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A good old-fashioned blast “We must elect our friends and defeat our enemies. . . .” Samuel Gompers “The mere fact that a person has a perfect labor record doesn’t mean that labor is obligated to support him. . . .” Roy Evans, president, Texas AFL-CIO Austin Union members all over this state who worked their hearts out for Sissy Farenthold were double-crossed and euchred by part of their own leadership during the COPE executive meeting here on May 9. Perhaps after what went down at the Galveston COPE convention in March, one should not have been surprised by the number of spineless opportunists in the labor leadership. In truth, it was not the venality of their moves in Austin that was astonishing just the stupidity. Most of them had already tried to play the climb-on-the-bandwagon game once, and they went down in flames. They were the same smart boys who backed Barnes in Galveston, because they were going to get in on the ground floor. get close to the guy who would inevitably wind up in power to hell with integrity, let’s be pragmatic. ONE COULD understand it better in Galveston: Farenthold looked like such a long shot and Barnes looked like such a cinch. But what’s smart about making the same mistake twice? Farenthold has proved herself. One “sure winner” has already gone down the tube. Labor can’t get in on Briscoe’s ground floor that’s a closed corporation. Wouldn’t do them any good if they’d been with him since January. Can even the most cock-eyed optimist look at Dolph Briscoe and see a friend of labor? As per usual with labor meetings, the real decisions were made the night before the official meeting. Some Houston labor leaders who had finked on Farenthold in Galveston and who were eager to get back on the sweet side of their membership, came up ready to endorse her. Her regulars weren’t interested in an endorsement: they just wanted to stave off a Briscoe commendation. At the Tuesday morning meeting, Roy Evans, AFL-CIO president, suggested they take an informal vote on the question of a commendation for Briscoe. Farenthold’s supporters immediately objected on a procedural point: no motion to that effect had been introduced. So Jack Martin of the Ironworkers made the motion to commend Briscoe. The first vote, taken without discussion, was 16 for and 12 against. Farenthold’s people asked for a roll call vote and discussion followed. Farenthold’s loyalists, Eddie Ball of Corpus and Nick Nichols of Houston, didn’t even have to raise their voices. Dick Twedell of the Meatcutters spoke for Farenthold. Chuck Bertani of the Machinists spoke for her. The Steelworkers never opened their mouths. Daily Willis of C.W.A. moved to table the Briscoe commendation. Harry Hubbard called the roll. Seventeen for and nine against. “Wait a minute, Harry,” said Evans. “There are two more names on that list.” So Hubbard dutifully called out “Harry Hubbard?” And dutifully responded, “Aye.” Then, “Roy Evans?” “Nay,” said Evans. It was the first time in anyone’s memory that an AFL-CIO president has been beaten by his own executive board. It was also the first time Hubbard has been forced to split publicly with Evans, a contingency both have tried to avoid with the bitter memory of the Hank Brown-Evans fights still fresh. Another interesting split occurred on that vote: Don Horn, president of the Harris County AFL-CIO council, voted to table the Briscoe commendation. But McCullar, secretary-treasurer of the same council, voted for Briscoe. Irish Matthews of the Typographers voted against the motion to table. He said afterward that Farenthold had the votes on the floor for an outright endorsement, which, he said, is what he wanted for her. Matthews said tabling the Briscoe motion meant shelving the whole question. “The Farenthold people walked out like they’d won a big victory after they got the Briscoe motion tabled. But they could have gotten an endorsement,” he said. THE PROPOSED commendation for Briscoe was necessarily weak: there isn’t that much to say. The commendation praised Briscoe’s past legislative record \(which consists of a strong anti-screwworm stand and a farm-to-market road bill neither of poignant importance to laboring matter of principle, Farenthold’s labor record is there for anyone to look at and it happens to be 100 percent. Briscoe’s labor record is there to look at too, but Evans obviously didn’t bother to do so. During the post-meeting press conference, one of the reporters present had to inform Evans that Briscoe does not, in point of fact, favor allowing public employees to unionize. Evans muttered that he thought Mr. Briscoe should clarify that. The AFL-CIO’s executive board, by tabling the Briscoe commendation, let its earlier Farenthold commendation stand unalloyed. A labor endorsement for Farenthold would most likely have worked to her detriment: little or no money would have ensued and her opposition would have tried to smear her as “the labor candidate.” Nevertheless, by even considering a Briscoe commendation, a good chunk of the labor leadership of this state has disgraced itself. Their actions do not reflect on those thousands of union members who have manned telephones, cranked mimeo machines, trudged blocks, pushed cards and otherwsie worked themselves into the ground for a candidate they know is right. Nor do the actions of that substantial minority of labor wheeler-dealers reflect on those labor leaders who held out against pressure from the top. But Roy Evans spoke for Briscoe. Roy Evans pushed for a Briscoe commendation. Evans’ position is terribly difficult to understand. Some suggest that it may stem from pique, because Evans advised Sissy not to run for governor in the first place and resented being flouted by her. It is also suggested that the mutual antipathy between Evans and Farenthold’s campaign manager Creekmore Fath may be influencing Evans. Evans did not want an endorsement for Farenthold in Galveston for the eminently logical reason that he felt it would ensure a Barnes’ victory. His current stated rationalization for not endorsing Farenthold is that if she wins, having her name on the top of the state Democratic ticket will make it harder to carry Texas against Nixon. There may be some legitimacy to that argument: with Briscoe at the top of the state ticket, Texas conservatives could certainly feel that they had a place in the party. However, it seems just as likely that the conservatives who favor Briscoe would cheerfully vote Briscoe for governor and Nixon for president. The tragic irony of Evans’ current stand is that it is a 180 degree switch from his position in 1968 when he held firm in the face of Hank Brown’s pressure to endorse Barnes. No, said Evans at the time, labor must always support the person with the best proven record of friendship to labor’s interests. Back when Evans got elected AFL-CIO president last year, it seemed possible he might bring principled, radical leadership to the Texas labor movement. Everyone knew that at the very least, Evans would never fall for Barnes. He didn’t. The only question now is why? They would have made a perfectly matched pair. M .I. May 26, 1972 13