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Red Baiters Go Big To Distort And Disarm Workers’ Growing Anger

The main focus of the interview is looking back on the CIO in the 1930s and advocating a “Go Big” approach to labor today. One would expect to find historical examples explaining the strategies of the class struggle organizations which helped to bring about America’s most tumultuous and successful labor upsurge – the formation and struggles of the CIO. Loomis gives an overview of the particular circumstances leading to the creation of the CIO, notably the depression, FDR, and the particular interests of John L Lewis – but chooses to gloss over the years of on-the-ground organizing by left-wing radicals within the labor movement, particularly communists.

What was the CIO?

After decades of defeat, workers are on the move again. Many of those interested today in a revived labor movement know that unions once exercised real sway over the national economy and politics in the US. And the distant memory of how the labor movement was built holds great symbolic power: as thousands of union organizers have asked in meetings, how did they do it in the 1930s? The United Auto Workers named and conceptualized their recent, triumphant “Stand-Up Strike” in explicit homage to their union’s breakthrough sitdown strikes of 1936–1937.

The CIO Was One Of The Most Successful Anti-Racism Movements In US History

In the 1930s, a new type of union, an “industrial” union that welcomed all workers in a single workplace emerged as the cutting edge of working-class struggle. Previously, unions and employers both had a long history of racism and support for white supremacy. Certain jobs were reserved for whites, and Black workers were kept out of factories and union halls. This had catastrophic consequences for the working class. For example, in the 1919 Steel Strike, employers brought in 30,000 Black and immigrant workers to break the strike staged by white workers and their racially exclusive unions.
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