New book on IWW gay activist

Marie Equi coverAuthor Michael Helquist, also a PNLHA member, will release Marie Equi – Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions at a launch party on September 14 (7-8:30 p.m.) at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland (1200 W Park Ave.).

“On the West Coast, Dr. Marie Equi, a lesbian firebrand and member of the Industrial Workers of the World, earned notoriety for doctoring her injured comrades and distributing contraceptives, wrote Linda Averill on the Freedom Socialist Party web site.

“With the start of World War I, Equi was jailed for treason, although the Oregon AFL spoke in her defense. A climate of anti-Red hysteria swept the entire U.S., silencing rebels like Dr. Equi, but not before they had made their mark on labor.” http://socialism.com/drupal-6.8/articles/blatantly-militant-hidden-history-queers-us-labor-movement

The book, published by the Oregon State University Press, tells the almost hidden history of this “fiercely independent lesbian doctor regarded by J. Edgar Hoover as ‘a menace to the good morals, happiness, and peace’ of society.”

For more go to www.marieequi.com .

“Make some labor history,” PNLHA tells AFL-CIO summer school

PNLHA table 2 - AFL-CIO summer school - August 7-9, 2015Several PNLHA members and trustees were among the 150 participants at this year’s AFL-CIO summer school held at the University of Oregon in Eugene on August 7-9.

The annual summer school, organized by the Labor Education and Research Centre (LERC) at UO, provides union members from across the state with courses on bargaining, labor law and numerous other topics of value and interest to union activists.

Preceding a rousing “fight back” speech on opening night from AFL-CIO Oregon president Tom Chamberlain, PNLHA Oregon vice-president Ron Verzuh encouraged participants to join or renew their memberships.

“Make some labor history of your own,” he told the plenary session after presenting some background on the PNLHA and outlining the benefits of membership.

PNLHA table - AFL-CIO summer school - August 7-9, 2015“This is your kind of organization because the PNLHA doesn’t lose site of who makes labor history – its YOU,” Verzuh said. “The PNLHA offers a healthy mix of academic scholars and street-wise union activists.”

“By reviving and commemorating past events,” Verzuh said, “we not only celebrate their historical significance but we also remind ourselves that the struggle continues and that we can learn from our history.”

He then offered several examples of how labor history is relevant to today’s labor movement, citing both the Oregon PNLHA’s recent “Bloody Wednesday” event which commemorated the 1934 ILWU strike and the Astoria mini-conference earlier this year.

“Our annual conference is also full of other examples of how labor history can assist today’s unions,” Verzuh added, noting the May 20-22, 2016, Portland conference dates.

Joe Hill & Pride movie nightThe PNLHA also got a plug for new members on the school’s film night when Verzuh’s short documentary, Joe Hill’s Secret Canadian Hideout, opened for Pride, the British feature film about an LGBT group that supported the coal miners during their 1980s strike.

“People will always remember Joe Hill,” Verzuh told the film night audience, “and his songs still influence local actions to promote progressive social change. It’s another example of how history helps the contemporary labor movement.”

Another well-liked feature during the school was the Saturday night concert performed by Eugene’s Low Tide Drifters with PNLHA trustee Nathan Moore on guitar and vocals.

Many school participants visited the PNLHA booth during the three-day event to discuss their own interest in labor history and to join the association.

PNLHA joins Portland JwJ, attends meetings

JwJ logoOur affiliate membership to Portland Jobs with Justice was unanimously approved by the steering committee at its August 3 meeting, reports trustee Ryan Wisnor, our representative at JwJ.

Oregon trustees had agreed to the affiliation and a $100 financial contribution at their June meeting, but before the decision was made to accept our affiliation, Ryan attended three JwJ meetings as a guest.

On August 3, some JwJ members complimented the PNLHA on the June 11 Bloody Wednesday event, while others asked how the PNLHA could help members look into their union’s history.

Ryan has agreed to continue attending steering committee meetings and will provide a short report each month for Oregon Update on JwJ happenings. He also plans to arrange a meeting between Oregon PNLHA trustees and JwJ committee members.

For more on the Portland JwJ, ryanwisnor@gmail.com.

Labor Archivist of Washington’s Conor Casey on We Do the Work Radio Show

PNLHA member and Washington State Trustee Conor Casey was interviewed on We Do The Work radio: Tuesday, July 21, 6:30 pm, 91.7 FM KSVR. Casey, Labor Archivist and Director of the Labor Archives of Washington (LAW), explained how LAW was founded to preserve working people’s history and make it accessible.
Listen online at:

For more information on the Labor Archives and its collections, go to www.laborarchives.org.

WE DO THE WORK is dedicated to the well-being of all workers, union and non-union alike. The program believes that everyone who toils for wages or salaries, or who would if they could find a job, deserves to be treated fairly and have the opportunity to live in economic security. With the drastic increase in inequality over the last thirty years, fair treatment and economic security have become more mirage than reality to millions of workers.

Listen to We Do The Work Tuesdays, 6:30 pm, at KSVR, 91.7 FM, or Tuesdays, 6:30 pm and Fridays, 8:30 am, at KSVU, 90.1 FM or KSJU, 91.9 FM

For live streaming: go to http://www.ksvr.org/liveStreaming.html

Concert stresses cross-movement links

Feeney performs; Lyons in background

Feeney on stage with Lyons in background

on stage

PNLHA members attended a musical event in Springfield, OR, July 18 designed to encourage cooperation between social movements, particular trade unions and environmentalists.

Billed as “a night of solidarity of environmental and labor activist, the 50-75 attending the event clapped, and sang along to some of the old movement favorites modified to suit the theme of the “Teamsters & Turtles – Together at Last” tour.

Labor singer Anne Feeney told the audience that the idea for the tour grew from her experiences as a participant in the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization.

SEIU singers 1

SEIU Local 503 singers

The show featured Feeney and Dana Lyons, called the environmental movement’s minstrel, with warm-up performances by the Eugene Raging Grannies and the SEIU Local 503 singers. Many of the songs, including the labor anthem Solidarity Forever, were inspired by labor history events. Visit http://www.annefeeney.com and http://www.cowswithguns.com for more on Feeney and Lyons.

Eugene Raging Grannies

Eugene Raging Grannies

Proceeds from the event will go to the Civil Liberties Defense Center’s Backbone Campaign to run the “Next Generation Action Camp,” a week-long training workshop for youth 14 to 18.

The workshop is intended to “empower youth around the region by providing age-appropriate training and mentoring for future social justice and climate justice organizers and activists,” said a leaflet at the event. To donate or register visit: http://cldc.org/2015/02/20/2015-camp/ .

For more on Dana Lyons’s environmental music and a delightful animated version of his Cows With Guns theme song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5s5qGg01nE For Eugene’s Raging Grannies: http://www.raginggrannieseugene.com/home.html .

Commemorating Portland’s Bloody Wednesday

Longshore Workers, Historians, and the Community Remember How Pier Park’s Trees Saved the Lives of Strikers from Police Bullets

PORTLAND — Pier Park in St. Johns is typically a destination for disc golfers on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but on July 11th seventy-five people turned out to the park for a guided historical walking tour commemorating Portland’s “Bloody Wednesday.” Eighty-one years ago on this day Portland police fired upon unarmed strikers during the 1934 Maritime Strike wounding four men, hitting several trees, and infuriating the general public.

The event was hosted by the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (PNLHA) and received support from three International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) locals, Portland State University’s Department of History, Portland Jobs with Justice, and community groups of the St. Johns neighborhood. Portland State University master’s student of public history Ryan Wisnor organized the event based upon his research on how the labor community accredited the trees of Pier Park for shielding the workers during the shooting.

“Fortunately the trees saved them,” were the words chosen by 1934 strike organizer Matthew Meehan in an oral history conducted before his death in 1977. Current longshoreman Matt Tyson of ILWU Local 8 read a passage from Meehan’s history to an audience of union members, labor activists, and St. Johns residents at the believed scene of the shooting — at the northern edge of Pier Park where Swift Blvd. once intersected with the railroad tracks. Continue reading

Oregon trustees talk roots music on KBOO

Nathan and Kate in concertThe Low Tide Drifters, Eugene’s premiere roots band, were the subject of a half-hour discussion about their music, their passions, and their labor-oriented politics on Portland radio station KBOO’s Old Mole Variety Hour.

Oregon trustee Nathan Moore, his partner Kate Dowling, and Chico Schwall joined host Norm Diamond, another Oregon trustee, for a lively and informative talk punctuated by some of the group’s best-known tunes performed live on air.

Listen to the July 6 broadcast here: http://kboo.fm/lowtidedriftersunderdogfolkmusic . For a further taste of LTD’s “underdog folk music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=10&v=1au_STyB2IY .

Member publishes fifth labor history mystery

Stoner coverOregon PNLHA Member Susan Stoner’s new Sage Adair labor history mystery, Dead Line, will be launched July 23, 2015.

“Sage Adair is slightly bored as he’s between missions for labor leader, Vincent St. Albyn,” says the promotional literature. “Things liven up when an arch enemy demands that Sage travel to Central Oregon to prevent a range war.

“Made an offer he’s afraid to refuse, Sage soon finds himself in the high desert, dodging bullets. To prevent injustice, innocent deaths and solve two murders, he teams up with a cast of characters who reflect the multicultural reality of the early 1900’s American West.

“Gypsies, Indians, Jewish traders, Irish sheepmen, German homesteaders, Missouri cowboys and others, all give life to a little-known, but colorful historical incident in Central Oregon’s history.”

Stoner’s books are published by Portland’s Yamhill Press, http://www.yamhillpress.net , and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0990750906 . View the PNLHA interview available at pnlha.org.