Changes Within the Unions

Westbrook Pegler

Tampa Tribune/February 5, 1949

CHICAGO Apart from changes that may be made in federal and state laws, great political rearrangements are taking place within the unions themselves. Some of the old parasites are retiring on royal pensions, having held office longer than most kings ever did. As I have pointed out, the strongholds of the Communists within the CIO have been conquered from within by a few fellow-travelers who appear to have suffered cowardly twinges of fear as renegade Catholics. They betrayed their old comrades in a scramble to get right with God.

This was an enormous defeat for the Muscovite hosts because the CIO unions were the most Important forts the Communists invaded outside the White House, the Supreme Court and the Departments of State and Justice. They are left powerless in the union racket. The few loudly sanctimonious brands from the burning who pulled this off may be saluted with the same honor that is paid the pig who roots up a truffle.

On the non-Communist or mercenary front of union politics it is now evident that Dan Tobin, the emperor-president of the Teamsters Union, may at last be written off as a retired barnacle and historic mountebank. He will be unwelcome even to his time on earth by men on inferior wages who are forced to keep him in panoply and luxury and to pay for even his booze and his roulette stacks as long as he lives.

While Tobin maintains a fictitious status of ascended spirit benignly guiding the jerky works of Dave Beck, his successor, from the royal Winter Palace on Miami Beach, the fact is that Beck pushed him out. He had to go.

Beck, late of Seattle where he ranked as grand satrap of the West, maneuvered himself into a new post of executive position at the last convention. He forced Tobin to create this job for him and equip it with plenary powers, subject to the royal verboten which Dan now is afraid to wield.

Devotees of these teachings will recall that some time ago I revealed a progress of tawdry splendor through the Northwest arranged in honor of Tobin by Beck. In exposing the meaning of this parade of inspections, dinners and spontaneous rallies in honor of the great man, I seem to have embarrassed both Tobin and Beck. Therefore, the old fellow deferred his quitting and when, at last, a few weeks ago, he did get out, he slunk away to Florida and oozed off without announcement.

As executive vice president with great powers. Beck is Dan’s successor in all but the title.

Beck is now churning great commotions within the Teamsters Union of one million subjects, iIncluding milkers, embalmers, pallbearers, cosmeticians, cannery workers and, of course, local and long-distance haulers and warehouse hands. Lately, Beck has been operating in Chicago to the alarm of John O’Brien, the regular regional vice president.

Beck has a new plan of organization which, under Truman, probably will make him the most powerful individual in the history of the union movement and certainly the most brutal since John L. Lewis ran the CIO. He Is abolishing the old regional divisions and creating a system of about 15 craft jurisdictions. Each will have national jurisdiction over its craftsmen and, consequently, over the respective industries. Each will have a vice president responsible to Beck who can be superseded in case of rebellion. And, in combination, these craft unions will control not only the distribution of an enormous amount of food but even the preparation of much of it and the economic life of the farmers and fishermen who produce it.

The control of cannery workers is essential to this phase. Through them he can control the producer who include many great corporate farms with no more pride, principle nor conscience than soulless corporations ever have. Milk is another food that he is surrounding in a benign intent to improve the lot of the workers.

Beck is actually creating a new CIO and he has shown great power and statesmanship in putting this over. His skill in disposing of Tobin was admirable from the professional standpoint.

Tobin pulled the rug from under himself when he asked Truman to promise him the job of Secretary of Labor last Summer. A good politician should have known that his record made him unavailable for any such trust even under Truman, aside from the obvious fact that the CIO and Railroad Brotherhoods would have to oppose him for competitive reasons. Turned down, Tobin took personal offense and deterred the majority of the vice presidents from indorsing Truman. Truman, of course, learned of this and that was another reason why Tobin’s time was up.

Taking one consideration with another, Dan was wise to retire to his Winter Palace on Miami Beach. There he is, flattered by all the comic rites of kowtow, a burden on his subjects at $30,000 a year and all expenses plus $10,000 for his income tax, plus the palace Itself including servants and, by special constitutional provision, plus the providence of any and all booze required for his royal peace and hygiene.



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