Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
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SENATOR COUDERT BEGAN by demanding that the Teachers Union turn over its record books and membership lists. The activities of the Union were a matter of public record. The Union, however, submitted its minute books for eight years back to the Committee.

President Charles J. Hendley was instructed by the membership of his Union to refuse to yield the lists.

Some people said, “Why doesn’t the Union release its membership lists? If it has nothing to hide. . .

To the people who asked that question, the Union said: “You’ll find the answer in the LaFollette investigation of labor spying and blacklisting in industry.”


“But that’s in steel and coal and shoe—that might be true for factory workers, but these are teachers, and they are employed by the state. Who ever heard of blacklisting in the schools?”

The Union said “. . .There is an unsavory history of withholding employment from Union members by blacklisting. The fact of membership in the Union is repeatedly misused by those principals and supervisors who are unsympathetic to the Union’s aims. The lists can be of no conceivable use to any agency desiring to prosecute a ‘subversive hunt’. They can serve only a hunt for union members.”

Senator Coudert protested that he had no intention of publishing the Union membership lists. But on the day the lists were ordered to be delivered to Senator Coudert’s office, Hearst press photographers were present to photograph the lists for publication. It wasn’t the Union that had asked them to come.

The case was argued before the Court of Appeals.

Counsel for the Teachers Union: “The lists are irrelevant to purposes of the inquiry; their surrender would be a breach of faith to its membership and a dangerous precedent in denial of fundamental rights of trade unions.”  The Court delivered its decision: The membership lists must be delivered to the Rapp-Coudert Committee or Mr. Hendley goes to jail—there to remain until the lists are produced.

The Herald Tribune said: “. . .the obvious principle behind the Court of Appeals decision applies to all unions or other associations publicly sanctioned and permitted to function, and that is the principle that their records of whatever sort shall be open to official inspection. Short of suppression, the community can have no other adequate check on their activities.”

Did you say that unions are legal, Mr. Jones?

James Egleson