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Labor History

Those Who Know Don't Tell is an important 1990s documentary about a variety of the serious workplace hazards faced by American workers.  It chronicles the advocacy efforts of the labor movement to reduce these hazards.

Articles About our Labor History - Past & Present

Unionizing Is Now on Track To Be a Constitutional Right in Illinois

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In Massachusetts, Unions Beat Billionaires

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Child Labor in the Most Dangerous Workplaces

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Labor News

John Dirzius had the pleasure and honor to meet with the US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and group of labor leaders to discuss the importance of the upcoming elections to labor and workers as well as the efforts of the Biden administration to recognize and support the labor movement and the workers who keep America moving.

Pictured below are - John H. Dirzius, EB Member LHA - Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro - Marty Walsh - US Labor Secretary

LHA Executive Board Member With US Secretary of Labor


The United States Department of Labor has recently added updated resources for workers on their rights to organize a union at their workplace and bargain collectively with their employer. 

View The Know Your Rights Toolkit From the U.S. Department of Labor.

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"

From the late 19th century through the early 21st, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was an important employer in New Haven, Connecticut. The legendary guns it produced and their role in American expansionism at home and abroad were celebrated, largely uncritically, in movies, books, and songs. But the stories of those who worked there and of the company’s impact on its host community have received little attention.

The tale includes elements familiar to students of United States economic, social and labor history: workers’ struggles to win collective bargaining rights and to achieve equity in the work place across all job classifications, ages and ethnicities; relentless management efforts to divide them and prevent, then undermine, union representation; a ruthless company’s repeated threats to leave town in order to force union concessions and win economic incentives and tax abatements from city government; and the gentrified aftermath of the loss of working class jobs in an American city.

The story of New Haven’s experience unfolds in Our Community at Winchester through interviews with former workers and their families as well as material from union newsletters, archival records, and city publications.

This is an important book that retrieves a lost history of workplace struggle in the Elm City. Cavanagh is to be commended for an accessible, deeply researched study. In today’s polarized and increasingly unequal America, we need to hear the voices of the past that demanded a living wage and a sense of dignity.
— TROY RONDINONE is professor of History at Southern Connecticut State University, in New Haven, Connecticut, and the author of Nightmare Factories: the Asylum in the American Imagination.
Joan Cavanagh’s book stands apart from the typical industrial/corporate history that glorifies the millionaire owners, glosses over controversy, and ignores the workforce. Winchester’s rank-and-filers live and breathe between these pages. They define what we mean when we sing “Solidarity Forever.”

— STEVE THORNTON is the author of A Shoeleather History of the Wobblies (IWW) in Connecticut and Wicked Hartford. 

Description and quotes from https://octoberworks.com/projects

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.

https://www.courant.com/opinion/letters/hc-le-merged-letters-tue-1006-20201006-ptws4e52vzfvhipmg7rldiilm4-story.html


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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