Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Sigman Group Victorious on Question of Election by National Referendum

May 16, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The proposal that officers of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union be elected by membership through a national referendum was defeated Monday night by a vote of 13 to 56 after an all day debate in which the elements in the International opposing Morris Sigman sought to secure passage of the resolution.

The debate was marked with bitterness, but was kept within perfect order, both sides presenting their views. In a final statement Sigman arraigned the proponents of the resolution for what he termed the “smoke screen method” to eliminate him from leadership.

It was clear from the discussion that the delegates, particularly those from outside New York, were opposed to the new method of electing officers. Sigman was not only victorious in defeating his opponents, but it was indicated tonight that Schlesinger, whose name has been prominently mentioned as the candidate to oppose Sigman, may not run.

Silence prevailed as the vote was taken by roll call. The votes for the proposal came from New York delegates and from New York suburbs. Delegates from certain New York locals disregarded their instructions, voting according to their own opinions in face of the situation.

The burden of the minority favoring the constitutional change in methods of electing officers was carried by David Dubinsky and Salvatore Ninfo, vice-presidents, and Joseph Breslaw, manager of New York local 35, who contended that peace in the International and a restoration of confidence in the leadership, particularly in New York, demand its acceptance. The proponents urged the acceptance of the resolution, declaring the International would otherwise have to face the failure of rebuilding the New York unions, already divided after the Communist split.

Arguing against the resolution Sigman declared that the referendum would introduce new politics to satisfy new ambitions of those who seek not to help the cause of the union but themselves. He declared that elections by the membership at this time is undesirable, although he stated in reply to a question that he had favored the idea in principle at the Philadelphia convention.

“What the workers of New York want,” Sigman exclaimed, “is bread, not referenda. What they want are jobs, not referenda.”

Maintaining that the lowered union standards in New York cannot be blamed upon the International officials, but upon general industrial depression complicated by the Communists, Sigman said it was the duty of the New York Joint Board, which his opponents control, to improve conditions, secure the workers in their jobs and guard union standards.

In the course of his address, Sigman announced his intention to be a candidate for re-election, declaring it to be the first time in his association with the International that he has done so. He said he was compelled to act in order to defend his principles.

A plea for unity in the ranks of the International was made by Miss Freedman of Chicago. Julius Hochman, vice-president, asked for the rejection of the referendum and argued that other Internationals have done away with the plan after it was tried. He characterized the plan as not workable and while on the surface democratic, it was not so in practice.

As manager of the New York Joint Board, Hochman said he is ready to step aside if it will help to solidify the ranks. but the solution is in a strong Joint Board for New York and not a referendum, he said. Delegates from outside New York spoke against the referendum, declaring a vote by the membership would mean domination of the International by the large New York locals.

Vice-president Luigi Antonini, in his address attacked the proponents of the referendum. Ninfo assailed his two colleagues who, in the course of the debate, had attributed to him personal motives in urging the referendum. Both sides applauded when he declared that whatever the decision would be he will fight by the side of the International.

Isidore Nagler, Samuel Perlmutter and other leaders of New York locals declared the rejection of the referendum would mean the disruption of the New York unions.

The handing over of Local 35 to the Communists was described by Antomin, who charged Breslaw with helping to pave the way for this. All of the speakers referated their strong opposition to the Lei? Wing, but in the methods of administration and in the solution of the New York situation, diferences of opinion exist.

Morris Hillquit, in this address, urged a united from to mean all problems. Norman Thomas, Socialist convention for president, addresed the convention at the morning session.

Dedication of the nearly completed Unity Synagogue at 130 West Seventy-ninth Strest. New York was held on Sunday. Anturney General Albert Ottinger and Rabbi Stepha S. Wise, were the principal speaker.

Unity Synagogue is a consolidation effected last Fail of Temples Peni-El and Mount Zion. The new building, which and $700,000, is a striking combination of Pesion, Byzantine and Coptic ## forms and ornamentation. The auditorium. in contest to the subdued colors of must churches, is in brilliant white and is sormouned by a large ornamental dome, piesced with ## grilles in plaster.

Among the speakers ## Dr. ## Stern president of the Association of Peformed Balinis; Dr. Barnet Elires. president of the Board of Jewish Ministers. and the new synagogue’s two rabbis, Herry A. Schan and Berjamin A. Timer.

Rabbi Louis I Newman of Temple Emzan Ell, San Francisen delivered the baccalaments sermon at the commencement exercises of the University of California. Sunday after noon. May 13. His theme was: ‘Lords of an Unchallenged Form.” Louis H. Heilheoc of the graduating class was commencement speaker.

Miss Janet Harris, daughter of Dr. Herry Harris, was recently elected president of the Associated Women Students of Leland Stanford University. Palo Alto.

Recommended from JTA