The SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY (SLP) of Cleveland is the local "section" of the SLP of America and is one of the city's oldest political organizations. The SLP goal is collective ownership of the economy and a "socialist industrial union" government administered by democratically elected representatives from the country's industries and services. The SLP describes its program as Marxist-De Leonist, after Karl Marx and American socialist Daniel De Leone (1852-1914). The Party's Cleveland branch was organized in 1877, and at that time local members Leopold J. Palda and Frank Skarda founded Czech-language Delnicky Listy (Workingman's News), believed to be the first SLP newspaper in America.

The SLP, locally and nationally, was a catalyst in the LABOR movement of the 1890s and 1900s. In 1896, the Cleveland SLP organized a chapter of the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance to oppose conservative labor unions among industrial workers in Cleveland's 18th, 20th and 21st Congressional Districts. It also helped to set up the INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD in 1905 by sending Clevelander Paul Dinger as a delegate to the IWW's founding convention. During the "Red Scare" of the 1910s and 1920s, the SLP defended European immigrants threatened with deportation, including many of its own supporters and members. Active in local elections until 1980, SLP candidates polled 3,000 votes in the city elections of 1877, while its candidate for governor received 12,000 votes statewide. After the adoption of the 19th amendment, the SLP was one of the first parties in Ohio to nominate a woman for state office when it tapped Anna Starcke as its 1926 candidate for governor in 1926. In 1968, the Cleveland SLP participated in a successful federal law suit to liberalize Ohio's ballot laws, although the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision on appeal. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Cleveland SLP continued to be active in city politics through its support of progressive causes, opposition to foreign military intervention and advocacy of its program through various public forums.

Article Categories