First Venceremos Brigade
Unemployed Crisis Center
Unemployed Councils cropped up across the country in the 1930s during the Great Depression and again in the 1980s after the mass layoffs in the steel industry. Bruce Bostick was a part of the effort to start up such a council in Lorain, Ohio.
The Lorain Communist Party club played the key role in establishing and running a storefront coalition grouping, the Unemployed Crisis Center, that won benefits for workers and positively affected how organized labor and public officials treated the unemployed. They were able to concretely help thousands of unemployed workers and, as a side benefit, recruited new folks to the CPUSA.
They had re-established our CP club in Lorain as a steel club, in 1970, with some younger workers on the one hand and George Edwards, the only veteran member left from an earlier period of glory.
The Lorain Communist Party club's main work had been in the steel union, USWA Local 1104, with 8,000 members. They helped form a Rank & File Committee that pushed to involve workers in the union, pushed for solidarity and democracy, and to bring younger workers, minority workers, and women into leadership. We had elected a few to leadership and made some gains, including the publishing of a regular newsletter.
When a major cutback, with big layoffs, hit our local, it caused cutbacks throughout the surrounding community of local shops, businesses, and public services. A major crisis developed, with misery and suffering affecting most of the people we knew.The party felt they had to react, to do something to help out.
The club pushed the union to stand up and fight by setting up an official Unemployed Workers Committee.
According to Bruce Bostick:
- A concern we had was that workers would turn against our union if they saw them not fighting hard. Unfortunately, the majority of leadership at that time was still conservative, influenced by red-baiting and some levels of racism. When the issue was raised, the grievance committee turned it down, seeing it as adding more work, plus it saw no reason to do that work anyway.
- George Edwards tugged on my chain at that time, as I was angry, wanting to blast other union leaders for failing to set up that committee. As always, he pushed to help us understand why it was so important to continue to fight for unity, to insist that the unemployed (as well as the left) were part of our labor movement. As at other critical moments, he pointed out that unemployed workers were part of our unions and that we could not let them be isolated and pushed out. If that were to happen, it would weaken us all.
- I had a good friend, the craneman I worked with in the mill, Willie Gardner. He was a wonderful guy who’d known Martin Luther King, Jr., and had been involved in civil rights struggles in Alabama before coming to Lorain. He was also a pastor, heading Mt. Zion Church in Lorain. While we had “joked” about joining each other’s groups, the Communist Party and the church, Rev. Gardner also very seriously asked for the party’s help in setting up a food program to help unemployed workers and their families.
- Discussing this project, the party club decided that it was an important one because the people needed help and the church might just do some of us some good!
- Working at Mt. Zion, we set up a “Crisis Center” that was able to begin filling in some gaps in needs that laid-off workers had. We were able to put together a solid multi-racial leadership. We got food to some workers and also became experts in all the possible benefits workers might be eligible for.
- We also attended the official Central Labor Council meetings, making sure the African-American leaders of what we now called the Unemployed Crisis Center (UCC) felt at home, spoke at the meetings, and were part of CLC activities.
- Relationships were developed between unions and rising authentic community leaders, especially Curtis Nelson and David Flores. Flores was a leader that had been a steelworker, taking advantage of the Consent Decree to gain a carpenter’s card. He pushed hard for upgrading less-developed, mainly Hispanic areas. Dave also became president of the non-teaching employee’s union and a leader of the labor federation. The Campedo area was heavily Puerto Rican and was without sidewalks or sewer development. We worked to support the drive, led by Flores, to upgrade this area. Flores, along with then Rep. Sherrod Brown, became long-range future leaders fighting for labor and minority communities.
- Now-Sen. Sherrod Brown was then our congressman. He would report to us on any legislative developments, allowing us to mobilize crowds to pack the hall and speak on issues. One issue was an attempt by Republicans to stop a proposed extension of Unemployment Benefits. We packed an old bus and rode to Columbus to demand, with organized labor, that the extension be granted.
- Of course, there would be no UCC if not for the Communist Party club. Unions would not have moved to represent laid-off workers if not for the club. Beyond that, People’s World became a semi-official organ for UCC. It was always at the storefront and leaders subscribed.
- If anything happened there, we made sure it was written up. UCC was a place we discussed socialism, the possibility of a new society run by workers, where there would be no lay-offs. One time, we even had a Soviet worker, in the U.S. representing their labor movement, drop in to talk.
- Also, the CP at the national level had helped develop a national unemployed movement, called “Jobs or Income Now” (JOIN) that put out a newsletter. It championed the Income or Jobs Action Act that was proposed by Illinois Rep. Charles Hayes of Illinois. The Hayes Bill was legislation our party helped to initiate that would set up a federal jobs program to rebuild our nation. It gave us some level of national scope and perspective. UCC attended a national JOIN conference in Chicago.
- At the peak of the Unemployed Crisis Center’s activities in Loraine in the 1980s, People’s World, then named Daily World, served as the organization’s unofficial organ. The paper regularly carried news of its activities
- As we became more rooted in labor and the community, we were hit by a series of attacks, with a number of attempts by differing types of groups to destroy the UCC.
- One such destructive group was the NCLC group (National Caucus of Labor Committees), with the strange Lyndon LaRouche heading them up. They had no base in any labor group, but were very well funded and generally showed up wherever the Communist Party had a base, putting out phony “left” papers that attacked local Reds. They pretended to come from the left but actually outed folks, trying to isolate the party.
- Since UCC eventually did end its existence, one could say it “failed.” That would be an incorrect conclusion, though. Our party is a working-class party, based among working folks, fighting for workers. As Marx states in The Communist Manifesto, “Communists have no interests separate and apart from those of the working class!”
- In the ’80s, our working class had a crisis that demanded action. Communists there saw that and, while having no blueprints and facing severe opposition from numerous sides, took up this fight. Because of this, we avoided the kind of misplaced anger that these days brought us Trump.
Paul Kaczocha was barely 21 when I first met Ed Sadlowski. Al Samter, a U.S. Steel coke oven worker with a long history of struggle in the mill and the union, asked me if he could bring Ed over to talk to me about his campaign to run for director of District 31 of the Steelworkers. The district which covered the Gary-Chicago area, District 31, was the largest.
Al was a veteran of union struggles. He was a former Bronx New Yorker who, as a young newlywed communist, had moved to Gary in 1949 to be a union activist.
Al brought Ed, 12 years my senior, to my apartment in Gary one summer evening. I remember thinking that Ed, who at the time was an overweight staff representative for the union, was the stereotypic fat cat union rep. However, he talked the talk of trying to change the union and take out the same people who had run the district for the 30 years since the union’s inception.
I was spellbound as Ed’s rap touched a nerve in me. I was a young new union representative at a shop full of young people at a plant that was the newest built basic steel mill in the U.S. – Bethlehem Steel’s Burns Harbor, Indiana plant. It remains the last basic steel mill built in the U.S. making steel with coke ovens and blast furnaces and finishing it in rolling mills.
Like Ed’s father, my grandfather helped build the union. He had been a staff representative for the same district that Ed was trying to lead. My grandfather warned me to stay away from Ed because, he said, he hung out with communists. Ed convinced me to join the cause of changing the union by taking it over. “You CAN beat City Hall,” he was fond of saying.
Like me, hundreds of steelworkers became convinced that change was possible. We went into action around the district to organize for the Sadlowski campaign, a movement which became bigger than Ed himself.
Organizing for the February 1973 election was fast and furious. It was done out of South Chicago at a campaign office down the street from the U.S. Steel Local 65 hall where Ed was once the president and where he got his nickname “Oil-Can Eddie.” It was a hall that was named after Hilding Anderson, a 29-year-old known as a red in some circles. Hilding Anderson, along with nine others, was killed by the police at the 1937 Memorial Day Massacre.
My local was one of the first to nominate Ed to get him on the ballot, and the local’s election vote also went for him. However, the election was fraught with corruption. Ed was declared the loser by a narrow margin. He immediately filed a federal law suit which was settled with a federally supervised election held in November 1974.
Organizing continued after the loss in ’73. The momentum built by all the new people energized by the first campaign made for a landslide win in the rematch between the “official” candidate, Sam Evett, and Ed. Leading this organizing, as in the first match, were Jim Balanoff from Inland Steel’s Local 1010, Jim’s brother Clem Balanoff, Ola Kennedy, Curtis Strong, one of the first African Americans appointed to the USWA staff, Cliff Mezo, also from 1010, a fresh young Pennsylvania attorney, George Terrell, and an assortment of old and young union activists, men and women, Black and Brown.
Rank and file caucuses eventually sprung up in local unions across District 31 which spanned metropolitan Chicago through Indiana, from Hammond, East Chicago and Gary to South Bend. A compilation of many of those local organizations was even formed later on, called the Indiana Steelworkers Caucus.
Immediately after Ed was elected director, the campaign for the 1977 USWA international president began. The rank-and-file energy of the district campaign, “Steelworkers Fightback,” spread across the U.S. and Canada. The national campaign brought in old union activists like George Edwards from Cleveland and young ones too, like Bruce Bostick at U.S. Steel in Lorain, Ohio.
Based on the movement, the 1976 local union elections brought many new faces to the union leadership, like Bill Andrews and Mike Olszanski at Local 1010, including my election for Local 6787 president. Ed had been convinced by George Troy, who became financial secretary of our local, and me one night in Chicago to give a written endorsement of our slate in that election. Those new leaders and the rebel old ones went to the convention in Las Vegas to try and change the union. A lot of hell was raised on the convention floor in Las Vegas from locals across the country. The stage was set for the January election the following year.
Sensing this surge of opposition and responding to the pressure, the “Official Family” added another vice president position to the Board which they filled with Leon Lynch, an African American union representative who had originated in District 31.
Campaigning by Ed took on a scope larger than running for president of the U.S., since the Union spanned not only coast to coast but also Canada. But the election was lost. Many involved in the campaign felt it was stolen in Canada.
The narrow loss of “Steelworkers Fightback” did not stop the push for reform in the union. Women such as Roberta Wood and Alice Peurala, both of Local 65, became more involved and formed an active Women’s Caucus. Alice was elected president of Local 65, the first woman to head a basic steel local. Eventually, the right to vote on the contract was won and women were elected to international offices of authority. The Steelworkers Union was 1.5 million strong at the time of the Sadlowski presidential bid.
Supported Communist Party call
Communist Party's May Day Salute
In 1995 the Communist Party USA newspaper People's Weekly World, published a "May Day salute" to the "heroes in the class war zone". More than 200 unionists endorsed the call, mostly known affiliates, or members of the Communist Party.
Backing the PWW
In January 1998 fourteen Ohio labor leaders, headed by Dick Acton, vice president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, sent a letter to their contemporaries urging their financial support of the Communist Party USA's People's Weekly World. The letter, which was sent to 50 labor leaders in the Cleveland area of Northeast Ohio said the World "tells our story and unhesitatingly takes our side. It was there when we needed it and now it needs is."
- Dick Acton, Vice President, Ohio AFL-CIO
- Don Slaiman, National Staff, AFL-CIO
- Willlie Howard, Business representative, SEIU Local 47
- Jim Newbauer, Business Manager/Financial Secretary, IBEW Local 1377
- Vermel Smith, President, Cleveland Chapter, Coalition of Labor Union Women
- Greg Riemer, President, CWA Local 4309
- Dave Irwin, President, USWA Local 4448
- Jim Larocca, President, AFSCME/OCSEA Local 1801
- Joe Ventura, President, Painters Local 867
- John Gallo, Vice President, AFSCME Local 3360
- Ray Dennis, Legislative Director, SOAR
- Wally Kaufman, Secretary, AFL-CIO Retirees
- Bruce Bostick, Chairman, Grievance Committee,USWA Local 1104
- Betty Chaka, Federation of Retired Workers
Campaigning for Kucinich
In 2008, Bruce Bostick endorsed the brief presidential campaign of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
Center for Labor Renewal
Communist Party USA National Committee
Retirees With the Write Stuff
The Alliance for Retired Americans Letter to the Editor Campaign.
"Retirees with the Write Stuff" is a new project of the Alliance for Retired Americans to encourage more retirees to write letters to their local newspaper. Get a free "Write Stuff" pen, plus your name in our weekly newsletter, Friday Alert, and on our website.
Congratulations to Charlie Averill, Janice Ayres, Don Badie, Charles Balban, Glenda Barnes, Elmer Blankenship, Bruce Bostick, Kathy Breeden, James Brown, John Brown, Leon Burzynski, John Cardwell, John Campbell, Don Dallas, Barbara Davis, Barbara DeVane, Graham Dewsbury, Jim Diulio, Helen Donovan, Robert Dougherty, Michael Dzwonczyk, Mary Elia, George Epstein, Billy Feitlinger, Earl Frampton, Shane Fox, Barbara Franklin, Tony Fransetta, Dave Friesner, Charles Fyffe, Gary Gaines, Shirley Gauger, Marilyn Ginsburg, Patricia Gooden, John Guevarra, Al Hamai, Julie Harbin, John Harris, Doug Hart, Joyce Hermanstorfer, James Hopkins, Jan Howe, Owen Humphress, John Ingle, Val Jack, Mary Lou James, Elaine Jones, Ellen Kadransky, Norman Kaiser, Stephen Keister, Jennifer Kenny, Jan Keshian, Larry Kitson, Elizabeth Knauf, Robert Kortkamp, Charlie Lemon, Linda Linderman, Gerald Lotierzo, Bea Lumpkin, Marie Malagreca, Charles Matul, Paul McGavis, Donna McGrath, Urias Meadows, David Meinell, John Mendolusky, Bruce Miller, Herbert Miller, Alfred Moskowitz, John Newman, John Pernorio, Charles Pervo, J.C. Phillips, Catherine Porter, Dianna Porter, Lee Pound, Linda Pratt, Don Rowen, Julius Sawicki, Terry Schleder, Lenora Schur, Dorothy Seigel, Paul Shanabarger, Vivian Silbiger, Mark Smith, Dorothea Stebbins, William Stevens, Jean Stillwell, Beatrice Stratton, Adam Swope, Arthur Valdez, Fred Vogt, Martin Walsh, Scott Watts, Norm Wernet, Laura Wickwar, Monty Williams, Curt Wilson, Malcolm Wright, Chuck Yarter, Elmer Yuen and Jack Zuckerman on their recent publications!
East Central Ohio [ECO] CPUSA Club
East Central Ohio [ECO] CPUSA Club Closed Facebook Group, accessed June 21, 2017;
- CPUSA-OH is a club of CPUSA, YCL, and progressive supporters located in the eastern part of central Ohio (extending from the Ohio River, westward to near Zanesville, north to near New Philadelphia, and south to the Marietta area.
- Bruce Bostick
- Dan Bachmann II
- Cody Coleman Chrisman
- Mike Rubicz
- John Bachtell
- Anita Waters
- Tim Steinhelfer
New member phone bank
New member phone bank Public · Hosted by Communist Party USA.
Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 11 AM - 4 PM EDT
Your living room
- We're organizing a phonebank to our new members on Saturday and we need your help. The callfire service allow you to make the calls from home, using your smartphone, laptop or deskstop. You'll get a real charge from talking to them! Aint' nuthin like it!! Please click "going" if you can make calls! Thanks!
Those invited to participate on on Facebook included Bruce Bostick.
Canvassing for Democrats
September 22 at 3:44 PM (2018).
Earlier this afternoon, the local Columbus CPUSA club (Anna Haas Morgan Club) did some voter registration and canvassing for Democratic candidates and Issue 1 in a working class neighborhood on the south side. We only encountered one conservative voter who probably watches too much Fox News!!! We were able to sway a few former Republicans who are pissed at the current administration’s fascist policies. 👍🏼😁
Always fun working with these comrades!!! 💪🏼
National Party Building Conference
Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 12 PM – 6 PM EST
Join Communist Party activists and members in a national conference.
The conference will take place November 11th to 12th to plan our work in the fight against the Trump Administration and its white supremacist ruling class backers. Find information here about how to participate. http://www.cpusa.org/2017-national-party-building-conference-resist-organize-vote-grow/
The conference will be streamed from Chicago to regional meetings in New Haven, Los Angeles, and Orlando. Whether you’re on the East Coast, West Coast, in the MIdwest or the South, you’ll be able to participate.
Those invited on Facebook included Bruce Bostick.
- THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF COMMUNISM IN 1972 (Venceremos Brigade) PART 2, hearings before the Committee on Internal Security 92nd Congress oct 16-19, 1972 pages 8132-8135
- https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/ed-sadlowski-remembrance-of-a-life-even-bigger-than-the-man/PW NEWS Ed Sadlowski – Remembrance of a life even bigger than the manAugust 7, 2018 10:10 AM CDT BY PAUL KACZOCHA]
- PWW, May Day Supplement May 2, 1992
- People's Weekly World May 6 1995 p 2
-  NAFTA's First Year of Pollution, Poverty & Corruption, By Bruce Bostick, PWW, February 7, 1995
-  Steelworker activist addresses socialist, by Peoples World, 07, by Rick Nagin
- [IARA, Retirees With the Write Stuff]
- Labor Notes, Cleveland Retirees Tell White House Conference: Don’t Cut Social Security June 04, 2015 / Bruce Bostick