‘Work Among Women in Cleveland: How to Work in the Shops’ by A.D. from Party Organizer. Vol. 4 No. 3. April, 1931.

Selling ‘Working Woman’ at Cleveland’s 1930 May Day parade.

From the Party’s internal bulletin, a comrade, most probably Anna Damon, then editor of ‘Working Woman,’ writes of the experience of the Communist Party Department for Work Among Women in Cleveland, Ohio to reach women at their workplaces over International Women’s Day of 1931.

‘Work Among Women in Cleveland: How to Work in the Shops’ by A.D. from Party Organizer. Vol. 4 No. 3. April, 1931.

During international Women’s Day campaign we have had experience how to begin work in shops where we had practically no contacts. We want to give here an example of work in a factory in Cleveland. The Department for Work Among Women in Cleveland in drawing up the plan of work during the campaign chose three factories for concentration, in the different sections. A plan of work for each factory was worked out by the Department. One member of the department was assigned to each factory. This comrade brought to the Section Committee the plan of work for the factory, and the Section was the instrument which coordinated the work of the Woman’s Department, the Industrial Union, the Young Communist League and the Councils of Unemployed in the factory.

Through periodic meetings held at the factory gate and distributing the Working Woman, Daily Worker, etc., the committee was able to make contacts—some of the committee assigned for work at the factory rode home after work with the more sympathetic women, and were able to find out the real conditions of the women in the factory, their problems and special grievances. These grievances were put in special leaflets given out by the Section at the factory gate.

The contacts of the leaflet were concrete in form, as for example the issue of women being forced to stay out of the factory until noon if late one minute and being deducted one half day’s pay. Forfeiting the two weeks’ yearly vacation if they did not return to the factory at 12 o’clock on the day that they were late. The women were called upon to demonstrate at the factory On March 6th at noon against these conditions imposed upon them. The response of the women was so good that without a single Party member or T.U.U.L. member inside of this factory we were able to get the women to literally cover the factory with leaflets on the inside, and to arouse sentiment and discussion on this issue. The bosses called out squads of police which surrounded the factory and locked the doors so as not to permit the women to go outside to the demonstration and to listen to the speakers. Women came to the windows and asked the speakers to address them because they could not get out. This is, of course, only the very beginning of real work at this factory, and the contacts made during the time will only be of value if they are systematically followed up through personal approach and in a quiet manner, beginning to group two, three or more women and to discuss with them their problems in the shops and how to further carry on organization among them.

Communist Party women marching in Cleveland’s 1930 May Day parade.

This will not be difficult providing the comrades assigned for this work will recognize that it takes time and systematic effort to get real results in the shops and will not rely only on meetings and demonstrations. The Department for Work Among Women in the Districts should periodically get the report from the comrades assigned to work at factories as to the progress, and to develop a plan for future activities.

The Party Organizer was the internal bulletin of the Communist Party published by its Central Committee beginning in 1927. First published irregularly, than bi-monthly, and then monthly, the Organizer was primarily meant for the Party’s unit, district, and shop organizers. The Organizer offers a much different view of the CP than the Daily Worker, including a much higher proportion of women writers than almost any other CP publication. Its pages are often full of the mundane problems of Party organizing, complaints about resources, debates over policy and personalities, as well as official numbers and information on Party campaigns, locals, organizations, and periodicals making the Party Organizer an important resource for the study and understanding of the Party in its most important years.

PDF of issue (large file, contains multiple volumes): https://files.libcom.org/files/Party%20Organizer%204.pdf

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