[Marxism] History of the Left in the U.S.

stephencotgrave at yahoo.com stephencotgrave at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 5 12:55:43 MST 2013

Zinn et al Three Strikes and really enjoyed Yellen(?) American Labor Struggles (?)
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-----Original Message-----
From: Charlie <charles1848 at sbcglobal.net>
Sender: marxism-bounces+stephencotgrave=yahoo.co.uk at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu
Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2013 11:54:29 
To: <stephencotgrave at yahoo.co.uk>
Reply-To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
	<marxism at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu>
Subject: Re: [Marxism] History of the Left in the U.S.

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The major achievement of twentieth century communists in the U.S. was 
mass industrial trade unions. A good place to start is the memoir of the 
man who probably did the most of any one person to make it happen, 
Wyndham Mortimer: Organize! My Life as a Union Man. When you go on to 
read other books suggested in this thread, you see striking contrasts 
with the more removed histories (and the pettiness of the more factional 


Wyndham Mortimer was born March 11, 1884 in Karthaus, Pennsylvania. His 
father, an immigrant English miner, and his Welsh mother were both 
supporters of the Knights of Labor. Mortimer, who entered the mines at 
the age of twelve, continued this tradition by becoming an active member 
of the United Mine Workers. When he left the mines at twenty-two, he 
worked in a steel plant and as a railway worker. He married Margaret 
Hunter in 1907, and in 1908 he joined the Socialist Party.

He became an autoworker in 1917, when he joined the White Motor Co. in 
Cleveland. In 1932 he formed an independent union there, which became 
AFL Federal Local 18463. He was elected president of the local and also 
president of the Cleveland Auto Workers Council in 1934.

Mortimer soon became critical of the AFL's reluctance to organize 
industrial workers and participated in the effort to establish a 
national industrial union for auto workers. He was a member of the bloc 
which succeeded in removing Francis Dillon from the presidency of the 
United Automobile Workers Union at the South Bend convention in 1936 and 
was elected First Vice President at that convention.

Mortimer, who was somewhat older than his fellow UAW officers, was then 
sent to Flint, Michigan to begin an organizing drive among GM workers at 
the Fisher Body Co. This led to the Flint Sit-Down Strike of December 
1936 and January 1937. He also participated in the negotiations, which 
resulted in GM's recognition of the UAW.


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