On the evening of April 8, on the top floor of the library of University of Texas at Arlington, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the largest labor history archives west of the Mississippi.
In the photo, Dr George Green, founder of the archives, approaches Thomas Cannaday about setting up an interview for the archive's extensive audio files. The archives contain thousands of such interviews, photos, newspapers, and documents of the labor movement. Nobody knows as much about Texas labor as Dr. George Green of UTA.
It's All Written Down
For the anniversary occasion, the University published a beautiful 24-page booklet "Walking the Line,. The Diverse History of Organized Labor in Texas." Among its many revelations is the fact that the first strike in American history (1619) was over the right to vote!
The great events of Texas labor history are covered, including the beginning of the American Federation of Labor (1886) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (1938).
Dallasites might be especially interested in the account of the organizing of the Ford plant in East Dallas, especially because events in our town played a big part in organizing Ford nationwide.
Emma Tenayuca and the Pecan Shellers strike that began February 1, 1938, in San Antonio along with the organizing of Ford brought the CIO and general plant-wide industrial organizing to Texas. Prior to that time, most unions were limited to the skilled trades.
In one of the display cases at the archive celebration is the new book "Blue Texas" by Max Krochmal. It details early attempts to create meaningful coalitions between labor, civil rights organizations, and progressive politics. It's an ages-old struggle that has met with unprecedented success of late in successful coalitions involving your Dallas AFL-CIO!
The Dallas AFL-CIO web site has its own section for Labor History.
History is Still Being Made
I was surprised to see myself hanging on the wall and in the booklet explaining the role that Jobs with Justice played in North Texas since 1990. Our battles have been long and hard, but never finished!
You can't go wrong if you get involved with working families and the Dallas AFL-CIO. Just click the little green button!