

The arguments of the Lewis industrial union bloc are powerful, 
and none but the blind or those who wilfully refuse to see the 
30,000,000 American workers organized can fail to support them. 
But arguments like these should be followed to their logical con- 
clusion, which the Committee for Industrial Organization fails 


to do. It does not see that the question of industrial union ism 
affects not only the mass production industries, but every industry, 
for craft unionism, as we have shown, has paralyzed the trade 
union movement in all industries. The C.I.O. does not see that 
without a fighting policy by the A. F. of L. and without trade 
union democracy, industrial unionism would be weakened as a 
weapon against the employers' attacks. 

The Committee for Industrial Organization weakens its own 
fight when its members repeatedly stale that "The suitability of 
existing craft unions in the industries where skilled labor is pre- 
dominant is not called into question" (statement by Sidney Hill- 
man of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers in reply to Green's 
order for the disbandment of the C.I.O.), or, "there is no attempt 
or even thought to take advantage of or destroy any satisfactorily 
existing form of craft organization wherever they have been able 
to establish themselves in accordance with their policy" (speech 
of Lewis at Atlantic City Convention). 

Those industries in which the craft unions have established 
themselves have been the scenes of the most vicious scabbery of 
union against union and the most bitter self-destroying jurisdic- 
tional fights between the unions. It is an elementary task of the 
workers in those unions (like transport, food, building trades, 
printing trades, on the railroads, etc.) to strive toward industrial 
unions, through steps toward them in the shape of closely knit 
federations, partial amalgamations (as is at present desired by 
the trainmen, switchmen and conductors on the railroads), 
through joint agreements to expire at the same time, joint strike 
movements and the like. 

Trade Union Democracy 

The Lewis industrial union bloc also as yet hasn't been able to 
see as far ahead as growing sections of the rank-and-file member- 
ship of the A. F. of L. as to the true implications of the fight for 


industrial unionism. The members of the Committee for Indus- 
trial Organization see the fight only as a question of a change in 
structure of the A. F. of L., and at that, as a change in structure 
only for a part of the A. F. of L. (only where the mass produc- 
tion industries are concerned). But they don't see, as the great 
masses of the rank and file do, that hand in hand with the fight 
for industrial unionism, goes the need for genuine trade union 
democracy, which means the holding of conventions regularly 
by all the unions, freedom of discussion for all members of the 
unions, the democratic election of all officers, the right of all 
members of the unions to run for and hold offices, the right of 
all A. F. of L. members to hold any political belief they desire, 
the use of democratic methods so that the membership can decide 
on all questions affecting the unions they sacrifice so much for. 
It means cleaning house in the unions — doing away with all forms 
of racketeering and gangsterism which still hold sway in many 
sections of the labor movement. 

The leaders of the industrial union bloc themselves now feel 
the results of high-handed bossism and lack of trade union democ- 
racy in the way in which Green and the Executive Council refuse, 
because they are unable, to argue the question of industrial union- 
ism in any logical way, but resort instead to the method of 
autocracy, ordering the Committee for Industrial Organization to 
disband; resorting to threats, hinting at expulsion of those unions 
fighting for industrial unionism; sending letters, as Green did, 
to 1,354 local and federal unions directly affiliated to the A. F. 
of L., to all state federations and to 730 central labor bodies, 
ordering them not to have anything to do with the perfectly 
legal Committee for Industrial Organization. This is the same 
sort of tactic which is used against Communists and other fighting 
elements in the trade unions (and which Lewis himself has used 
repeatedly in the U.M.W.A.) because they speak out for a policy 
of struggle for the unions. 

Because there is no real trade union democracy in the Carpen- 


ters Union, for instance, the fighters for industrial unionism saw 
the spectacle of Hutcheson, the leader of the Carpenters Union, 
speaking and voting at the 1935 A. F. of L. Convention against 
industrial unionism in the name of 200,000 carpenters, even 
though he was speaking and voting against the real wishes of 
his members. 

The union leaders who are at the head of the fight for indus- 
trial unionism can see attempts at discussion in favor of indus- 
trial unionism being choked off by gag methods in the craft 
unions. There is little question but that the bulk of the craft 
union membership would vote overwhelmingly for industrial 
unionism if given the chance. If the fight for industrial unionism 
is to be won, it must be carried into every craft union, and the 
members of the craft unions must be shown a real example of 
genuine trade union democracy by the industrial unions which 
make up the Committee for Industrial Organization. If, for 
example, at the 1936 Convention of the industrial United Mine 
Workers of America, John L. Lewis had been one of the strongest 
supporters of the right of the miners to elect their own district 
officials, what a further strengthening of the fight for industrial 
unionism that would have meant! 

John L. Lewis further weakened the fight for industrial union- 
ism when he nominated the reactionary clique headed by Green 
back into office at the 1935 A. F. of L. Convention. As long as 
this clique heads the A. F. of L., every real attempt to organize 
the unorganized will be seriously hampered, for the Green clique 
does not want to organize the unorganized. 

A Class Struggle Policy Is Vital 

The Committee for Industrial Organization bases its fight for 
industrial unions, and correctly so, on the fact that this will unify 
the ranks of the working class and will enable the A. F. of L. 
to organize the 30,000,000 unorganized workers in the United 


States. But these workers, so desperate, are raring to go for 
real struggle against the employers, as was shown on innumerable 
occasions in the past few years, when they struck without waiting 
for the sanction of the leading officials, when these officials re- 
fused to give such sanction, or when they struck on numberless 
occasions spontaneously. The Committee for Industrial Organ- 
ization must come to these unorganized workers, offering them an 
A. F. of L. policy of class struggle, a policy of fighting for the 
workers' demands. By not seeing that the fight for industrial 
unionism is closely connected with the need of a class struggle 
policy, the C.I.O. greatly weakens the struggle for industrial 

The masses of workers in the A. F. of L. not only want, through 
industrial unionism, to make the A. F. of L. a solid, united weapon 
against the bosses' attacks, but they want an end to the policy 
of class collaboration, of friendship for the bosses on the part 
of the A. F. of L. leaders instead of a fighting policy. 

industrial Unionism and the Farmer-Labor Party 

The Committee for Industrial Organization is talking common 
sense when it points out that the workers nowadays must face 
powerful financial interests and powerfully organized employers' 
organizations, and that this in itself is a strong argument for 
industrial unionism. But it is not only the powerful organiza- 
tions of the employers that the unions now face on the picket 
line. They face terror at the hands of the Republicans and Demo- 
cratic politicians controlling the government, who are ready at 
the drop of a hat to send police against strikers, to order out 
the militia and to declare martial law in order to smash any 
struggle of the workers. 

We see a Republican governor doing this in California; a 
Democratic governor doing it in Indiana or Kentucky. 

We see Democratic and Republican judges handing out in- 
junctions right and left against unions. 


We see so-called investigations of rackets, supposed to gel aftei 
the gangster mobs, turning into attempts to discredit the unions 
as a step toward crushing them. 

We see more terror against strikers under the Roosevelt admin- 
istration, which Lewis had the U.M.W.A. Convention endorse in 
1936, than ever before. 

We saw Roosevelt and his Labor Boards hand the auto work- 
ers over to the company unions. We saw the Department of 
Justice under Roosevelt let the Weirton Steel, the Budd Body, 
and a host of other open shop corporations get away with murder 
despite decisions of the N.R.A. Labor Boards. 

The C.I.O. states it wants to see the unorganized organized, 
and that's why it favors industrial unionism. The members of 
the C.I.O. must begin to see that the organization of the unorgan- 
ized is going to meet the resistance of the Republican and Demo- 
cratic politicians who use the police force, the militia, and 
injunctions against the workers. That sort of business wouldn't 
go on for one second if the workers elected officials of their own 
to governmental positions, if the workers elected Farmer-Labor 

The old-time craft union leaders hob-nob with the Republican 
and Democratic politicians while the latter order strikers shot 
down. The leaders of the industrial union bloc must be made to 
see that by failing to cast overboard their ties with these poli- 
ticians they hurt the cause of industrial unionism. 

The Communists point out that the endorsement of Roosevelt 
by the U.M.W.A. Convention therefore seriously weakened the 
fight for industrial unionism. The Communists, supporting to 
the limit the fight for industrial unionism, will also, in the most 
comradely manner but firmly, try to do everything in their power 
to win the miners, and all the trade unions, behind the Farmer- 
Labor Party, which so many locals, central labor bodies, and 
even state federations and some internationals, have endorsed. 

The Communists back the fight for industrial unionism to the 


fullest extent because it is a progressive step for the A. F. of L, 
But they point out that industrial unionism will be weakened 
in its effectiveness as a weapon in unifying the workers against 
the employers unless genuine trade union democracy is established 
in the A. F. of L., unless a fighting policy of class struggle is 
adopted, unless the unions rally behind and become the back- 
bone of a Farmer-Labor Party which will elect real representa- 
tives of the workers to political office. The "reward-your-friend- 
punish-your enemy" policy of supporting the candidates of the 
Republican and Democratic Parties is as much of a relic of the 
"dear-departed" days of yesteryear as is the craft union idea. 

Industrial unionism means more bread on the table of every 
worker, and more than bread. The well-being of every worker 
in the country is involved in the fight for industrial unionism. 
It means better clothing on the children's backs; it means a chance 
to take the whole family to a show more frequently (and millions 
of workers never get that chance). It means the organization of 
the unorganized ; it means a successful fight for the 30-hour week ; 
for unemployment insurance. It's vital if company unionism is 
to be abolished; it's indispensible in order to buck the back- 
breaking speedup system. Industrial unionism with trade union 
democracy and a fighting policy would enable the unions to walk 
up to the employers and talk turkey to them. With the unions 
solidly united, instead of divided, the employers would sing an 
entirely different tune when workers ask for wage increases. 

If Hitlerism, if any form of fascism is to be stopped in this 
country, the greatest solidarity and unity of the unions is re- 
quired. A powerful front of everyone who hates the tyranny of 
fascism — a might People's Front — is needed for that task, and 
a strong Farmer-Labor Party, as a step toward that People's Front 
—a Farmer-Labor Party based first of all on solid, industrial 

Fascism crushed the trade unions in Germany, Italy, Austria. 
The French fascists were hell-bent on crushing the French trade 

unions. But in France a mighty People's Front was built up 
with the trade unions in the foreground of the People's Front 
there. In the face of the fascist menace the trade unions in 
France have been merging themselves into strong induslual 
unions. The result is that the French fascists have been taking 
one whipping after another and haven't made the headway the) 
expected. That's the kind of treatment we must dish out to the 
Liberty League (with Morgan, du Pont, General Motors and other 
open shoppers behind it) . That's the kind of treatment for Hearst 
and the rest of the would-be Hitlers in this country. 

It must here be pointed out that Lewis, if he wants to be re- 
garded as an enemy of fascism, must cease giving the fascists 
the kind of support he did when he headed a delegation to 
Roosevelt to protest the importing of Soviet coal. There's noth- 
ing the fascists like better than any kind of attack on the Soviet 
Union which is the greatest enemy of fascism. Nor does Lewis 
express the will of the U.M.W.A. membership in such actions. 
Time and again U.M.W.A. locals have submitted resolutions for 
recognition, and defense of the Soviet Union. 

The Next Steps 

The Communist Party has always stood four-square behind 
the building of the trade unions. Because it is for class struggle 
policies, the Communist Party has faced the cry of "splitting" 
just as the Committee for Industrial Organization now does 
because the C.I.O. is for organizing the unorganized. The Com- 
munist Party urges all workers, whether they belong to craft 
or industrial unions, to carry through the following tasks : 

1. To see to it that there be a storm of resolutions from every 
local union, city or county central labor council, district trades 
council, state federation of the A. F. of L. endorsing the policy 
of industrial unionism, supporting the Committee for Industrial 
Organization in its fight; protesting the order of the Executive 


Council to split up the radio workers, auto workers, and other 
industrial unions; protesting the order for the disband ment 
of the Committee for Industrial Organization. They should 
protest and fight against the expulsion of 13,000 seamen on the 
Pacific Coast, who were the staunchest fighters for union solidarity. 

2. The members of the craft unions are urged to lift their 
voices in the demand for a democratically conducted referendum, 
or special convention, in each craft union, to decide on these 
questions of industrial unionism. The members of the craft 
unions are urged to initiate a movement for more solidly uniting 
the craft unions in each industry by means of forming tightly- 
knit federations which will work closely together against the com- 
mon enemy in each industry— the strongly organized employers. 
Such federations should be modeled after the Pacific Coast Mari- 
time Federation, which unites all marine crafts in common action 
against the employers, and not like the so-called railroad federa- 
tions, which still permit the inter-union disputes to go on un- 
checked. The craft union members should fight for agreements 
of all unions in the industry which expire at one time, instead of 
on different dates, so that all crafts can strike together and not 
have to scab on one another. In some cases, as with the con- 
ductors, trainmen, and switchmen on the railroads, the move- 
ment can take the shape of a campaign for partial amalgamation. 
These are the necessary steps toward the formation of industrial 
unions in industries like the building trades, metal, railroad, 
marine, needle trades, transport and food trades, etc. 

3. Steps should be taken to initiate and to give full organiza- 
tional, financial, and moral support for a campaign to organize 
the unorganized in the steel, auto, radio, metal mining, rubber, 
chemical, electrical apparatus, agricultural machinery, agricul- 
tural and all other unorganized industries, giving special attention 
to the need for winning the Negro workers into the trade unions, 
and abolishing all forms of discrimination against Negroes in 
the trade unions. 



4. Steps should be taken to organize the resistance of the 
workers against wage cuts, for wage increases and for maximum 
support to every strike of workers for better conditions. This 
means also a fight for a policy of class struggle in all trade 

5. The fight for trade union democracy must be redoubled, 
now as never before, so that the fight for industrial unionism can 
be more effective, and the unorganized more easily brought into 
the trade unions. 

6. Maximum support must be given to the struggle of the 
unemployed for adequate relief and for union wages on all 
relief jobs. The unions must join in the fight for social and 
unemployment insurance, supporting the Frazier-Lundeen Bill, 
thus developing the unity of the employed and unemployed, ami 
strengthening the unity of the working class against the attacks 
of the bosses. 

7. A solid front against the fascist menace in this country, a 
menace which aims at reducing the workers' wages and comli 
tions to the coolie level, at crushing the trade unions completely . 
The swinging of all unions behind the Farmer-Labor Party, an 
independent working class party, participated in by all sections 
of the masses of the people who want to preserve and strengthen 
the democratic rights in our country. 


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