Document 22: The Broadcast that the Radio Stations Said Was "Too Hot!"

Pension Builder, February 1948, Washington Pension Union Papers, University of Washington Manuscripts and Archives, Accession 185-1.

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The Broadcast that the Radio Stations
Said Was "Too Hot!"

The Canwell Committee's so-called "hearings" on the Washington Pension Union are recessed for the time being, but Canwell has declared that the Committee will hold further hearings in the future, on further alleged "subversive activities" of the W. P. U. and other groups.

Canwell's Phoney "Revelations"

...For ten days the Canwell Committee's "exposure" of alleged "secret meetings" of "conspiracies" and "plots against the government" was considered by the newspapers to be of such magnitude that only one story—the news of the murder of Gandhi—temporarily crowded the Canwellites out of the top headlines! A very liberal estimate of the space which the newspapers allocated to replies made by the Pension Union, and to replies made by individuals attacked by the Canwellites in comparison to the space devoted to the charges of the Committee is 5%!

Tonight in this broadcast, I'd like to discuss with you some items that weren't discussed at the hearings, and which only fitfully broke through the press.

Pension Union Democratic

First of all I'd like to answer the fantastic charge that the Pension Union is "Communist dominated"—or dominated by anyone except the members.

The Pension Union has some 16,000 members throughout the state of Washington. The Canwell Committee was not officer of any local, or even one rank and file member out of the 16,000 to bear witness to this lie!

Discreditable Witnesses

Who were the witnesses that the Canwell Committee secured? One was a former President who deserted and tried to split the W.P.U. in 1940...and whose venom toward the Pension Union is a matter of long standing public record.... You may be a member of a lodge, or a labor union, or a fraternity. It may be your lodge, or union, or fraternity has in the past had to expel a member because he worked disruptively against the interests of your organization. In such circumstances, how much confidence do your what he says about your lodge, your union or your fraternity? ...

Did not Dare Subpoena Officers!

The Canwell Committee did not subpoena one single officer of the Pension Union...because they did not dare to permit one single spokesman for the Pension Union to take the witness chair and to tell the truth about the achievements, and the democratic functioning of the Union....

Why was the Canwell Committee not able to get one single member of the Pension Union in good standing to join the chorus of expelled members and renegades from the pension struggle in their vile attack upon the W. P. U.? It is because the members know who really controls the Pension Union. Because they know, from years of working together, deciding on policies together, from years of democratically electing their own officers, that the Pension Union is run by the members, for the members, and by and for no one else!

Is the Canwell Committee really alarmed about "subversive activities" in the Pension Union? Or is it something else that lies behind all the shouting? What it really is alarmed about can be stated very simply: The Canwell Committee is alarmed about the threat which our organization is to their reelection campaigns, and is alarmed about the growing unity of the people behind the new social security initiative which would restore the pension gains which the last session of the legislature destroyed.

Canwellites Are Pension Wreckers!

...The Canwell Committee has listed its "findings and conclusions" on the Pension Union, and the Pension Union would like to submit its "findings" on the Canwell Committee.

1. We charge that the Canwell Committee has been using your state tax funds, Mr. and Mrs. Citizen, for a partisan political persecution in the hope of scaring into silence those who are their political opponents, and for the purpose of diverting public attention from their anti-pension record in the last legislature.

2. We charge that the Canwell Committee has denied itself the right to any public confidence by the methods it has used in conducting its hearings. The [sixth] amendment to our Constitution declares..."the accused shall enjoy the right confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for the obtaining of witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense." Has the Canwell Committee permitted one single of these rights to those it has so grossly maligned? It has refused to allow cross-examination of its hand-picked and carefully coached witnesses—because it knew all too well both their reliability as witnesses and their testimony could and would be blown sky-high if their witnesses were cross-examined! ...

3. We charge that under the guise of an investigation of the Pension Union the Canwellites assaulted the character and integrity of scores of both public and private citizens.... As a result at least two of the individuals so attacked, and their Americanism and their loyalty besmirched, have lost their jobs—their means of earning a living for themselves and their families....

W. P. U. Proud of Its Record

In closing let me say that the Pension Union is proud of its record of ten years of service to the Senior Citizens, the Blind, the Physically Handicapped and the Dependent mothers and their children. We are proud of our loyalty and devotion to America, and to the democratic principles on which America was founded and upon which America has grown great. We resent deeply the charges of "subversive" that have been thrown at us....

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest