William Z. Foster was one the most recognized and respected labor leaders and Communists in U.S. history. He ran for president on the Communist Party, USA ticket in 1924, 1928, and 1932. Though an early member of the Industrial Workers of the World, Foster came into national prominence as an American Federation of Labor organizer and leader of the bloody steel strike of 1919.
Foster’s Trade Union Educational League and Trade Union Unity League helped to lay the organizational groundwork for the birth and consolidation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1936, ushering in the greatest upsurge of worker organizing in U.S. history. In 1921, Foster joined the Communist Party. He remained a committed Communist the rest of his life.
In 1948, Foster was among the CPUSA’s leaders indicted for teaching and advocating Marxism-Leninism though, due to his health, he did not serve time in prison. In 1957, he was elected CPUSA chairman emeritus at the party’s national convention in New York City.
First published in 1981, this new edition of the classic biography of Foster by Arthur Zipser includes a Foreword by union activist and organizer, Chris Townsend. No stranger to union organizing, Townsend spent the last 40 years on the national staff of the United Electrical Workers Union and the Amalgamated Transit Union. Foster’s life and legacy continues to inspire a new generation of workers.