Labor History

Spotlight: "Telling a Story" to Teach History

The writer and philosopher George Santayana more than a century ago said that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." His words have been frequently echoed ever since, and provide a foundational element of both public education in the U.S. and international policy around the world. During the month in which Human Rights Day is observed, we're spotlighting a teacher who taps into his students' artistic creativity and talents to help them prevent history from repeating.
 

Spotlight: Teaching & Protecting Civil Rights

For the month in which the nation observes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, we're spotlighting union members whose work carries on the social justice leader's legacy. Here in Connecticut, attorneys in the state's civil and human rights enforcement agency strive to confront ongoing discrimination faced by residents. At the same time, local public schools' educators teach their students the history of the movement that Dr. King led — and its relevance to struggles for justice and equality today.
 

Labor History Lesson: The Grape Boycott

Through building strong partnerships with the community and practicing non-violent civil disobedience, Cesar Chávez organized immigrant agricultural workers to win hard-fought dignity and respect from their employers. In a recent recent column for his local union's newsletter, AFT Connecticut Secretary-Treasurer Ed Leavy takes us back to 1970 for the lessons of the Delano grape boycott:
 

Labor History Lesson: The "Newsies" Strike

In a recent column for his local union's newsletter, AFT Connecticut Secretary-Treasurer Ed Leavy shared a timely lesson in how working people can collectively challenge the rich and powerful. His labor history lesson on the 1899 newsboys' strike resonates today as nearly 40,000 telecommunications workers on the East Coast engage in one of the largest labor actions in years:
 

Labor History Lesson: The Fight for Free Speech

AFT Connecticut Secretary-Treasurer Ed Leavy opened a recent column in his local union's "Vocational Instructor" newsletter saying, "the study of labor history is an exercise in finding hope." He found some much-needed hope in the story of the Spokane "Free Speech" movement, an "example of how people refused to let a corrupt system beat them:"
 

Labor History Lesson: No Mercy for Injured Workers

Laws to compensate working people hurt while on the job have existed since 1908 when first passed in Wisconsin, where today anti-worker politicians are aggressively rolling them back. AFT Connecticut Secretary-Treasurer Ed Leavy shared some little known labor history that illustrates the limits of an employer's mercy for injured workers in a recent "Vocational Instructor" column:
 

Labor History Lesson: The Alberta Nurses' Strike

Dr. Martin Luther King famously said in 1965 during the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Time and again working people have demonstrated this to be true by engaging in struggle today for progress won tomorrow. AFT Connecticut Secretary-Treasurer Ed Leavy shared the story of a victory by Canadian health professionals 27 years in the making in his October "Vocational Instructor" labor history column:
 

I Am My Union

In her annual Labor Day message, AFT President Randi Weingarten asks us all to consider the attacks unions face today and what they mean for all American working families. And she calls 1.5 million teachers, paraprofessionals and schools personnel, higher education faculty and staff, public employees, nurses and healthcare professionals to stand up and declare "I Am My Union:"
 

Empowering Students to Learn the Lessons of Labor History

Public education, workers' rights and senior advocates yesterday joined the governor for the ceremonial signing of legislation to assist local school districts with teaching the history of the labor movement. The bill, which both chambers of the General Assembly passed in May with bipartisan support, was the culmination of years of grassroots advocacy by AFT Connecticut, union activists and legislators.
 
Click here for press coverage of the bill's final passage.
 

Labor History Lesson: The Women's Strike

The struggle by women to close the gender wage gap and achieve pay equity has been a global one. But the specific methods and efforts of equal rights activists has varied greatly among the countries of the world. In his latest "Vocational Instructor" labor history column, AFT Connecticut Secretary-Treasurer Ed Leavy shares how the women in one Nordic nation took the path of direct action:
 
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