Pegler Calls Action Of New York Officials in Union Strife Sign of European Political Subtlety

Westbrook Pegler

Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald/September 30, 1948


When a few pickets and professional goons, working the cause of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, were scuffed up slightly in a mysterious fracas, the mayor, the police commissioner and the district attorney of New York all sprang into the headlines to avenge the horror.

This was the first time in years that the tables had been turned. Ever since 1933, assault, sabotage, vandalism and riot had been the exclusive privilege of the unions, often under police protection and generally under immunity, except that in recent months it has been held to be bad manners to incite mobs to throw policemen in the river. This is now a misdemeanor, subject to a $30 fine.

The quick, sharp reaction of all the public officials who could crowd their way into the ghastly scene when David Dubinsky’s people were popped is a lesson in the power of European political subtlety in the biggest city in the United States.

The popping of a citizen ordinarily is so trivial as to be ignored by the papers and by all the officials of government except possibly a cop and a magistrate. The mayor, the police commissioner and the district attorney would laugh the citizen out of the building if he tried to make them notice such an episode. They would have him locked up for disorderly conduct if he persisted and the mayor, an ex-cop, but still a cop at heart, might pop the fellow one for luck if he thought nobody was looking.

Dubinsky’s union, with its powerful European political traditions and hereditary feuds, is a strong political factor in the city of New York. In some circumstances, it might be the decisive factor either alone or in collusion with other alien elements. This combination, one day, might even decide who should be the next president of the United States. Dubinsky, the late LaGuardia and other artful manipulators of the greenhorns’ hatred, hopes and fears, segregated them into many “minorities”, then “fused” them into alien political weapons.

For years, the needle trades, including the big unions of Dubinsky and Hillman, and the fur industry, all concentrated in New York, were embroiled in wild, anti-public private wars. The late Arnold Rothstein rented out sluggers as calmly as a livery stable rents horse carts to peddlers. Hillman’s rivals in the union racket said Sidney had guilty traffic with Rothstein and the goons.

But Dubinsky, of course, was the innocent victim. Any slugging that might have been done on behalf of his garment workers was done in self-defense. And, in the fur industry, the aggressor was always the other party, although some of the union’s Communist bosses finally were convicted of procuring the doing of dirty work.

Altogether, we have a record of great violence, finally put down, not by catching the goons and convicting their employers, but by creating monopolies and fascist privilege for unions and giving them police powers. Dubinsky’s union actually has thought police powers freely exercised during political campaigns through orders commanding the members to turn out for the rallies of candidates favored by Dubinsky. The rank-and-file member doesn’t need to be told not to think evil thoughts about the union boss’ candidates. He gets the idea that his union boss wants him to vote for so and so.


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