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By Patrick Renshaw

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Example text

Yet Pressman always maintained that the CIO was run by Lewis, Murray and Hillman, and that the CP went along with them, rather than they with it. Pressman outlasted Lewis at the CIO but his role was mainly to smooth relations between Lewis, Murray and the Communists, not make policy. Len De Caux, English-born and Harrow-educated, had dropped out of Oxford University and come to America in the 1920s, joining the CP via the IWW. He edited the CIO News from its launch in 1937 to the end ofthe 1940s.

Lewis of the coalminers and Sidney Hillman of the clothing workers - challenged orthodox views. Lewis, a Republican in the 1920s, was a physically massive, psychologically puzzling leader: a powerful orator who had bulldozed the United Mineworkers together and then seen the UMW fall apart again in the 1920s. A conservative labour leader, and a largely discredited one too, Lewis was to become the dynamic inspiration of labour's great leap forward in the 1930s. What distinguished him from colleagues like Green and Hutcheson was his contempt for their limited ambitions, and the more important fact that he led an industrial and not a craft union.

The Knights of Labor had spoken in the 1880s of forging 'a connecting link between all branches of honourable toil'. But their failure, and that of the IWW later, had demonstrated the dangers of industrial unionism. AFL hostility to the idea had shown itself earlier in the New Deal by its reaction to the upsurge of new industrial unions stimulated by the NRA and Section 7(a). The AFL leaders had shunted these new unions off into so-called Federal unions, directly affiliated to the AFL, until jurisdictional problems could be resolved.

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