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LHA Members Featured In Labor Day Video

LHA Vice President Dorothy Johnson and Communications Director Anson Smith are featured in a Labor Day video produced by the Western Connecticut Area Labor Federation. Dorothy talks about experiences as a local labor leader while Anson talks about the birth of anti-labor, mass-media propaganda in a 1936 strike in Middletown, CT. The strategies and tactics developed there were used in the battle for the Taft-Hartley Act 11 years later, and many are still in use.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7OkjJ07G0o

Labor History Association Expands Reach, Focus

To Cover Labor History, Issues Statewide,

Focus on Academics, Activism

NEW HAVEN -- The state's only labor history association is expanding its reach to cover labor history and developments throughout the state and is broadening its focus to include activism as well as academics.

The 32-year-old Greater New Haven Labor History Association, was founded to collect and preserve the history of Greater New Haven's working people and their unions, said LHA President Steve Kass. But, with the offshoring of the nation's manufacturing infrastructure and subsequent decline of union membership across the state and the nation, it was time to refocus and expand the goals of the group.

Composed of students, active and retired educators and union officers and members, the refocused LHA identifies the lessons of labor history and applies them to today's labor movement.

"With the decline of unions and union membership, it's becoming more and more apparent that the lessons of labor history are being forgotten," he said. "All across the state and the nation, the same strategies and tactics that were used in the 1930s to break unions, say, in Middletown, CT are being used to break unions today. The same union avoidance tactics, the same anti-union strategies and tactics that were used successfully then are being used successfully today."

"In view of growing income inequality and the high public approval rate of unions, we are taking  our  activities statewide to help ensure that the lessons of labor history aren't forgotten, and that labor's losses of the past are not repeated," he said.

While only 10 percent of the workforce is unionized, he said, some 64 percent of the public looks favorably upon unions, according to a recent Gallup poll. https://news.gallup.com/poll/265916/labor-day-turns-125-union-approval-near-year-high.aspxThese are the people who will benefit the most from LHA help.

The announcement comes in the wake of recent events that have taken the group beyond the Greater New Haven area. In 2015, after a five-year struggle, LHA members secured passage of a bill mandating that the state Department of Education make a curriculum available in labor history and law, including organized labor, the collective bargaining process, and existing legal protections in the workplace.  https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/Publications/CT-Labor-and-Working-Class-History/Business-and-the-Labor-Movement-in-Connecticut-History. Connecticut is the third state to enact such legislation.

In recent years, the group has presented its Augusta Lewis Troop award for meritorious service to the labor movement to labor advocates from across the state. These include former State Sens. Ed Gomes of Bridgeport and Edith Prague of Columbia, current State Sen. Cathy Osten of Sprague, and Atty. Dan Livingston of Hartford, chief negotiator for the State Employees Bargaining Agents Coalition (SEBAC).

LHA’s scope is pan-union, covering the history and news of unions and union organizations in the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Teamsters, and IWW. Through its activities, the LHA serves as another channel for their views. To ensure that their interests are best served, unions and union-related organizations are offered an institutional membership in the LHA that gives them a seat on its Board of Directors.

Board members and general members are encouraged to initiate projects related to the mission of the group, from researching labor unrest in Connecticut’s Northeast Corner to “walking the line” with strikers throughout the state.

LHA maintains a Facebook newsletter " LHA: Educate! Organize" that is the largest aggregator of union news in Connecticut and one of the largest sources of Connecticut labor history information. Its Twitter page “Mobilize” keeps followers abreast of breaking labor news.

Purchase "Our Community at Winchester"

In 1852, Oliver Winchester, co-owner of the Winchester-Davies Shirt Manufactory located since 1848 at 59 Court Street, New Haven, invested in the Volcanic Arms Company with profits accrued from his shirt making enterprise. When Volcanic Arms went bankrupt due to mismanagement, Winchester was able to purchase its machinery, backlog and patents. He hired Benjamin T. Henry, a mechanic from the shirt factory, who designed the first repeating rifle. During the Civil War, Winchester tried aggressively but unsuccessfully to interest the union army in the rifle. 

LHA Treasurer Sees Unions

As Pandemic Recovery Hope

In a  recent New Haven Register op-ed, LHA Treasurer Marc DeGregorio lauded unions central to pandemic recovery. "Unions seem to be the answer to so many problems highlighted this year (that) I feel it's high time in America to see this happen and get citizens  educated to the value of forming and keeping a union," he said. "A wise union president of mine said, 'If you don't have collective bargaining, you have collective begging.' The time has come to end the begging and make better lives". To see full article, click on:  Letter: Organized labor is a pro-life movement (nhregister.com)

Opinion: CT Rich Should Pay Fair Tax Share

Harvested a Steady Bonus through the Income Tax

In this Letter to the Hartford Courant Editor, Greater New Haven Labor History Association Communications Director Anson C. Smith, recalls how Gov. Lowell P. Weicker and the legislature and Weicker Administration gave Nutmeg State high rollers a healthy bonus with the state income tax. It was a Gold Rush for the Gold Coast that continues today. In addressing the state's budgetary woes, Smith says, legislators and Gov. Ned Lamont should remember who has benefitted from the income tax and who has borne the greatest financial burden.


Op-Ed: Unions Can Revive the American Dream

Accomplishments Taken for Granted

Every Day Is Labor Day

LHA Executive Board Member John Dirzius authored the following op-ed that appears on the Connecticut Mirror’s “CT Viewpoints” page.  In the article, John discusses the role labor plays in helping people realize the American Dream.  John, retired Northeast Coordinator for the American Postal Workers Union, enjoyed a labor career that spanned more than four decades. he was a tireless organizer, held multiple leadership roles and worked to build a strong union movement. The Connecticut Mirror, an online publication, has become the state’s pre-eminent government and political newspaper

https://ctmirror.org/category/ct-viewpoints/unions-can-revive-the-american-dream/ .

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