Labor History Workshop: Fred Thompson

An organizing workshop led by activist Staughton Lynd at Indiana University Northwest. This tape features Fred Thompson, labor organizer and IWW leader, addressing a group of (mostly) United Steel Workers union members about the future of unions and how to create positive change.

00:14Copy video clip URL Audio slate: “Labor History Workshop: Fred Thompson.”

00:18Copy video clip URL A woman is completing a reading. The group stands up and sings “Solidarity Forever” (set to the tune “Battle Hymn of the Republic”).

02:01Copy video clip URL Fred Thompson begins the meeting and talks about the dangers facing unions today due to the delegation of administrative tasks to non-members.

05:36Copy video clip URL Tape cuts and Thompson is talking about methods of settling worker complaints.

07:00Copy video clip URL Another cut and Thompson is talking about instituting safety procedures.

08:06Copy video clip URL Thompson relates the story of lumberjacks who participated in the 1917 Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) strike to demand for and 8-hour workday and better camp conditions. According to Thompson, their petition for an 8-hour workday was successful. Because of their cooperation with other working lumberjacks in the area, Thompson uses the example to describe his vision of “doing things the right way,” as the workers gathered at the meeting are contemplating a direct action.

09:16Copy video clip URL Camera pans to the audience around the room.

11:06Copy video clip URL Thompson tells a story about sardine cans and labels.

13:35Copy video clip URL Thompson connects his previous stories to a central theme articulating working class solidarity for the greater benefit of society.

16:20Copy video clip URL Describing a recent trip to India, Thompson describes the importance of learning labor relation practices in other countries.

17:24Copy video clip URL Thompson brings up the issue of potential closure of Chicago Public Schools for part of December by then-Mayor Richard J. Daley due to budgeting issues.

18:20Copy video clip URL Teach-ins are described by Thompson as one plausible course of action being organized by teachers.

19:00Copy video clip URL Thompson laments the budget disparities between education and the military.

21:02Copy video clip URL Thompson opens the floor to questions.

21:38Copy video clip URL A question arises about corrupt union leaders and practices. Thompson references Nixon’s address to striking postal workers and elaborates his personal definition of “labor union.”

26:56Copy video clip URL Another question from the audience.



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