‘Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story’ — A traveling exhibit

by Joan Cavanagh, researcher and curator

From 1870 until 2006, the Olin-Winchester plant operated in New Haven under various names and with multiple corporate owners. Famous around the world for the Winchester rifle and other firearms (along with occasional tentative and short-lived ventures into the production of more benign goods), it has been the subject of many books, films and articles. But before the Greater New Haven Labor History Association’s traveling exhibit, “Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story,” the tale of the company’s workers and its impact on the New Haven community throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries had not been told.

In a series of panels which include interviews with former employees as well as a historical chronology, the exhibit depicts workers’ struggles to unionize and gain racial and economic justice and equality in the face of relentless management resistance. It illustrates the rich culture they formed within the plant, and it describes the always fraught interaction between the company’s owners and managers and the city of New Haven.

The exhibit, which opened at Gateway Community College on Jan. 29, 2014, was shown in several other venues including Yale’s Science Park, the Stetson branch of the New Haven Free Public Library, New Haven’s City Hall, Fairfield University and the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Thanks to volunteer David Cirella, it can be viewed online at http://exhibits.winchesterworkers.gnhlha.org.

Researcher and curator, Joan Cavanagh, and designer, Jeanne Criscola, are planning a book based on the exhibit which will include additional material to bring the story up to date in the context of New Haven’s current housing and economic crises. They are also seeking a venue in which to mount the exhibit for permanent display. If you can suggest a location or would like to help fund these efforts, please email joan.cavanagh@gmail.com.

CT Working Families Organization Annual Awards Night 6 p.m. Dec. 12 Hartford

Please join us on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 6-9 p.m. for the 2018 CTWFO Annual Awards Dinner. Every year, our organization recognizes the contributions made by labor leaders, grassroots activists, and rank and file workers — all of whom have helped protect and advance the fight for economic, racial, and social justice in our state.

We’re excited to announce our honorees this year!:

  • State Representative Robyn Porter (Progressive Political Leadership Award)
  • Ana María Rivera-Forastieri (Merrilee Milstein Award for Organizing, Activism, and Leadership)
  • Eva Bermudez Zimmerman (Brian Petronella Labor Leader Award)

And more to be announced! We look forward to seeing you there and appreciate your support.

Hors d’oeuvres will be provided, including vegetarian and vegan options, alongside a cash bar. Please email Kristin at kburgess@workingfamilies.org with any dietary restrictions and allergies.

The suggested contribution is $50, but come no matter what. Wednesday, Dec. 12, 6-0 p.m. at the Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford. RSVP: http://workingfamilies.org/ctawards2018.

Contributions benefit Connecticut Working Families, a 501(c)(4) organization, that fights for an economy that works for everyone in Connecticut so we can all find good jobs, get healthcare when we need it, afford homes, send our kids to good schools, and have a secure retirement. Funds support our community organizing, legislative outreach and lobbying efforts, door to door issue canvasses and legislative communications strategy. Contributions can come from individuals, incorporated businesses, union general fund accounts, PACs, or other non-profit entities.

Talk and Labor History Walking Tour, Nov. 18

by Steve Kass, President, GNH Labor History Association

Toil and Triumph: Italian American Women in the Sweatshops of New Haven. To celebrate the permanent display of the former traveling exhibit of “Garment Workers of New Haven” at the New Haven Labor Center, 267 Chapel St., New Haven, the GNH Labor History Association will host Anthony Riccio’s talk with historical pictures on Italian American women in the sweatshops of New Haven. Afterward, there will be a labor history walking tour of the former garment district. Anthony is the author of the book, The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral History. A suggested donation of $5 or a $25 membership to the Greater New Haven Labor History Association, a non-profit organization, is encouraged.

ConnectiCOSH 2018 Annual Health and Safety Convention

The convention on Friday, Oct. 19, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., will highlight “Stop the Plague on Workers’ Lives” and “Making Worker Safety a Priority in Tough Times.” It takes place at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 777 Training Center, 450 Murdock Ave., Meriden.

The keynote speaker, Les Leopold, co-founder and current Executive Director of the Labor Institute, is the author of several books, including the award-winning The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi. His current book is Runaway Inequality: An Activist Guide to Economic Justice.

More than 4,000 workers do not return home to their families every year. Millions of workers return home injured or ill as well. The struggle to make sure that workers go home alive continues. Our annual health and safety convention offers a variety of thought-provoking workshops that better prepare participants for addressing hazards on the job.

ConnectiCOSH continues to:

  • Organize and educate injured workers to protect their legal rights
  • Be active members of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut fighting for chemical substitution and reducing exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Partner with UCONN and Yale Occupational Environ-mental Health Clinics
  • Train Hazardous Waste Site Workers and Emergency Responders as part of a joint effort with the other COSH groups in New England
  • Organize and participate in Worker Memorial Day events across the state.

    For more info, call (860) 953-2674.

Gandhi Peace Award to Jackson Browne

by Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace Administrator

Promoting Enduring Peace is giving its Gandhi Peace Award this year to singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. He will receive the award on Friday, Sept. 14, at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St., New Haven. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Starting the program will be two speakers: Frida Berrigan, who has worked for years warning of the dangers of nuclear weapons, and Chris George, Executive Director of IRIS — Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services. Singers Ben Grosscup and Luci Murphy will provide entertainment. Tickets can be reserved online for a donation. The Eventbrite link is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gandhi-peace-award-2018-tickets-48315261247.

Jackson Browne is the first artist ever to receive the Gandhi Peace Award. The award recognizes Browne’s extraordinary contributions of time and talent to the inseparable causes of world peace, environmental harmony, and social justice. The award comes with a cash prize and a medallion forged from “peace bronze” composed of metals salvaged from the control systems of U.S. nuclear missiles. Consistent with tradition, Browne has been invited “to present a message of challenge and hope” to those present. A reception will follow.

The Gandhi Peace Award, named after Indian anti-imperialist and nonviolence advocate Mohandas Gandhi, derives its international renown from those who have accepted it over the years. Among the 54 awardees are Martin Luther King, Jr., Benjamin Spock, Dorothy Day, Daniel Ellsberg, César Chávez, Amy Goodman, Bill McKibben, Medea Benjamin, Tom Goldtooth, Omar Barghouti and Ralph Nader.

Browne has organized or participated in thousands of benefit performances to support the environment, social justice, and human rights as well as causes such as music and arts education in public schools and has worked with two former Gandhi Peace Award recipients, Amnesty International (1978) and the Children’s Defense Fund (1990). Browne has composed and performed songs widely regarded as among the most literate and moving songs in popular music, defining a genre of songwriting charged with honesty, emotion, and personal politics. In 2004 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Greater New Haven Labor History Association Annual Meeting Sept. 9, 1:30 to 4 p.m.

by Steve Kass, President, GNHLHA

The annual meeting of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association will take place at the New Haven Labor Center, 267 Chapel Street, New Haven. The group will present its Augusta Louis Troup “Pass It On” award to people and organizations that advance the labor movement agenda of decent working conditions at a good wage with hope for the future.

This year’s recipients are Norman Zolot, one of the most widely known and respected labor lawyers in Connecticut history and John Lugo with his organization Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), a grassroots movement of immigrants defending labor, civil, and human rights in New Haven.

In addition, there will be presentations on the new Connec-ticut statewide labor history curriculum, the impact on the labor movement of the supreme court decision Janus vs AFCSME, an update on the teacher strikes in several states, and advocating for immigrant worker rights in New Haven.

Pizza will be served at 1:30 p.m., then at 2 p.m. the program and awards will start. Frank Panzarella will perform labor music.

The meeting is free and open to the public and membership costs annually only $25 or $10 for low income people. For more information about the GNHLHA, please visit our website at laborhistory.org.

May Day 2018 — Fighting Together for Justice, Equality and Peace

by Joelle Fischman, People’s World CT

The lives of workers, their families and the 99% are on the line here and around the world, and people are in motion. On May Day 2018 we are “Fighting Together for Justice, Equality & Peace.”

The annual Connecticut People’s World rally for International Workers’ Day will be held on Sunday, May 6, at 4 p.m. at the King-Davis Labor Center, 77 Huyshope Ave, Hartford.

The event will be highlighted by a report back from partici-pants on the four UNITE HERE buses that traveled from New Haven to Memphis for the I AM 2018 conference and march held fifty years after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while supporting striking sanitation workers.

The occasion attracted 20,000 members of unions, faith, community, immigrant and youth groups exemplifying an approach to labor organizing that encompasses all working people.

The UNITE HERE choir and Ice the Beef Youth who traveled to Memphis will perform.

A solidarity panel will include group home workers and immigrant workers facing strike or recently on strike, and union members running for public office in 2018. The event will include an action in support of key worker-friendly bills still before the state legislature.

A PowerPoint of May Day Around the World will highlight the struggles of workers on every continent. A homemade buffet will be served.

On May 1, 1886, thousands of workers marched in Chicago to demand relief from brutal 12- and 14-hour workdays. A few days later, a suspicious bomb blast killed several Chicago police and protesters during a meeting in Haymarket Square. Four of the march leaders were framed up and executed. In their memory, May Day was set as a day of international workers’ struggle and solidarity. In the United States, May Day took on new life when immigrant workers from Latin America held mega marches for their rights in 2006. May Day 2018 is part of the resistance against the anti-people Trump/Republican agenda and the rising move-ments to put peace, planet and people before profits. Donation is $5 or what you can afford. A fund appeal for the People’s World will be made. For rides from New Haven email ct-pww@pobox.com or call (203) 624-4254.

Ready for Researchers: The Greater New Haven Labor History Association Collection at the UConn, Storrs

by Joan Cavanagh, Archivist and former Director, GNH Labor History Association

Thirteen groups of records, photographs, artifacts, newspaper articles, and audio and videotapes documenting slices of New Haven’s rich working class and union history are now available to researchers at the Greater New Haven Labor History Association Collection held in the Archives and Special Collections repository at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

The records include materials from New Haven’s garment workers’ unions; the Typographical Union of New Haven (ITU Local 47); the New Haven Federation of Teachers Local 933; the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Local 299; and selected papers of the preeminent labor historian David Montgomery, as well as memorabilia from the life of Nicholas Aiello, business agent and organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and Joseph Rourke, Secretary-Treasurer of the CT AFL-CIO from 1946 until the late 1950s.

The Collection also includes the organizational records of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association itself, from its founding in 1988 through 2016.

The finding guides for the Collection may be accessed at the following link: hdl.handle.net/11134/20002:860317492.

For more information or to access any materials in the collection, contact Laura Katz Smith, Archivist, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Library, (860) 486-2516, laura.katz.smith@uconn.edu.

And don’t forget to check out the exhibit about Winchester workers, “Our Community at Winchester,” at exhibits.winchesterworkers.gnhlha.org. A book is currently in the works, and the physical exhibit will be on view at Southern Connecticut State University in the fall of 2018. Stay tuned!!

Creating a Vision for the GNH Labor History Association Nov. 29

by Steve Kass, President, GNH Labor History Association

After a 5-year organizing effort to get labor history taught in the Connecticut public schools, the “labor history bill” was ceremonially signed into law on July 29, 2015, by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The legislation directs the state department of education to make a curriculum available in “labor history and law, including organized labor, the collective bargaining process, and existing legal protections in the workplace.”

Connecticut became only the third state in the nation to have a bill that supports the teaching of labor history in the public schools.

Since then, the GNHLHA has spent the last two years trying to get the labor history curriculum downloaded onto the Connecticut State Department of Education social studies division website.

The final step is to disseminate the labor history curriculum to Connecticut teachers.

Please join us from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the New Haven Central Labor Council (267 Chapel St., New Haven) to discuss the future of our organization. Pizza will be served promptly at 5:30 p.m. This session will be facilitated by SEIU union organizer Steve Schrag. We need your input and energy!!

For more information, go to laborhistory.org.

People’s World Amistad Awards: Resisting Together

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

This year’s People’s World Amistad Awards are dedicated to “Resisting Together So We Can Move Forward.” The event will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, 425 College St, New Haven.

We are excited to announce this year’s awardees Peggy Buchanan, Rep. Robyn Porter, and Camila and Carolina Bortolleto. All are on the front lines of resisting the policies of white supremacy, hate, division and fear that threaten democracy and our future. All are fierce warriors in the forefront of demanding priorities for workers’ rights, peace and equality that put people and planet before profits.

The Awards will take place on Saturday, December 9 at 4 p.m. at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church at 425 College Street, New Haven. Marco Reyes took sanctuary there in July to resist deportation and separation from his family. The event will pay tribute to the Reyes family and Unidad Latina en Acción. The unions at Yale have their offices at the church. The event will pay tribute to the ongoing struggle of Unite Here Local 33 for union recognition and a contract.

  • Peggy Buchanan is Connecticut AFL-CIO campaign manager and former president, Greater Hartford Labor Council who has dedicated her life to solidarity and organizing workers on the job, in the community and to run for public office.
  • Rep. Robyn Porter represents the 94th District and co-chairs the Labor Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly where she leads for social justice, equality and workers’ rights as an elected official and at the grass roots level.
  • Camila and Carolina Bortolleto are courageous twins who co-founded CT Students For a Dream which has become a statewide voice and organization of youth “undocumented and unafraid” and organizes for the rights of all immigrants.

The annual Awards are presented to allies by the Connecticut People’s World Committee on the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. We come together in hope and unity as increased economic and racial inequalities, climate change and war give rise to new organizing by youth, low-wage workers and the 99% toward a society that puts people and planet before corporate profits.

In Solidarity, People’s World Amistad Awards Committee

We invite you to place an ad in the greeting book and take a bloc of tickets to honor the awardees and the occasion. The ad deadline is Nov. 17, 2017. Ads range in price, starting at $15. Tickets are $10. For details, contact People’s World Amistad Awards, (203) 624-4254. E-mail formatted ad copy or text: ct-pww@pobox.com or mail to: 37 Howe St, New Haven, CT 06511.

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