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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND WORSTED MILL STRIKE

CLEVELAND WORSTED MILL STRIKE

The CLEVELAND WORSTED MILL STRIKE (22 Aug. 1955-18 Jan. 1956) was called by the newly formed local of the Textile Workers Union of America (CIO) at the company's main plant at 6114 Broadway--part of an ongoing effort to secure a contract and a $.07 1/ 2 per hr. wage increase. In a recent NLRB-supervised election, some 1,400 production workers, many of them women, had won the right to form a union and bargain collectively with management. In support of their cause, Morris Riger, regional director of the Textile union, pointed out that the company's average wage of $1.40 per hr. was 50 cents lower than the average wage in Cleveland and was lower than wages paid at the company's unionized Ravenna mills. He also charged that President Louis Poss, Cleveland Worsted president since 1931, refused to negotiate with the union, to meet with a federal mediator, or to submit the dispute to arbitration. When the 18-week strike produced no settlement, Poss announced that a shareholders meeting would be held 18 January 1956 to approve liquidation of the 77-year old firm. At that time, the company had assets of about $18 million to distribute to the shareholders upon dissolution, over half of which were marketable securities. Despite protests from the Textile union, the CLEVELAND INDUSTRIAL UNION COUNCIL, and neighborhood groups in the Broadway area where many of the workers lived, shareholders voted to liquidate Cleveland Worsted Mills at the January meeting.