Radio Artists Bar Communists from Membership; ACLU Protests
By referendum, the American Federation of Radio Artists had voted to bar from membership anyone who had been a Communist Party member since 1945. The ACLU on this day protested, writing the union to request that it reconsider the policy. The ACLU letter stated that “We believe that the spirit of American constitutional freedoms is violated by the exclusion or expulsion of persons from membership in ordinary labor unions for political opinions alone.” The radio union policy went even further than just Communist Party membership, barring from membership anyone belonging to an organization listed in the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations or who was labelled a Communist by the FBI, the Justice Department, or the State Department. The policy was one of the most serious blacklists of the Cold War period, barring numerous people from work in their professions.
See December 4, 1947 for the publication of the notorious Attorney General’s list, which had been authorized by President Harry Truman’s Loyalty Program on March 21, 1947. The Hollywood motion picture studios on December 3, 1947 announced their blacklist of Communists or people who did not cooperate with legislative investigative committees (especially HUAC).
Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)
Read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)
Read the ACLU FBI File (not the complete file): http://vault.fbi.gov/ACLU
Learn about the ACLU today: www.aclu.org