From William Z. Foster


Wm. Z. Foster, Secretary-Treasurer
Trade Union Educational League
Chicago, Ill. April 20, 1922.
Dear Sir and Brother:--

          At a meeting on April 11th, in the Hotel Morrison, Chicago, which was attended by several hundred local union presidents and other trade union officials, you issued me a challenge which I must accept.1 During the meeting an A.F. of L. Organizer2 made a virulent attack upon the proposition of amalgamation of the unions by industry, as outlined in the resolution recently adopted by the Chicago Federation of Labor.3 In reply thereto, I offered to debate the question with him on any trade union platform in this city. He made no response. But later on, when you took the floor, you expressed some surprise that I had not done you "the honor" of challenging you, and you also added that you would be willing to have a committee appointed, consisting of three reputable trade unionists, to which both you and I might submit our respective views regarding the general question of industrial unionism versus craft unionism.

           Considering your high office in the movement, I would not have been presumptuous enough to have so challenged you to such a debate, but seeing that it is your own proposition, I herewith accept your offer, and am holding myself in readiness to present my arguments to the proposed committee as soon as it is selected. The personnel of the committee, and the manner of its selection, I am willing to leave entirely in your hands.4

           My contention is that craft unionism is obsolete. The old type of organization, based upon trade lines, can no longer cope successfully with Organized Capital. To fit modern conditions, our unions must be based upon the lines of industry, rather than upon those of craft. The necessary industrial unionism will be arrived at, not through the founding of ideal dual unions, but by amalgamating the old organizations. Already the trade unions, by federations and other get-together devices, have made much progress in the direction of industrial unionism. I hold that this tendency should be consciously encouraged; we should not simply blunder along blindly. The thing that must be done is to boldly proclaim our inevitable goal of one union for each industry, and to adopt every practical means that will tend to get us there at the earliest date.

           Awaiting your pleasure, I am,

Fraternally yours, Wm. Z. Foster

TLS, George Meany Memorial Archives, Silver Spring, Md.