Labor History: Part I – Presented by Bob Forrant, Ph.D., UMass Lowell

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Tuesday, Jan 8, 2019, 1:30 pm

Edgewood Auditorium
575 Osgood Street
North Andover, MA

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.” He also said, “The two most dynamic and cohesive liberal forces in the country are the labor movement and the Negro freedom movement. Together we can be the architects of democracy.” Was he correct?

In this two-part presentation and discussion, we will take a careful look at American labor history from the “mill girls” in Lowell, to the struggle for the eight-hour day; the 1912 Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts; and the national upsurge in union organization in the 1930s that brought us the minimum wage, the 40-hour week, Social Security and more. We will also consider what has happened to organized labor over the last 50 or so years. How did we go from a nation where nearly 40% of private sector workers were in unions to today’s figure of under 10%? Finally, what is the prognosis for the labor movement: Is it dead?


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