Wobbly, the Rough-And-Tumble Story of An American Radical

By Ralph Chaplin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 33. DAVE BECK, DAN TOBIN, HOLLY-
WOOD, AND SEATTLE. COUNTERATTACK
AGAINST COMMUNISM

IT WAS difficult to realize that we were leaving San Francisco. The antique cable car labored uphill to a sweeping view of the city and bridge-spanned bay vivid with color. Then, after much indecision, it turned down Washington Street. Vonnie, Edith, and Jack Crilly had our books, typewriter, and other belongings stowed away in the Ford when I reached home. We left for Wilmington that same night.

According to Crilly, A.F. of L. maritime unions in southern California were under concentrated fire from the Communists, and publicity was needed to expose them. Waterbury, secretary of the Wilmington Teamsters' Union, had been persuaded to consider publishing a series of waterfront bulletins which I was to edit and illustrate. Jack Crilly arranged that.

In the south I discovered that the labor unions had mushroomed into prodigious proportions. Many of them were easy pickings for resourceful disrupters. With their swollen treasuries, and their increased power in the hands of untrained and often untrustworthy leadership, the unions of Los Angeles and the Beach cities bore little resemblance to the open-shop strongholds that I had known. But was it unionism that had triumphed?

What disturbed me most was that these overgrown organizations were being split in two without benefit to anyone save the disrupters. Thanks to clever Communist maneuvering, the rival groups now hated each other more thoroughly than they had ever hated the employers. For the first time in my memory, jurisdictional disputes within the ranks of labor were a more frequent cause of strikes and boycotts than friction between labor and management.

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