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SATURDAY, JAN. 1, 1921.
The Cigarmakers Convention
By Tom Clark.
The drift to industrial unionism cannot be
stopped. The chaos now ruling industry by which
one union scabs on the other, and all of them are
beaten by the bosses, has opened the eyes of all
classes of workers. They see, or are beginning
to see, that unless they are able to build a compact
organization, embracing all the workers of an in
dustry, they will be unable to fight the bosses.
The strike of the cigarmakers which took place
last year, was lost because only a small portion of
the cigarmakers are organized, the result being
that the market is flooded with goods made in open
shops. And these scab cigars and tobacco pro
ducts are smoked by union men, who pride them
selves on being union men! It was clear, there
fore, that something had to be done to organize
the whole industry.
This step was taken at the instance of the
membership of the Shop Institution organization
of New York and vicinity, which called a special
convention of all tobacco workers. The convention
met in New York on Dec. 4 and was attended by
about 150 delegates.
There were assembled all kinds of fighters
and fighters are needed in this industry. When
one considers whom and what the tobacco wor
kers have to fight the tobacco trust and seve
ral powerful concerns; when one considers that
the trust recently declared a dividend of 55 per
cent, and, in spite of the high prices still being
charged for tobacco goods, is trying to reduce wa
ges ; and when one considers that workers are being
discharged without any appeal, it becomes clear
that only a powerful organization can remedy mat
ters. Of course, there is the International Cigarma
kers' Union, a unit of the A. F. of L., and typical of
tho A. F. of L. But the spirit of it is such that
there are five times as many unorganized workers
Hence something had to be done. The advo
cates of the Shop Delegate system immediately re
commended an industrial union and INDUS
TRIAL UNIONISM was the slogan accepted by ail
the delegates. It was merely a question of the form
Here were men and women who had passd through
many a strike and knew the necessity of solidarity,
but could not yet find the basis for unity.
And this could be attributed to various causes.
There were I. W. W., Syndicalists, Anarchists,
Communists, Socialists and conservatives at the
convention, and no type of union seemed able to
satisfy all. In fact, the most violent discussion
arose when a provisional preamble and constitution
were presented. The preamble stated that the
struggle of the workers is a political as well as an
industrial one. The qlass conscious tobacco workers
recognize the class struggle, the fight between
workers as a class and the bosses as a class, and
will fight for the owerthrow of the capitalist class
by industrial and political means. The constitution
Wrely provided for an industrial union, with
out for the moment specifying the type.
These two propositions were bitterly fought
by the Spanish workers, who are splendid class
conscious fighters, and may be depended on in any
struggle. But as syndicalists and anarchists, they
would not accept the struggle on the political field,
declaring that- it could all be taken care of on the
industrial. Furthermore, they would not bind them
selves to a centralized form of industrial unionism,
demanding shop autonomy.
A new industrial union was born at the con
vention, the "Amalgamated Tobacco Workers of
America". Workers in other unions and all the
unorganized, numbering more than 150,000 men
and women, are to be invited to join the new body.
The immediate demands are work by the week ; 44
hour week; uniform wages; even distribution of
work during times of depression ; shop committees
and committees for education and propaganda.
THE CAPITALIST PRESS.
"I rush out of my house,
And drag you in,
You foul thing:
Reeking with sweat and filth,
The putrid slime of all the dirty world.
I devour you through the eyes,
Incorporate you into my life:
Incorporate you into our composite life.
Why do I lust after scandal, and you.
Man's failures, miserable delinquencies, tragic
horrors and you.
Why can't I rest until I have brought you in?
You foul thing 1"