UW Today

This is an archived article.

March 1, 1999

Labor activists, academics come together for lectures and symposia on strikes

News and Information

More than 35 scholars and labor activists will convene at the University of Washington for “Strikes!,” a series of lectures and symposia from March 4 to 6 organized by the UW Center for Labor Studies (CLS).

The conference coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Seattle General Strike and the 65th anniversary of the West Coast maritime strikes. The conference will examine the historical importance of the 1919 and 1934 general strikes, and will also consider how worker militancy and labor actions have changed in subsequent years, why such large-scale strikes no longer happen in the United States but do happen elsewhere, and how all this provides a context for understanding the contemporary and future labor movement.

“Strikes!” is timed to coincide with the Henry Art Gallery’s showing of “Fish Story,” Allan Sekula’s photo exhibit documenting the transformation of work and the culture of waterfront workers in port cities around the world, and companion events at the UW Tacoma. Collaborating with the Henry and representatives of several prominent local unions, especially the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the CLS took the lead in bringing all of these events to fruition.
“The Center for Labor Studies hopes to lead the way in reinvigorating what was once a very creative relationship among intellectuals, artists, and union folks,” says Professor Margaret Levi, Harry Bridges Chair and director of the CLS. “We believe this is an important means for making a very wide public sensitive to labor history and contemporary labor concerns.”

“Strikes!” consists of two lectures, three panel discussions, and eight smaller workshops, with speakers from a wide range of constituencies and content that underscores the links between the past, present, and future. One highlight of the conference is a Saturday afternoon talk by Sam Kagel, now 91 years old who sat with the longshoremen on the 1934 strike committee in San Francisco and spent many subsequent years as an bitrator for the ILWU. He will spend an hour telling the dramatic story of 1934. In another high point, Jeremy Brecher, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and author of “Strike!,” will give a Friday evening lecture, “World Crisis and Worker Response: 1919 and 1999.”

The panel discussions on Thursday evening and on Saturday bring together academics and labor activists to cover three important subjects: “The Workers of the Waterfront: Historical and International Perspective,” “Equality Strikes: Labor Struggles with Inclusion from 1919 to Post-Affirmative Action,” and What is Happening to the Strike? Labor Action in the Global Economy.”
Partners involved in developing the “Strikes!” program include: UW Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest; Pacific Northwest Labor History Association; UW Canadian Studies; UW International Political Economy Colloquium; UW Center for West European Studies; UW Law School; UW Libraries; Henry Art Gallery; Kenneth S. Allen Library Endowment; Ernie Tanner Center; King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO; ILWU International and Locals 19, 52, and 98; Inland Boatmen’s Union; Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech); “Politics & Society”; and Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice (SAWSJ).

For additional information about the conference, call Ken Lang or Jessica Roach, Center for Labor Studies, 543-7946.

STRIKES!


March 4-6, 1999
University of Washington, Seattle
Organized by the UW Center for Labor Studies

STRIKES! Symposium, Thursday, March 4, 5:30-7:30 pm, Henry Art Gallery Auditorium
“THE WORKERS OF THE WATERFRONT: A HISTORICAL AND INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE”
Panel Discussion with Peter Turnbull, Stuart Macintyre, Larry Hansen, David Olson.
Lila Smith, moderator

STRIKES! Lecture, Friday, March 5, 7:30 pm, Allen Library
“WORLD CRISIS AND WORKER RESPONSE: 1919 AND 1999″
Lecture by Jeremy Brecher, with book signing and reception to follow

STRIKES! Past and Future, SATURDAY, March 6, 9-6 pm
9:00-9:15 Welcoming Remarks: Margaret Levi, Brian McWilliams, Ron Judd
9:15-10:45 “EQUALITY STRIKES: LABOR STRUGGLES WITH INCLUSION FROM 1919 TO POST-AFFIRMATIVE ACTION” [Savery Hall 239]
Frances Fox Piven, Dana Frank, Dorothy Fujita Rony, Tyree Scott.

James Gregory, moderator.
11-12:30 Workshops (see below)
12:30-1:00 Break
1:00-2:00 Sam Kagel, “1934!” [Walker Ames Room, Kane Hall]
2:15-3:45 Workshops (see below)
4:00-5:30 “WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE STRIKE? LABOR ACTION IN THE
GLOBAL ECONOMY” [Savery Hall 239]
William B. Gould IV, Diane Sosne, Peter Turnbull, David Montgomery.

Margaret Levi, moderator.
6:00-7:30 STRIKES! Reception [Walker Ames Room, Kane Hall]

WORKSHOPS
11:00 — 12:30
1. “Using the History of the Strikes to Understand the Present”
Dana Frank, Jeremy Brecher, Eugene Vrana [Savery 211]
2. “Law and the Right to Strike”
Michael McCann, William B. Gould IV [Savery 241]
3. “Unions on Campus: Organizing Higher Education”
James Gregory, Kim Cook, Heather Easterling, Ken Lang, Jessica Roach. [Savery 243]
4. “Pacific Northwest Initiatives in Conflict Resolution”
Kathleen Oglesby, Jon Brock, Rhonda Hilyer Michael Walsh [Savery 245]

2:15 — 3:45
5. “Cultural Workers and Academics in Support of Labor Actions,”
A workshop put together by SAWSJ (Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice): Dorothy
Fennell, Nikhil Singh, and Adam Green [Savery 245]
6. “Union Leadership”
Margaret Levi, Larry Hansen, Ron Judd [Savery 243]
7. “Contemporary Organizing in the Puget Sound Area”
Mike Blain, Judith Geil, Jonathan Rosenblum [Savery 241]
8. “Why and When Strikes Work Elsewhere”
Cy Gonick (Canada), Stuart Macintyre (Australia), Meshack Mbangula (National Union of
Mineworkers, South Africa) [Savery 211]

PARTICIPANTS
Mike Blain, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers
Jeremy Brecher, free-lance writer and Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker
Jon Brock, Graduate School of Public Affairs, UW
Kim Cook, Regional Director, CSA/District 925, SEIU
Heather Easterling, English and Graduate Student Employee Action Coalition, UW
Dorothy Fennell, ILR, Cornell University, NYC; coordinating committee SAWSJ
Dana Frank, American Studies, UC Santa Cruz,
Dorothy Fujita Rony, Asian-American Studies, UC Irvine
Judith Geil, Childcare Union Project
Cy Gonick, Labor Relations, University of Manitoba
William B. Gould, IV, Stanford Law School, former chair of the NLRB
Adam Green, History, Northwestern; coordinating committee SAWSJ
James Gregory, History, UW Seattle
Larry Hansen, President, ILWU Local 19
Rhonda Hilyer, Agreement Dynamics
Ron Judd, Executive Secretary, King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Sam Kagel, Coast arbitrator, member of the strike committee in 1934 in San Francisco
Ken Lang, History and Graduate Student Employee Action Coalition, UW
Margaret Levi, Political Science, University of Washington.
Stuart Macintyre, History, Melbourne University
Meshack Mbangula, National Union of Mineworkers, South Africa
Michael McCann, Political Science, UW Seattle
Brian McWilliams, President, ILWU
David Montgomery, History, Yale University
Kathleen Oglesby, Special Assistant for Labor for King County
David Olson, Political Science, UW
Frances Fox Piven, Political Science, CUNY Graduate School
Jessica Roach, Student Labor Action Coalition, UW
Jonathan Rosenblum, Seattle Union Now, AFL-CIO
Tyree Scott, electrician/shop steward, IBEW Local 46, and LELO Board Chair
Nikhil Singh, American Studies, NYU
Lila Smith, ITF Inspector
Diane Sosne, President SEIU 1199 NW
Peter Turnbull, Human Resource Management and Labour Relations, Cardiff University
Eugene Vrana, Librarian, ILWU
Michael Walsh, ADR Director, King County