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Fighting the Communist Menace
in San Francisco Unions

The American Federation of Musician's Board of Delegates met in Florida for its forty-third annual convention during the summer of 1938, and adopted a resolution to fight the "communist menace" within the U.S. Labor movement.

The national delegates' report noted: "Certain communistic influences within [San Francisco's] Local Six have been, for the past year, sending out a communistic sheet known as 'The Score,' and certain communistic members of our Union have been carrying the program of the Communistic Party into the affairs of our Union."

It was also claimed in the report that Union Locals in, "New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and Los Angeles have these same communistic influences anonymously working or boring from within their unions."

A portion of that resolution adopted by the delegates read:

"Resolved, As loyal American citizens and loyal members of the American Federation of Labor we energetically use all means at our command to purge our membership of proven Red termites who are endeavoring to destroy our government and the American Federation of Labor; and be it further

"Resolved, That the Locals exercise their right and authority to so purge its membership of all subversive elements by after due trial expelling any member who carries out, or assists in carrying out, a program of Communistic propaganda within the American Federation of Musicians, its local unions and membership, either by word of mouth or through any other method, including propaganda through papers and materials which have for the purpose of undermining of local unions, the hindering of their success by boring from within, all for the purpose to have the union either dominated by Communistic elements or have the same weakened or utterly destroyed."

San Francisco Musicians' Union Local Six had been concerned since the early 1930s about Communist influence in the Labor movement, and made note of Communist activity in its report to the membership about the 1934 General Strike.

A study of the minutes of Local Six board meetings from August 1938 to November 1941, shows no San Francisco members explicitly expelled for Communist Party, or "communistic" activities.

Gladys Hansen
San Francisco
November 23, 1995

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