Mine-Mill / Labor / Today / Redbaiting and its hideous effects

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Sun Jan 26 12:48:55 MST 2003

Note by Hunterbear:

These are two related posts of mine dealing with historical Red-baiting
[although it doesn't seem that long ago.]  The first --  posted by me
earlier this month -- is on the matter of Steelworkers et al. motivations in
their savage [a word I don't use lightly]assault on the International Union
of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers [Mine-Mill].  The second is a page from a
long 1960 article of mine on the witch hunt against Mine-Mill -- with
updating notes into contemporary times.  That page is on our large Lair of
Hunterbear website  www.hunterbear.org  -- which contains, among other
dimensions, a good deal of Mine-Mill material.  The Link for that page is
http://www.hunterbear.org/repression.htm  and various other Mine-Mill pages
precede and follow it.  In addition, some other Mine-Mill things are in
other portions of our website.

The attack by the right-wing unions and the Feds [and very much the bosses]
on the Left unions in CIO in the early Cold War era and their purge from CIO
cut much of the "fighting guts" and creativity and effective social
conscience out of the mainline American labor movement.  In a very real
sense, most of the AFl and CIO [AFL/CI0 after '55] "organizing the
unorganized" momentum faltered and failed. AFL-CIO related only uneasily and
sporadically to the rising Civil Rights Movement and then largely failed to
join with it in the emergent New South when such a coalition between labor
and the unions could have finally cracked and organized much of the Dixie
Citadel. And almost all of mainline labor became a junior partner with the
Cold Warriors.

Although the Left unions contained many Catholic members who were always
extremely loyal to their radical unions, there were organized Catholic
attacks from the outside.  Much of this was spearheaded by the Association
of Catholic Trade Unionists. But, a generation or so after the "purge" of
the Left unions from CIO, many of the old ACTU leaders [e.g., Monsignor
Ryan] indicated they'd made a massively grievous mistake in their attacks on
Left labor -- and that the ouster of the Left unions from the "mainstream"
had resulted directly and indirectly in the breakup of much existent
unionization and in the general and continuing failure to organize the

The lessons for today -- critical, urgent -- could not be more obvious.


Note by Hunterbear:

This is a portion of a letter I've written in response to some excellent
questions from a "Mine-Mill baby" involving radical labor in the United
States and Canada:

My own activist career started early in 1955 -- but I do know some critical
history that precedes that time period:

My own take on the Steel union's motives in attacking Mine-Mill in its
consistently venomous fashion over all of those many, many years is that it
initially started with an effort to seize, for Steel, Mine-Mill members and
potential members -- wrapping this up with the ideological rationalizations
of what I'd call right-wing social democrats in CIO [Phil Murray, the
Reuther brothers, et al.] Mine-Mill, and not Steel for example, should have
had the Mesaba -- Iron Range -- iron-mining jurisdiction in Northern
Minnesota. That was old WFM turf and clearly, as the Alabama situation
indicates, well within Mine-Mill's official and established jurisdictional
context. But Murray et al. steered all of that to Steel. Later, as the
Cold War heated up -- late '40s etc -- the right-wing/centrist unions in CIO
and CCL made a Faustian deal with the so-called "liberals" in their
respective Federal governments -- which boiled down to knifing the Left
unions in an effort to maintain "mainline labor respectability." In doing
so, and forcing the Left unions from CIO and CCL [where, among other things,
the Left unions could be attacked and raided openly and mercilessly], the
Murrays and the Reuthers et al violated not only every moral tenet in the
concept of functional and traditional Solidarity, but also the legally
protected autonomy of the individual Left member unions [and all member
unions] within CIO and CCL.

In 1949, Mine-Mill published a 58 page mimeographed pamphlet, "Mine Mill and
the CIO." This was put together by Graham "Cozy" Dolan, a key research and
education staffer in the International Office. Your father's papers very
likely include this, which has as its chapter headings: [1] "Autonomy --
The Right of Self-Government" [2] "The Cold War" [3] "Independent Political
Action" [4] "World Federation of Trade Unions" [5] "Taft-Hartley Sellout."
This is an early and truly excellent discussion of the whole worsening
situation. Dolan and his staff did a fine job.

In Solidarity - Hunter

Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]



October, 1960  (with up-dating notes):

"When it became obvious that management and right-wing   union pressure was
not enough, the government moved in.

In 1952, the Senate Internal Security Committee, led by the late Pat
McCarran of Nevada, and staffed by such worthies as J.B. Mathews and Harvey
Matusow, hauled some of the most prominent Mine-Mill spokesmen before it in
a futile effort to prove "Moscow domination"  in a IUMM&SW strike in which,
ironically enough, it had been the mining concerns and not the union, who
had refused to bargain.  The hand of the government was in Grant County, New
Mexico, in late 1952 and early 1953, when Mine-Mill Local 890, led by Juan
Chacon and Clinton Jencks, assisted a Hollywood group in filming "Salt of
the Earth," based on the prolonged and successful IUMM&SW strike which had
occurred at  Hanover, New Mexico the year before.   Intermixed with the
burning of homes of union members, the brutal assaults on Mine-Mill
officials and friends, and the formation of a vigilante committee which told
union militants, "Clear out of Grant County in twelve hours or be carried
out in black boxes," the U.S. Department of Immigration deported, on a minor
technicality, leading lady Rosaura Revueltas to her native Mexico.  In 1954,
Clinton Jencks, then an International Representative of IUMM&SW, was, on the
flimsy and sketchy testimony of Harvey Matusow, convicted in a Dixiecrat
courtroom in El Paso of perjuring himself on the non-Communist Taft-Hartley
affidavits. Years later, Matusow announced that he'd lied, and eventually,
in 1957, Jencks was released by the Supreme Court.  In 1954 again, the
National Labor Relations Board attempted to strip, through de-certification
procedures, the bargaining rights of IUMM&SW, charging that  Idaho-born
Maurice Travis, at that time International Secretary-Treasurer, had
committed perjury when he had signed the non-Communist Taft-Hartley oath.
The Supreme Court later killed this maneuver which, had it been successful,
would have eventually led to the complete destruction of Mine-Mill.  Travis,
however, was singled out in 1955, charged and eventually convicted of
Taft-Hartley oath perjury.  He appealed and eventually received a new trial,
at which he was again found guilty.(1)  In 1957, the Subversive Activities
Control Board held almost half a year of hearings calculated to prove the
"Communist domination" of the mine union.  The hearings were eventually
recessed with no decision being announced. (2). . .The month of November,
1956 saw government authorities hand down indictments against thirteen top
Mine-Mill staff members and Maurice Travis who had left the union some time
before, charging them with "conspiracy to file false non-Communist
Taft-Hartley affidavits" in the period between 1949 and 1956."  (3)

1)  This second Maurice Travis "perjury" case was thrown out by the U.S.
Supreme Court in 1961.

2)  The U.S. Court of Appeals effectively killed this "proceeding" in 1965.

3)  The Mine-Mill "conspiracy case,"   brought initially by the government
in 1956,  remained relatively quiescent for three years and was not brought
to trial until the massive IUMM&SW-led industry wide copper strike  (from
"Butte, Montana to the Mexican border" and some other places as well) took
place in 1959 into 1960.  In what was obviously a deliberate case of planned
management/government strike-breaking and union-busting, this sweeping
conspiracy case was brought to trial  at Denver by the government  during
the course of the copper strike itself -- thus tying up much of the time of
the top IUMM&SW leadership and providing  anti-labor news media with daily
Red Scare  stories.   Mine-Mill won the extraordinarily hard-fought copper
strike; but almost all of the Mine-Mill conspiracy defendants were convicted
on December 17, 1959 and sentenced to prison terms and heavy fines the
following March.   In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the so-called
conspiracy convictions.   [See the above cited long article of mine
(JRS/HG), IUMM&SW: The Good, Tough Fight, for a discussion of Western
Federation of Miners/International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers
history with a primary  focus on the hard-fought 1959-60 copper strike and
the accompanying Federal "conspiracy trial" attack on the union.]

In 1967, its fiscal resources cut to the bone  by its prolonged persecution
at the hands of a thoroughly vindictive  United States government,  the
International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers  merged with its old
enemy, the United Steelworkers of America (whose leadership by this time
included a few somewhat "better" faces than had previously been the case.)
A significant exception to  the merger was the Mine-Mill local at
Falconbridge Nickel, Sudbury, Ontario which stubbornly refused to merge with
Steel and which  has carried on into the new century a quite effective
Mine-Mill existence as Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers  Union, Local
598. (Since the mid-90s, it's been hooked-up with CAW, the growing 1985
Canadian breakaway from the U.S.-based United Auto Workers.)




Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings.  Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]

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