The COMMUNIST PARTY in Cleveland was a small, disciplined group of men and women involved in both political and labor activities who promoted the overthrow of American capitalism by revolutionary means in order to establish proletarian rule. The local Communist party was founded by Ohio and Cuyahoga County socialists belonging to the left-wing section of the national Socialist Party. The Cuyahoga County group left the Socialist party, upset that the National Executive Committee had nullified a party referendum favorable to the left wing at a New York section meeting 21 June 1919. Led by CHARLES E. RUTHENBERG, the left wing declared themselves the Socialist Party's true national executive committee at a meeting held in Cleveland on 26 July and joined 3 other splinter groups to form the Communist Labor Party. The group affiliated with the Communist Party of America in May 1920.

In the 1930s local Communists turned their attention to organizing Cleveland's automobile workers at the White Motor Co. (see WHITE MOTOR CORP.) and the GM Fisher Body Plant on Coit Rd. Active party member Wyndham Mortimer, who worked at White Motor, formed the Cleveland District Automobile Council (CDAC), made up of 9 locals. Although Mortimer and others represented only a small part of the organizing effort, their discipline and unity made them influential. Both Mortimer and John Williamson, Ohio Communist party secretary, advised local leaders during the sit-down strike at the Fisher Body Plant begun 28 Dec. 1936. The strike, which spread through General Motors, ended in Feb. 1937 with GM's recognition of the UNITED AUTO WORKERS as the workers' bargaining agent. After World War II, alleged communist influence in the United Electrical Workers' Union (see FAWICK-AIRFLEX STRIKE) led to the expulsion of the union from the CIO in 1949 (see CIO "PURGE" CONVENTION). In the early 1950s Anthony Krchmarek was county chairman of the Communist party, with Andrew Onda as secretary. Its newspaper, Daily World, was published in the regional office above the party's All People's Bookstore at 4307 Lorain Ave.

Keeran, Roger. The Communist Party and the Auto Workers' Unions (1980).

Benjamin Gray Papers, WRHS.


Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

 Finding aid for the Morris and Eleanor Stamm Papers. WRHS.

Article Categories