Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Cleon O. Swayzee, Labor Adviser, Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs

[Page 262]
Participants: Secretary Acheson; Assistant Secretaries Perkins,2
Butterworth,3 McGhee4 and Miller;5 Mr. Cleon O. Swayzee, E/L.
AFL—President Green,6 Mr. Meany,7 Mr. Woll,8 Mr. McGowan,9 Mr. Doherty,10 Mr. Harrison11 and Mr. Lovestone.12
CIO—Mr. Carey,13 Mr. Haywood,14 Mr. Kyne.15 United Mine Workers—Mr. P[aul] Reed.
(All delegates returned from the organization meeting of the ICFTU held in London, November 28, 1949)16

The Secretary opened the meeting by congratulating the labor representatives on their notable achievement in London and indicated the Department’s strong sympathetic interest in the new international democratic Confederation. He indicated, moreover, that the Department recognized its own limitations in this connection. It did want to encourage the development of the new organization in any appropriate way possible. At that point he asked the labor representatives for their own impressions of the London meeting.

President Green opened his remarks by stressing the complete AFL-CIO harmony at the London meeting. He indicated that not a move bad been made by either without the closest consultation with the other. He pointed to the general unanimity on the part of all delegations present in their desire to thwart the growth of Communism in every way possible. In this connection he stressed the fact that nothing in the Constitution of the new organization remotely suggested Marxism class struggle influence—that the new organization was completely non-Socialist in character. He remarked further upon the broad interests of the new organization as indicated in the Manifesto of Economic and Social demands adopted at the conference.

Each of the other labor representatives who spoke concurred in Mr. Green’s remarks and gave special emphasis to the AFL-CIO harmony which had been achieved. In this connection there were even overtones of harmony over a wider area even extending to domestic policies.

Messrs. Haywood and Reed emphasized the need for a friendly government attitude toward the new organization and appealed for encouragement to help the new organization get on its feet in order that it might serve as a point around which non-Communists the world over could rally.

Mr. Meany said that they had made a good start in London but pointed out that it was only a start. He remarked on the fact that the Communist World Federation of Trade Unions, without the restraining influence of non-Communist unions, had given some evidence of [Page 263] consolidating its strength. He likewise appealed for friendly government recognition of the new organization at every possible opportunity.

Mr. McGowan commented upon how few workers in France were aware of the assistance which the United States had been extending through the recovery program. Mr. Carey concurred in this but said he thought this situation had been improved somewhat in the past year. He pointed to the gross inefficiency among French management and indicated that French labor should exert pressures on French management toward the end of greater efficiency and a greater aggregate product.

Mr. Woll made a special point of the fact that the new organization, unlike any of its predecessors, encouraged unity of labor within countries by inviting more than one national center to affiliate. In this connection he spoke also of the efforts that were made in London to bring the Catholics as well as the Socialists together in the new organization.

The Secretary left the meeting around 3:30 and requested Assistant Secretary Perkins to take the chair. He asked that the labor representatives indicate, as specifically as they could, the ways in which the Department might be helpful.

Again Mr. Green led off by asking for the assistance of the Department in getting consultative status in ECOSOC for the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.17 Somewhat more generally he asked for closer cooperation between the Department of State and U.S. labor organizations.

Mr. Carey pointed to the interest of U.S. labor organizations in the President’s Point IV program,18 recalled the constructive role which U.S. labor had played in formulation of the Marshall Plan program and suggested a conference on Point IV between U.S. labor representatives and appropriate Departmental personnel.

Mr. Carey also indicated that U.S. labor organizations would like to play host to an early conference of the new Confederation but observed that existing immigration legislation and regulations would make it extremely difficult by excluding a number of delegates who, though friendly and completely reliable, might be open to a charge of being Communist or otherwise excludable on political grounds. He [Page 264] made a specific appeal for assistance on the part of the Department to overcome these difficulties.19

Mr. Doherty commented upon the importance of having an increasing number of labor attachés drawn from the ranks of labor.

[Cleon O. Swayzee]
  1. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, George W. Perkins.
  2. Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, W. Walton Butterworth.
  3. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs, George C. McGhee.
  4. Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Edward G. Miller, Jr.
  5. William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor.
  6. George Meany, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Labor.
  7. Matthew woll, Second Vice President of the American Federation of Labor; President of the Free Trade Union Committee, AFL.
  8. Charles J. McGowan, Tenth Vice President of the American Federation of Labor.
  9. William C. Doherty, Ninth Vice President of the American Federation of Labor; President of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
  10. George M. Harrison, Fourth Vice President of the American Federation of Labor; Grand President of the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees.
  11. Jay Lovestone, Executive Secretary, Free Trade Union Committee, AFL.
  12. James B. Carey, Secretary-Treasurer of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
  13. Allan S. Haywood, Vice President and Director of the Organization Department, Congress of Industrial Organizations.
  14. Martin C. Kyne, Executive Secretary, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, CIO.
  15. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), a new international labor federation created as a democratic rival to the Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was formally established at the international conference of trade unions held in London, November 28–December 9, 1949. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) were represented by high-ranking delegations which wielded a strong influence at the conference. The Department of State was in no way involved in the conference but followed events there with great interest. Documentation on the conference and the interest of the United States in the establishment of a democratic world labor federation is printed in Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, pp. 806 ff. For an account of the founding and early organiation and activities of the ICFTU, see Report of the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor to the Sixty-ninth Convention, Houston, .18, 1950, pp. 54–58.
  16. At a plenary meeting on March 3, 1950, during its Tenth Session, the United Nations Economic and Social Council unanimously decided to grant Category A Consultative Status to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. Prior to the voting, the Representative of the United States joined a number of other representatives in expressing full support for the proposal to grant such status to the ICFTU.
  17. In his inaugural address on January 20, 1949, President Truman proposed as point four of basic United States policies a new program of aiding in the development of underdeveloped areas. Documentation on the genesis of the Point Four program is printed in Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. i, pp. 757 ff.
  18. In letters of February 17, 1950, to Mr. Green, Mr. Carey, and Mr. Reed, none printed, Secretary of State Acheson stated that it did not appear feasible to officers of the Department of State currently to seek changes in the basic immigration legislation in order to facilitate visits to the United States by foreign trade unionists in connection with the work of the ICFTU. The Department of State felt that it would be possible, however, under existing legislation, to take care of requests for admission of ICFTU officials. In his letters, the Secretary of State observed that he found the meeting of January 6 most encouraging and instructive and wished the ICFTU every success (800.062 ICFTU/2–1750).