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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CIO "PURGE" CONVENTION

CIO "PURGE" CONVENTION

The CIO "PURGE" CONVENTION took place in Cleveland 31 Oct.-4 Nov. 1949. Delegates to this national CIO convention voted to remove leftist and Fascist unions and union leaders from the organization. A change in CIO leadership in 1947 had put Philip Murray and several other right-wing leaders in power, and in May 1949 Murray issued an ultimatum to 12 leftist unions to follow CIO anti-Communist policy or face expulsion at the national convention in the fall. Those unions representing the left wing, led by the United Electrical Workers (UEW), the third-largest CIO union, demanded the right to remain in the organization on their own terms.

On 31 Oct., the opening day of the convention, an overwhelming majority of the 600 delegates approved amendments barring Communists and Fascists from serving on the executive board or as officers and giving the executive board the power to expel such officers and revoke the charters of leftist unions. The following day the charters of the UEW and the Farm Equipment Workers' unions were revoked, and they were expelled from the CIO. On 2 Nov. the new Intl. Union of Electrical Radio & Machine Workers was formed; members employed at the General Electric Corp. and the Westinghouse Corp. in Cleveland were expected to join. Thus, leftist leaders who at one time played important roles in the direction of the CIO were purged from its ranks as the fear of Communism began to spread across the country.