What kind of labor history?
Pacific Northwest historian and labor educator Norm Diamond led a dynamic discussion at the March 14, 2015, Astoria mini-conference about the future of labor history in the Pacific Northwest. Participants also pondered what kind of labor history organization they want.
Our wish list included more focus on local history that resonates with members of our unions and includes more local people talking about local issues. We want more labor history about ethnic communities and more labor education for new trade union members.
The PNLHA needs to cultivate tighter relationships with the local trade union movement, and offer more opportunities for young workers to share their working experiences with each other and with older workers who may not be fully aware of the realities of their experience.
We also needs to have closer organizational ties with community groups. We should address ways of dealing with potential divisive public issues. Environment vs. jobs is but one example. Outreach is essential and a PNLHA speaker’s bureau may be one way to do it. Publicity was also deemed essential with a media strategy in the era of social media.
Our participants also want the PNLHA to think of itself as a catalyst and to connect to new community organizations like the Rural Organizing Project. We also need to reexamine our relationship with academic institutions.
Watch for the first edition of “PNLHA Labor History Online,” a podcast that provides more details on mini-conference discussions.