ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY

The United Toilers of America began as the "Legal Political Association" initiated and controlled by the dissident "Communist Party of America" launched by the Central Caucus faction in January 1922.

On Feb. 3, 1922, the Workers' Defense Conference of New England issued a convention call for the establishment of the new political organization. The call asserted that there was a need for a "solid front" against the "forces of capitalism" and listed a series of important issues to be addressed, including the open shop, wage cuts, unemployment, and the defense of class war prisoners.

 

1. Founding Conference --- New York City --- Feb. 18, 1922.

The UTA was officially launched at a conference held in New York City on Feb. 18, 1922. The following organizations responded to the convention call: The Workers' Defense Conference of New England, the Alliance of Polish Workers of America, the Ukrainian Association, the Lettish Publishing Association, the Polish Publishing Association, the Lithuanian Workers' Association, the Woman's Progressive alliance. There were also representatives present from the Shoe Workers' Protective Union, the Amalgamated Metal Workers of America, and the Amalgamated Food Workers of America.

The founding conference asserted the following as the purposes of the organization: (1) to participate in the daily struggle of the workers; (2) to unite the workers against the open shop, wage reductions, and unemployment; (3) to hold mass meetings concerning "burning issues"; (4) to defend class war prisoners; (5) to arrange lectures and conduct educational classes and open forums; (6) to publish leaflets, pamphlets, books, and newspapers.

[fn. James Oneal, American Communism. (NY: Rand Book Store, 1927), pp. 133-134.]

 

 

The bulk of the membership of the United Toilers of America was merged into the Workers Party of America as part of the terms of the liquidation of the Central Caucus faction's "Communist Party of America" in September 1922.

However a remnant of the United Toilers chose not to adhere to the Comintern's instruction to merge with the hated WPA. This rump organization, with locals in Boston and Cleveland, continued to exist as a small independent sect of irreconcilables even after the liquidation of the Central Caucus faction's "CPA." The rump UTA sent a representative, Alfred S. Edwards ("J. Sullivan") to the 4th Congress of the Comintern in Moscow, which ran from Nov. 5-Dec. 5, 1922. Edwards continued in his role as UTA leader for the rest of the decade.

 

OFFICIALS

The United Toilers of America was headed by a 7 member National Executive Committee which was elected at the Founding Conference of the organization.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

The United Toilers of America published an official organ in New York, a weekly newspaper called The Workers' Challenge. The first issue was dated March 25, 1922. Editor was Harry M. Wicks and the paper maintained an editorial office located at 83 E 4th Street, New York.

In the words of James Oneal, himself certainly no piker in the field of factional vituperation:

"...Week after week it devoted columns to attacking the Workers Party and its prominent and active members.... The Workers' Challenge fairly reeked with venom. In all the history of Labor journalism it has never been equaled in scurrility, hatred, and a determination to literally destroy the detested organization. 'That asinine assumption of humanity and pusillanimous purveyor of putrid punk that calls himself managing editor of the official organ of the Workers' Party' reads one editorial.... The United Toilers represented the expiring phase of the old Communism which was reluctant to crawl from its underground retreat. The 'open' party had compromised the revolutionary honor of Communism and the Workers Party was more to be feared than the most reactionary of bourgeois organizations. One cannot read The Workers' Challenge during the short period of its existence without a sense of profound disgust that factional malice will bring human beings to the level of hurling the filth of the sewer."

[fn. James Oneal, American Communism. (NY: Rand Book Store, 1927), pp. 135-136.]

 

On May 20, 1922, the United Toilers Publishing Association began issuing a 4 page Russian language weekly newspaper called Novyi Put' [The New Path]. Copies of this publication appears on reel 9 of the CPUSA-Comintern microfilm (delo 159) (#1: May 20, 1922 -- ll. 2-3. #4: June 10, 1922 -- ll. 4-5). The editorial office of this publication was also located at 83 E 4th Street.

The UTA also issued a 2 page weekly news-sheet in conjunction with the national miners' strike called Miners' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, PA).

In a similar vein, the UTA briefly issued a 2 page weekly news-sheet in conjunction with the railroad shopmen's strike called Railroad Strike Bulletin (first issue July 18, 1922).

[fn. Comintern Archive, RGASPI, f. 515, op. 1, d. 156, ll. 5-8.]

 

UTA Leaflets:

"Car Men: Keep Up the Fight to the Finish!" -- (Chicago Streetcar Strike leaflet, early Aug. 1922. Comintern Archive, RGASPI, f. 515, op. 1, d. 57, l. 43.

"Manifesto of the United Toilers of America to the Miners, Marine and Transport Workers of the World." -- Comintern Archive, RGASPI, f. 515, op. 1, d. 57, l. 44.

 

 

 

sources: Theodore Draper, The Roots of American Communism. (NY: Viking, 1957), pp. 353-354. James Oneal, American Communism. (NY: Rand Book Store, 1927), pp. 133-136.