History of the Song “John Brown’s Body”, the tune for US labor anthem, “Solidarity Forever”

This submission to PNLHA was suggested by Dr. Mark Gregory
Honorary Post-Doctoral Research Associate
School of Humanities and Social Inquiry
University of Wollongong Australia

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December, 1861 p. 3.

JOHN BROWN OF HARPER’S FERRY.-The following is from the New York Independent, August 29 :—

Who would have dreamed, a year and a half since, that a thousand men in the streets of New York would be heard singing reverently and enthusiastically in praise of John Brown ! Such a scene was witnessed on Saturday evening last. One of the new regiments from Massachusetts, on its way though this city to the seat of war, sang—

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering In the grave,
His soul’s marching on !
Glory Hallelujah ! Glory Hallelujah ! Glory Hallelujah !

The stanzas which follow are in the same wild strain—

He’s gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord, &c,
His soul’s marching on !
John Brown’s knapsack is strapped upon his back, &c,
His soul’s marching on !
His pet lambs will meet him on the way, &c.
They go marching on !

Seldom, if ever, has New York witnessed such a sight or heard such strains. No military hero of the present war has been thus honoured. No statesman has thus loosed the tongues of a thousand men to chant his patriotism. Little did Captain Brown think of the national struggles that were to follow his eventful death. But his calmness and firmness gave evidence of his faith that the cause of freedom demanded the sacrifice of his life, and he nobly died. It was a notable fact that while the regiment united as with one voice singing this song, thousands of private citizens, young and old, on the sidewalks and in crowded doorways and windows, joined in the chorus. The music was in itself impressive, and many an eye was wet with tears. Few who witnessed the triumphal tread of that noble band, arrayed for the war for freedom, will ever forget the thrilling tones of that song.

PNLHA, WSLC, LERC, and LAW Make Joint Educational Presentations at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater for musical “The Pajama Game”

In March of 2017, PNLHA, the Washington State Labor Council, the Labor Education and Research Center, and the Labor Archives of Washington made a series of joint educational presentations at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater for musical “The Pajama Game” exploring the legacy and promise of the labor movement in Washington through a tour of the past and present roles unions play in vastly improving the lives of working people, their families, and their communities. The presentations highlighted what unions have done and continue to do to resist oppression and amplify the voices of working people, tying them into the universal themes in the Pajama Game and current fights for social, racial and economic justice in our region.

See the slideshow from the heavily-attended sessions here!

Labor Archives of Washington’s New Television Segment Airs This Weekend on KOMO TV (Seattle), Streams online Thereafter


The Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections,  is pleased to announce the first episode of our new segment on the news magazine show UW360. The multi-episode segment will highlight the Labor Archives’ collections, researchers, and community supporters, will air on KOMO TV on Sunday, October 2 at 5:30 PM and stream on various media platforms including YouTube, Roku and Amazon Fire TV, thereafter. The rest of the episodes of the series are in production and will air over the next year.
Here’s the direct link to the Labor Archives segment: http://uwtv.org/series/uw360/watch/kfs6VK-HpS4/
Here’s the link to the entire episode:

Second Episode of Labor Archives of Washington’s New Radio Segment Airs

The second episode of the Labor Archives of Washington’s monthly labor history segment on the radio show “We Do the Work” (KSVR 91.7 FM, Mount Vernon)  aired on January 5, 2016 on KSVR. Soon, it will become a part of KSVR’s streaming audio archives. http://www.ksvr.org/archives_wtdw.html (This post will be updated when the stream is added to the online archive)

The episode covered the 1981 murder of Filipino American cannery worker union leaders Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, who were assassinated in Seattle’s Pioneer Square in their union hall, and the collections in the Labor Archives relating to that history.

The new feature is called “Learn Yourself,” and it will cover a particular labor history topic and introduce new users to resources for further reading and research, including the Labor Archives of Washington’s collections.

The first episode, about the Everett Massacre of 1916 and the Industrial Workers of the World in the Pacific Northwest, is available for streaming now.

“We Do the Work” host Michael Dumovich and producer/organizer Janet McKinney invited Casey to record the regular feature after his first appearance on their show in July. The show is broadcast from Mount Vernon, Washington and is being broadcast by other public radio affiliates nationwide. It is also available via Public Radio Exchange (PRX): an online marketplace for distribution, review, and licensing of public radio programming.

We Do The Work radio airs:

  • KSVR, 91.7: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm
  • KSVU, 90.1: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm and Fridays, 8:30 am
  • KSJU, 91.9 FM: Tuesdays, 6:30 pm and Fridays, 8:30 am

PNLHA 2015 Conference Report, Program Videos

2015 PNLHA Conference Wrap-Up by Tom Lux

Many of our members attended a very successful PNLHA conference May 1 – 3 in SeaTac, WA. If you were able to attend the conference this year I hope it met your expectations. If you were unable to attend I know Oregon is starting to plan for another successful conference for this time next year. Stay tuned for that and go to our website often to check for any updates.

We received several evaluation forms and the respondents rated the conference evenly between 4 and 5 (5 being the highest rating possible). The most interesting presentations were listed as Bill Fletcher (by far) and the Domingo/Viernes Cannery Workers film shown Sunday morning. There was also interest in the IWW Project, Al Bradbury, the Friday night social, as well as the banquet/send off for Ross, Remembering Salt, Love & Solidarity video, Seattle Labor Chorus, etc.

Annual General Membership Meeting

Our Annual General Membership meeting was held after the conference on Sunday, May 3rd with 51 members in attendance. In the two contested races Tom Lux from Lake Forest Park, WA was elected President to take over for Ross Rieder who retired, and Brenda Doolittle from Graham, WA was elected US Treasurer. All other positions were uncontested and all results will be posted on the PNLHA web site.

There were several proposed by-law changes, all of which passed with some minor changes. The by-laws and the meeting minutes are going through our review/edit process now and will be posted on our web site once they are approved.

PNLHA’s Future

As I campaigned for PNLHA President, I said one of our goals should be to grow our membership. We are all organizers. I suggest we all carry a few membership application forms and whenever we talk to anyone interested in labor history, hand them a form and a pen. I think we need to make a very concerted effort to recruit in communities of color. PNLHA should reflect all worker history and we should all be at the table.

We need to find ways to become more visible in the community, schools, and union halls. Your ideas and commitment to expand our programs are welcomed.

If we want to continue the labor history calendar as an outreach and education tool, and I think we should, we will need a smooth transition from Ross doing all the work to how we want to do it in the future. There are a few ways we can do this, whether we pay someone to produce and distribute it or we divide the work among a few people, etc. Again, your ideas on transition are welcome.

2015 PNLHA Annual Conference Report Back from Oregon–Labor’s Music Filled the Halls by Ron Verzuh

Musical events at the conference were numerous and varied, starting the first night with a moving rendition of The Ballad of Harry Bridges by his granddaughter, Marie Shell. Angelica Guillén followed with some stirring antiracist poetry. A local high school brass band rounded off the evening with several jazz tunes. On Day 2, Labor Notes editor Al Bradbury led us in song to begin her talk on youth and unions.
Rika Ruebsaat and Jon Bartlett, Canadian music historians who’ve attended many PNLHA events, sang several Joe Hill songs as part of the conference’s recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Wobbly songster’s death by Utah firing squad. On the final day, Seattle’s Labor Chorus sent us home with some rousing anthems from several labor troubadours, including a sing-a-long of The Internationale.

You can now view the conference video playlist on YouTube (See the descriptions of the content below)

Plenary Address: “What Makes You Think the Labor Movement Will Survive? How Must it Change and How is it Changing?”, Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Plenary Address Q & A, Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Panel: “Crisis of the Working Class and American Democracy: A Conversation on the Challenges of Our Time”, Mike Honey, Jack O’Dell, George Lovell, Megan Ming Francis, Moon Ho Jung

Evening Program

Lunch Program

Pacific Northwest Labor History Association Presidential Candidate Statements

Responses to Presidential Survey by PNLHA Presidential Candidates

Ross Rieder, having served as the president of the PNLHA for several decades, has announced that he will not seek re-election at the next Annual General Meeting to be held in Seattle on May 3, 2015.

(Statements below in Ascending Alphabetical Order)

TOM LUX, PNLHA Vice President, Lake Forest Park, WA


I have been involved with PNLHA since the early 2000’s, attending conferences and local events, selling the calendar at union meetings, ensuring that my union renewed its annual membership in a timely manner and supporting our conferences, recruiting new members, etc.

I have been a Trustee and am presently the Washington State Vice-president.

I first helped out with a conference in 2009 in Seattle. I was active on the planning committee for the 2012 conference in Tacoma and did much of the work on the brochure, literature and developing the conference schedule. I am the Planning Committee Chair for the 2015 conference in SeaTac with major responsibility for the schedule, fundraising and coordination. In 2014 I chaired the PNLHA Executive Board’s rewriting of the by-laws.


I have been a PNLHA representative on the WA State Labor Council MayWorks Committee since its inception three years ago. MayWorks celebrates worker culture and history statewide throughout the month of May.

In 2003 I helped found the IAM District 751 Labor History Committee and continue to be the committee chair. Our activities include creating picture and artifact displays in our union halls, writing articles for the union newspaper, creating materials to educate members on labor history and the history of their union, videotaping and digitizing oral histories of union retirees and former union leaders, and supporting PNLHA activities.

Since 2009 I have been active on the Visiting Committee of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington and an active member and donor of the Friends of the Labor Archives.

I am a member of Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA)


I am the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Shoreline Community College.

I am the Chair of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee and also Chair of the Aerospace Machinist Joint Training Committee. These programs ensure the continued high skill level of aerospace workers in the State of Washington by developing state approved apprenticeship programs for Boeing/Airbus suppliers.

I sit on the Executive Board and am Treasurer of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA), a multi-generational labor/community organization of 1300 members who work for a secure future for all. I am co-chair of the Government Relations Committee and co-chair of the Environmental Committee. I also am active on the PSARA Long Term Planning Committee and the local Social Security Works Committee. I am the PSARA representative on the Blue/Green Alliance, the labor/environmental organization in Washington State.

I am a delegate to the Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council from IAM Local 751-F.

I am active in and am the Treasurer of my union retiree club, the 751 Retirement Club.



I value the successful collaboration of labor activists and academics that for 47 years has helped those who are interested in studying and educating about working class history to express the importance and relevance of labor history for our region. For all these years PNLHA has held annual conferences and other events where we can share ideas and learn – no other labor history association can say that. I believe that PNLHA has greatly enhanced the understanding of not only labor history but also labor values on our campuses, in our union halls, and in our communities.

What priorities would you set for the PNLHA under your leadership, and why?

My first priority is to grow PNLHA especially among younger workers and academics. I know many of our members feel the same way. If PNLHA is going to prosper for another 40+ years or more it is vital that we capture the interest of those who can continue this work.

The Labor History calendar has been a great outreach tool for PNLHA and a source of many interesting facts from labor history throughout the year. Ross will continue to produce the calendar for only a year or two more. I would want a small committee to work with Ross on the calendar and to come up with a recommendation on how best to continue producing the calendar in the future. I think it may be best to have more than one person responsible for production and distribution.

I also think it is important that we are more visible in the community. I would like to develop a volunteer cadre of members who want to give workshops in the schools and in union halls. I think it is important that we do this in an organized way and by drawing on the lessons of our past we can show how to build a better future.


What motivates you to seek election as the PNLHA president?

PNLHA is a great organization born of a great concept and I think it is very important not only to continue the work that has been done but to build on it. I feel that those of us who are active in the labor movement need to take a significant role in telling our own story. I know I am the right person to be president of PNLHA and with your vote and assistance we will continue to make PNLHA even better.

What personal qualities would make you successful in this role?

I have the organizational and leadership skills to help PNLHA continue its work and to build on its legacy. As a good listener I am respectful of others. I am leveI-headed and calm, and I think over all options and don’t rush to judgement. Working cooperatively with others has been a successful method for me. I believe strongly in including members in decision-making and that an organization run democratically is a stronger organization.


RON VERZUH, Oregon PNLHA Vice President, Eugene, Oregon (formerly Burnaby, British Columbia)


I offer extensive experience as both a labour activist/leader and academic historian dedicated to the study of labor history.

I have been an active member since 2010, served as an Oregon trustee, and am the current Oregon PNLHA vice-­‐president. In addition, I was on the planning committee for the 2013 Portland conference and served as an organizer of the Oregon PNLHA mini-­‐conference held on March 14, 2015, at Astoria, Oregon.

I am a director of the Slim Evans Society and the On to Ottawa Society, and a former director of B.C’s Labour Heritage Centre. All three organizations promote the preservation of labor history and sponsor projects to improve public knowledge of that history.

I have been a union member since 1966 when I joined the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. I became a Steel Worker in 1967. In the 1970s, I served as president of Local 2059 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada’s largest union. I became a CUPE staff member in the 1980s and was appointed national director of communications in the 2000s. I continue to be a member of my staff union’s retiree association.

My academic credentials include a BA in journalism, an MA in Canadian Studies, and I am currently completing a doctoral degree in history with a focus on the labor movement. My published academic work appears regularly in BC Studies, the premiere B.C. academic journal. One example is my extensive examination of singer-­‐activist Paul Robeson’s Peace Arch concerts organized by Mine-­‐Mill in the 1950s.

My more popular work can be seen in in the Journal of Local History published by the Trail Historical Society where my article on organizing immigrant workers recently appeared. A much more detailed article has been accepted for publication in the Pacific Northwest Quarterly, a juried journal. Also, this summer,

Canada’s History, the popular national history magazine, will publish my article on

Canada’s role in making the atomic bomb.

I have published numerous other articles in various Canadian publications, including Canada’s labor magazine Our Times, the Toronto Globe and Mail, and other newspapers and magazines. I was the founding editor of The Arrow, a regional B.C. monthly, and Goodwin’s, a national alternative magazine. Both covered labor issues as a priority editorial policy. My work has also appeared on the activist web site www.rabble.ca and at www.ronverzuh.ca.

My published books include:

  • Radical Rag – The Pioneer Labour Press in Canada (Ottawa: Steel Rail


  • Underground Times – Canada’s Flower-­‐Child Revolutionaries (Toronto: Deneau),
  • Remembering Salt – A Brief History of How a Banned Movie Brought

McCarthyism to Canada (San Bernandino, CA: Createspace),

  • Dirty Dishes Done and other Work Stories (Copenhagen, Denmark: Erhvervsskolernes Forlag) Excerpts appeared as part of a textbook for use in teaching English at a Danish industrial college.

In 2015, I will release my second short documentary film entitled Remembering Salt based on the above-­‐mentioned book. In 2014, my short documentary Joe Hill’s Secret Canadian Hideout won the award for best historical documentary at the Oregon Independent Film Festival. It was also an official selection at the Workers’ Unite Film Festival (WUFF) in New York, the Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLIFF) in Toronto, and the Rossland Mountain Film Festival in Rossland, B.C., where “Joe Hill” was set.

I am a Canadian from B.C. now retired and living in Eugene, Oregon, thus putting me in the unique position of having labor movement experience on both sides of the U.S.-­‐Canada border.


My vision is of a PNLHA that engages seasoned labor historians, young scholars as well as those whose life experiences as workers have given them a valuable perspective on the labor history events that mark the Pacific Northwest.

I want our organization to be able to assist members to pursue historical research topics that are particular to our regions and to offer the broad labor history community in-­‐depth research articles in scholarly journals. But it is also essential to promote oral histories that come from interviews with working people, and to support those who write for popular history publications, union newsletters, and web sites.

To that end, my vision necessarily includes establishing and maintaining a program budget using funds raised through calendar sales, membership and conference fees. I also foresee a PNLHA fundraising effort that includes grants to support new labor history projects. This process will require that our non-­‐profit legal status and financial reporting are thorough and transparent as demanded by granting and government agencies.

Part of my vision sees us developing more collaborative relations with other labor history organizations that share our respect for both academic scholarship and lived experience. I see the possibility of joint research projects, public events, and membership recruitment campaigns. I also see us jointly publishing articles and other materials in online, audio, video, and print form.

I see a PNLHA that offers young people a prominent place for discussing and collaborating on work that is relevant to the labor history community, and providing new outlets for the work of up-­‐and-­‐coming historians and labor history activists.

I also see an organization that builds bridges between various communities of working people and assists in the formation of regional labour council history groups. This might entail providing advice for local history projects and helping to develop labor walking tours that could be made available on the PNLHA web site.

I imagine a PNLHA that puts a high priority on developing a credible and vibrant program that enhances our standing in the labor history community. Among other possibilities for accomplishing this goal:

  • Regular outreach to many labor movement and labor education organizations,
  • Continuing support for the ongoing struggles of working people in all three regions and helping to give historical perspective to those struggles,
  • Regular communications with members, using email and e-­‐newsletters like the one we have created in Oregon, and encouraging more cross-­‐regional member communication,
  • Strengthening relations and building greater cohesion among regional executive members and trustees and streamlining a transparent decision-­‐ making process,
  • Sponsoring and promoting more regional events between conferences,
  • Periodic meetings with central labor councils and retirees groups to promote the benefits of PNLHA membership,
  • Regular appearances on union-­‐sponsored podcasts, videos, radio stations, such as KBOO in Portland and Vancouver Co-­‐op Radio in B.C., as well as social media outlets,
  • Meetings with social justice organizations who wish to include events in labor history as part of their understanding of today’s key social justice issues.

I further see the need to initiate a leadership development program that calls on younger labor history enthusiasts both in the academic and the union worlds to come forward and shape the organization with new ideas and visions for the future. As president I would seek out those new sources of energy and talent.


I am a leader who consults before deciding, who communicates before acting, and who collaborates with those who share our labor history interests. I would continue to follow this path as president, discussing concerns with our executive board, keeping the board informed through regular communications and face-­‐to-­‐ face meetings whenever possible, and acting together as PNLHA leaders. I am also a leader who would endeavour to ensure full transparency in our actions and duties as a non-­‐profit organization.

My history as a trade union activist, union staff member, and leader testify to my ability to steer our organization in a direction that would achieve the goal of making labor history more relevant to the difficult battles that confront the labor movement of today.

My current activities as Oregon vice-­‐president illustrate the kind of innovations I would bring to the presidency. Since my election as Oregon VP in June 2014, for example, I have introduced the following improvements:

  • Regular contact with our trustees in person and by email,
  • A monthly newsletter that goes to all Oregon members as well as to the executive board and trustees in all three regions,
  • A revitalized and redesigned PNLHA web site, including the addition of an online membership and renewal system with PayPal option,
  • A generic membership recruitment leaflet that is being used across Oregon to build our region’s membership,
  • A regional mini-­‐conference that focuses on local labor history and contemporary issues of concern to trade unions. Note: a possible model for other regions is our Oregon mini-­‐conference in Astoria on March 14, 2015.

I want to expand these services to the other PNLHA regions, work closely with the unions and historians in those regions, and put my skills to work for the benefit of all PNLHA members.

I want PNLHA members to connect to our organization, to feel proud of our legacy and to value their contribution. To that end, I will consult members frequently between annual general meetings to learn about the direction they want the PNLHA to follow. I will share ideas with them with the aim of maintaining and advancing a healthy and effective organization that speaks to its members’ labor history interests.

With your support, I pledge to devote my energy, skills and commitment to initiating a program that will serve PNLHA members and lead us into a new era that respects the vision of our founders while embracing the new challenges we face today.


Washington State Labor Council Reprises MayWorks Washington: A Month-Long Festival of Labor Culture and History

MayWorks Washington is a month-long festival throughout the month of May celebrating labor culture and history in Washington State. Festival events also focus on working class issues and labor arts such as music, poetry, photography, dance, drama, and the visual arts. In 2012, delegates at the Washington State Labor Council’s annual convention voted to work to raise their voices – to start a tradition of MayWorks, a festival of workers’ art and culture. Riffing on the theme of “Bread and Roses” to celebrate the centennial of the pivotal strike of 1912, our first MayWorks celebration occurred throughout the state that year. Venues included the Labor Education & Research Center at South Seattle Community College, the 2012 conference of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, and the Northwest Folklife Festival which showcased workers’ art and culture with concerts, art exhibits, a contest for short videos of 3-5 minutes, oral history presentations, and a variety of workshops and performances. Audiences were engaged with the meaning and value of the role that workers and unions play in our everyday lives and the culture of our communities.

The PNLHA Annual Conference and Kick off Event are actually part of MayWorks 2015 as well, find out more about them here! The MayWork Committee is always trying to add more events–if you are in Washington, consider adding your own labor event in May to the calendar!

Further resources:

First Annual Labor Archives of Washington Annual Event April 11

PLabor Archives Event 2015 3reserving Solidarity Forever: The Labor Archives Minimum Wage Project
Walker-Ames Room (225), Kane Hall, University of Washington

Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
University of Washington
4000 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98195

Join the Labor Archives of Washington as we kick off the SeaTac-Seattle Minimum Wage History Project!

The Minimum Wage History Project documents the historic and nationally recognized campaigns that in 2013-14 succeeded in mandating a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac and Seattle. The project will culminate in an on-line resource for students, faculty, and the general public who seek to understand how the campaigns achieved victory.

Speakers to include:

KSHAMA SAWANT, Seattle City Council
JAMES GREGORY, Professor of History, University of Washington
SARAH CHERIN, Political Director, UFCW 21
HEATHER WEINER, YES! for Sea-Tac Campaign

The mission of the Labor Archives of Washington at the University of Washington is to preserve and make accessible the history of work, workers, and their organizations. Founded in 2010, the Labor Archives is made possible by the contributions of dozens of unions and hundreds of individuals.

This event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available and a reception with drinks and refreshments will follow the program.

Questions? Call (206) 543-7946, or e-mail uwlabor@uw.edu.

Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Time: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
University of Washington
4000 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98195

2015 Conference

Joe Hill Text 2015 PNLHA Conference May 1-3, 2015 : “Celebrate, Honor, Act”

Download Conference Full Color Program

Download Detailed Session Listings with Descriptions and Presenters

PNLHA is part of the WSLC MayWorks 2015 Committee

We are grateful to our sponsors: IAM District 751, SPEEA, Plumbers State Council WSLC, IBEW Local 77, IBEW Local 46, Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, MLKCLC, PCCLC, AFSCME Council 2, OPEIU Local 8, Pacific Coast Publishers, Musicians Union Local 76-493



MayWorks Kick-Off

Friday, May 1
5:30 – 8:30 PM
IBEW Local 77 Hall
19415 International Blvd.
SeaTac, WA 98188

Friday Social – No charge, but please RSVP to pnlhawa@gmail.com

  • PNLHA Registration
  • Social and Labor & Art Displays
  • Refreshments
  • Welcoming Remarks
  • Music

Saturday, May 2
Double Tree Hotel, 18740 International Blvd., SeaTac

Registration for Conference REQUIRED (See below)

Download Mail-In Registration Form Here

Register and Pay for Conference Online (United States Members)

Register and Pay for Conference Online (Canadian Members)

7:30 – 9:00 AM          Registration

8:45 – 9:45 AM           Keynote Plenary                                                       

What Makes You Think the Labor Movement Will Survive? How Must it Change and How is it Changing?  — Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Assistant to NVP Augusta Thomas, AFGE

  • Location: NW Ballroom
  • Bill Fletcher Jr. has been an activist since his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staff person in the national AFL-CIO. He is Director of the Field Services and Education Department of AFGE. He’s also one of the leading activists and writers today on labor and race in the United States. Fletcher is the co-author of the book Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice.

10:00 – 11:00 AM           Workshops                                                      

Solidarity Across Communities — Phoebe Robeson Rounds

  • Room 5/6
  • Healthcare workers are building solidarity across class, job, and nationality, as well as with community allies, to stand up for communities and patients amidst increasingly corporate employers. Hear about three recent and ongoing examples when healthcare workers in SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW have done this in Washington. Discuss the challenges and opportunities of member-leader-driven, transformational solidarity.
  • Phoebe Robeson Rounds has worked as an organizer for the Service Employees International Union in Nevada, Massachusetts, and Washington for the past eight years. For the past five years, she has worked with healthcare workers in SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW in the Puget Sound area. Her role as an internal organizer is to give existing union members the vision, skills, and strategy to join in struggle together and grow their leadership of their union.

Passionate Commitments: The Lives of Anna Rochester and Grace Hutchins — Julia M. Allen

  • Location: Rooms 7/8
  • Passionate Commitments: The Lives of Anna Rochester and Grace Hutchins, (New York, SUNY Press, 2013), documents the lives of life partners and labor journalists Hutchins and Rochester. In addition to helping to establish and maintain the Labor Research Association for almost 40 years, both women published many books, articles, and pamphlets designed to explain fundamental economic systems to the working people most affected by those systems. Rochester is remembered most for her book Rulers of America: Finance Capital in the United States, and Hutchins is known for Women Who Work, a volume that served to keep feminism alive during difficult mid-century times. The presentation offers, among other things, historical models of growth based on inclusivity as well as lessons in the disastrous results of exclusion based on either voluntary or involuntary membership in proscribed groups. This past April, the book received the 2014 Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction, presented by the Publishing Triangle. For more about the book, see my website: http://www.passionatecommitments.com.
  • Julia M. Allen retired from full-time teaching in the English Department at Sonoma State University in California in 2004 and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Her field is rhetorical studies. She spent over eighteen years researching the lives of Anna Rochester and Grace Hutchins before publishing this dual biography. Her other work includes entries in American National Biography on labor writers Meridel LeSueur and Anna Rochester, an article on The People’s College, an early 20th century Socialist college in Fort Smith, Kansas, and an article challenging the validity of the evidence used to convict the leaders of the American Communist Party during the McCarthy era.

Still Dying at Work: A History of Occupational Safety and Health — Jay Herzmark

  • Location: Room 9
  • Works sucks. It is also dangerous. It’s the workers who die but it is the employer who controls the workplace. We will discuss the history of this power relationship and actors that have affected it. Much of the arguing will be about the anemic rise and subsequent evisceration of OSHA.
  • Jay Herzmark RN, MSN, CIH! While attending graduate school at some university in New York City, Jay worked in an emergency room where he claims to have saved Cher’s life. Among the 29 jobs he has held since graduating college was one where he worked for 22 years at a large, increasingly expensive, state university in Seattle where he was a company safety guy. He has been an active member of at least six unions and has ridden his bike over 40 thousand miles just to go to work.

Panel: IWW History Project — James Gregory, Conor Casey, Rebecca Flores, Senteara Orwig

  • Location: Room 10
  • This panel will introduce the IWW History Project, a new online resource based at the University of Washington <depts.washington.edu/iww>. The project explores the history of the IWW in the western United States, especially Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It features the most complete database of IWW activities ever assembled and interactive maps showing the locations of more than 600 strikes, organizing campaigns, arrests, and other incidents for each year from 1905 through 1917 (with more years coming). A growing list of articles on the website profiles key people, issues, and events. The project also serves as the gateway to the remarkable collections oIWW photographs and documents assembled by the Labor Archives of Washington and University of Washington Libraries. Much of the research behind the project has been conducted by students and faculty in the UW Labor Studies program.
    Part of what we will be doing is demonstrating the mapping tools, highlighting other key features of the project, and discussing plans to add new content. Rebecca Flores, chief research assistant, will talk about the challenges of building the databases. Labor archivist Conor Casey will preview the rare photographs now made available through UW libraries. James Gregory is planning a short talk on the “Art and Politics of Ralph Chaplin” that will utilize visual materials from the project. Graduate student Senteara Orwig will tell the fascinating story of IWW “songbird” Katie Phar, a 10 year old Spokane girl and her correspondence with Wobbly martyr and songwriter, Joe Hill.
  • James Gregory, Conor Casey, Rebecca Flores, Senteara Orwig
    James N. Gregory is a Professor of History at the University of Washington where he previously held the Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies. He currently serves as Vice President of the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA). The author of several books and many articles on labor, migration, civil rights, his most recent book is The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America which won the 2006 Philip Taft Labor History Book Prize. He is the director of the Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights Projects, a consortium of online resources which now includes the IWW History Project.
  • Conor Casey is the founding labor archivist of the Labor Archives of Washington at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. Previously, he has worked at the Labor Archives & Research Center at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Casey holds an MA in US history with a concentration in labor and public history from SFSU, a MLIS from San Jose State University with a concentration in archives and academic reference, and is a Certified Archivist. Conor is co-chair of the SAA Labor Archives Roundtable, a board member of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association and the Northwest Archivists, and the president of the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild.
  • Rebecca Flores is lead research assistant for the IWW History Project. She is completing her BA degree at the University of Washington, majoring in History with a minor in Labor Studies. She has also worked as a student assistant in the Labor Archives of Washington where she was responsible for inventorying, rehousing, and digitizing selected collections.
  • Senteara Orwig is a 2nd year Master of Library and Information Science student at the University of Washington iSchool. She also attended the University of Washington for her Bachelors in History & Anthropology with a minor in Diversity. During her undergrad she worked with the Labor Archives of Washington on the IWW Photograph Collection to process and research the content. In addition, she created a online guide for the Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington Libraries website that serves as a hybrid of an online exhibit and research tool for the IWW Photograph Collection. She has gone on to do an internship at the Microsoft Archives and currently working on her capstone with Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery Archives.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM     Workshops                                                      

Who gets the bird? Rise and Fall of the WA CIO Radical Leadership, 1937 – 1940 — Tom McCarthy  [30 minutes]

  • Location: Room 5/6
  • In the shifting sands of the Great Depression, new articulations of labor arose against the old and confirmed business unionists parleyed and contended with radicals. Who would win out?
    In the mid-1930s, John L. Lewis—Labor’s boldest prince—led a revolt of industrial unionists against the outmoded craft American Federation of Labor (AFL). After a series of epic victories in the East and Midwest, what in 1938 became the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) established itself as a competing labor federation. In the West, however, it had only a sparse presence. An alliance with labor radical Harry Bridges and his insurgent longshore union offered the CIO a foothold on the West Coast, including in Washington State. Also in 1938, the CIO-affiliated Washington State Industrial Union Council formed with the blessings of an uneasy alliance that put radicals into leadership.
    From 1938 to 1940, radicals led the CIO in Washington State, but were hit with crosscurrents from business opposition, AFL competition, jockeying with business unionist rivals within the CIO regionally and nationals, and finally, the vagaries of the Communist international ideological line. A new leader from a maritime union, Eugene Dennett rose to be a key leader, the Executive Secretary of the Washington State Industrial Union Council (WSIUC). Dennett’s counter-weight as President of the council, was not only from Lewis’ own mineworker’s union, but also became the Regional Director of the CIO. At first, Francis kept his distance from the radical IUC, but with time, the business unionist national CIO perspective become increasingly hostile to the radical leadership, and began taking deliberate steps to shuck the communists of power. This presentation seeks to untangle the complex motivations and maneuvers that led to the downfall of the radical leadership of the CIO in Washington by 1940.
  • Thomas McCarthy was born on Ft. Lewis in Washington State, earned an M.A. in Liberal Arts at St. John’s College, and is an instructor at Pierce College near Tacoma. Tom visited the 1999 WTO protest in Seattle, and has been involved in community and union organizing ever since. From 2007-09, he organized a newly eligible class of workers in higher education, successfully pioneering the first three locals formed under that enabling legislation. Currently he is an active member in the American Federation of Teachers. His scholarship covers social movements in the United States, with particular focus on the Labor Movement of the 1930s and the social origins of the GI Bill. His latest research breaks ground on the early CIO in Washington State addressed by this presentation.

Carlos Bulosan in Seattle, 1930 – 1956 — Andrew Hedden [30 minutes]

  • Location: Room 5/6
  • This presentation will look at the life and times of Filipino labor activist and writer Carlos Bulosan in Seattle. The city that witnessed his arrival in the United States in 1930, Seattle underwent massive changes before he returned again twenty years later to live in the city under the creeping shadow of the Cold War. There Bulosan enjoyed a network of left-wing comrades who, in addition to helping weather his radical politics through the dark days of McCarthyism, housed and fed him, provided him employment, kept him company during a sustained stay in a tuberculosis sanatorium, and, when he passed in 1956, not only arranged his burial, but collected and preserved his manuscripts for posterity. Moreover, Seattle’s Skid Road – many denizens of which were interred with Bulosan in the sanatorium – purportedly furnished the subject of his last novel, said to be completed before his death but missing ever since.
  • Andrew Hedden is the program coordinator of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and a graduate student in History at the University of Washington.

Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) – A Personal History — Brian Charlton [30 Minutes]

  • Location: Room 7/8
  • Using my experiences as a member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers from 1972 to the present, I will take particular events in our history to illustrate how CUPW developed strategy and tactics to improve the working conditions of postal workers, and to promote social unionism in an often hostile political climate. I will also examine the challenges of maintaining internal solidarity in times of political strife. A couple of the periods I will use will be the strike of 1978 when postal workers defied back to work legislation and the merger of postal clerks and letter carriers in 1989. I will use photos, video clips and handouts to supplement my presentation.
  • Brian Charlton is a lifetime member of CUPW, who started working as a postal clerk in the Vancouver Post Office in Feb, 1972. Among various positions I held in the Vancouver Local was President from 1989- 1996. From 1996 to 2002 I was the Education and Organization officer in the Pacific Region. I retired in 2007 but have remained politically active in my community of Courtenay including help organize the 2014 PNLHA conference in 2014.

‘Unionists will never get a square deal from magistrates’: injunctions, arrests, and jail time for BC Longshoremen in the 1960s — Liam O’Flaherty [30 Minutes]

  • Location: Room 7/8
  • In 1966, the Canadian area of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in British Columbia agitated for the right to take Victoria Day as a statutory holiday. The Shipping Federation of BC got an injunction from the courts preventing any action by longshoremen to take the day off. By breaking the injunction, the union was standing up not only to the employer but also to the courts. In lieu of paying a fine, local presidents opted instead to go to jail. Drawing primarily though not exclusively from the case study of Local 502 in New Westminster, this research situates relatively radical tactics in a historical context wherein union members themselves saw their struggle as one not only against capital but the state as well. As part of an ongoing academic-community partnership titled “Reclaiming the New Westminster Waterfront,” this paper uses oral histories and analysis of Local 502’s newsletter, The Gangplank, to better understand how longshoremen made sense of the strategies they were employing and, further, to inquire about whether theirs was a historical model for today’s labour movement.
  • Liam O’Flaherty is a 2nd year Master’s students in the History Department at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. He is currently co-authoring a public history book as part of the SSHRC-funded community/academic project titled “Reclaiming the New Westminster Waterfront” about the history of Local 502 of the ILWU in New Westminster. His thesis research is under the supervision of Willeen Keough and Mark Leier, and he is pursuing research on other projects both in and outside the field of labour history.

Love and Solidarity in the Struggle for Labor Rights: Learning from Nonviolent Revolutionary James Lawson — Mike Honey

  • Location: Room 9
  • A film produced by Michael Honey, University of Washington Tacoma.
    A half-hour film produced by Michael Honey on the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action, from Montgomery, Alabama, to Memphis Tennessee, to Los Angeles, California, features the life and thought of African American civil rights and labor activist James Lawson, who served as nonviolent theorist, teacher and organizer for Martin Luther King, Jr., the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and others in the civil rights movement. He was the ministerial leader of the Memphis sanitation strike in 1968. For the last thirty years as a Methodist minister in Los Angeles he has spread nonviolent direct action in organizing low wage immigrants and workers of color in tandem with Maria Elena Durazo, President of the LA County Federation of Labor, who worked with Lawson in developing nonviolent direct action to organize unions in hotels, restaurants, and other service economy jobs in Los Angeles. Lawson has also teamed up recently with Kent Wong, UCLA Labor Center Director, and Dream Act students educating people on the power of nonviolence in fighting for immigration and labor rights. Funded by the Fetzer Institute, a non-profit family foundation aimed at popularizing values of love and forgiveness to change individuals and society, this film is intended as a discussion piece for unions, community organizations, and universities on understanding the power of nonviolent direct action. It will be accompanied by a website with in-depth interviews, written documents, and film clips and a study guide. The purpose of showing the film is to introduce all of this material to southern labor studies faculty and students for use in classrooms and communities, particularly where organizing low wage and immigrant workers is on the agenda. I propose to show this film, followed by discussion led by a commentator and myself available for question and answer.
  • Michael Honey is Haley Professor of Humanities at University of Washington Tacoma. He has published five books of labor and civil rights history: Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights: Organizing Memphis Workers (U. of Illinois, 1993); Black Workers Remember: Segregation, Unionism, and the Freedom Struggle (U. of California Press, 1999); Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign (WW Norton, 2007); editor, M.L. King, All Labor Has Dignity (Beacon, 2011); Sharecroppers’ Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and the African-American Song Tradition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Honey has published dozens of articles in books and journals on southern labor history, most recently “Sharecroppers’ Troubadour”: Can We Use Songs and Oral Poetry as Oral History? in the Journal of Oral History (Fall 2014).
  •  The Role of Labor Union Contracts in Promoting Public Health — Jenn Hagedorn, Nicole Vallestero Keenan, Amy Hagopian
  • Location: Room 10
  • Historically, labor unions have used officially-negotiated contracts with employers as their primary tool to improve the working conditions of their members. Union contracts are associated with higher wages, more useful benefits, paid time off for sick leave and vacations, a limitation on working hours (especially number of hours in a row one must work, and breaks between shift changes), protections from workplace hazards and other factors associated with general well-being. After assessing the known research on the relationship between working conditions and health, we created an abstraction tool to identify the elements of a number of labor union contracts in the Pacific Northwest that promote conditions connected to determinants of health. The tool shows where contracts have provided the most effective health protections, and how the contracts might be improved. We also conducted interviews to provide an accompanying narrative of how union contracts are used by union organizers and members to promote health. The purpose of the research is to illustrate to public health jurisdictions at the state and local level how labor unions might be allies in promoting public health. As labor union membership density has declined, unions have looked to non-contractual ways to mobilize social movements to improve working conditions, such as Seattle’s $15 minimum wage campaign. It is unclear how unions can sustain these political organizing efforts without a base of dues-paying members who value the benefits of their contracts. Mutual aid is a historical strategy that extended the power of union organizing beyond direct membership and can be used again to help re-build the strength of unions today.
  • Jenn Hagedorn is a second year student in the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice Program at the University of Washington. Jenn was an intern at the Church Council of Greater Seattle from 2012-2013, where she was first introduced to union organizing. Over the last several years, Jenn has organized within the faith community to support workers by engaging with several unions, including UFCW Local 21 and Unite HERE Local 8. This paper is a part of Jenn’s capstone work that she is doing in coordination with Puget Sound Sage and the University of Washington. Jenn will graduate with her Masters in Public Health in June 2015 and hopes to continue working with labor unions.

12:30 – 2:00 PM       Lunch & Keynote Plenary                                                      

  • Youth and the Future of the Labor Movement — Al Bradbury
  • Location: NW Ballroom
  • Al Bradbury is the co-editor of Labor Notes. Al Bradbury joined the staff of Labor Notes in October 2012. She worked with hospital workers as a researcher and organizer for Service Employees Local 49 in Oregon and now covers health care, postal, Teamsters, auto, higher ed, and LGBTQ workers. Al works out of the Labor Notes East Coast office in Brooklyn.

2:15 – 3:15 PM      Workshops                                                      

  • “Wobbly” Ralph Chaplin and “Candymaker” Fred Haley, Friends Forever — Ron Magden
  • Location: Room 5/6
  • When Ralph came to Tacoma in 1940 he met Fred Haley at a Longshore Union meeting. Though of very different backgrounds, their philosophies of life were very much alike. Ralph was no longer the flaming radical, but styled himself as a militant. Fred described himself as the little boy with a gold spoon in his mouth who had grown up to help people to achieve their dreams. Fred volunteered for the USN and served in the South Pacific. His ship was badly damaged by a kamikaze but Fred survived. Ralph sent him a V Mail record congratulating Fred on his survival. (The record has been transferred to audio tape and will be played at the presentation).
  • Ron Magden Ph. D. is author of eight books and numerous articles. Currently writing A History of the Seattle Waterfront.
  • Panel: Crisis of the Working Class and American Democracy: A Conversation on the Challenges of Our Time — Mike Honey, Jack O’Dell, George Lovell, Megan Ming Francis, Moon Ho Jung
  • Room: Room 7/8
  • May Day memories of the eight hour day movement in the nineteenth century, demands for unionization, decent jobs and decent wages are matched by the struggles by working people to create a more democratic order. Functional democracy includes the fight for public education; for an open political system; for voting rights; for racial and gender equality; for a more democratic media available to all; for immigrant labor rights; and for a democratic discourse that holds all people as equally entitled to access to a good life. American capitalism has made it difficult to impossible to have a full democracy: slavery, segregation, the oppression of women, people of color, and the poor have been hallmarks of our history. In the current era, it seems we are heading for another wave of regression and repression marked by oligarchy at home and dollar diplomacy and military adventure abroad. At this hour, we need a conversation. Jack O’Dell has carried forth this conversation in various frameworks over the years, sometimes organizing discussions around his Freedom Charter for the U.S. The proposal for this session is to create a panel discussion around some key questions and to open up that discussion to the audience as well. What possibilities do we have under the current circumstances to halt the regression or turn it around? If we can’t halt it, what can we do to struggle and survive in an era of reduced opportunities for poor and working people? Under these circumstances, what becomes of American democracy? Does it simply become a joke, another casualty of capitalism’s voracious appetite for profits and the domination of the many by the few? What positive steps can we take in the Pacific Northwest to fight for both social and political democracy?
  • Michael Honey, moderator, University of Washington Tacoma
  • Jack O’Dell, independent scholar and organizer, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • George Lovell, Harry Bridges Chair of Labor Studies, University of Washington\
  • Megan Ming Francis, Assistant Professor UW Political Science
  • Moon-Ho Jung, Walker Family Endowed History Professor University of Washington, award-winning author and most recently, The Rising Tide of Color: Race, State Violence, and Radical Movements across the Pacific, and The Unruly Pacific: Race and the Politics of Empire and Revolution, 1898-1941
  • Class, Race, Gender in WW II Worker Housing: A Visual Review — LisaMary Wichowski
  • Location: Room 9
  • One of the World War II home front’s biggest challenges was the lack of adequate housing for millions of migrants coming to build munitions and armaments. Community hostility to the new comers, shortages of building materials, lack of consumer goods and hurried construction of new dwellings all played a part in housing stability for workers. In many places the federal government stepped in to ensure sufficient living quarters for workers and their families, so that production goals could be met.
    The Roosevelt administration, as progressive as it may or may not have been, built very different kinds of houses and communities for those working in war industries. From multi-bedroom homes for scientists in Los Alamos and Hanford, to tent camps for Braceros contracted from Mexico, to Quonset huts for Japanese internees, dwellings differed in quality of material, size and amenities. Even within the same community there were vast differences between the living conditions of groups.
    This presentation will use images from some of the 20th century’s most important photographers to illustrate actual living conditions of workers in what is now so often regarded as a time of unity in America.
  • LisaMary Wichowski is a mill rat’s kid navigating her way in academia. She was drawn to the field of labor history initially as a way to honor her own family and those who made “invisible” contributions as they did. She has come to be activist-historian, believing that an understanding of the agency of workers can empower them further to make progressive change. LisaMary is a student at the Goddard Graduate Institute, working on an MA project on communities that grew up around WWII shipyards in Portland, Oregon and Richmond, California.

3:30 – 4:30 PM        Workshops                                                      

  • Harry and Agnes Bridges: A Couple at Odds —  Lionel Youst
  • Location: Room 9
    I am working on an article depicting the life of Harry Bridges’ first wife Agnes Brown. She was from my home town of Coos Bay, Oregon, and initially I was interested merely as a curious item of local history. It is a much larger story. Coos Bay is where Agnes and Harry met in 1922. They were divorced in 1945 and on February 5, 1948 she testified at the infamous Canwell Committee hearings in Seattle saying that Harry was a Communist and held Communist meetings in their kitchen, etc. She later repudiated the testimony but it was used by Harry’s enemies in all of the subsequent trials and hearings against him. I have original material to fill in the story, and would like to make a presentation of my findings thus far and open it for discussion.
  • Lionel Youst was born 1934 at Woodland, Washington, just six months before the crucial 1934 maritime strike that launched Harry Bridges into national notoriety. Worked in logging camps in Oregon, California, Washington, and British Columbia. Member of IWA-CIO Local 7-140, Reedsport, Oregon in 1950-52. Author of several books of local and regional history of the Oregon Coast. Did presentations on IWW at the 2013 PNWLH conference in Portland and on the IWW and IWA at the 2014 PNWLH conference at Cumberland, BC.
  • Asian and Pacific Islanders Worker History in the Puget Sound Region — Tracy Lai
  • Location: Room 5/6
  • In conjunction with this display, Seattle APALA would like to facilitate a conversation about Asian and Pacific Islander workers’ history in the Puget Sound region, historically and today. As part of the facilitation, we would include Seattle chapter members, workers who participated in this oral history project and/or are currently engaged in organizing campaigns or actions. A goal of this display and workshop is to increase the awareness and understanding of API Workers’ experiences in the Pacific Northwest and with this awareness, to support more inclusion and leadership development of API workers in unions and organizing drives.
  • Tracy Lai, Seattle APALA president and historian at Seattle Central College (also co-president of AFT Seattle 1789) Invited participants: Lisa Chen and Jintana Lityouvong, co-coordinators of our API Workers’ Voices Project.
  • Soviet Princeton: A Work in Progress — Jon Bartlett & Rika Ruebsaat
  • Location: Room 7/8
  • Princeton is an old mining town in the interior of BC. In 1932, a strike broke out among coal miners, who had asked Arthur “Slim” Evans for organizational help. The strike was ultimately successful, but the actions of the BC police in its support of the mine owners were remembered for many years. Mounted police with batons charged a picket line with women and children: Evans was abducted by an armed gang: a burning cross was erected on two occasions during the strike: strike organizers were harassed, charged and convicted as vagrants, and served time: homes were repeatedly searched and material removed and not returned: hall owners were threatened with legal action under Section 98, and Evans was charged, convicted and jailed under that section.
    Bartlett and Ruebsaat are engaged in writing a history of this strike, and the workshop will outline the story of the strike, and open up the question of the sources of vernacular history, its provenance and its reliability. They will welcome suggestions from others who have worked on parallel projects.
  • Bartlett and Ruebsaat are well-known BC singers and organizers, and are also cultural historians. They have produced several LPs and CDs of traditional Canadian song, one being of songs and verse found in local Princeton papers from 1900 to 1945. Their book on vernacular culture in the BC interior, Dead Horse on the Tulameen: Settler Verse from BC’s Similkameen Valley is in its second printing. Bartlett and Ruebsaat have presented before at many PNLHA conferences, and gave the keynote address at Miners Memorial Day at Cumberland in 2006.
  • Remembering Salt — Ron Verzuh
  • Location: Room 10
  • How a blacklisted Hollywood movie brought the specter of McCarthyism to a rural British Columbia community.
    Salt of the Earth, the movie banned by American authorities during the Red Scare of the 1950s, challenged anti-union employers in both Canada and the United States. Sponsored by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, which was said to be led by Communists and controlled by Moscow, Salt stabbed at the dark heart of Cold War America.
    Salt filmmakers, some of them members of the Hollywood Ten, were stymied and harassed at every stage of the making of a film that depicted the successful 15-month strike of the mostly Mexican-American male mine workers at the Empire Zinc Company in Bayard, New Mexico. Unique for its time, the filmmakers focused on the women – spouses, children and mothers of the mine workers – who ultimately won the strike.
    By the end of 1954, according to historian James J. Lorence, the film’s creators had managed to get it shown in only 13 theatres across North America. What Lorence didn’t know was that a group of enterprising Canadian trade unionists, leaders of Mine-Mill Local 480, had conspired to show the blacklisted Salt in at least one other venue: a little theatre in a relatively rural community in the West Kootenay region near the smelter city of Trail, B.C.
    Verzuh’s presentation includes the screening of a trailer showing highlights of his forthcoming video documentary about Salt’s struggle to be shown and its little-known presence in the Canadian Pacific Northwest. The presentation will describe the making of the documentary and the reasons why a small band of Canadian trade unionists dared to show Salt 60 years ago.
  • Ron Verzuh is a Canadian writer, historian, photographer and filmmaker. He is also the PNLHA’s Oregon vice-president and a past Oregon trustee. Currently, Verzuh now is completing his PhD in history at Simon Fraser University with a doctoral thesis on a wartime union organizing drive in a Pacific Northwest city. He has written four books and numerous articles for various newspapers and magazines, including Our Times, Canada’s labor magazine, the Globe and Mail, and rabble.ca. His 2014 short documentary film Joe Hill’s Secret Canadian Hideout won an award for best historical documentary at the Oregon Independent Film Festival and was an official selection at the Canadian Labour International Film Festival.

4:45 – 5:45 PM           Workshops                                                      

  • Panel: Creating the BC Teachers’ Federation History Online Museum — Larry Kuehn, Nancy Knickerbocker, Moira Mackenzie
  • Location: Room 9
  • Celebrating, Honouring and Acting: Creating the BC Teachers’ Federation History Online Museum in preparation for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the BC Teachers’ Federation in 2017, the union is developing an online museum.
    *The museum will celebrate the union, its members and its proud history of advocating and organizing for quality universal public education in British Columbia and beyond our borders.
    *The museum will honour the builders of the union–the activists and classroom teachers who provide the support, strategies and strength for action to improve members’ working conditions and students’ learning conditions.
    *The museum will be a place to engage union members—both active and retired—to share their stories and analysis of the union’s contribution to their well-being and the practice of the profession.
    The workshop will have four parts:
    1. A description of the plan for developing the online museum, the elements that will be a part of it and approaches to digitizing the stories of the union.
    2. A demonstration of the initial aspects of the museum that have been developed.
    3. Ideas for how the museum might be used to reflect on the history of the union and give new members a sense of the struggles of previous generations to build the union itself and the strong public education system that exists today.
    4. An invitation for workshop participants to make suggestions for what might be in such a museum and ideas for how to engage members in building the museum.
  • Moira Mackenzie is the Executive Director of the BC Teachers’ Federation. She has taught at the elementary grades and in special education, has served as a local president, and as a member of the BCTF Executive Committee.
  • Nancy Knickerbocker is the BCTF’s Director of the Communications and Campaigns. She has been a journalist and worked as communications director for Education International, the global organization of teacher unions.
  • Larry Kuehn is Director of Research and Technology at the BCTF. He taught in secondary schools, been a local president and served as the president of the BCTF during the historic Operation Solidarity strikes of 1983.
  • Labor and Independent Politics —Tom McCarthy, James Kahn
  • Location: Room 5/6
  • What role do Labor and Independent Politics play in local elections today and in the past? Today corporate money dominates national elections, but at the local level ordinances and initiatives for $15/hour Minimum Wage are sweeping the U.S. Last year, Seattle elected Kshama Savant to the city council, its first openly socialist in over 100 years. Looking to the past and present, how can Labor and Independent Politics at the local level help turn the tide of history back to a progressive and democratic future?
  • Thomas McCarthy was born on Ft. Lewis in Washington State, earned an M.A. in Liberal Arts at St. John’s College, and is an instructor at Pierce College near Tacoma. Tom visited the 1999 WTO protest in Seattle, and has been involved in community and union organizing ever since. From 2007-09, he organized a newly eligible class of workers in higher education, successfully pioneering the first three locals formed under that enabling legislation. Currently he is an active member in the American Federation of Teachers. His scholarship covers social movements in the United States, with particular focus on the Labor Movement of the 1930s and the social origins of the GI Bill. His latest research breaks ground on the early CIO in Washington State addressed by this presentation.
  • James Kahn is a Campaign Organizer for the Kshama Sawant Re-Election Campaign, and he was the Volunteer Coordinator for the Jess Spear Campaign for State House. Both campaigns refused to accept corporate cash and ran independently from both corporate parties, the Republicans and Democrats. James will speak about his experiences working alongside Kshama Sawant, the first Socialist elected to Seattle City Council in a century, who led the movement to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to the highest in the nation.
  • Labor and the Seattle Boeing Bust — Andrew Hedden
  • Location: Room 7/8
  • As the 1960s tipped into the 1970s, the city of Seattle underwent a dramatic recession. Vast layoffs at the Boeing Company, the dominant engine of the city’s economy, spurred unemployment, poverty and a demographic exodus from the city, infamously captured in a billboard sign reading: “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE – Turn out the lights.” While this was a difficult moment for the city, it also signified a moment when the politics and economics of the city were up for grabs. New Left movements took action in the streets, while a new regime in city government sought to modernize the city’s operations. Amidst this crisis, what was labor doing? How did Boeing unions, municipal unions, and workers elsewhere respond to the economic recession? And what consequences, if any, did their actions have on the city’s later shift from a blue-collar (Boeing, shipyards, and timber) to a white-collar (e.g. High tech, service and trade) economic profile?
  • Andrew Hedden is the program coordinator of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and a graduate student in History at the University of Washington.
  • Book Talk & Sing with the Seattle Labor Chorus: Sharecroppers’ Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and the African-American Song Tradition — Mike Honey

6:30 – 7:00 PM             Social                                                      

Location: NW Ballroom

7:00 – 8:30 PM             Awards Banquet                                                      

Location: NW Ballroom

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8:30 PM                        Entertainment                                                      

Location: NW Ballroom

  • The Songs of Joe Hill — Jon Bartlett & Rika Ruebsaat

Sunday, May 3

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9:30 – 11:00 AM           Plenary                                                      

Location: NW Ballroom

  • Seattle Civil Rights: The Legacy of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes — Terri Mast, Richard Gurtiza, John Foz, Emily Van Bronkhorst
  • A movie on labor activists Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo and the struggle to bring those responsible for their deaths to justice. Discussion to follow.
    The presenters Terri Mast, Emily Van Bronkhorst, John Foz and Richard Gurtiza were all Alaska seafood cannery workers who worked many years in the industry. They along with all other Alaska seafood workers have since been classified and identified by the term “Alaskeros”. Alaskeros come from many different backgrounds and circumstances and their experiences have been chronicled in many forms and mediums. They worked the long and arduous hours on the processing floor in difficult and unsafe working conditions for minimal wages and benefits. Their story is a reflection of the film and the impact it had on the workers that followed in their footsteps. They all were a part of the reform movement in their union ILWU Local 37 to regain union democracy.
  • Terri Mast is currently the National Secretary/Treasurer of the Inlandboatmen’s Union.
  • Emily Van Bronkhorst is currently the Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199NW,
  • John Foz is currently working for the Inlandboatmen’s Union as an Administrative Assistant.
  • Richard Gurtiza is currently the Inlandboatmen’s Union Regional Director for Region 37 representing the Alaska Seafood workers

11:15 AM –Noon               Finale                                                      

Location: NW Ballroom

  • Poetry by Angelica Guillen
  • Seattle Labor Chorus

12:30 PM                           PNLHA General Membership Meeting & Elections

Location: NW Ballroom

Double Tree by Hilton
18740 International Blvd
Seattle, WA 98188

Room Rate: $119 plus taxes before April 24 – go to link below http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/C/CTAC-DT-PLH-20150501/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG


Registration Fees

  • Registration fees include all conference workshops and plenaries, materials and refreshment breaks. They do not include accommodations, meals or transportation
  • All conference attendees are expected to pay registration fees.

Conference Fees:

Early Registration by April 15:

(Purchase via mail-in or online forms)

After April 15:

(Purchase via mail-in or online forms)

Friday Social

(No fee, but please RSVP via mail-in or online forms)

Saturday Lunch

(Purchase via mail-in or online forms)

  • Sat. May 2nd Lunch $20 US / $25 Can
  • Sat. May 2nd Awards Banquet $40

Saturday Awards Banquet

(Purchase via mail-in or online forms)

  • Sat. May 2nd Awards Banquet $40 / $50 Can

How to Register:

  • Print and complete: MAIL IN FORM
  • Make checks payable to PNLHA
  • Mail to:
    PNLHA, 27920 – 68th Ave. E.,
    Graham, WA 98338, USA


  • If you are paying the early registration fee please mail your check before the April 15th deadline.

Cancellation Policy:

We regret that refunds are not possible, however substitute registrants are welcome.

Tom Lux
WA PNLHA Vice-President
17502 47th Ave. NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
phone: 206-551-1371