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.

Changes at the Labor History Association

by Joan Cavanagh, Archivist/Director, GNH Labor History Assoc.

2016 is a year of transition for the Greater New Haven Labor History Association. As of Dec. 31, I will be leaving my position as Archivist/ Director because there is no further funding available to maintain it. LHA will return to its roots as an all-volunteer organization, guided by the efforts of its Executive Board and membership.

To prepare for this change, I am spending this fall organizing our archival holdings (including the historical records of LHA) for transfer to Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at UConn in Storrs. They are establishing a Greater New Haven Labor History Association Collection. The materials we have already gathered will thus be preserved in a climate controlled facility and made available to researchers by UConn’s archivists. We encourage individuals, union locals and other relevant organizations to donate their papers, memorabilia and historical documents to the Collection. Contact Laura Katz Smith at laura.katz.smith@uconn.edu or (860) 486-2516 for information about it.

On a personal note: it has been my privilege and joy to work with the Board and the members of the Labor History Association for the past 16 years. We brought LHA into the 21st century along with its mission to collect, preserve, share and celebrate the history, culture and traditions of working people and their unions in our community and beyond.

Moving forward, LHA will help to ensure that current and future generations understand the heritage and struggles of workers through the creation of a labor history curriculum for Connecticut’s public schools as well as by carrying out other projects spearheaded by the Board and our membership. Please, get involved. If you haven’t yet become a member, please do. If you’re already a member, please consider joining the Board or a project committee. And, if you have a special project you’ve always wanted to see the organization undertake, now’s the time! Remember: We Are All Workers! (P.S. Check out the LHA exhibit on Winchester workers, now showing at Hagaman Memorial Library, East Haven until Nov. 15, and on line at http://exhibits.winchesterworkers.gnhlha.org.)

For a picture of Joan Cavanagh, director of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association, with Craig Gauthier, former president of Local 609 of the International Association of Machinists, visit the link below. They are holding one of the panels of an exhibit on Olin-Winchester labor history, outside Wells Fargo Bank in New Haven visit the link below

: Randall Beach: Winchester exhibit evokes New Haven era of union, community solidarity

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 Legislation Becomes Law in CT!

by Steve Kass, Vice 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.”

Thus, Connecticut became only the third state in the nation to have a bill that teaches labor history in the public schools.

Senate Majority Leader President Martin Looney spear-headed the effort with strong grassroots support from the AFL-CIO, labor activists, 15 statewide unions, and individual members of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association.

Looney expressed the value of exposing students to labor history. “Without the contribution of organized labor and the sacrifice and courage of union activists, the average worker, even the average non-union worker, would have many fewer rights and benefits in employment,” Looney said. “We owe it to the children of Connecticut to teach them about these extraordinary contributions so that they might have an understanding of this critical component in American history.”

Advocates for this bill recognized a lack of awareness of the role labor played in history in helping to create the middle class. Young people today don’t know that it was through the effort of workers and unions that helped give American society the weekend, minimum wages, health care benefits, social security, Medicare, 40-hour work week and unemployment insurance.

Most people don’t remember or know how important the labor movement was in pushing Depression-era politicians to pass legislation that systematizes the basic features of American work wages earners now take for granted. In 1935, President Roosevelt called the labor legislation “the most far-reaching, far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted.”

With growing income inequality and a declining union movement, this legislation is needed now more than ever to get the untold story of labor’s contributions included in American history. Follow us at http://laborhistory.com.