SOCIALISTS AND CONSERVATIVES
IN CONFLICT ON FLOOR OF FEDERATION CONVENTION
Like a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky came the long awaited conflict between the Socialists and conservatives on the floor of the American Federation of Labor convention this forenoon.
It was over a seemingly harmless and innocent looking clause in the report of the committee on president's report that the fight started. Chairman Andrew Furuseth
of the committee started to read the report clause by clause from the platform, and the first few clauses, dealing with Carl Legien's visit, compulsory arbitration and other matters were adopted without a dissenting voice.
The clause that precipitated the conflict endorsed that part of the president's report dealing with the federation's political campaign and recommended that the campaign be continued. Chairman Furuseth had barely finished reading it when a Socialist delegate
in the rear of the hall was on his feet protesting that in the pamphlets published during the last campaign the Democratic, Republican and Progressive platforms were printed, but the Socialist platform was left out.
of the typographical union sprang to his feet, and made an impassioned address, denouncing the administration's political campaign.
Federation Not a Kite Tail.
"When I joined the typographical union twenty years ago," declared Mr. Hayes, "I did not give the American Federation of Labor the right to tell me what party I shall support.
"This is a nation of political parties. We are either Republicans or Democrats, Progressives or Socialists, Prohibitionists or so-called independents, or mugwumps. Nobody has ever been left in doubt as to where I stand on political questions, and I object to making the Federation of Labor the tail of the Democratic kite, or the Republican kite or the Socialist kite, for that matter.["]
Here the speaker was interrupted by laughter.
Attack on Socialists.
Delegate Andrew J. Gallagher
, of San Francisco, attacked the Socialist party at considerable length on religious and other grounds. He was followed by Delegate J. P. Cannon
, of the Western Federation of Miners, who made a strongly Socialistic address, until he was interrupted by Delegate Morton
with a question. The question had to do with the unionization of the Hart, Schaffner & Marx Clothing Company, of Chicago, to which the speaker had referred.
"I didn't hear the question," said Mr. Cannon, "but it doesn't matter," and he went on with his address. At its conclusion President Gompers rose.
"The statement of Delegate Cannon," said he, "that he didn't hear the delegate's question, but that it didn't matter, has been typical of Delegate Cannon's attitude of mind in this convention."
Gompers Denounces Sophistry.
The aged president, his voice shaking with emotion, went on to say that Delegate Cannon was too filled with "a certain philosophy, or, as I should call it, sophistry," to understand the issues before the convention.
"I never knew a Socialist," declared Mr. Gompers, "who had the faintest conception of the industrial relations between workmen and employers. They haven't the slightest understanding of the principles involved in the injunction process and the Sherman anti-trust act."
Chairman's Tart Reply.
The president continued for several minutes and when he had concluded William Rodriguez
of Chicago, was recognized and made an eloquent address in which he answered the religious and other arguments used against the Socialists.
Another Socialist delegate rose to ask the chairman of the committee on president's report why the platform of the Socialist party had not been printed with those of the other parties by the federation.
"I cannot speak for President Gompers," said Chairman Furuseth, "but I should infer that it was out of consideration for the Socialist party. That's the only party I know of that maintains that labor is property."
Would Organize Labor Party.
Delegate John Walker defended the Socialist party at length. Delegate Gallagher rose to offer an amendment to the committee's report providing that the executive council study the advisability of organizing "a strictly speaking national union labor party in strict accord with the policies and aims of the American Federation of Labor."
Chairman Furuseth denounced the amendment as "a direct reversal of the policy of the American Federation of Labor." The point of order was raised from the floor that the amendment was out of order, being a violation of the section of the constitution of the federation that forbids political discussion in the convention.
A Parliamentary Skirmish.
Treasurer John B. Lennon, who was in the chair, sustained the point of order and Delegate Gallagher appealed from the decision of the chair. On the vote, president Gompers, who had taken the chair, ruled that the decision of the chair was sustained. A division was called for and the vote stood 161 in favor of sustaining the chair and 33 opposed.
The previous question was called for, and on the aye and no vote President Gompers ruled that the committee's report had been concurred in. Again a division was called for and the vote stood 166 in favor of the adoption of the report and 43 opposed.
. . .
Rochester Union and Advertiser, Nov. 21, 1912.