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History and Herstory of Labor

L.A. Unions Dramatic Support for Wisconsin Workers 2011

“An Injury to One is an Injury to All”  Los Angeles Locals

of IBT Teamsters, UFCW, AFT, NNU Nurses, WGA, IATSE

Chomsky “The WAR on Workers”

Wages were Flat 1970-1980, but Down since 1980.  CLASS WAR on the UNIONS and the WORKERS has been un-

relentless. Growth is Way Up.  Profits are sky high.  Wages are diving.  This is the Class War.  

(Chomsky gets going at 50 mins.)

WAR on WORKERS

Elaine Bernard, Prof. Trade Union Prog.

@ Harvard Law School

AFSCME HISTORY

Eco.  Heather Boushey – “Finding Time”

Women-Work: Life Conflict

Abby Martin and Mark Crispin Miller

5 BOOKS BURNED by CIA

DANNY DeVITO on IBT – Teamsters

THOM HARTMANN SHOW 

State of Labor 2016

State of LABOR – PBS 2012

SEIU President, MARY KAY HENRY

IBT President JAMES HOFFA             

AFSCME President, LEE SAUNDERS  

Philip Dine, Labor Historian

Future of Labor Unions

STATE of LABOR 2011

                                Al Jazeera TV Report                                    

“Decline of Labour Unions”

LARRY COHEN, Pres. CWA

Raising America’s Pay

 CHRIS SHELTON

New President of CWA

Fighting for Middle Class Workers

ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) “UNIONS”

1900’s Hard Times – Repression of I.W.W.

Howard Zinn’s Peoples History of the U.S.

Movement Fight 4 Survival

 We Are the I.L.W.U. Longshore

Harry BRIDGES Pres ILWU

HARRY BRIDGES, Founder of ILWU

UNITED ELECTRICAL (UE)  #1

Call to Action after WWII “1946”

UNITED ELECTRICAL (UE)  #2

Call to Action after WWII “1946”

LABOR UNIONS

Wisconsin Tested by Koch Bros.  Press TV News on the Serious Decline of U.S. Labor Unions

VP JOE BIDEN on LABOR UNIONS

Decline of Labor Unions?  – Labor struggles in Wisconsin and Chicago show the resurgence of Labor, and Labor leaders appreciate the Community Support of the Occupy Wall St. protestors.  Al Jazeera TV.

Top Ten Labor Strikes in History

UNIONS ARE MY FAMILY

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS

Strengthen Unions

Robert Reich

Former Labor Secretary

RALPH NADER – 2016 ELECTION is RIGGED

RALPH NADER

How to Dismantle the Corporate Servitude State

Thom Hartmann Show

“Left-Right Coalition Theory”

RALPH NADER, REASON SHOW 

HISTORY of LABOR  ‘The Inheritance” 

African American

WOMEN LEADERS of LABOR

Who Remembers the Nationwide Wildcat POSTAL STRIKE of 1970?

Judging from sparse media references as well as historical scholarship, the answer to that question appears to be, sadly, not a whole heck of a lot of people. But what about those who participated in it? That is a whole other story, as I continue to find out firsthand in recording strike veteran narratives. Their stories, combined with readily available evidence already out there, should help make a convincing case for why this was such an important event in United States labor history. One could even argue that it even deserves as much attention as, say, the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-37, where GM autoworkers in Michigan fought for control of the work process and won union recognition for the United Auto Workers union.

In 1970 what happened in a nutshell was this: postal workers had become fed up with working for wages that had lagged so far behind over the years that many were working second and third jobs to make ends meet. In cities like New York and Washington, D.C., many postal workers were even collecting food stamps and welfare. At the time, federal government employees only enjoyed partial collective bargaining rights (provided by Executive Order 10988 in 1962). That meant they had to lobby Congress for pay raises—a process they dubbed “collective begging.”

On March 12, a rank-and-file caucus of Branch 36 (Manhattan-Bronx) of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) spearheaded the demand for a branch strike vote. Striking the federal government has been illegal since 1912. But that is exactly what Branch 36 voted to do on March 17. Picket lines went up at midnight all over New York City. Other NALC branches voted to strike, spreading upstate and into New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania; then west to Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Colorado, and California. Together they shut down 671 post offices in dozens of cities and towns across the United States. Clerks, mail handlers, maintenance workers, motor vehicle operators, and other crafts from other postal unions joined what became the largest “wildcat strike ” (one not authorized by a national union) in American labor history. Over 200,000 postal workers struck for eight days. Despite the inconvenience of a total mail stoppage, strikers enjoyed the support of the majority of Americans.

Court injunctions were served on local union leaders, fines were levied, and government officials threatened to break the unions. President Richard M. Nixon called up 26,007 troops in an effort to break the strike by moving the mail—which failed. The strike ended on March 25 when strikers were convinced by union leaders to return to work after negotiations with Nixon administration officials. No one was fired or jailed. Further negotiations led to legislation signed that August by Nixon granting a 14% raise, with top pay “compressed” to 8 instead of 21 years, and full collective bargaining rights (except the right to strike) under a reorganized self-supporting hybrid government agency-corporation in 1971 called the U.S. Postal Service.

Who were these people? I’ve interviewed strike participants from New York to California, Denver to Detroit, and “almost strikers” from Miami, D.C., and Atlanta. Unfortunately, many older postal strike veterans have passed away, although some have left their recorded stories behind. But I was lucky enough to be able to interview 55 letter carrier strike participants at the 2014 NALC national convention. I had already interviewed 11 strike veterans from carrier, clerk, and mail handler crafts as part of the research for my first book on the post office, There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

There was a real diversity of strike experiences across the country. Participants told me of strike debates and votes held in union halls, bars, “swing rooms,” or even on the workroom floor. Some of these debates and votes started in the weeks preceding the strike, while others happened spontaneously. Once the strike started, some local union officers would have to “disappear” to avoid being served with court injunctions. Real rank-and-file leadership was being exercised by those who often had little or no experience in daily union affairs, and whose only communication was telephone, word of mouth, or news reports. I even spoke to one of the Soldiers who had been called up by Nixon to move the mail in New York during the strike. He corroborated stories commonly told of troops unable to master mail-sorting in a few days but also sympathetic to strikers—some of whom had been called up as reservists and were working next to them.

The wildcat strike (really a general strike) transformed the post office and its unions. As it was itself inspired by other public sector strikes in New York during the 1960s, the 1970 nationwide postal strike in turn inspired no small amount of labor militancy and engagement. Every strike veteran I’ve interviewed or read has expressed pride in their action and the outcome despite the risks. Turnover dropped dramatically as post office work became a well-compensated, desirable career. In many ways, this strike helped revive a stagnant post office. But somehow today, forty-five years later, as it continues to grow with America, the post office has become a target for elimination or privatization.

____________________________________________________________________

The great 1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike – UAW 

Women’s Emergency Brigade (UAW) breaks through Police Lines to bring Food to the great 1937

GM Flint SIT-DOWN STRIKERS.

Howard Zinn – Hard Times 1900-1945

Peoples History of the U.S. – Labor Unions

Howard Zinn – Drawing Color Lines

“People’s History of the American Working Class”

Howard Zinn

Governments Lie – Class Warfare

History of Labor Unions – A Push Review

“Even the Heavens Weep” 1 – Miners UMW

“Even the Heavens Weep” 2 – Miners UMW

“Even the Heavens Weep” 3 – Miners UMW

“Even the Heavens Weep” 4 – Miners UMW

“Even the Heavens Weep” 5 – Miners UMW

“Even the Heavens Weep” 6 – Miners UMW

“Even the Heavens Weep” 7 – Miners UMW

HISTORY of LABOR UNIONS

President Franklin D. Roosevelt from New Deal to Now        by Boilermakers Local 697

 

Two Strategies for Labor – 1905 – 1920’s (#1)

The first Strategy for Labor was the IWW Strategy.  It called for organizing the unorganized Industrial Workers into One Big Union (O.B.U.).   Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn led the IWW from 1905 until their demise and arrest during the infamous Attorney General Palmer Raids (1914-1920).  The IWW organized the courageous 1912 Lawrence (Mass.) Weavers strike, the Patterson (NJ) women Silk workers strike, and dozens of Mining and Longshore strikes throughout California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Idaho.  IWW leaders avoided Politicians and Elections like the plague.  Their motto “Organize”.  Another motto of the IWW, “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”  (Also motto of the ILWU.   International Longshore and Warehouse Union.)

The heir descendant of the heroic IWW was our own CIO, the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

No. 2 STRATEGY of LABOR (Eternal Hope of Elections)

The second strategy called for Labor to fight for Socialism inside Local and National Elections.  The election circus sapped progressive energies.

Eugene V. Debs was the Socialist Party candidate for President in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920.  Debs was also President of the Railroad Firemen’s union ARU. Side by side with the Socialists, was the Populist Party.  William Jennings Bryant was the Democrat-Populist “fusion” candidate for President in 1896.  Theodore Roosevelt was a Populist Republican V.P.   When pro-Wall Street Bank President William McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist, “Trust-buster” Teddy Roosevelt became our first populist President.

Bernie Sanders Doc – Railroad Union Prez. GENE DEBS.

Also Eugene Debs was Pres. of the American Socialist Party

HERstory of Unions – Amalgamated Clothing Workers 

The Early Need for Labor Unions


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