Excerpts from the Minutes of a Meeting on the 1924 Political Campaign
Shelburne Hotel,Coney Island, Sunday, July 27, 1924.
. . .
and Mr. Morrison
came over from Washington for the purpose of submitting to Mr. Gompers the draft of the report to be submitted to the Executive Council at its meeting August first, by the Executive Committee of the A.F. of L. Non-Partisan Campaign Committee, consisting of Messrs. Gompers, O'Connell
and Morrison. Owing to Mr. Gompers' illness, Mr. Woll acted for him on the Committee and attended both the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions.
. . .
Each paragraph was taken up line by line and such suggestions made by President Gompers as seemed pertinent to him, all of which were accepted by Mr. Morrison and Mr. Woll. Upon the conclusion of reading the entire report they both stated that Mr. Gompers additions to the report had rounded it out and greatly improved it.
Referring to newspaper reports of a black-list of members of Congress furnished by the Conference on Progressive Political Action, Mr. Morrison said:
"As soon as I saw the black-list in the papers I called up Jewell
. He said he did not give it out, that he was not responsible for it but he explained it in this way--the only explanation that could be made--that it resulted from the publication of the vote of the representatives from seven states, the primaries in these states to be held the first of August, the vote being on the Railway Labor Board. They evidently took that vote and used that as the foundation for their stories. . . ."
Mr. Woll: "Then we had a conference yesterday morning, of Johnston, Nelson
, Jewell and our people. They made practically the same statement. In addition, Johnston said he would give out a statement denying that they had made such a statement." (This denial appeared in the New York papers this morning.
Mr. Gompers: "It is an awful thing when you have to begin to deny. People will say, 'What, more denials.'"
Mr. Gompers continuing; I am unsatisfied with the relations, so far as I can gather from reports between representatives of the American Federation of Labor and those who are in control of the LaFollette campaign. I have great respect for Brother Jewell but in the position in which he now is, he is a novice. (This has reference to Mr. Jewell having been assigned by the railroad group to the Washington office instead of the office in Chicago as he had anticipated). Without flattery, our boys are experts. I cannot recall in all the period including 1906, that they have made a serious mistake. We have done no one an injustice. We have played the game squarely and cleanly and have come out of every campaign with our skirts clean and untainted. We may have been opposed and denounced but no one has a just cause for saying that we have done an injustice upon his record."
. . .
"The real strength of what support can be brought to the LaFollette candidacy will be the rank and file of the organizations of the American Federation of Labor. Our committee has been willing to urge that position and even to the Executive Council so that it may go forth to the world that we have proffered, in so far as we have had the right to proffer, our cooperation and coordination in the LaFollette campaign as a condition precedent that legislatively, in the matter of the members of Congress in either or both Houses, the American Federation of Labor must maintain its leadership and receive in return the cooperation and the coordination of this group."
Mr. Woll: "As I understand it, in our conferences which we held last week and this week, we made that very clear that we would never surrender the question of determining those whom we would support. The question then changed to eight years ago when in carrying on this same campaign, both groups had endeavored to avoid conflict, and quite successfully. They realized the necessity of no conflict. They understand that they would have to conform to us."
Mr. Morrison: "In our meeting we brought that out clearly to them, that we would cooperate with them in the election of LaFollette and Wheeler but that we would carry on our non-partisan political campaign just the same, that it was part of it and that we wanted their cooperation in electing Congressmen and Senators whose records entitled them to the support of labor. They agreed to that."
Mr. Gompers: "As to the test of records of the members of Congress, if we cannot agree our test goes and not theirs."
. . .
Mr. Woll: "They have no test in conflict with the American Federation of Labor."
Mr. Morrison: "They have accepted our test; they have other tests but they do not interfere."
. . .
After some further discussion Mr. Morrison stated: "I had a conference with Senator LaFollette on the position we want him to take in carrying on our campaign, that we want his group to cooperate with the American Federation of Labor in carrying on our campaign. He said, [']I told them I did not want to interfere in any way in the election of the men who were progressive in the support of labor, that is, to support the people which labor will support in the campaign.' He also sent his regards to you."
. . .
Mr. Gompers then said he had some valuable information to give and that if it would be of any addition to our cause he would disclose the means of his information but nothing of advantage could come and that he would therefore be indefinite as to the source of his information, but he said "I am fully convinced that Mr. LaFollette is in an unhappy frame of mind. He is the leader of that group. They do not so treat him. His voice is not the dominating one in regard to the campaign and what should be done. He is made to feel that he is their candidate and they lay down the law to him and he is in an unhappy frame of mind and his position does not permit him--at least, he feels that he must yield. Now, it is unfortunate. Senator LaFollette could understand direct from us what we want to do. We cannot give him at this time definite assurance that what we want to do will be the final act--whether that shall be approved by the Executive Council. Our course will be approved or disapproved but we want to play the game squarely with him and that in the last analysis, if that goes through he can count upon us 100 per cent and that in the presidential campaign he is the leader and we to help in carrying out his wishes. If we differ from him we will endeavor to get our point of view to him and when he decides, his decision goes."