Bridges Urges Protection of Liberties by Youth and Labor
Blames Big Industry for Labor Trouble; Terms Unions Liberal Force
"Unions are the main liberal force in America today," Harry Bridges, well known labor leader, said last night, as he called upon the American youth movement to join the unions in their struggle to preserve civil liberties and organize labor.
In an address on "American Labor Today" before almost 1,000 people who filled every seat and jammed the aisles of Emerson D last night, the president of the International Longshoremen's Union and California C.I.O. director shouted, "There are forces in this country that will take your liberties away from you, if they get the chance."
Identifying big industry with "reaction," Bridges denied responsibility for the recent labor strife on the West coast and asserted, "Every fight in the industrial field is caused not by the attempts of the unions to increase their gains but by the attempts to take away what we have already got--and that's darned little."
It was an unruly and partially unsympathetic audience which Bridges addressed. Due to a misunderstanding between University officials and the H. S. U. which sponsored the meeting, a large, motley crowd of Harvard and Radcliffe students waited patiently before the locked and unlighted New Lecture Hall for 15 minutes, only to discover that Bridges would speak in Emerson D.
The former Australian seaman linked his deportation proceedings, recently tried before Dean Landis of the Law School, with attempts of industry to crack the union movement and said that in the trial "we were fighting to expose the entire corrupt machine of industry, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the immigration authorities."
Charging that "native born Americans have been deported by the immigration authorities in the Northwest because they are controlled by the lumber barons," Bridges described the attempts of West Coast industry to destroy the union movement.
He stated that newspapers are the tools of big business and that "they print just what they want. If they happen to be lies, and 90 per cent are, so much the better. If you didn't buy newspapers, they would come around and give them to you, and give you a nickel besides."
Referring to peace efforts between the A.F. of L. and the C.I.O., he said that they would fail "as long as the present reactionary leadership of the A.F. of L. remains entrenched. I know where they stand and I know their records--we spent money to find out."
Bridges described John L. Lewis' proposal that the A. F. of L. should charter all C.I.O. unions, thereby uniting all labor in one united organization, and said that the proposal would have been accepted if the individual members of the A. F. of L. had had a chance to express themselves.