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What the Communist Party Supports
When It Backs Hillman’s Program

(September 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 39, 27 September 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Stalinist Daily Worker is making ever more tempting bids to Hillman and his followers to achieve organizational, as well as political, unity against the militant and anti-war sectors of the CIO.

As ardent wooers of the Hillmanites, the Stalinists place no conditions on the terms which they are prepared to accept in the proposed marriage contract.

The Hillmanites, for their part, are quite willing to be the object of such an eager courtship, provided they write the resultant contract in toto, along the lines they have pursued unremittingly in the labor movement.

Thus, the unity forged between these two most reactionary pro-war tendencies in the labor movement, will be a unity built four-square on Hillman’s program. And that is the program which the Stalinists, along with the major section of the CIO led by John L. Lewis, decisively repudiated less than a year ago at the last CIO convention.

What is this Hillmanite program around which the Stalinists today are willing to unite?

It is unqualified endorsement of Hillman’s concrete strikebreaking and union-smashing acts of the past two years.

Hillman’s Program of Strikebreaking

Hillman has served as the outstanding “labor” front for the Roosevelt Administration in its attempts to break the strikes of the CIO, hog-tie organized labor with repressive anti-labor legislation, and conceal the corporations’ domination of the government and the government’s war agencies.

It was Hillman who went to the front for the Administration a year ago in sanctioning the policy of granting big government war orders to corporations like Bethlehem Steel, which had consistently flouted every labor law in the land.

In the name of “national defense,” for months Hillman prevented the Bethlehem Steel workers from striking for union recognition, while over a billion dollars of government war orders poured into the corporation’s files. Hillman directly intervened to intimidate the Bethlehem workers and attempted to force them back to work without any conditions.

Hillman’s policy has been to get organized labor to yield its right to strike “voluntarily.” Had his policy been adopted by the CIO in the past year, Bethlehem Steel, Ford, International Harvester, the great aircraft corporations, might still be operating on a completely open-shop basis.

Hillman gave direct sanction to reactionary Governor James of Pennsylvania to send the state troopers against the Vanadium Corporation strikers at Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, last March. Hillman himself issued and signed the order demanding that the strikers permit scabs to enter the plant to ship materials, the order which gave James the go-ahead signal for strikebreaking.

Hillman has intervened directly, or indirectly, against the strikers in every important CIO strike of the past year.

Not one person at the recent CIO legislative conference in Washington attempted to refute John L. Lewis’ specific charges that Hillman had stood at Roosevelt’s elbow when the President signed the order sending regular army troops against the North American Aviation strikers, and that Hillman was behind the action of the National Defense Mediation Board in attempting to put over the proposals of the Southern coal mine operators during the strike of 400,000 miners last April.

Although an associate director of the OPM, Hillman did not raise his voice against the OPM policy of preventing industrial expansion in the interests of the aluminum, steel and other monopolies.

His sole plea against repressive labor legislation was that such laws are “unnecessary at the present time.” He proposed, instead, that union “leaders” like himself be permitted a further opportunity to persuade the union members to a “voluntary no-strike” policy. Hillman, during the few times he testified on such legislation, did not oppose it on any principled basis. He was for compulsion against the unions if “voluntary” methods “failed” to prevent strikes. In this, his policy differed not one whit from that expressed by Knudsen and the rest of the “ex”-corporation heads running the government’s war production program.

At the last convention of the CIO, Hillman and his henchmen proposed that the CIO accept Roosevelt’s demand that the CIO and AFL unite on terms which would mean the liquidation of industrial unionism in America.

Lewis and the great majority of the CIO members, including the Stalinists, wisely and correctly repudiated Hillman’s treacherous proposal.

Today, however, the Stalinists are backing this program of suicidal “unity” to the hilt. It is the proffer of support for Hillman’s “unity” program which constitutes a chief lure now being put forth by the Stalinists to attract the Hillmanites to a united front against Lewis and the CIO progressives and militants.

Hillman has been the most widely despised labor “leader” among the ranks of the CIO. His support of government strikebreaking, his efforts to tie the CIO to the government, his boot-licking of the Administration and the employers, in the past have made his name anathema to most of the CIO workers.

Hillman is preparing to shove over his full pro-war, strikebreaking, anti-industrial union program at the coming CIO national convention. His most devoted followers in this traitorous move will be the Stalinists.

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