The Klan and Company Unions

Westbrook Pegler

Spartanburg Herald/May 3, 1940

New York, May 2.—Tom Stokes, the Scripps-Howard Washington reporter, writes from Anderson, S.C. that the Ku Klux Klan is planting its members in unions of the CIO, with the purpose of spying on those organizations, gaining control and converting them into company unions.

Well, isn’t that the way it was bound to go?

The CIO permitted the Communists to sneak into their unions under orders from Moscow and with the purpose of gaining control and converting them into Communist fronts. Many of those Communists are spies who pretend not to be Communists but always flock with the Communists and follow the party orders as received from Moscow. They are anti-Americans no less than the members of the anti-American bund established here under the auspices of the Nazi government’s department of foreign organizations. They spy on the business firms which employ them, spy on their fellow-workers, harass and terrorize genuine Americans in the membership of their unions and, by cunning manipulation of voting systems and tireless devotion to Stalin, put American citizens unwillingly and helplessly in the position of endorsing anti-American Communist interests by resolutions.

Members of the American Newspaper Guild who intimately observed the operations of this Stalinist organization in New York and California have seen the Communists at work. In New York, the Communists controlled the elections and the money and savagely abused Americans who dissented from their purposes. They permitted the Communist newspaper, The Daily Worker, to impose conditions on its men which would have called for picket lines around the plant of any loyal American publication. In California last fall, the state CIO, under Communist control, voted to support the so-called ham ’n eggs plan, which was both idiotic and extremely dangerous not because the Communists believed in ham ’n eggs but because they figured that if it won at the polls and then failed in practice the disappointment of the eligibles and their lazy dependents below the age of 50 would touch off riots up and down the state.

Riots breed revolution.

That is why the California CIO, including the Newspaper Guild, endorsed ham ’n eggs, even though this measure forbade labor to strike and even though it was a cruel racket whereby a band of political adventurers, some of them with police records, chiseled an enormous graft out of the poverty of hundreds of thousands of gullible at the rate of a penny a day plus occasional special assessments of a dine. The Newspaper Guild did not repudiate this endorsement of ham n eggs.

For a long time in California, the Communists of the CIO operated their terror through goons or sluggers, but they now seem to have abandoned such methods in favor of a less spectacular but even more effective terrorism. Now they hold over the Americans the fear of expulsion from their unions, which would mean exclusion from work and, of course, privation for their families. Or they fine them heavily for offenses against the discipline dictated by the Communists. Suffering and  injustice leave them cold.

So it was bound to come, this use of the Communist method of boring from within against the Communists, and they should be the last to protest against such methods, although, of course, they will be among the first. Possibly they will counterattack by planting their members in the Ku Klux Klan, although that seems unlikely, because, with all that the Communist and the Kluxer have in common, they nevertheless are totally unlike. The Communist will talk Communism and the Kluxer will talk nonsense, and neither can pretend to be the other, although both can belong to a third organization such as a union and fight it out there.

Oddly, there are Communists or fellow-travelers in the CIO who wrote with courage and fire against the atrocities of the Ku Klux Klan and its silent bloodless persecutions back in the 20s, who, in the rise of the Communist movement in the CIO, advocated or condoned the same methods. The fact that the sufferers would be not soulless corporations only but little, individual, helpless Americans did not abate their enthusiasm for the party line.

There is nothing to choose between the Communists and fellow-travelers and the Ku Klux Klan. They both employ the same methods, so neither one provides a refuge from the other. But as between the company union and the union controlled from Moscow there is a choice. The company union is American and wants to live and living must provide jobs. The Moscow union is Russian and the mortal enemy of the company and the jobs.

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