Celanese strike: 1936
Important strikes at the Celanese textile plant in Cumberland, Maryland took place in 1936 and 1939 that resulted in the unionization of 10,000 production workers and helped create a key union leader, George A. Meyers.

Meyers helped lead the in-plant organizing and led a number of sit-down strikes within the plant. He would go on to become president of the local union and, in 1941, president of the Maryland and District of Columbia Industrial Union Council of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

Meyers joined the Communist Party during the fight to organize the union at Celanese and as president of the MD-DC CIO, led the fight to integrate basic industry—overseeing the successful efforts to integrate the Celanese and Kelly-Springfield plants in Cumberland, Glen L. Martin aircraft factory in Middle River and the Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyard in Baltimore.

Efforts throughout World War II by the CIO to desegregate jobs within the Bureau of Engraving in federal government and the Capital Transit Company in Washington, D.C. were waged in earnest but were ultimately less successful. The CIO also played a key role in the fight against police brutality in the District of Columbia in 1941.

After World War II, the onset of the cold war led to the expulsion of Communist Party members from most unions, including the Textile Workers.

Meyers went to jail for 3 ½ years for his membership in the Communist Party in the 1950s but went on to head the Party’s labor activities until his death in 1999.

The Celanese plant at its peak employed 13,000 workers producing materials made from synthetic fiber and closed in 1983.
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