Registration Now Open for the May 26 – 28, 2017 Conference

Echoes of the 1917 Russian Revolution: Decades of Radicalism and Red Scares in the Labour Movements of the Pacific Northwest
May 26 – 28

Early Bird Registration Now Open

Presented in collaboration with the BC Labour Heritage Centre

The PNLHA and BC LHC welcome trade unionists, students, academics and others interested in labour history and worker’s heritage to this conference.

pnlhalogored

Location:
The Nest – 6133 University Blvd Vancouver, BC Canada (University of British Columbia campus)

Program:
2017 Conference Program (PDF color)
2017 Conference Program (PDF b/w)

Registration Details:
Register online with PayPal or
download instructions for registration by mail with check.

Hotel Accommodations:
Registrants are responsible for booking your own accommodation. A limited block of rooms has been secured at the Ponderosa Suites – 2017 W. Mall. This is a new student residence 5 minutes walk from the conference site. (Shuttle for those requiring).

There are 2 options, both offer daily housekeeping:

A) Ponderosa Studio Suite: double bed, full kitchen, private bath @ $120.00 per room/night + 13% taxes; or

B) Ponderosa Premium Single: a single bed within a 4-bedroom unit with 2 full bathrooms, kitchen, dining and sitting area @ $56.00 per person/night + 13% taxes

Make reservations by APRIL 25th directly with UBC Accommodations. Indicate you are with the “PNLHA Labour History Conference” for the reduced rate.

Tel (604) 822-1000 | Toll Free 1-888-822-1030 | Fax (604) 822-1001
Email: reservations@housing.ubc.ca

Subject to availability, these rates are extended 3 days before and 3 days after the conference for those wishing an extended stay in Vancouver. Cancellation charges will apply.

Note: Parking is an additional $16/day or $35/wk.  Transit express bus to downtown 20 minutes.

Questions? Email pnlha@shaw.ca or call Joey Hartman at 778-870-0703

2016 PNLHA conference report

Solidarity Forever finale 2 - Friday receptionAnnual conference well received

 The 48th annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, held May 20-22, 2016, in Portland, was well received based on word-of-mouth comments and evaluations completed by 30 of about 125 participants, including 114 paid registrants.

***

What did participants like best? One respondent summarized the feeling of many by praising “the interaction, friendliness and openness” of the conference. Another appreciated “the atmosphere of sharing, learning and solidarity.” Still another commented on how the content “related to contemporary issues.” Another liked the “great mix of scholars and activists [engaged] in lively and fruitful dialogue.”

***

What did they like least? More than one respondent complained that there were too many good presentations to choose from. Some complained that there was not enough diversity: “Overall, it’s still a very white-person focused perspective, I can see that there’s an effort being make to change that, but [there’s] a long way to go.” Others said the conference needed more youth involvement. One suggested that the PNLHA sponsor a scholarship for high school and university students to attend the conference. Another proposed an essay or speech writing contest with the winner coming to the conference.

 Workshops, plenaries rated high

Twenty-six respondents gave the presentations an overall rating of “excellent” or “very good.” One respondent said they were “top notch” and another said they were “worth the price of admission.” Some were disappointed that they could not attend all the presentations.

***

Sharing top honors for the favorite presentation were British Columbia filmmaker Neil Vokey’s U.S. premiere of Goodwin’s Way, University of Colorado (Denver) instructor James Walsh’s presentation on the Romero Theater Troupe, and University of Wisconsin scholar Andrew Wolf’s “The Living Wage and the Articulation of Working-Class Citizenship, 1920-1970.” The climate change roundtable discussion, the literature of labor, “Labor history: old style and digital style,” also won praise as did Gwen Trice’s presentation on African-American loggers, Steve McQuiddy on conscientious objectors in Waldport, Oregon, during the Second World War, Pacific University’s Larry Lipin on class and wilderness management, and PNLHA trustee Ryan Wisnor ‘s “The Trees Saved Them,” a unique angle on the historic 1934 longshoremen’s strike.

 Program events highlights

 Oregon First Nation’s leader Carolee Morris, a member of the Cowlitz First Nation tribal council, welcomed participants to our Friday night reception. She was followed by Portland band General Strike that brought the evening to a close with a rousing round of Solidarity Forever.

***

Both the Saturday and Sunday plenaries were well attended and received favorable comments. Saturday’s keynote session garnered the most votes for “favorite presentation.” Sunday’s plenary won praise both for Washington State Labor Council president Jeff Johnson’s incisive comments on the need for labor to work for positive answers to climate change problems, and for the use of Skype to allow labor/environmental author Jeremy Brecher to respond.

***

About 100 participants attended the banquet and awards ceremony. Participants applauded the food and the unionized staff that provided it. They also enjoyed Bellingham, WA, musician Dana Lyons who set a positive and participatory tone for the evening with his first set, featuring his trademark Cows with Guns song.

***

The awards ceremony was interrupted when Dick Edgington, a co-recipient of the Ross Rieder Person of the Year Award, lost his balance and fell while mounting the stage to accept the award from PNLHA Oregon trustee Jim

Strassmaier. Conference participant Dr. Larry Morgenstern attended to Edgington along with nurse Maurge Dulaney as well as presenter Joanne Ursino. An ambulance team also examined Edgington and reported only minor injuries. The unfortunate incident disrupted the evening but a second musical set by Dana Lyons provided some tension relief for the remaining conference attendees.

***

Edgington’s co-recipient Senator Dianne Rosenbaum was to receive her award on June 3. A future date will be set to present the History Maker of the Year Award to the Rural Organizing Project.

 Cultural program applauded

Three musical groups – Portland’s General Strike, Eugene’s Monday Morning Denial, and Bellingham, WA’s Dana Lyons were all applauded. As one evaluation noted, “The incredible music programming conveyed not only entertainment, but also the integral part it has played in the history of the labor movement.” Oregon trustee Nathan Moore, working with sound technician Dennis Soper, also playing harmonica with Monday Morning Denial, ensured that the music was technically excellent. Nathan also worked closely with Oregon trustee Ryan Wisnor who acted as liaison with the conference facility staff.

Fundraising results encouraging

There were 28 co-sponsors, three of which came after the conference ended. In-kind contributions included union photocopying of the kit materials by SEIU Local 503 members from the Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at the University of Oregon as well as the free printing of the colorful conference brochure that appeared in all conference kit folders. Thanks to Portland’s union printer, Morel Ink. A poster with the names of conference co-sponsors was displayed throughout the conference and several announcements were made to thank them. The names also appeared at www.pnlha.org.

 Exhibitors’ displays added color

The conference hosted about 10 exhibitors, including several booksellers, a photo display, a solidarity quilt raffle, and a Columbian workers table. Choosing to have the exhibits arranged around the Friday reception room added much color to the proceedings.

 Kudos to conference organizers

The conference strongly benefitted from the volunteer work of the following people: Program coordination – Marcus Widenor; Venue/catering – Lane Poncy; A/V-Internet-Skype ­– Ryan Wisnor; Awards – Jim Strassmaier; Registration – Bruce Nelson and Carolyn Matthews; Exhibitor displays – LisaMary Wichowski; Photography and design – Leola Jewett-Verzuh; Music coordination – Nathan Moore; Overall coordination, fundraising, publicity, and conference kit development – Ron Verzuh.

 A final word of thanks

Judging from the written evaluations and verbal comments during the conference, the event was a programming success. Several participants were inspired by the proceedings and have pledged to attend future PNLHA conferences. The accident during the awards ceremony represented a flaw in the management of the event. As noted on several evaluation forms, needs of the elderly must be fully addressed in future. The conference was an overall financial success and all conference volunteers deserve a vote of thanks as do all our co-sponsors.

Note: More conference photos will be posted to a gallery section of our site.

2017 PNLHA Conference – Call for Papers

Echoes of the 1917 Russian Revolution; Decades of Radicalism and Red Scares in the Labour Movements of the Pacific NorthwestCFP

May 26 – 28, 2017
Labour History Conference
Vancouver, British Columbia

Sponsors: Pacific Northwest Labour History Association & BC Labour Heritage Centre

The Russian Revolution was one of the most significant events of its decade. As described in Oregonian John Reed’s book, there were events leading to and flowing from those “Ten Days That Shook the World” in October 1917.

In Canada and the US, many 20170453269_95b7cbaa22_oworkers saw an opportunity for class war, believing that socialism could overcome capitalism as the dominant political reality. In the Pacific Northwest, new forms of industrial organizing were bolstered by aspirations of a new world order, and the labour movement briefly swelled with enthusiastic members who were eager to be part of the change.

Communists and socialists developed as key leaders in the labour movement, and in organizing the unemployed and disenfranchised. General strikes in Vancouver, Seattle, and Winnipeg, the OBU, On-to-Ottawa Trek, and jobless sit-down strikes, and new unions of woodworkers, miners, shipyard workers, and fishers were all communist and socialist-led.

21835627452_062d9964f9_oBut capitalism held firm and enjoyed the resources and political clout of the wealthy. Activists were tagged as Bolsheviks and foreign-born agitators risked deportation for their activism.

The cold-war politics lasted decades, with “red-led” unions subject to purges and disbandment. Many individuals suffered personal consequences, including losing their livelihood.

This conference will explore the impacts and lasting influences of this history on contemporary labour.

Continue reading

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 cawls2016@gmail.com. All panel and section proposals are due by December 1, 2015. All paper proposals are due by January 15, 2016For more information go to www.cawls.ca . For the complete CFP go to http://cawls.ca/en/call-for-papers-cawls-2016-conference/ .

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.

B.C. trustee to chair working-class history session

Seager

Seager

B.C. trustee Allen Seager will chair a session at the “Dissenting Traditions” conference this October in Peterborough, Ontario, and will comment on a session entitled “Canadian Working-Class History: As It Was, As It Is, As It Might Be.”

The conference, set for October 23-24, 2015, at Trent University will address the intellectual and political interests of noted Canadian labor and social historian Bryan D. Palmer. Seager’s session will feature presentations on the “origins and possible future on the new and now-old social history,” on Labour/Le Travail, Canada’s foremost labor and working-class journal, and the future of Canadian working-class history.

Palmer

Palmer

Other sessions include: “Perspectives on E. P. Thompson,” “Approaching the Revolutionary Left,” “Marginality as Historical Subject,” “Uprisings of the Dispossessed and Protests in the Street,” “New Perspectives on Labour Studies,” and “Socialism & Intellectuals.”

Rosemary Hennessy (Rice University) will deliver the conference keynote address: “Remembering Reproduction: Revisiting Radical Women Writers of the 1930s.” Gregory S. Kealey (University of New Brunswick) will offer closing remarks. And labor songster Bucky Halker (Chicago) will perform music to recall the 100th anniversary of the execution of Joe Hill.”

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

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:

Call for papers – PNLHA conference 2015

Anita_willcox_solidarity-forever-posterThe call for papers, presentations and workshops is now out for the 47th annual conference of the PNLHA. The theme is “Celebrate, Honor, Act” and organizers at the Washington PNLHA are looking for presentations that offer “the best historical models for organizing, strategic alliances and coalitions, and to connect these models with contemporary actions to consider how the labor movement can strengthen for the future.” Download the PDF and submit your proposals by January 16, 2015. Organizers invite you to come to Seattle on May 1-3, 2015 to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the writing of Solidarity Forever, Honor the life of Joe Hill on the centennial of his execution, and Act to strengthen and rebuild the labor movement for a secure future.

Call for Papers – PNLHA 2015