New Haven Labor History Association Annual Conference and Meeting June 25: Reviving the Labor Movement

Steve Kass, GNHLHA Executive Board, President

This year’s annual conference and meeting of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association (GNHLHA) will honor an organization and an individual with the “Pass It On” awards in addition to having a keynote address on reviving the labor movement.

The honorees are IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services) and Frank R. Annunziato.

1) IRIS started in 1982 and continues to this day to be a vital organization that works in New Haven to resettle refugees and other immigrants from around the world since 1982. IRIS is named after the iris flower, which thrives all over the world and is a symbol of hope and faith.

The numbers and nationalities of clients have fluctuated as the world has changed in the past 34 years. Currently, IRIS addresses the critical needs of hundreds of refugees; about 420 arrived in New Haven and surrounding towns in 2016. Refugees come from a wide range of war-torn countries, including Sudan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

IRIS recognizes that welcoming persecuted people from other countries is both an ancient and universal custom, and part of a long tradition in the United States. In today’s political climate of hatred and mistrust, organizations such as this provide an extremely important beacon of hope to us all. This award also recognizes the historical link between immigration and labor.

2) Frank R. Annunziato’s career and commitment to the labor movement spans almost 50 years. He is an academic (PhD thesis on collective bargaining in education), writer, teacher, workshop leader, activist, labor historian and organizer. He recently retired as the Executive Director of the University of Rhode Island, American Association of University Professors after 17 years. He was the founding president of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association in 1988.

As always, there will be time for refreshments and socializing with our troubadour, Frank Panzarella, serenading us with labor songs. Please join us on Sunday, June 25 from 1:30 – 4 p.m. at the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council, 267 Chapel St.

Labor History: Looking Back, Moving Forward – Annual Conference June 5

by Joan Cavanagh, GNHLHA director/archivist

Members and friends of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association are invited to its annual conference and meeting on Sunday, June 5, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at 267 Chapel St., New Haven. The conference, “Labor History: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” will honor the organization’s late President, Nicholas Aiello, showcase its 28-year history and discuss plans for the future.

Author Anthony Riccio, who interviewed Nick for his books, The Italian American Experience in New Haven and Farms, Factories and Families will present “Sisters and Sweatshops: The Life of Nick Aiello,” and will give this year’s Augusta Lewis Troup Award to Louise Fortin, Nick’s sister and a retired garment worker.

Frank Annunziato, outgoing Executive Director of the American Association of University Professors, University of Rhode Island Chapter, who co-founded LHA with Aiello in 1988, will discuss the organization’s mission and its early years, inviting contributions from others who were among its first members. The Director, Joan Cavanagh, and current Executive Board members, including Bill Berndtson, President, and Steve Kass, Vice President, will talk about LHA’s accomplishments during the first 16 years of the 21st century, including its work to produce a labor history curriculum for Connecticut’s public schools.

As always, there will be time for refreshments and socializing. The organization’s troubadour, noted musician Frank Panzarella, will provide labor songs.

If you want to learn more about LHA’s history, have ideas about how to move forward in the 21st century, and/or simply want to learn more about LHA, please join us on June 5th to look back at what has been accomplished and to imagine and plan the future. For more information, please call (203) 668-9082 or contact joan@labor.history.org.

Labor History Association Annual Conference and Meeting, June 5: Looking Back, Going Forward

by Joan Cavanagh, GNHLHA Archivist/ Director

This year’s annual conference and meeting of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association will honor the organization’s late President, Nicholas Aiello, showcase its 28 year history and give our members and friends an opportunity to brainstorm about the future.

Frank Annunziato, who co-founded LHA with Nick in 1988, will give a presentation about the organization’s mission and its early years, inviting contributions from others who were among its first members. The Director and current Executive Board members, including Bill Berndtson, President, and Steve Kass, Vice President, will talk about LHA’s work during the first 16 years of the 21st century.

Author Anthony Riccio, who interviewed Nick for his books, The Italian American Experience in New Haven and  Farms, Factories and Families will present “Sisters and Sweatshops: The Life of Nick Aiello” and will give this year’s Augusta Lewis Troup Award to Louise Fortin, Nick’s sister and a retired garment worker.

As always, there will be time for refreshments and socializing and our troubadour, Frank Panzarella, will serenade us with labor songs.

If you have memories to share about Nick or the organization’s history, ideas about how we should move forward in this new century, and/or simply want to learn more about LHA, please join us on June 5th to look back at what has been accomplished and to imagine and plan the future of our mission to document and celebrate working class history.

NICHOLAS AIELLO, Dec. 14, 1924-Nov. 5, 2015

by Joan Cavanagh, archivist and director, GNHLHA

nicholas-aielloWith great sadness the Greater New Haven Labor History Association records the death of our co-founder, President Emeritus and inspiration, Nicholas Aiello.

Nick was a long time organizer and business agent for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Local 125. Raised on Wallace Street, he came from a family of Italian-American garment workers. From a family of 14, Nick had seven sisters, all of whom worked in the industry for years. The pre-union conditions were “horrible,” as Nick described in an interview published in Anthony Riccio’s The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories, 2006:

“When New York got completely organized, the ‘runaway shops’… ran to New Haven where there were no union shops. And they would open up a storefront. They’d put twenty, thirty machines on the fourth floor and most of the stitching plants were on the fourth floor with no elevator … Then in the 1930s came the Amalgamated and they started organizing drives in the area.”

Nick also brought his passion as a union organizer to other endeavors, as a member of the New Haven Board of Aldermen, as Commissioner for the New Haven Housing Authority and as a leader for the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council.

In 1988, recognizing the importance of keeping labor and working class history alive for present and future generations, Nick co-founded the Greater New Haven Labor History Association with other labor activists. He was active in the organization for the rest of his life.

GNHLHA will honor Nick as part of our 2016 annual conference and meeting. Tentative date: June 5th.

Labor History Association to Give Awards to Rick Wolff and Mike Dennehy at June 7 Annual Conference

by Joan Cavanagh, Archivist/ Director GNHLHA

The Labor History Association will hold its annual conference and meeting on Sunday, June 7, 2015 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Council/Teachers Building, 267 Chapel Street, New Haven CT. The recipients of this year’s Augusta Lewis Troup Preservation Awards are Rick Wolff and the late Mike Dennehy.

Named by The New York Times Magazine as “America’s most prominent Marxist economist,” former long-time New Haven resident, Rick Wolff, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts. Since his move to New York City, he has been an organizer of the Left Forum, broadcasts a program on WBAI (Pacifica Radio), and writes regularly for The Guardian and Truthout.org. He has appeared on a number of high-profile TV interview programs including Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, Charlie Rose and Glen Beck.

His books include: Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What To Do About It (2009); Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian (2012); and Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism (2012).

Mike Dennehy, 55, passed away on April 22, 2014, while attending an arbitration hearing for a member of the Greater CT Area Local 237 of the American Postal Workers Union. He gave 34 years of service to the United States Postal Service and was a union member or officer for all that time. He held numerous offices in his union, from Vice President of the Bridgeport local to his final position as a Vice President of the Greater Connecticut area local in charge of representing associate offices. He was a credit to labor and his profession. Labor History will be presenting his Augusta Lewis Troup award posthumously, to be accepted by family members.

Further details of the conference will follow. For more information, contact joan@laborhistory.org.