Unions backed comprehensive immigration reform bill 10 years ago … and still do

The Union Advocate ran this cartoon in May 1964, celebrating an agreement brokered by President Lyndon Johnson to end a four-and-a-half-year dispute between railroad companies and their unions. In an address to the nation, Johnson praised both sides, and called the agreement a victory for collective bargaining. “I tell you quite frankly there are few events that give me more faith in my country and more pride in the free, collective bargaining process,” he said.

Democrats in Congress introduced legislation to provide a pathway to “legal residency” for an estimated 9 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. a decade ago. The measure drew support from unions, religious groups and immigrant organizations. Ten years later, of course, the fight for immigration reform continues. Unions 10 years ago made up a […]

A stinging defeat on labor relations bill 75 years ago

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The Minnesota Federation of Labor held an emergency special convention for the first time in its history April 3, 1939. On the agenda? How to defeat a labor-relations bill making its way through the Legislature that winter and considered by The Advocate to be “one of the most vicious anti-Labor bills ever introduced in the middle […]

Delegates debated beer’s ‘intoxicating effects’ 75 years ago

Charles Gray, director of the Asian-American Free Labor Institute, AFL-CIO, gave a presentation at the University of Minnesota.

This headline from The Union Advocate’s Feb. 16, 1939 edition immediately caught our eye: “Assembly Opposed To Defining Beer As Intoxicating.” Turns out, the headline was a bit misleading. The article reported that St. Paul’s central labor body, the Trades and Labor Assembly, passed a resolution opposing a bill before the Minnesota Legislature to define […]

St. Paul unions urged public boycott of ‘Nazi-made’ goods 75 years ago

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Three years before the attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the U.S. into World War II, American union members declared economic war on Nazi Germany. Unions in St. Paul scrambled in December 1938 to coordinate a local boycott of German goods after American Federation of Labor President William Green, speaking to a nationwide audience on […]

Labor mourned JFK’s assassination 50 years ago

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The Nov. 28, 1963 edition of The Union Advocate ran three front-page tributes to the nation’s fallen president, remembered as a great friend of organized labor. St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly President Charles Rafferty said John F. Kennedy’s assassination Nov. 22, 1963 was a great loss for workers, but he added the president would […]

Darrow lectured on ‘labor question’ in St. Paul 100 years ago

Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at labor event in St. Paul in 1988.

Clarence Darrow was an attorney in transition when he traveled to St. Paul 100 years ago to give a lecture arranged by St. Paul labor leaders. Although known nationally as a labor lawyer, Darrow had by October 1913 fallen out of favor with many of the country’s unions. Bribery charges, incurred while defending a pair […]

Fasts renewed commitment to grape boycott in 1988

After Cesar Chavez protested the effects of pesticides on farm workers and consumers, Minnesota-based elected officials pledged their support of the boycott. Breaking their fast after three days were, L to R, Lynn Gordon, Charles Bendar, Terry Gips and Michelle King.

In 1988 Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers leader, protested the poisonous effects of pesticides on grape farmers and their children by staging a 36-day fast. In solidarity with Chavez and the boycott of California table grapes, Twin Cities union members and elected officials launched a series of three-day fasts that fall. Fasters included U.S. […]

In negotiations on first contract, North Star Steel dropped anchor

Demonstrators targeted Walker Methodist in August 2003.

North Star Steel approached “a new level of absurdity” in an attempt to avoid negotiating a first contract with 30 clerical and sales employees at its Newport facility, The Advocate reported in August 1988. The workers had voted a year earlier to join the United Steelworkers, but management refused to bargain with the union. After […]

Ten years ago immigrant freedom riders planted the seeds of reform

Minnesotans who participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides for civil rights were on hand to kick off the 2003 Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride in St. Paul. Pictured from L to R are Marv Davidov, Zev Aelony, Claire O’Connor and Bob Baum.

Immigration reform is on the front burner in Congress this summer, but 10 years ago immigrant “freedom riders,” including some from Minnesota, traveled to Washington to raise awareness of the need for reform, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride kicked off its Minnesota leg with an event at […]

Looking back on a century of support for buying union in St. Paul

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In the same spirit of The Union Advocate’s annual Buy Union edition, in which we encourage union members to support businesses that hire union workers, publishers of the Minnesota Union Advocate urged readers to “Buy Bread With the Union Label” in their June 6, 1913, edition. They weren’t afraid to lay it on thick 100 […]

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