Labor Politics in a Democratic Republic: Moderation, Division, and Disruption in the Presidential Election of 1928

By Vaughn Davis Bornet | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Foster Appeals to The "Proletariat"

THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN of the Communist Party can be fully comprehended only by those who understand the threat it offered the American trade-union movement. To A. F. of L. leaders of the day this was obvious. To an undercover agent of the United States Department of Labor in the Far West the matter was equally plain. Reporting secretly, he wrote,

The communists here [state of Washington] that are members of the various unions are pretty well known but proving that they are actually members of the party seems to be and is a very difficult task. All of them will sidestep a direct question as to their membership and in that they differ from the average I. W. W., the latter proud of his membership, hating the A. F. of L. and wanting the wide world to know it. Without access to the membership rolls it is well-nigh impossible to bring proof of membership, without which it seems impossible to suspend or expel them from their respective local or international unions.1

Five days later from the nation's capitol across the continent the high command of the A. F. of L. sent a sharp warning to international unions about the Communist menace.

____________________
1
E. A. Marsh, Seattle Division of Conciliation, to Hugh L. Kerwin, Director of Conciliation, February 10, 1928, File 20/580B, Group 157, Dept. of Labor Files, National Archives.

-207-

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