Born in Coatbridge, Scotland, Charlie worked in Stewart & Lloyd’s steel mill from the age of 12. He emigrated to the United States of America in 1923 at the age of 18, already a Communist.
By the 1930s, he was one of the leading Communists in New York’s CPUSA and was able to obtain work as a union organiser. His sheer competence made him a man that union leaders could not do without but also one who they greatly feared. Charlie was hired for the Mine Workers Union Organizing Committee and played a major role in organising workers into the union at the Lackawanna Bethlehem Steel plant before he was fired.
But he was once again hired following an attempt by the Mine Workers Union to organise chemical workers in Niagara Fall. When Charlie completed his task, he was once again taken off the payroll but the CIO Chemical Workers Union hired Charlie – and then de-hired him once he had done enough for them! He was then taken back but again later `let go’, until the Mine Workers once again rehired Charlie. After the AFL and CIO merged into one organization, their Chemical Workers Union hired Charlie. Repeatedly, as unions sought to loose Charlie workers he had recruited simply switched over to the union that had Charlie!
Workers at the Carborundum plant went out on strike and US union leaders held a meeting about this across the river in Fort Erie, Canada. US Customs and Immigration wouldn’t let Charlie back across the bridge, forcing him to cross the river back into the US in a boat. Later he became the International Vice-President of the United Gas, Coke and Chemical Workers Union.
Having joined the Communist Party of the USA back in 1929, he was arrested and imprisoned in 1948, then was harassed and persecuted for six years, being in and out of various prisons and serving a total of over two years.
He was one of five prominent Communists, including John Williamson, who went on hunger strike. This won their temporary release on bail after one week. But Charlie was assigned for deportation on grounds that many years earlier, when he emigrated from Scotland, he was a Communist and therefore was an at-large undesirable alien. He had initial papers necessary to become a US citizen but had never been granted a completion of the process. Jailed for deportation, Charlie staged his own hunger strike, but finally agreed to be deported to England in return for U.S. government authorities persuading his Catholic wife to agree to end their still legally valid marriage so he could marry the woman he loved.
Thus Charlie Doyle was deported back to Britain as an undesirable alien at the height of McCarthyism in December 1953, along with his American born wife, Mikki Doyle (see separate entry). Years later the Buffalo AFL-CIO Central Labor Council passed the resolution offered by University of Buffalo Chapter of United University Professions recognizing Charlie’s contribution to organised labour in Western New York.
He subsequently worked at Battersea Power Station in London and went on to lead the first ever national industrial action in the electricity supply industry. During this dispute, he was attacked by the Daily Mirror as “(t)he most hated man in Britain”.
Charlie Doyle was decidedly against the British Party’s line on the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia of 1968, which arose shortly before he retired from Battersea Power Station. He wrote also wrote and published his own comments on the Party’s 1977 programme review, “The British Road to Socialism draft – revolutionary path or diversion?”
Sources: Undated Morning Star cutting c. 1988 and other material
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