Posted on February 7, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Stuart Elliott
Country and Western singer and deejay Texas Bill Strength was probably the second artist to record “We Will Overcome, ” which with a minor word change became the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” Joe Glazer had included it in the CIO’s Department of Education and Research 78-rpm album Eight New Songs for Labor, which also included Glaser’s classic “The Mill Was Made of Marble.” Shortly after, Glaser taught the song to Texas Bill Strength who was hired by the CIO as part of Operation Dixie.
Filed under: Labor History | Tagged: CIO, Joe Glazer, Texas Bill Strength, We Shall Overcome | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 18, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Marc Norton
In 1937, Woolworth’s was the Walmart of its day. The company had transformed the retail marketplace by creating a national chain of stores staffed by low-wage workers, mostly young women. The lunch counters in these stores, serving inexpensive food, were in some ways a precursor to today’s fast food mega-corporations.
So the story of a successful sit-down strike at a Woolworth’s in Detroit gives us some useful parallels for low-wage workers today. In the wake of the Walmart and fast food strikes on Black Friday and December 5, it’s worth asking where the movement is going. What are its goals? How can they be achieved? Are workers getting organized for the long haul? Are we on a path to victory?
The Detroit sit-down electrified the nation at the time, but has been relegated to a footnote in mainstream history, even among labor historians. A recent pamphlet by history professor Dana Frank at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) should resurrect this history and its lessons. Continue reading
Filed under: Labor History, Low wage workers, Strikes and work action | Tagged: 1937 Woolworth Sit-down strike, CIO, United Auto Workers, Walmart | 2 Comments »
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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 »