Japanese Trade Unionists Visit New Haven, Join May Day Rally and Take a New Haven Labor History Tour
By Peter Knowlton
President, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Northeast Region
A delegation of union members from Zenroren, a progressive independent labor federation from Japan, visited New Haven April 29th to May 1st at the invitation of the UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Northeast Region). Over 30 Zenroren members were hosted by Mayor Toni Harp at 10:30 am Thursday, April 30th. They traveled to Gateway Community College later that day for presentations, touring the Sargent Lock Company (now Assa Abloy), and participating in other activities. They joined Connecticut trade union and community activists on May 1st for an annual May Day rally and march celebrating International Workers’ Day.
On the morning of Friday, May 1st, the delegation enjoyed a labor history tour organized by the Greater New Haven Labor History Association with Joe Taylor, Aaron Goode and the UE. They visited numerous sites including the Seamless Rubber Company, the railroad yards, the Amistad memorial, the Oyster beds near River Street in Fair Haven, the site of the old Olin-Winchester plant on Division Street, as well other venues in New Haven, including the Troup Magnet School lobby, where there is a New Haven labor history mural. There was a reception after the tour at 1:30 p.m. at the Council Teachers Building, 267 Chapel Street, for the Zenroren members. There the delegates viewed the Labor History Association’s new traveling exhibit, “Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story” and heard a brief presentation about it by the LHA Archivist/ Director and exhibit curator, Joan Cavanagh.The Zenroren trade unionists participated in an NGO conference and march, April 24-26, in New York City to coincide with the UN’s 5-year Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They discussed their efforts to abolish nuclear weapons and to retain Article 9 in Japan’s Constitution. Article 9 prevents Japan from ever again becoming a militarized state. It is under attack by the current Japanese government.
Above: Members of Zenroren take notes on a presentation by Joan Cavanagh, LHA Archivist & Director, about the exhibit "Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story." They are seated at tables in the conference room of the Council/ Teachers Building in New Haven where the exhibit is on display. The translator is Eri Togami, a Yale student. Photo: Aaron Goode.