CFP for CAWLS Calgary conference

The Canadian Association of Work and Labour Studies (CAWLS) has issued a call for proposals for its June 1-2, 2016 conference at the University of Calgary. The theme: “Re-energizing Communities: Building Worker Solidarity and Social Justice.”

The conference, part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, invites proposals for single papers, multiple paper panels, roundtables and/or workshops. “The participation of researchers in union and community settings is encouraged,” the CFP says.

Organizers “seek to engage our collective interest in how communities are organized, how they respond to social change and how we build alliances with like-minded groups. In both the developed and developing worlds, “energizing communities” includes examining workers in the commodity sectors, the role of the environment within the class struggle, and how labour builds alliances with other groups, including Indigenous communities.”

Send submissions to All panel and section proposals are due by December 1, 2015. All paper proposals are due by January 15, 2016For more information go to . For the complete CFP go to .

Remembering BC working people

lhc-021-1024x446-compressorThe British Columbia Labour Heritage Centre is inviting people to participate in its latest project, “Remembering Working People: Plaques Around the Province Project.”

Project goals: identify and catalogue existing memorials and install a new series of cast bronze plaques documenting events, actions, episodes, movements, experiences, groups, individuals or places that have not been recognized to date.

“This is an exciting project that will increase public awareness of the history of working people in British Columbia in a permanent way,” LHC chair Ken Novakowski said.

The LHC is reaching out to as many labour and community groups as possible to fulfill these goals. The focus is on BC regions outside the urban centers and anyone can submit a nomination.

View the project website: . Contact project manager Donna Sacuta: .


PNLHA addresses Portland Dems

PNLHA secretary Lane Poncy.

PNLHA secretary Lane Poncy.

PNLHA trustee Jim Strassmeier.

PNLHA trustee Jim Strassmeier.

PNLHA secretary Lane Poncy and Portland trustee Jim Strassmeier signed up three new members after addressing the Eastside Democratic Club in Portland in October.

Following a main speaker on Israel and Palestine, the PNLHA representatives introduced about 30 club members to the PNLHA’s work and mandate, particularly noting the availability of an oral history of respected Eastside Member George Starr.

They stressed the ongoing series of labor programs broadcast on KBOO radio, mentioned recent activities of the Oregon branch of the PNLHA, and promoted the next conference on May 20-22, 2016, in Portland.

Gutman labor thesis prize announced

3307455031_2d7448e92dThe Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) is accepting applications for its annual Herbert Gutman Dissertation Prize, honoring the late Herbert G. Gutman, a pioneering American labor historian.

“LAWCHA hopes that the spirit of Gutman’s inquiry into the many facets of labor and working-class history will live on through this prize,” says a letter inviting applications from members and non-members.

Entries must be in English, concerned with U.S. labor and working-class history broadly conceived, and defended in the academic year 2014-15 (September 1, 2014-August 31, 2015). The winner will receive $500 cash, up to $500 in travel expenses to attend the awards ceremony, and a publishing contract with the University of Illinois Press. The UIP was the co-creator of the prize.

Email applications to For more information, visit our website, .

2016 PNLHA Labor History Calendar

The 2016 Labor History Calendar is now available. The PNLHA Labor History wall calendar in its 36th edition is the only regional labor calendar in the United States and we are extremely proud of that!

Last year over 8,000 calendars were distributed and with your help we can accomplish this again.

2016 PNLHA CalendarMany of our local unions buy the calendars and give as a “thank you’” to shop stewards, e-board members & the membership at-large. Some buy and resell to help fund educational or labor history committees. These calendars also make great gifts for family, friends and co-workers! There are many ways to spread the word about LABOR HISTORY.

The 2016 calendar includes over 40 historical pictures as well as local union charter dates and major labor events.

A large number of the union’s custom imprint their calendars advertising local union information, meeting dates, website/phone number

As always, each 2015 PNLHA dues paying member is mailed a complimentary calendar.

Download the rate sheet here.

Place an order for your calendar by emailing

Portland:  A Union Town

factsrosecitya02November is labor history month in Portland and the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s labor history committee will celebrate it with a presentation of its 2015 program, “Portland: A Union Town” on Nov. 23.

This year, committee members are compiling a timeline beginning with Portland’s earliest worker organizations and unions. The project, which includes narration and photographs, will highlight the numerous contributions to the community.

“This will be a work in progress, as long as individuals step up and do the work necessary to save, preserve and document Portland-area workers’ rich history,” said committee chair Jim Cook. “Portland was, is and will forever be a union town.”

Local unions are participating via a history committee survey, listing charter dates, contributions to our community such as improvements on the job and for public safety, apprenticeship programs, public education, job actions, boycotts, community service, charities, etc.

“Portland: A Union Town” will be introduced at the NOLC delegates’ meeting at the IBEW Local 48 Hall, 15937 NE Airport Way, Portland. The event begins at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23.

Joe Hill 100 Roadshow in Eugene

Joe Jill 100 Road Show in Eugene“Joe Hill 100 Roadshow” will roll through Eugene on Friday, Nov. 13, presenting the music of the famed labor troubadour who was killed by a Utah firing squad a century ago.

Portland singer-songwriter David Rovics, George Mann, a former union organizer based in New York, and Eugene’s own banjo master Mark Ross headline the show billed as a “national concert tour of labor and folk songs honoring Joe Hill on the Centenary of his execution.”

Sponsors are AFSCME Local 3214, the Eugene/Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN), and the Lane County Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

Start time is 7:30 p.m. at the First Christian Church of Eugene (1166 Oak St.), Cost: sliding scale $10-$15-$20 and “No one turned away for lack of funds.”

To listen to some of David Rovics music, go to . George Mann’s music is at . Mark Ross is at .

Is interest in labor history waning?

WHA conference logoLabor historians from Canada and the United States grappled with the question of labor history’s allegedly diminishing role in the study of western history when they joined a panel at the 55th conference of the Western History Association in Portland on Oct. 24, 2015.

The discussion ranged from a review of the status of labor history in Canada to its place in Asian and Mexican-American labor history. Some panelists agreed that the study of capitalism seemed in bigger demand among university students than the study of labor history. Others saw the insertion of labor history into such courses as potentially enhancing those studies.

PNLHA member Jim Gregory’s positive assessment of progress in the U.S. was welcomed. Gregory, president-elect of the Labor and Working-Class History Association, noted that the panel was co-sponsored by LAWCHA.

The five panelists and moderator Matthew Basso from the University of Utah reached no agreement on the question, but audience participation move the discussion to strategies for restoring any lost interest in labor history.

Oregon PNLHA vice-president Ron Verzuh suggested that part of the strategy could include reaching out beyond the classroom to a public audience that would benefit from learning more about local labor history.

Later in the conference, PNLHA member Laurie Mercier delivered her paper on left-led unions and their role in the struggle to achieve women’s equality.

PNLHA assists with Joe Hill event

Joe Hill Centennial TributeThe PNLHA executive board has voted to endorse the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s Nov. 19 tribute to legendary Wobbly troubadour Joe Hill. The board also agreed to send a contribution to assist with the event.

“The PNLHA is happy and proud to help sponsor the NOLC labor history and music event in tribute to Joe Hill this year,” said PNLHA president Tom Lux. “This is always a great event and we will encourage our members to attend.”

The “Joe Hill Centennial Tribute” will celebrate Hill as a labor organizer, songwriter and martyr.* The evening will include music by veteran singer-songwriter and social activist Anne Feeney. She’ll be joined by Citizen’s Band from Olympia, WA, and Portland’s General Strike. Eugene’s Mark Ross will act as MC.

Portland has a long tradition of annually celebrating the music and spirit of Joe Hill and others each November. Organizers expect that Portland’s 25th Annual Benefit Concert will follow in that tradition and be an exceptional event in many ways.

KBOO 90.7 FM, local unions and friends of labor are also sponsoring the tribute. Proceeds will benefit KBOO Community Radio and Sisters of the Road.

The event will be held Nov. 19 at the Alberta Rose Theater, 3000 NW Alberta St. in Portland. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Cost: $15. Order online at .

*Joe Hill was shot and killed by a Utah firing squad on Nov. 19, 1915.

Unions are key to reducing inequality

“Unions are one of the keys to reversing the rise of income inequality,” noted a brief issued by the Oregon Center for Public Policy on Sept. 2, 2015. President Obama described the issue as the “defining challenge of our time.”

“Historically, organized labor has led efforts to create an economy that works for everyone,” the brief states. “Unions represent the fundamental right of workers to stick together and demand better pay and working conditions.

“Union efforts have resulted in worker protections such as child labor laws, safer working conditions, overtime compensation and the 40-hour work week. Following World War II, a vibrant U.S. labor movement helped support the development of a broad middle class by setting standards for wages and benefits.

“By the late 1970s, at about the time union membership began to decline nationally and in Oregon, income inequality began to widen. Income gains began bypassing most Oregonians, flowing instead to those at the top of the income scale. The decline in union representation is an important part of the story of the rise of income disparities in Oregon, and of disparities among Oregon men in particular.

“By bargaining together for better pay,” the brief concludes, “workers can reduce inequality and create an economy that works for everyone….Increased unionization would ease inequality and help low- and middle-income Oregonians prosper

For more go to or download the brief: Unions Are Key to Reducing Inequality .

Thanks to PNLHA trustee Jim Strassmeier for sending the brief to Oregon Update.