There aren’t many movies that qualify as appropriate viewing on Labor Day. One that does is Salt of the Earth, the story of a 1950s strike at a zinc mine in New Mexico that features a clash between the company and the mostly Mexican-American miners. It also features early feminist union supporters in action. You can see it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3VPWmqaOb4. A PNLHA connection: Oregon trustee Ron Verzuh has made a short documentary film called Remembering Salt that is also available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQdV9B8Zj-c.
PORTLAND – On Saturday, July 11, the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (PNLHA) will host a Commemoration of Portland’s “Bloody Wednesday,” the day when police fired upon picketers near Pier Park during the 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike. The event features a guided walk through the park as local historians join union members and the community to discuss what happened that day, the meaning it had for those who were there, and reflect on the strike’s role in Portland’s history.
On the morning of July 11, 1934, a hundred policemen piled aboard a train headed to Terminal No. 4 with the intent of forcefully breaking the picket lines of striking longshoremen. Near the intersection of what is now Columbia Blvd. on the edge of Pier Park, picketers blocked the train’s passage with their bodies and makeshift barricades. Chief of police Burton K. Lawson ordered the officers to open fire upon the unarmed workers using pistols and shotguns. Four men were wounded in this incident, but the picket line held firm and the strikers won their demands a few weeks later.
Also see story in the latest NW Labor Press at nwlaborpress.org.
Pier Park & Bloody Wednesday Podcast Episode
Grads rally before strike began on 2 December 2014
It was dark and pouring down rain on 1 December as about 300 graduate students and supporters rallied on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene to back demands for a living wage and limited paid leave. PNLHA members were there to show their solidarity.
Local 3544 of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) recaps the situation as follows: “The Administration’s attitude toward and effort put forth in bargaining have been deplorable. The Administration has paid well over $100,000 on outside legal counsel to run bargaining with the GTFF. For months, they pushed for language to cripple our health insurance, disempower the GTFF’s Health and Welfare Trust, and ramp up student fees on graduate employees. The amount of money their plans would have saved them would have more than covered their paltry original wage offers. To say that the Administration has made great progress by eventually agree to maintain current CBA language—for benefits earned in previous bargaining cycles—is a gross misinterpretation of the history of bargaining over the past year.”
PNLHA members can get updates on the strike that began on 2 December at http://gtff3544.net/ .