Forced collectivization and breakneck industrialization, with all their attendant hardships and suffering, as well as the brutal terror that followed, could have been prevented if the defenders of NEP within the Party leadership had been able to block Joseph Stalin and his supporters’ drive to power. In mid-1928, when Stalin was gaining the advantage over those soon to be labeled Right Deviationists, he considered Mikhail Tomsky and the trade unions the major obstacles to his plans to abandon NEP and push forward with forced collectivization and breakneck industrialization. The final showdown between the Stalinists and trade-union leadership occurred at the 8th Trade Union Congress, which met in December 1928. The broad outline of Tomsky’s defeat at the congress has long been known, but this episode remains largely unexplored. Examining how Stalin outmaneuvered Tomsky during 1928, and whether the trade unionists went down without a fight at the congress, is the focus of this article.