Posted on November 30, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Mother Jones died on this day in 1930.
Here is Gene Autry, the iconic singing cowboy and singer of seemingly endless Christmas songs for children, from Frosty the Snowman down to Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, singing a labor protest song to celebrate Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, American labor organizer and co-founder of the Industrial Workers of The World. This might seem strange, but the Maddox Brothers and Rose recorded a song against the Taft-Hartley Act and an early, if not the first, recording of “We Shall Overcome” was by a country-and-western singer on the staff of the CIO’s Operation Dixie.
(H/t Gene at Harry’s Place.)
Filed under: Labor History | Tagged: Mother Jones | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 30, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Micah Uetricht
Jerry Tucker’s time of advocacy is over, but the organizing strategies he pioneered are still very much alive in movements all over the country. (Brad Perkins / Flickr / Creative Commons)
In January, an obituary of Jerry Tucker, who died of pancreatic cancer a year ago at age 73, characterized the longtime labor activist as “the man who could have saved organized labor.”
Tucker might have balked at the suggestion that he himself could have been the savior of organized labor. He fervently believed that workers could save themselves—through democratic, militant unionism led by rank-and-file members. Earlier this month, Tucker’s vision was remembered and debated in his hometown of St. Louis, Miss., as about 100 unionists from throughout the country gathered at the “Jerry Tucker: The Person, The Mission, The Legacy” conference at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. (more…)
Filed under: Labor History, Organizing | Tagged: Jerry Tucker, UAW | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 28, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
By Harold Meyerson
Of all the commemorations of the March on Washington, the one that will best capture its spirit isn’t really a commemoration at all. Thursday, one day after the 50th anniversary of the great march, fast-food and retail workers in as many as 35 cities will stage a one-day strike demanding higher wages.Sadly, the connection between the epochal demonstration of 1963 and a fast-food strike in 2013 couldn’t be more direct.
The march 50 years ago was, after all, a march “For Jobs and Freedom,” and its focus was every bit as economic as it was juridical and social. Even more directly, one of the demands highlighted by the march’s leaders and organizers was to raise the federal minimum wage — then $1.15 an hour — to $2. According to Sylvia Allegretto and Steven Pitts of the Economic Policy Institute, that comes out to $13.39 today. (This week, fast-food workers will march seeking an hourly wage of $15.)
Filed under: Labor History, Low wage workers | Tagged: A. Philip Randolph, fast food strike, March on Washington | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 27, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Stuart Elliott
Prompted by the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, there are now hundreds , if not thousands of articles that have been written about that historic event. Democratic Left, the blog of Democratic Socialists of America, has featured an excellent series of posts about the March throughout this year. We wanted to share those posts–and a few other outstanding with Talking Union’s readers.
This is not meant to be a definitive or comprehensive list, rather a good place to start.
Filed under: Labor History | Tagged: #MOW, #MOW50, March on Washington | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 23, 2013 by dcampbell1
by Harold Meyerson
English: at news briefing on the Civil Rights March on Washington in the Statler Hotel, half-length portrait, seated at table (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Rustin, working both with and for the unchallenged leader of the civil-rights movement, the venerable A. Philip Randolph, became the central figure in taking that movement national. For Rustin and Randolph, as for King, Baker, Levison, Harrington, Horowitz, and Kahn, the challenge confronting African Americans was always two-fold: to tear down the legal edifice of segregation that imperiled and degraded Southern blacks, and to remake the American economy into a more egalitarian social democracy under which—and only under which—black Americans could actually prosper.
This was the genesis of the network of democratic socialists who seven years later were to conceive, organize, and set the themes for the March on Washington.
Read the detailed article. http://prospect.org/article/socialists-who-made-march-washington
See march logistics in this post. Join us.
Filed under: Conferences and Events, Labor History, Organizing, Politics | Tagged: DSA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 21, 2013 by dcampbell1
Remarks for DSA Youth Conference August 9, 2013 Jack Clark.
This morning’s session focuses on the future of the labor movement. That’s proper. For all its flaws and its current weakness, labor remains the largest and most strategically important social movement fighting for ordinary Americans. It’s difficult to imagine a revitalized liberal-left coalition without a strengthened labor movement. It is impossible to imagine the development of an American democratic socialist current in the absence of a strong working class movement.
With that said, I am not beginning my presentation with a look at labor itself. Rather I want to start by looking at attacks on labor and particular one influential attack that uses the crisis in Detroit as the reason to attack unions. . I’ll take a provocative look at a large question posed by one of labor’s foes and suggest a large theme that might inform our struggle, and I’ll end by suggesting some specifics on what we want to fight for as allies and participants in labor’s cause. (more…)
Filed under: Conferences and Events, Economy, Labor History, Politics, Youth | Tagged: BMW, Charles Darwin, Detroit, Ichneumonidae, UAW, United Auto Workers, United States, Walter Reuther | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 13, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Aug. 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. To celebrate that half-century anniversary, civil rights, labor, faith and other groups will hold a weeklong series of events Aug. 21-28 in the nation’s capital under the banner of “Freedom, Jobs, Peace and Social Justice.”
Many of the events will take place on the National Mall, including the Aug. 24 “Realize the Dream” march and rally, the Aug. 25 Global Freedom Festival and the Aug. 28 “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration and call to action ceremony.
Click here for a day-by-day schedule.
Filed under: Conferences and Events, Labor History, Politics | Tagged: March on Washington, March on Washington 50th Anniversary | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 9, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Ryan Driskell Tate
I was a schoolboy the first time I elbowed my way through the crowd on Old Elvet Bridge to glimpse the brass bands of the Durham Miners’ Gala. The “Big Meeting”, as it is affectionately dubbed in the NorthEast of England, is an annual trade-union rally dating back to the nineteenth century. This July, the Gala held its 129th observance and nearly 100,000 activists descended on the city.
Two months before I first attended the Gala in 1997, the British general election had soundly ended the Tories’ eighteen years in leadership. Organizers from the Durham Miners’ Association welcomed the newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, as a guest-speaker. He was the old-dog unionist in a ‘modernizing’ “New”-Labour movement that had already begun to harbor skepticism among working-class constituents.
But it was not the podium-thumping speeches by Labour dignitaries and union leaders that left the greatest impression on me. It was the sight of prideful young workers marching behind their trade-union banners. And this year was no different.
Filed under: Conferences and Events, Labor History | Tagged: Durham Miner's Gala | 2 Comments »
Posted on August 4, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Reviewed by Bennett Baumer
Lettuce Wars: Ten Years of Work and Struggle in the Fields of California
By Bruce Neuberger Monthly Review Press, 2013
Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers
By Frank Bardacke Verso, 2011
The Union of Their Dreams
By Miriam Pawel Bloomsbury Press, 2009
When Cesar Chavez died in 1993, he was a cultural icon and progressive hero. Cast into poverty at a young age, he worked the fields as a youth before he went on to fuse his brand of Catholicism and grassroots organizing into the United Farm Workers, a union that sought to raise his Mexican farm laborer base out of poverty and into power. Chavez built a fighting union from the ground up — Si se puede! (“Yes we can!”) was its battle cry — but by the time of his death he left an organization gutted of its farm worker base, purged of its organizing core and tattered from relentless grower assaults.
Over the past few years a crop of books has reassessed the UFW and its leader. Previous works on the UFW tended towards hagiography, but the union is decades removed from being a force in the fields and newer scholarship seeks to understand what happened. Lettuce Wars by Bruce Neuburger is the most recent addition and compliments Trampling Out the Vintage, possibly the definitive work on the UFW.
Both Neuburger and Trampling Out the Vintage author Frank Bardacke come from the ’60s New Left antiwar, civil rights and campus free speech movements. Both also worked multiple years in the vegetable fields, stooped over alongside a largely Latino workforce, and both books contain vignettes of workers and their lives, language and struggles. Where Lettuce Wars is a lively memoir, Trampling Out the Vintage is a densely packed comprehensive history.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Labor History | 5 Comments »
Posted on August 2, 2013 by paulgarver
by Joe White
The horrible deaths of over 1,100 clothing workers in Bangladesh bear more than a passing resemblance to the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of l9ll in which l46 garment workers perished. In certain key respects nothing has changed over the last l00 years. In both New York l9ll and Bangladesh 2013 the distinguishing characteristics of garment manufacturing were low capital entry levels, cut-throat competition, utterly atrocious wages and working conditions, and bosses who ranked with coal mine owners when it came to respect for human life. Both then and now, these catastrophes were completely avoidable as well as being completely predictable.
Yet another parallel is that there were unheeded warnings. Fires in the shirtwaist sector of the New York City garment trade were nothing new; smaller building collapses had already occurred in South Asia’s 21st century version of 7th Avenue. The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe raises an alarming question: Can it be that things are actually worse for working people throughout the world than they were l00 years ago? Twenty-five years ago such a conclusion would have been implausible if not downright unthinkable. For people on the left, (though of course polls don’t get taken on things like this), the consensus seems to have been that world history had entered a period of transition from capitalism to socialism—however long and messy that transition might turn out to be. But who’s going to bet the price of a six-pack on that in 2013?
Filed under: Global organizing, Labor History, Low wage workers, Organizing, Solidarity, Uncategorized, Women, workplace safety | Tagged: Bangladesh, garment workers, Rana Plaza collapse, Triangle Fire | Leave a Comment »