Labor Radical Harry Bridges and the Cold War Ire of the US Government

In the second of a two-part series, Dr. Robert Cherny recounts how immigrant Harry Bridges successfully led the powerful International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for four decades beginning in the 1930s, even as his militant unionism and association with communists placed him at odds with the American government during the Cold War and at the center of several deportation hearings.

Cherny is professor emeritus at San Francisco State University and author of Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend.

Related Collections:
CIO Office of the Secretary-Treasurer Records
Civil Rights Congress of Michigan Records
Industrial Workers of the World Records
M.A. Williams Papers
Workers’ Defense League Records

Related Resources:
Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Robert Cherny
Music: Bart Bealmear

Labor Legend Harry Bridges and the Pacific Coast Longshore Strike of 1934

In the first of a two-part series, Dr. Robert Cherny explains how the early life of Australian immigrant Harry Bridges prepared him to lead the groundbreaking 1934 Pacific Coast longshoremen’s and maritime workers’ strikes in the United States, later becoming the first president of the powerful International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

Cherny is professor emeritus at San Francisco State University and author of Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend.

Related Collections:
CIO Office of the Secretary-Treasurer Records
Civil Rights Congress of Michigan Records
Industrial Workers of the World Records
M.A. Williams Papers
Workers’ Defense League Records

Related Resources:
Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Robert Cherny
Music: Bart Bealmear

Taming the Octopus: Eli Black and the Search for Social Responsibility at the United Fruit / United Brands Company

Dr. Matt Garcia traces the legacy of Eli Black, a former rabbi who, as CEO of United Fruit/United Brands Company in the late 1960s and early 1970s, attempted to instill corporate social responsibility into the notorious fruit conglomerate before ending his life following a series of business setbacks and looming corruption scandals. Garcia is the Ralph and Richard Lazarus Professor of History, Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies, and Human Relations at Dartmouth College, and author of Eli and the Octopus: The CEO Who Tried to Reform One of the World’s Most Notorious Corporation.

Related Collections:
LP000467: Reverend Victor P. Salandini Papers
LP002659: Anna Andreini-Brophy Papers
LR000221_admin: UFW Administration Department Records
LR002435: UFW Information and Research Department Records

Related Resources:
Eli and the Octopus: The CEO Who Tried to Reform One of the World’s Most Notorious Corporation

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Matt Garcia
Music: Bart Bealmear

Toxic Debt: An Environmental Justice History of Detroit

A poster on the back of an anti-incinerator publication proclaims: "Detroit Incinerator: We Say No!" From the Thomas Stephens Papers, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Dr. Josiah Rector explains that since the 1880s a confluence of unregulated industrial capitalism and racist practices in housing and employment in Detroit created pollution and environmental disasters disproportionately affecting the poor, working class, and particularly African Americans. He explores the resulting environmental justice movements in Detroit as residents have fought for clean air, water, and improved public health amid government and corporate divestment and Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy. Rector is an assistant professor of urban, environmental, and labor history at the University of Houston and author of Toxic Debt: An Environmental Justice History of Detroit.

Related Resources
Toxic Debt: An Environmental Justice History of Detroit

Related Collections:
Joe Brown Papers
Olga Madar Papers
Thomas W. Stephens Papers
UAW Conservation and Recreation Department Records
UAW Foundry and Forge Departments Records
UAW Health and Safety Records
UAW President’s Office: Douglas Fraser Records
UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records
UAW President’s Office: Leonard Woodcock Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Josiah Rector
Music: Bart Bealmear

Latinx Encounters: How Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans Made the Modern Midwest

Dr. Juan I. Mora examines three groups of Latinxs as they used postwar migration, temporary guest-worker programs, and agricultural labor to redefine migrant power, justice, and rights in the twentieth century Midwest, and particularly in Michigan. He shows that Latinx migrants melded distinct claims to U.S. citizenship, ethnic identity, and labor rights through conflicts over access to intermediary influence, shifting processes of racialization, and the politics of foodways. Mora is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Indiana University.

Related Collections:
Agricultural Workers History Collection
Ken Barger Papers
Detroit Latino Records
Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) Records
Monsignor Clement Kern Papers
New Detroit, Inc. Records
UFW Central Administration Records
UFW Michigan Boycott Records
UFW Office of the President: Cesar Chavez Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Juan I. Mora
Music: Bart Bealmear

Under the Iron Heel: Repressing the IWW and Free Speech

Ahmed White explains how industrialists and government officials in the United States used violence and legal maneuverings to stultify the Industrial Workers of the World and silence its members in the early twentieth century. White teaches labor and criminal law at University of Colorado Boulder and is the author of Under the Iron Heel: The Wobblies and the Capitalist War on Radical Workers, which received the International Labor History Association Book of the Year Award in 2022.

Related Collections:
Industrial Workers of the World Records
Nicolaas Steelink Papers

Related Resources:
Under the Iron Heel: The Wobblies and the Capitalist War on Radical Workers

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Ahmed White
Music: Bart Bealmear

“Girls, We Cannot Lose!”: Midwestern Black Women Activists During the Great Depression

Dr. Melissa Ford explores the influence of working-class Black women in Detroit, St. Louis, and Cleveland on the development of Black radicalism in the American Midwest during the Great Depression.

Ford is an associate professor of African American history at Slippery Rock University and author of A Brick and a Bible: Black Women’s Radical Activism in the Midwest during the Great Depression.

Related Collections:
Black Workers in the Labor Movement Oral Histories
Black Workers in the Labor Movement Oral Histories: Joseph and Rose Billups
Robert W. Dunn Papers
Maurice Sugar Papers

Related Resources:
A Brick and a Bible: Black Women’s Radical Activism in the Midwest during the Great Depression.
Subject Focus: Ford Hunger March
1932 Ford Hunger March Image Gallery

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Melissa Ford
Music: Bart Bealmear

“No Labor Dictators For Us”: Revisiting Anti-Union Forces in the Flint Sit-Down Strike

While the 1936-1937 Flint Sit-Down is usually viewed as a pivotal success for the UAW, Dr. Gregory Wood considers more closely the influence of anti-union workers and the General Motors-supported Flint Alliance both during and after the strike. Wood is an associate professor and chair of the history department at Frostburg State University. His research will be featured in a forthcoming article in the Michigan Historical Review titled, “’No Labor Dictators for Us’: Anti-Union Workers During the Flint Sit-Down Strikes.”

Related Collections:
Henry Kraus Papers
Flint Auto Worker
Reuther Library Oral History Collections

Related Resources:
Michigan Historical Review
Subject Focus: Remembering the Flint Sit-Down

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Greg Wood
Music: Bart Bealmear

No Equal Justice: The Legal and Civil Rights Legacy of George W. Crockett Jr.

George W. Crockett, Jr., 1968-02-14

Peter Hammer describes the life and legacy of civil rights icon George W. Crockett, Jr. A Black lawyer who fought racism and defended constitutional rights in landmark cases in the 1940s through the 1960s, Crockett brought his ethos to the Detroit Recorder’s Court during his time on the bench from 1966 through 1978, and to his decade of service in the 1980s as a Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hammer is an A. Alfred Taubman Endowed Chair in the Wayne State University Law School and director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. With Wayne State Law Professor Emeritus Edward J. Littlejohn, Hammer coauthored the biography, No Equal Justice: The Legacy of Civil Rights Icon George W. Crockett Jr.

Related Collections:
George Crockett Papers
Ernest Goodman Papers
Edward J. Littlejohn Papers (Available for public access in 2023)

Related Resources:
No Equal Justice: The Legacy of Civil Rights Icon George W. Crockett Jr.

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Peter Hammer
Music: Bart Bealmear

A Miasma of Metals: The Steelworkers’ Environmental Call Following the Donora Smog of 1948

Louise Milone recounts how smog produced by the southwestern Pennsylvanian steel industry poisoned the air in the Monongahela Valley town of Donora on November 1, 1948, killing more than 22 people and sickening thousands more. Exploring the response of the US Steel Corporation, employees, and Donora residents, Milone explains how the United Steelworkers of America union pushed for an investigation and improved environmental and health and safety regulations following the disaster. Milone is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Georgia Department of History.

Related Collections:
Olga Madar Papers

Harvey O’Connor Papers
UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewee: Louise Milone
Music: Bart Bealmear