‘Untold Stories’ series to celebrate labor history with free public events

Untold Stories, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library’s annual labor-history series, will focus this year on the struggles facing workers in the past and how they influence the issues of today. The free, public programs begin April 22 and wrap up May 14. A full programming guide is available on the Friends’ website. […]

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

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

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

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

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 […]

In negotiations on first contract, North Star Steel dropped anchor

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

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 […]

Cigars, baseball, competitive cocktail mixing and more

[The Union Advocate’s “This Month in the Archives” feature offers a look back at what the newspaper was reporting from 5 to 100 years ago. Our digital archives are online, searchable and free to anyone. Click here for access.] The St. Paul Cigarmakers struck a deal with the St. Paul Saints in May 1913, granting […]

Workers’ compensation passed in Minnesota 100 years ago

The Minnesota Legislature adjourned in April 1913 after nearly three months in session, but not before passing several bills benefiting the state’s workers. The Union Advocate provided a list the Legislature’s accomplishments in it April 25 edition – from establishing a new worker’s compensation system to requiring employers to install safety devices where heavy machinery […]

Republican governor blasted ‘right to work’ legislation 50 years ago

Fifty years ago, to the surprise of Minnesota’s labor community, Republican Gov. Elmer Anderson offered his opposition to a lethal brand of anti-union legislation unions are still fighting today. The Feb. 14, 1963, issue of The Union Advocate reported Anderson had issued a statement saying he would veto any “compulsory open shop legislation, which usually […]