From the archive of struggle, no.35: Holt Labor Library special

In previous editions, I have featured the Labadie Collection and the Greater Manchester Collection. This week, we focus on the Holt Labor Library, with more below the fold. Browse the whole series here.

The Holt Labor Library in San Francisco has a truly exemplary website. Below are some snippets from some of its exhibitions, which are hyperlinked to their source pages.

The Bob Mattingly Button Exhibit.

[1991] Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) was formed in 1976 from a number of reform groups including Teamsters for a Democratic Contract and UPSurge. They were reacting to corruption within the union caused by leadership being too close to businesses, as well as their alleged affiliation with organized crime and the Nixon administration. Professionals Drivers’ Council (PROD) merged with TDU in 1979, bringing their lobbying and legal expertise, and new members from the East Coast and South. As a reform group within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, TDU believes in a democratic union with control resting in the membership. Their Rank and File Bill of Rights emphasizes election of union leadership, majority approval of contract votes, equality throughout the union, workplace standards and fair salaries. Over the years, several of their goals have been implemented union-wide. In 1988, Majority Rule on Contracts became part of the IBT Constitution. TDU won direct election of officers through a federal RICO lawsuit in 1989. With the election of TDU-backed Ron Carey as Teamsters president in 1991, officers’ pay was slashed and financial waste ended. The TDU was active in the successful 1997 UPS strike. They supported Tyson Foods workers in Pasco, Washington in 1999 who called a strike even without IBT support. Today they continue their reform struggle against current IBT president James Hoffa, Jr., who they blame for new corruption and a loss of union membership.

[1984] United Farm Workers (UFW) leader César Chávez called for a third boycott on California table grapes in 1984. Whereas previous UFW boycotts had been about farm worker conditions, this one called for a ban on five major pesticides used in grape fields. The UFW claimed in their 1989 film, “Wrath of Grapes,” that the chemicals caused cancer and birth defects, and that they were getting into the ground water of surrounding communities. Chávez went on a 36-day hunger strike in 1988 to promote the boycott, receiving support from many politicians and celebrities. Later that year, city leaders in San Francisco, San Jose and Alameda County joined the boycott. UFW continued its boycott after Chávez’s death in 1993, ending it in 2000 when four of the five pesticides in question had been banned and the fifth regulated.

[1996] “The long-running, low key but aggresive campaign to organize a new party anchored firmly inside the American Labor Movement, will culminate next June in Cleveland, Ohio when delegates from across the nation formally launch a grassroots, working class-based political movement.” (Labor Party Advocate, August 1995) According to the organization’s website, the founding conference attracted “1,400 delegates from hundreds of local and international unions as well as individual activists.” They adopted a 16-point program, the “Call for Economic Justice,” that “demands that everyone who wants to work have a right to a decent-paying job. As long as millions of us remain jobless or employed at jobs that pay poverty wages, all of us will suffer.” (Labor Party: FAQs. http://www.thelaborparty.org/a_faqs.html )

Holt Labor Library Audio Collection

A selection of the library’s audio collection is online in mp3 format, hosted by the Marxists Internet Archive. Currently, lectures by George Breitman, James P. Cannon, Farrell Dobbs, Tom Kerry, Ernest Mandel, Robert Langston, Larry Trainor, Evelyn Reed and Harry Ring are available, with more to be added.

There are also special features, each with lots of links, on topics such as the San Francisco General Strike of 1934 (including folk song sheet music), the late Sylvia Weinstein, Sacco and Venzetti, Joe Hill, the Lawrence textiles strike, and the United Farm Workers of America.

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American histories: 1934

I already featured a couple of these, but thought it is worth making more of a splash:

The rebellion in Minneapolis

The history of the Teamster Rebellion in Minneapolis is packed with lessons, especially the importance of mobilizing a militant rank and file. [Socialist Worker US September 29, 2009]

The 75th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike (Part 1)US: The 75th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike (Part 1)

The 1934 Teamsters strike in Minneapolis, led by the Trotskyists of the Communist League of America (the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party), was a decisive moment in the US labor and socialist movements. During the years preceding the strike, few would have expected the upsurge that took place in 1934. [By David May, Marxist.com, 17 July 2009]

The 75th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike (Part 2)

After a bitter coal yard workers’ strike and organizing campaign in early 1934, Teamsters Local 574 won the right to represent thousands of workers in Minneapolis. But by May, a second strike became necessary, after the trucking and warehouse bosses refused to recognize the local. [By David May, Marxist.com, 24 September 2009]

Picketers surround Fank Hubay, one of two people killed by National Guardsmen during the Toledo strikeLabor’s breakthrough in Toledo

The 1934 Auto-Lite strike in Toledo, Ohio showed how workers could unite, employed with unemployed, to defeat the power of the bosses. [Socialist Worker US, September 15, 2009]

Strikers march through San Francisco streets during the 1934 strike

The battle for the docks

The San Francisco General Strike in July 1934 involved 200,000 workers up and down the West Coast, making it the largest general strike in U.S. history. [Socialist Worker US, September 21, 2009]

Added: For more links on the SF General Strike, go to the Holt Labor Library, from which the below is taken:

The song, “Frisco Strike Saga,” was penned by Stephen Karnot and Earl Robinson to commemorate the strike. It is reprinted from Songs of the People published in 1937 by Workers Library Publishers.

"Frisco Strike Saga" lyrics and music

American radicalism

Michael Harrington

July marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Michael Harrington. This post is for him.

IF Stone

Another American radical:

American Radical: The Life and Times 0f I. F. Stone by D. D. Guttenplan, 2009. Reviewed at The Socialist Webzine. Guttenplan talking about it. At HuffPost, talking about Stone and Michael Jackson. Ex-radical Ron Radosh with a different view.

While I’m here, more from Ron Radosh: on Arlo Guthrie, on “progressive Jews”, on the legacy of Stalinism in the US, on Cuba’s American spies.

One day in July

Via Renegade Eye: One day in July, a page made in 2004 to commemorate the 1934 Teamsters’ Strike in Minneapolis. A great site. (more…)