Cigarmaker’s Union Dispute in Tampa

From: Stetson Kennedy Florida Folklife Collection, 1935-1991, Series S 1585, Box 2, Folder 14
Update

750 Words
January 12, 1939
(Not Edited)

Tampa, Florida
L. M. Bryan

ADD: CIGARMAKERS' UNION DISPUTE IN TAMPA

After a newspaper silence of 23 days in regard to the union dispute, news of its final settlement flashed from a clear sky on Jan. 12, 1939. The Tribune of that date, on page 7, printed this concluding chapter of the prolonged controversy:

"In a move for the welfare of the Tampa cigar industry and its workers, a serious dispute affecting certain local leaders of the Cigarmakers INternational union was settled yesterday and a court injunction against them and others dismissed.

"The officials who had been suspended by R. E. Van Horn, international president, on charges of disloyalty to the union, and AFL affiliate, pledged their unqualified loyalty and were restored to full union membership.…

"In reaching the settlement the five suspended men and Van Horn issued the following 'statement of policy':

"'It is our solemn belief that the welfare and future of the cigar industry in Tampa, as well as the amelioration of labor depends in a large measure on the unity and solidarity of a growing, vigorous and healthy international union.'

"'Therefore we, the undersigned, do hereby reaffirm our devotion to the above cause and do hereby announce that we will work for the best interest of the entire membership of the Cigarmakers International Union of America, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, and to respect the laws and regulations now in force or hereafter enacted.'

 

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Tampa, Florida
January 12, 1939
Add: Cigarmakers' Union
Dispute in Tampa
(Not Edited)

"In another statement signed by the five former leaders it was agreed that during 1939 they would not serve in any elective office of the union, local or international, nor accept such office through appointment, unless made by the international president.

"Van Horn at the same time agreed to withdraw the suspensions and reinstate them 'to full membership and all constitutional rights, except as above enumerated,' and to dismiss the suit.

"The agreement was reached at a series of conference and signatures were affixed at a meeting yesterday in the Hillsboro hotel. A motion to dismiss the suit was presented to Circuit Judge Sandler, by D. C. McMullen and Neil C. McMullen, attorneys for the international union, Van Horn, and Charles M. Norona, his representative here, and by Maxwell & Cobbey, attorneys for the men named in the injunction…"

It was learned that no representative of the United States department of labor participated in the conference, and the agreement was concluded between those immediately concerned.

Commenting on the settlement, and the labor conditions generally in Tampa, a labor leader who asked that his name be withheld said:

"With the suspended men bound, gagged and hamstrung by a court injunction issued at the behest of the enemies of progressive unionism, no better settlement could have been expected.

"In Tampa and other parts of Florida attempts of workers to obtain their rights have always been opposed by certain allied groups who have banded together to keep wages down and to cow the workers. These sinister groups conceal their real purpose by raising the cry of 'communism!" at any demonstration of labor. Every labor organizer

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Tampa, Florida
January 12, 1939
Add: Cigarmakers' Union
Dispute in Tampa
(Not Edited)

is branded an 'agitator' and a 'dangerous radical.'

"Theses enemies of justice have an organized system of suppressing labor, by means of court injunctions, calling out the national guard, and sending thugs in night gowns and Legion caps to beat up strikers; always under the smoke screen of 'suppressing communism.' Any poor devil who wants a little gravy on his grits is called a Communist.

"For years this invisible government by industrial gangsters has controlled newspapers, law-enforcement agencies and the courts, using them to crack down on workers. As a further help, they hire 100-percent un-americans in white robes, blue uniforms, and khaki pants, to intimidate, flog and murder workers who dare to raise a voice for labor. And all this is done under the hypocritical and bloody cloak of 'Americanism."

"So you see why a progressive labor movement can get nowhere in Tampa. But don't hand my name onto this. If you do, they'll put me at the top of their next whipping list--if I'm not already there."