2020 Great Labor Arts Exchange contest winners!

July 5, 2020 @ 5:00 pm

This year’s contest winners include People’s Music Networks’ Executive Director Ben Grosscup and Paul McKenna for the Julie McCall Best Parody; Songwriter Inez West from the NYC Labor Chorus for the Bread and Roses Best Labor/Social Justice Poem; Steve Jones, Music Director of the DC Labor Chorus for the Joe Glazer Best Union Song; NYC artist and activist Dilson Hernandez, for the John Fromer String Buster Ballad; and first timer and youngest winner of the contest ever, JustLove, for the Talkin’ Union Spoken Word. “These last two young winners are our hope that the labor and social justice movement is once again on the rise!”

Also this week, Joe Glazer’s recording of "Solidarity Forever" from the Songs of Work and Freedom album, and the Cool Things from the Meany Archives gang brings us the July 4th, 1964, issue of the AFL CIO news, which featured the signing of the Civil Rights Act, and Ben and Allen tie that into the ongoing protests for social justice that we see in the streets today.

Produced by Chris Garlock. Alan Wierdak produced the Meany Archives segment. To contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

Links:
2020 Great Labor Arts Exchange videos
Labor Heritage Foundation
George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive

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Why America’s most radical union shut down ports on Juneteenth

June 28, 2020 @ 6:46 pm

“The origins of the word strike goes back to the port of London in 1768, when dock workers and sailors struck. When sailors stop work, they take down the sails of their ship and that's called, nautically, striking your sail. And that term becomes the de facto word for all work stoppages.”
Peter Cole, professor of history at Western Illinois University and author of two books on dockworkers, Wobblies on the Waterfront and Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area, talks with Ben Blake and Alan Wierdak about the historic Juneteenth strike by dockworkers this year, and the long history of dockworker activism.

Plus, Arlo Guthrie sings “The Ballad of Harry Bridges” and Elise Bryant reads “Ready To Kill,” Carl Sandburg’s poem about who should be memorialized in our statues.

Produced by Chris Garlock. Alan Wierdak (George Meany Archives) produced the Peter Cole interview. To contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

Links:
The Most Radical Union in the U.S. Is Shutting Down the Ports on Juneteenth (In These Times, June 16, 2020)
Your Rights At Work radio show (WPFW 89.3FM)
Labor Heritage Foundation
Arlo Guthrie: The Ballad of Harry Bridges

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SCOTUS bans LGBTQ workplace discrimination; Queer history of the UAW

June 22, 2020 @ 4:48 pm

“You're 36% more likely if you're LGBTQ to have either lost your job or had your hours reduced since COVID-19 hit and for black queer folks, that's over 40% more likely.”
Pride At Work Executive Director Jerame Davis and activist and author (“Steel Closets” and “Semi Queer”) Anne Balay on last week’s historic Supreme Court ruling banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

“The MCS -- the Marine Cooks and Stewards union -- had this turn of phrase that said ‘For solidarity, no red baiting, no race baiting and no queen baiting.”
Wayne State history PhD candidate James McQuaid, on the gradual awareness and acceptance of queer workers in the twentieth century.          

Plus, a celebration of The Power of Unity on the anniversary of the founding of the steelworkers union.


Produced by Chris Garlock. Patrick Dixon edited the Jerame Davis interview from the June 18 Your Rights At Work WPFW radio show; the James McQuaid interview is excerpted from the Tales from the Reuther Library podcast.
To contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

Links:
Your Rights At Work (WPFW 89.3FM)
Tales from the Reuther Archive

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Painters join Black Lives Matter protests; the history of black police in America; Race and Rebellion

June 14, 2020 @ 11:11 pm

“We're sick and tired of being left out. We're sick and tired of not being heard. And we're sick and tired of our communities, where we live and work, are not being heard.”
That’s Ken Rigmaiden, president of the Painters union. Our Cool Things at the Meany Archive team caught up with him last Monday when the Painters joined the Black Lives Matters protests in downtown Washington, DC…

I'll be frank with you, I've watched police behavior and reform and policies over time. It's been sort of a surprising, shocking that many of the police departments have sort of reverted to tactics, you know, that mirrored or that represented how police operated before African American mayors and before African-Americans became police chiefs and police commissioners.”
W. Marvin Dulaney, emeritus professor of history at the University of Texas Arlington and the author of Black Police in America talks with LHT’s Patrick Dixon about the history of black police in America. 
           
“Just the fact that they've devoted so much space to trying to explain how we got here I think sort of validates the idea that you really need to understand the past to understand what's happening in the present.”
Archivist Megan Courtney talks about the 1968 Kerner Commission Report with Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English in their podcast Tales from the Reuther Archive…

That’s all on this week’s Labor History Today, along with a song from the R.J. Phillips Band recorded three years ago for the families who have lost loved ones as a result of police brutality. And, on Labor History in 2, we hear about a miner shot dead trying to organize.

Produced by Chris Garlock. Patrick Dixon produced and edited the W. Marvin Dulaney interview; Alan Wierdak produces Cool Things from the Meany Archives. To contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

Links:
Tales from the Reuther Archive

Labor History in 2

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Labor supports DC Black Lives Matter protests; “Debs In Canton” preview; Revisiting The Battle of Homestead; Voices of exiled Iranian workers

June 7, 2020 @ 6:47 pm

“The first thing that (AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka) let me know was nobody was hurt, no protesters or no AFL-CIO people were hurt, which to me showed his priority of taking care of people first and the building secondary. And he later made public statements to that effect. You know, we can clean up the building, but what's important is to support the movement for racial justice and equality.”
Just a block from The White House, AFL-CIO headquarters have been right in the middle of the DC protests against the murder of George Floyd and police brutality. Ben Blake of the Meany Labor Archives reports from the scene.
    
102 years ago this June Debs stepped onto a stage in Canton, Ohio and gave a soul-stirring speech against American intervention in world war one. Even though he knew he would be arrested for speaking out against the war.”
On this week’s show, we preview 'Debs In Canton,' an original radioplay that airs later this week at the HEAR Now Festival…

“On July six, 1892, about 300 Pinkertons landed right over there. They killed seven strikers here that day. You're standing on sacred ground here for the labor movement in Western PA. We were founded through these very bloody struggles and the Battle of Homestead is something that has always had a big impact on me.”
What’s the connection between the 1892 Battle of Homestead memorial, the Henry K. Frick Car Museum, and Carnegie Mellon University? Labor reporter Mike Elk takes us on a very unauthorized tour this week.

There was no considerable working class movement until 1967 because of the existence of the dictatorship and its suppression. But after 1967 despite the coercion, the workers struggle took a new turn.”
Jessica Pauzek has been thinking a lot about what it means to be part of a global community and how our actions in one part of the world are impacted by and impact others far away. This week she brings us the voices of exiled Iranian workers.

That’s all coming up in this week’s Labor History Today, plus, on Labor History in 2, we remember the strike at Loray Mills…“The year was 1929. That was the day that police chief Orville Aderholt  was shot and killed at a camp of striking textile workers in Gastonia, North Carolina.”

Produced by Chris Garlock. Evan Papp of the Empathy Media Lab produced the Homestead Strike piece; find out more about their great work at empathymedialab.com. Alan Wierdak produces Cool Things from the Meany Archives. To contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

Links:
NATF Playhouse: Debs In Canton

Learn from the Homestead Strike with labor reporter Mike Elk of Paydayreport.com

FWWCP Digital Collection

Labor History in 2

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The Minneapolis general strike; “Mongrel Firebugs and Men of Property”

May 31, 2020 @ 5:48 pm

“On Tuesday, May 22nd the picketers took the offensive and succeeded in driving both the police and the deputies from the market and the area around the union's headquarters.”
Political scientist and historian Michael Munk connects what’s going on in Minneapolis today as workers and the community react to the killing of Michael Floyd with the general strike that took place there in 1934…
“It's one of the great mysteries of human history, about when people rise up and why they don't rise up much more frequently than they do given the kinds of indignities and abuses and exploitation that have been the lot of most working people in American history.”
Steve Fraser, author of the new book “Mongrel Firebugs and Men of Property: Capitalism and Class Conflict in American History”…
“Vast impregnable and immovable barricades of automobiles were set up, blocking all the main arteries into the Ford fortress.”
With the AFL-CIO planning car caravans around the country this Wednesday to demand swift action on the pending Heroes bill in Congress to help American workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Meany Archives' Ben Blake reveals that the labor movement has used this technique effectively in the past.
“I worked in this quarry 21 years. I was head derrick man. See that shack on the other side? I operated from there awhile. I worked all through here. It's one of the biggest quarries on the hill. There’s still a lot of good stone left in there. All kinds of good stone…”  
The latest episode of the “En Masse” podcast takes us inside the New England quarries nearly a century ago, when workers blasted, dug and pried out the stone that built many of the buildings that still stand today in our towns and cities.  
Plus we celebrate the life of Rosie the Riveter on Labor History in 2.  

Produced by Chris Garlock with editing by Patrick Dixon; to contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

Links:
Minneapolis general strike of 1934
Mongrel Firebugs and Men of Property: Capitalism and Class Conflict in American History
Steve Fraser on "Your Rights At Work" on WPFW 89.3FM
AFL-CIO // Workers First Caravan (DC)
En Masse Episode 6: "Poor Devil"
Labor History in 2

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“Politics of the Pantry”; “We Just Come to Work Here”

May 24, 2020 @ 3:12 pm

"This period of time in the Thirties struck me as a period of great innovation and resilience that women organized around the need to provide certain services. And I see that happening in my community today around the pandemic." 
Emily Twarog, author of “Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in Twentieth Century America.” Her study of how women used institutions built on patriarchy and consumer capitalism to cultivate a political voice resonates strongly today in the midst of both the COVID-19 pandemic and an election year. Joyce McCawley talked with Twarog on the Heartland Labor Forum, the labor radio show airing weekly in Kansas City on KKFI.
Plus: Ben Grosscup with a new version of “We Just Come to Work Here” and Joe Glazer on the Memorial Day Massacre.

Produced by Chris Garlock with editing by Patrick Dixon; to contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

Links:
“Politics of the Pantry: Housewives, Food, and Consumer Protest in Twentieth Century America.”
Heartland Labor Forum
"We Just Come to Work Here," by Harry Stamper; new lyrics by Paul McKenna and Ben Grosscup May 2020; performed by Ben Grosscup.

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“The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, and Class War in the American Heartland”

May 18, 2020 @ 10:50 pm

Labor historian, activist and writer Toni Gilpin, author of the new book “The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, and Class War in the American Heartland.” This rich history details the bitter, deep-rooted conflict between industrial behemoth International Harvester and the uniquely radical Farm Equipment Workers union. The Long Deep Grudge makes clear that class warfare has been, and remains, integral to the American experience, providing up-close-and-personal and long-view perspectives from both sides of the battle lines.
PLUS: David Fernandez-Barrial, Saul Schniderman and Hazel Dickens on the Matewan Massacre.

Produced by Chris Garlock and Patrick Dixon; to contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

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“Strike for Your Life!”; labor history’s lessons for the COVID-19 crisis

May 10, 2020 @ 6:40 pm

Jeremy Brecher's “Strike for Your Life!”; Peter Rachleff and labor history's lessons for the COVID-19 crisis; plus a preview of Debs In Canton.
 
“The current situation has led us to reconsider the Minneapolis teamster strikes of 1934; their dramatic story shows that the labor movement is strongest when unions boldly organized workers on the job and in the community around a shared vision of fairness and justice.”
Peter Rachleff, co-director of the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, Minnesota, on how “Lessons from labor history can inform our labor movement during the COVID-19 crisis.”
As a labor historian, the closest thing I can think of to the spread of coronavirus strikes is the epidemic of sitdown strikes to spread across the country in the mid-1930s.” Historian and writer Jeremy Brecher, from “Strike for Your Life!”
Also this week, we preview Debs In Canton, a new audio/radio drama from the filmmakers of American Socialist: The Life And Times Of Eugene Victor Debs.

Produced by Chris Garlock; to contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

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Jack Kelly’s “The Edge of Anarchy”; “Union Maids” director Julia Reichert (Part 2)

May 3, 2020 @ 2:46 pm

Jack Kelly, author of "The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America,” and Part 2 of our interview with Oscar-winning director Julia Reichert.

I'll tell you what I was thinking about when we wrote it; I was thinking about the Wobblies. Director Julia Reichert's call at the Oscars earlier this year for “workers of the world to unite” went viral; she and Steven Bognar won for their film American Factory, and we’ve got the second part of her interview with 9 to 5 founder Karen Nussbaum.

The Pullman strike was a solidarity strike. they were striking in sympathy with the Pullman workers and that idea of people pulling together I think you're seeing now.  
At the peak of the Gilded Age a conflict in one of America’s largest factories exploded into the most extensive and threatening labor uprising in American history. Jack Kelly's "The Edge of Anarchy” tells the dramatic story of this historic event, transporting the reader from the fabulous White City of the 1893 World’s Fair to the nation’s industrial heartland, where unprecedented hard times are brewing rage across the continent.
In the summer of 1894, more than half a million desperate railroad workers went on strike. Riots broke out in Chicago and other major cities. The nation’s commerce ground to a halt—famine threatened isolated towns. The U.S. Attorney General declared the country to be on “the ragged edge of anarchy.” 

Produced by Chris Garlock; to contribute a labor history item, email laborhistorytoday@gmail.com

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

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