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.
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.”
Labor leader and social activist Milton Tambor discusses his life’s work in Detroit since the 1950s as a social worker; AFSCME local union president, staff representative and assistant education director; and teaching faculty in both labor studies and social work at Wayne State University and other institutions. He also discusses the intersection of labor and social political movements through his involvement in organizations such as the Detroit Coalition to End the War Now, the Michigan Labor Committee on Central America, and the Democratic Socialists of America in both Detroit and Atlanta. Tambor recently published a memoir titled A Democratic Socialist’s Fifty Year Adventure.
Edward McClelland recounts the gripping details of the Flint sit-down strike, and considers what we can learn today from the strikers’ successful fight for shared prosperity in 1936-1937. McClelland is a journalist, historian, and author of Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class.
Labor historian Dr. Toni Gilpin explores how the McCormick family’s greed and union-busting in the late 19th century set the stage for a bitter battle between the International Harvester corporation and the radical Farm Equipment Workers union in the 1930s and 1940s. Although the union was absorbed by the United Auto Workers in 1955, Gilpin describes how the militancy bred into generations of International Harvester workers influenced UAW tactics into the 1970s.
Dr. Gilpin’s book, The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, and Class War in the American Heartland, received a Taft Labor History Award honorable mention award in 2020.
Air Line Pilots Association archivist Bart Bealmear shares the history of ALPA’s shrewd 1960 strike against regional carrier Southern Airways over pilot wages. The strike began on June 5, 1960 and launched a costly two-year legal and tactical battle in which ALPA created its own competitor airline, Southern hired poorly-qualified scab pilots funded partially by the government, and the union strategically appealed a ruling in its own favor to preempt and scuttle Southern’s appeal. The founder and president of Southern Airways, Frank Hulse, finally capitulated in September 1962 when an investor in the airline threatened to sell a controlling stake to ALPA to end the strike. Although the longest and costliest strike in ALPA’s history, the union considers the Southern Airways Strike of 1960 as its magna carta, key to protecting the wages of pilots at smaller airline carriers for decades to come.
American Federation of Teachers archivist Dan Golodner tells guest host Bart Bealmear about the 1933 Chicago Teachers Walkout, when Chicago teachers joined together to demand that they be paid in actual money and on time, rather than in scrip that wasn’t honored by local businesses and banks during the Great Depression. Paid only nine times in four years because property taxes meant to fund Chicago schools were withheld by corrupt businesses, banks, and school board members, students and teachers staged public demonstrations on the streets and in bank lobbies, ultimately shaming the banks into releasing school funds and the school board into issuing consistent paychecks.