UE NEWS Features


“Solidarity” Mural Teaches Labor History Through Art

May 15, 2024

When you walked into UE Hall in Chicago you were greeted by an image of hands clasped together in solidarity with the UE logo in the background. Painted on the underside of the main staircase, the multi-racial hands reflect UE’s long history of uniting all workers regardless of race, nationality, or sex. The “Solidarity” mural that graced the walls of UE Hall on Ashland Avenue in Chicago was dedicated by its lead artists, John Pitman Weber and Jose Guerrero, “To the Builders of the Future, the Men and Women who Work in the Mines, Mills, and Factories.” Above this dedication were the 1857 words of Frederick Douglass reminding visitors that “If there is no struggle there is no progress.”

“They didn’t like anyone telling them what to do”

May 11, 2024

A new radio documentary produced by New England Public Media tells the story of how a UE local in a “deeply conservative rural county” in Massachusetts not only survived but grew during the red-baiting attacks on UE in the early 1950s. The 50-minute documentary “At Sword’s Point” first aired on May 4 and 5, but can be streamed from the NEPM website. Produced and narrated by public historian Tom Goldscheider, the documentary includes interviews with retired UE District Two President Judy Atkins and International Representative David Cohen.

Fifty Years Ago, Union Women Founded New Organization to Fight for Equality

March 22, 2024

Fifty years ago today, 3,200 women gathered in Chicago to found the Coalition of Labor Union Women to fight for equality in their unions and in society. Amy Newell, who served as UE General Secretary-Treasurer from 1985 to 1994, recalled that “It was really terrific to have an organization that was raising issues of women in their unions, as well as issues of women in the workplace.” But perhaps the most important legacy of CLUW is that it encouraged women not only to run for office in their unions, but also to fight for recognition that women’s issues are union issues.

Two New Podcasts Explore History of the CIO

March 9, 2024

The past two months have seen the release of two new limited-run podcasts about the history of the CIO, the federation of industrial unions that arose from and led the worker upsurge of the 1930s and 1940s. Organize the Unorganized tells the story of the CIO in a crisp, newsroom style, through the voices of prominent labor historians and of the participants themselves. Fragile Juggernaut, produced by a group of journalists, organizers and historians and sponsored by Haymarket Books, is taking a longer and deeper historical view.

UE: A Remarkable Example

January 29, 2024

We are republishing this article written by retired UE Political Action Director Chris Townsend about our union’s history, principles and importance to the broader labor movement.

In late March of 1936, a stalwart group of unionists in the electrical and radio manufacturing industries gathered in snowy Buffalo, New York, to found what quickly became the third largest union in the CIO upsurge. The various streams of unionism that converged in Buffalo represented the grizzled union diehards in the manufacturing shops of some of the biggest corporations in the country; General Electric, General Motors, Westinghouse, and RCA among them. It also included new faces, young militants, workers energized by the overall left-wing growth in response to the catastrophe of the Great Depression.

New Book Describes Workers’ Efforts to “Claim the City”

November 16, 2023

In his new book Claiming the City: A Global History of Workers’ Fight for Municipal Socialism, labor historian Shelton Stromquist describes how, following a “global strike wave” in the late nineteenth century, workers turned to municipal politics in an effort to improve their lives. Cities were the places where workers and their families worked, lived, and suffered from low wages and long hours, poor and crowded housing conditions, adulterated and expensive food, and other indignities. They were also the places where workers experienced social solidarity, and could imagine using their greater numbers to transform their lives by participating in the political process.

CIO, Founded 85 Years Ago, Brought “Liberation” to U.S. Workers

November 14, 2023

Eight-five years ago today, the founding convention of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) opened in Pittsburgh. For years, new types of workers — workers in the mass-production industries long deemed “unorganizable” by many in the American Federation of Labor (AFL) — had been organizing new unions, often independently of the conservative craft unions that dominated the AFL. Like today, many of these struggles were led by young workers.

“Building Strike Power” Convention Held in City of Steel ... and Strikes

October 7, 2023

UE’s 78th Convention was held in Pittsburgh, a city that is not only home to the union’s national office but also to a rich history of worker organizing and strikes. From the 1840s to today, the women and men whose labor built this city struggled — and often struck — to reclaim a share of the wealth their labor produced.



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