This is the third in a series of interviews Nelson Blackstock and I conducted with veterans of Bert Cochran and Harry Braverman’s Socialist Union in the late 1990s. Now 95 years old, Erwin Baur is one of the few remaining revolutionaries who had first-hand experience in the CIO organizing drives of the 1930s.
In this first part of the interview, Erwin Baur talks about becoming a socialist in high school after coming into contact with a Russian immigrant who admired Leon Trotsky.
He then discusses the Little Steel Strike of 1937 and how he disagrees with Gus Hall’s assessment of its outcome.
After losing his job at Youngstown Steel and Tube as a result of his role in the strike, he moves to Salem, Ohio and gets a new job where he meets Laverne Halsey, the plant “Bolshevik” who was victimized for his role in a 1933 auto workers strike and who got firsthand experience with Stalinism in the USSR.
Finally, he discusses Bert Cochran’s entry into the trade union movement.
For more on Erwin and his wife Estar, who was also a long-time member of the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Union, I recommend Charles Williams’s “Introduction to When the UAW Was Young” that appeared in the November/December 2007 Against the Current (http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/1176).