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AJ Muste began leading Brookwood into controversy quietly enough. On February 23, 1929, he endorsed a proposal by the Pittsburgh Labor College which called for a “militant” trade union labor party. But Muste moved beyond endorsement, and quickly tried to implement the proposal. On March 2, Muste outlined a plan of action at a meeting of the League for Industrial Democracy. He proposed establishing a network of communications among progressive leaders, organizations, and other groups within the American Federation of Labor, with the goal of creating a “militant though informal” national movement. The key to this network was the WEB, he said. However, Muste said, any new organization must denounce communism.
Muste’s plans for a “militant though informal” network took concrete form on May 26, 1929, when 151 union members, labor leaders, and socialists meeting in New York City agreed to form the Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA).