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Labor History I - Required 1st Year Course

This is an introduction to the American Labor Movement from the days of the American Revolution to the organization of the industrial unions in the 1930s. The first day begin with an introduction to America's first industry (textiles) and the first unions which were associated with those textile mills. We discuss the powerful craft unions that backed Thomas Jefferson and the first attempts at organizing female textile workers. The second day begins with an investigation into the Molly Maguires and the mass hangings in Reading, Pennsylvania of the coal miners who were tagged with the Molly label. It then proceeds to what is called the "Great Strike" of 1877, which shut down the entire US for a month. The day concludes with the Eight Hour Strike of 1886, the day that Europe still calls "May Day."The third day is devoted to Terence Powderly, Mother Jones, and Gene Debs, the leaders who dominated American labor thought from about 1880 to 1920. Mother Jones will visit the class to explain her unique point of view of this subject. The fourth day is devoted to the wildest union of them all, the Industrial Workers of the World. This union was dominated by western miners and migratory workers and it used humor as an organizing tool. The final day begins with the famous Lawrence Strike and ends with the Sit Down Strike in Flint Michigan. Along the way, you will see clips of the Molly Maguires (with Sean Connery), FIST (with Sylvester Stallone), and a lot of labor veterans talking about the good old days.

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