Jesse Prosten

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Template:TOCnestleft Jesse Prosten (died 1988, age 76) at his home in Chevy Chase. He had cancer. Mr. Prosten, who moved to this area in 1979[1]. He was married to Ann Prosten.

Prosten was a leading union official and member of the Communist Party USA.

Union career

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y. Prosten began his union career with the old Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee in Boston. After serving in the Army during World War II, he worked for the PWOC in Chicago. In 1968, that group merged with the Amalgamated Meatcutters Union[2].

Prosten retired as vice president and packing division director of the United Food and Commercial Workers, AFL-CIO[3].


In 1942, Prosten moved to Chicago, where he lived in Woodlawn and Hyde Park.

In the 1960s, he worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Chicago Labor Committee to help desegregate housing and schools [4].

Supporting Civil Rights

In the 1960's radical activist Hunter Gray, attempted to enlist Ralph Helstein, Charles Hayes and especially Jesse Prosten to help finance "civil rights" activists in the South[5].

In April, 1966, with the Civil Rights Movement having now substantially opened up much of the South, I met at Chicago with Ralph Helstein, President of United Packinghouse Workers and Vice-President Charles Hayes and Director of Organization Jesse Prosten.
Packinghouse, of course, although AFL-CIO, was certainly anything except a business union. Its leaders were essentially radicals. I carried a complex but clear and direct proposal from the Deep South that Jesse -- a friend -- strongly supported: that Packinghouse would fund a number of proven civil rights organizers in Mississippi and the Carolinas who would focus on broad community grassroots organization. And those new, broad organizations would both stimulate new, interracial unionism in those Southern settings and would provide significantly tangible community support for union organizing and eventual strike actions. In the end, although Jesse -- Director of Organization -- continued to support the proposal with the greatest vigour, Packinghouse backed away. Again --money, more than anything else.

Sponsors of the Founding Conference of the NAARPR

The list of "sponsors" of "A Call" for a founding conference of the Communist Party USA front National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression May 11-13, 1973, included - Packinghouse Division, Meatcutters and Butcherworkmens Union, .[6]

Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights

In 1965 Jesse Prosten was a Board Member of Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights[7]

In November 1967, Jesse Prosten and his wife signed a Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights advertisement in the Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices opposing efforts by Senator Dirksen to re-institute the McCarran Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950.[8]

In 1970, the Board of Directors of the then Communist Party USA front Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights consisted of Rev. Frederic E. Sau, Harry Barnard, Boris Brail, Edward Carey, Milt Cohen, Ernest DeMaio ,Rev.William D. Faw, Richard Galloway, Prof. Charles H. George, Prof. Margaret Y. George, Ben Green, Pearl Hart, Dr. Hyman J. Hirshfield, David C. Jensen, Daniel Kaufman, Rev. S. Hunter Leggitt, Harry Mack, Rev. Daniel J. Malette, Lafayette Marsh, Rev. Francis J. McGrath, Akiro Makino , Ruth Muench, Isadore Pomerantz, Jesse Prosten, Don Rose, Norman Roth, Dr. Boris Rubenstein, Evelyn Salk, Thomas Slater, Walter Soroka, Jack Spiegel, Prof. William Starr, Lynward Stevenson, Edmonia Swanson, Gil Terry, Rev.C. T. Vivian, Otto Wander, Rabbi Burr Yampol, Dr. Quentin Young[9].


At the time of his death in 1988, Prosten was a member of the national board of SANE/FREEZE, a "peace organization"[10].



  1. The Washington Post, August 9th, 1988
  2. The Washington Post, August 9th, 1988
  3. The Washington Post, August 9th, 1988
  4. Chicago Sun-Times August 9, 1988
  6. Revolutionary Activities Directed Toward the Administration of Penal or Correctional Systems, Part 4, HISC, Hearings, July 25, 1973, in part, p. 1654 and additional sponsors, p. 1655, to "A Call to a Founding Conference for a National Defense Organization Against Racist and Political Repression"
  7. Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Letterhead Feb 1965
  8. Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, Nov. 1967
  9. Full text of "The nationwide drive against law enforcement intelligence operations : hearing before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress, first session page 151
  10. The Washington Post, August 9th, 1988