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It will be difficult for the twenty-first century reader to understand the utter hatred that San Francisco’s business community held for labor leader Harry Bridges. The closest we might come today to sensing that intense dislike is to study the relationship between the White House and Congress during the late 1990s. The invective published by the combined NEWS LETTER and Wasp, a very conservative publication, is a good illustration of the business communities’ utter distaste for the labor leader.

At the same time, San Francisco’s moderate politicans, such as Mayor Angelo Rossi, pushed for cooperation with what he called “conservative labor,” as opposed to the radical labor movement embodied by Harry Bridges.

Gladys Hansen
March 1999

Related Museum Links

San Francisco Labor History 1860-1906

1916 Preparedness Day Bombing

“Bloody Thursday,” and the 1934 General Strike

Labor Strife Along the Embarcadero - 1935

Fighting Communism in San Francisco Unions - 1938

Mayor Rossi’s Labor Day Speech at Treasure Island - 1939

Harry Bridges on Accused of Communism - 1941

The Museum’s Labor Archive

FOR about three years, week-after week, the News-Letter has been charting the career of Harry Bridges—Super Communist.

Photograph of Harry Bridge on the telephone, taken by Peter Stackpole.During this period this paper and its editors have been harassed by the “Reds,” in some manner, almost daily.

Harry Bridges is not to be taken lightly; he has the cunning of the fox and is as subtle in his decomposing approach as the master trickster attorney.

Bridges is as insidious as a cancer. He reaches his goal thorough the use of soft, dulcet tones and velvet touches. He has, like the cancer, impregnated industrial bodies before opposition could be properly formed.

Approximately three years ago, Henry Schmidt, Harry’s chief lieutenant, acknowledged that both he and the Auckland Adder were Communists. Schmidt carried his utter disregard for the benefits of citizenship to the point where he retorted to a pointed question on patriotism: “Harry does not have the time to bother about citizenship; there are more important things to take care of. The men must be handled properly.”

In answer to query as to why he, Schmidt, and Harry did not go to Russia, he answered: “We wish we could.”

Schmidt vouchsafed the statement: “You can never deport Harry. He is too valuable to his people and he is too smart for any of these fellows around here.”

There has been a strange apathy demonstrated when the question of deporting Bridges has arisen. So-called prominent men accused this paper of carrying things too far. The question as to the value of “the man from down under” has arisen a number of times. And the question did not come from labor circles.

It was left to good solid Americans, of the two-fisted variety, to get to the bottom of this cancerous growth on the body politic; men who have and had patriotic ideals as their standards; men who clung to the American Federation of Labor, refusing to join the un-American C.I.O.

Communism has made itself felt in every walk of life. You cannot, in safety, question it, whether you are in a social gathering or a business caucus; whether you are at play or working in your garden, or whether you are talking to strangers or neighbors.

Only a few members of the C.I.O are active Communists, and only a few belonging to it, are really sympathetic to its teachings. Still, as those who belong to it pay dues, they feel it incumbent upon themselves to argue in its favor. The same thing applies to the neighbor or the man in the street generally. They take sides and argue its virtues. This is precisely what the king-pins in Moscow want. They know that public arguments always wind up in some sort of trouble. And, as trouble is the focal point of the entrance to “Red” circles, the actual Communist of tomorrow is in the making when trouble starts.

Each real American you speak with, agrees that Bridges should be deported. Each employer hopes he will be deported. But few of the employing class care to risk further destruction of their business by openly declaring themselves. And so it is left to, and has been taken up by the laboring man himself — witness the present investigation — an A.F.L. movement entirely.

When Harry Bridges is on his way to either Moscow or Auckland, the people of this country will owe the new peace conditions, inevitable through his removal, to this labor organization. As a measure of protection to itself and appreciation of the constructive move, capital generally should stand squarely behind the A.F.L, and its aims and objects.

Round table discussions between the leaders of the American organization and captains of industry should be in order now.

The handwriting on the walls shows the end of C.I.O.-ism. Americanism will hold sway from now on, due to the co-operation with the A.F.L., of the American Legion and the Americans who have had the courage to fight on in the face of repeated set backs.

Harry Bridges will be deported within six months of this date — the delay will be due solely to the strings of red tape to be cut.

And then, in quick order, thousands of alien Communists, Nazis and Fascists will be given passage to the lands they seem to love so much better than they do this free, over-patient country.

August 19, 1938

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