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Bruskin, Gene

Gene Bruskin Papers

1963-2018
8 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1020
Image of Gene Bruskin
Gene Bruskin

Gene Bruskin arrived at Princeton in 1964 as a basketball player and left as a political radical. After taking part in the Second Venceremos Brigade, Bruskin got involved in antiracist and labor organizing in Boston. As president of the United Steelworkers of America local during the busing crisis of the 1970s, he helped win overwhelming support among the city’s bus drivers to have the union represent them, leading successful campaigns for better wages and working conditions. In the years since, he has held numerous high-profile positions nationally and internationally, including as labor director for Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, Secretary Treasurer for the Food and Allied Service Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, and co-convener of U.S. Labor Against the War, an organization promoting peace and the demilitarization of U.S. foreign policy. Bruskin was a major figure in the largest private union election in the history of the United Food and Commercial Workers when he led the successful campaign to unionize 5,000 workers at Smithfield Foods in North Carolina. Since retiring in 2012, he has continued to consult with unions. In addition he has returned to some of his earlier undertakings in producing cultural works as a poet, songwriter, and playwright, centered on social justice and working class themes.

Documenting nearly fifty years of activism, Gene Bruskin’s papers are an exceptional resource for the labor movement in the 1970s through early 2000s, and particularly its radical end. Although Bruskin’s early years are relatively sparsely represented, there is a significant run of Brother, the first anti-sexist, “male liberation” journal that he helped found while in Oakland, and the collection includes important material from his work in Boston with the Hyde Park Defense Committee, the Red Basement Singers, and especially with the School Bus Drivers and their tumultuous three-week strike in 1980. The collection also contains a rich assortment of material on labor left and antiwar organizing in the 1990s and 2000s, the Justice at Smithfield campaign, and Bruskin’s work on behalf of single payer insurance, for International Solidarity, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

Gift of Gene Bruskin, April 2018

Subjects

  • Boston (Mass.)--History
  • Bus drivers--Labor unions
  • Charter schools
  • Jackson, Jesse, 1941-
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • Labor unions--North Carolina
  • National Rainbow Coalition (U.S.)
  • Public schools
  • Smithfield Foods, Inc.
  • Strikes and lockouts--Bus drivers
  • Weatherman (Organization)

Contributors

  • Boston School Bus Drivers Union
  • United Steelworkers of America
Communist Party of Massachusetts

Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection

1932-1957
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 538

A branch of the Communist Party of the United States of America, the Communist Party of Massachusetts enjoyed strong popularity during the 1930s and 1940s, organizing the textile and other manufacturing industries.

This small collection is comprised of a miscellaneous assemblage of fliers, broadsides, and ephemera issued by the Communist Party of Massachusetts and its affiliates from the mid-1930s through the repression of the McCarthy era. Originating mostly from Boston, the items in the collection center on significant themes in Communist thought, including opposition to Fascism and militarism, labor solidarity against capital, and elections. A small number of items relate to Party-approved cultural productions, including plays and gatherings to celebrate Lenin or the Russian Revolution. Many items are associated with Otis A. Hood, a perpetual candidate for public office on the Communist Party ticket who became a target for McCarthy-era repression in the mid-1950s.

Acquired from Eugene Povirk, 2008

Subjects

  • Antiwar movements--Massachusetts
  • Communists--Massachusetts
  • Elections--Massachusetts
  • World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

  • Communist Party of Massachusetts

Types of material

  • Broadsides
  • Fliers
International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. Local 206

IUERMW Local 206 Records

1936-1986
30 boxes 14.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 132

Union that represented workers at the American Bosch plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, affiliated with the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers after 1949.

Records include by-laws, minutes of the Executive Board, General Council, and Membership meetings, correspondence, membership reports, grievance and arbitration records, contract negotiation proposals and counter-proposals, strike materials, and publications documenting the administration, activities, and membership of Local 206. Effects of changing national economy and international trade on workers and union affairs, through time, are evident.

Subjects

  • American Bosch--History
  • Collective bargaining--Machinery industry--Massachusetts --Springfield
  • Industrial relations--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. Local 206 (Springfield, Mass.)
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Machinists--Labor unions--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Metal-working machinery industry--Massachusetts --Springfield
  • Plant shutdowns--Massachusetts--Springfield
  • Springfield (Mass.)--Economic conditions
  • Springfield (Mass.)--Industries
  • Strikes and lockouts--Machinery industry--Massachusetts --Springfield
  • United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. Local 206 (Springfield, Mass.)

Types of material

  • Letters (Correspondence)
Katanka, Michael

Katanka-Fraser Political Music Collection

1885-1975
10 boxes 7 linear feet
Call no.: MS 552

The author, publisher, and radical bookseller Michael Katanka (1922-1983) was a staunch Socialist and historian of British labor. Beginning with his 1868: Year of Unions in 1968, Katanka wrote or edited a series of books and articles on Fabianism, satirical caricature, and trade unionism.

The Katanka-Fraser Political Music Collection consists of audio recordings, sheet music, and songbooks of politically-inspired music in a variety of languages. The works range from the English and German Socialist press of the 1880s to the antiwar movement of the 1960s and 1970s, touching upon labor agitation, proletarian songs, student protest, the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles, the Spanish Civil War, and Communism and Socialism. The collection also includes a few books and sound recordings from the extreme right in Nazi Germany.

Gift of James and Sibylle Fraser, June 2007

Subjects

  • Communists--Music
  • International Workers of the World--Music
  • Political ballads and songs
  • Protest songs
  • Radicalism--Songs and music
  • Socialists--Music
  • Working class--Music

Contributors

  • Fraser, James
  • Katanka, Michael
Massachusetts AFL-CIO

Massachusetts AFL-CIO Records

1902-1995
72 boxes 64 linear feet
Call no.: MS 369

Formed in 1887 as the Massachusetts branch of the American Federation of Labor, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO currently represents the interests of over 400,000 working people in the Commonwealth. Like its parent organization, the national AFL-CIO, the Mass. AFL-CIO is an umbrella organization, a union of unions, and engages in political education, legislative action, organizing, and education and training.

The official records of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO provide insight into the aims and administrative workings of the organization. These includes a nearly complete run of proceedings and reports from its conventions since 1902, except for a five year gap 1919-1923, minutes and agendas for the meetings of the Executive Council, and the President’s files (1982- ). The collection is particularly strong in the period since about 1980.

Subjects

  • Labor unions--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • AFL-CIO
  • Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Massachusetts Commission on Collective Bargaining

Massachusetts Commission on Collective Bargaining Records

1969-1973
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 023

In 1969, Governor Francis W. Sargeant established a bi-partisan council to review municipal and state collective bargaining practices more than decade after all public employees were extended the right to join unions. Over the next three years, the council heard from both sides, interviewing representatives from management and labor, and holding regional hearings throughout the state. The work of the group culminated in the enactment of the Massachusetts Public Employee Collective Bargaining Law (M.G.L. c.150E) in 1973, which granted full bargaining rights to most state and municipal employees.

The collection includes detailed minutes of meetings, transcripts of testimony, drafts of legislature, reports, and recommendations of the council.

Subjects

  • Collective bargaining
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1951-

Contributors

  • Massachusetts Commission on Collective Bargaining
Massachusetts State Employees Association. University of Massachusetts Chapter

MSEA University of Massachusetts Chapter Records

1955-1978
10 boxes 4.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 049

The Massachusetts State Employees’ Association (MSEA) was founded in 1943 to protest proposed changes in the state employees’ retirement system. By 1969, the group had become the exclusive bargaining agent for the University’s administrative, clerical, and technical employees.

This small collection includes the constitution and by-laws of the MSEA along with Executive Board and general body minutes, correspondence, contracts, legislative materials, grievance records, hearing transcripts and decisions pertaining to job reallocations, subject files, newsletters, and press releases that document the UMass chapter of the Massachusetts State Employees’ Association from 1955 to 1978.

Subjects

  • Collective labor agreements--Education, Higher--Massachusetts--Amherst
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
New England Telephone Workers’ Strike

New England Telephone Workers Strike Collection

1989
1 folder 0.15 linear feet
Call no.: MS 323

In 1989, almost 60,000 telephone workers in New England and New York waged a successful fifteen week strike against Nynex to protest a new contract that threatened cuts to medical benefits.

This small collection includes three handouts and a bulletin documenting the four-month labor strike carried out by New England telephone workers (represented by the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unions) against the NYNEX corporation.

Subjects

  • NYNEX Corporation
  • New England--Economic conditions--20th century
  • Strikes and lockouts--Telephone companies--New England --History
  • Telephone companies--Employees--Labor unions--New England--History

Contributors

  • Communications Workers of America
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

Types of material

  • Handbills
Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (Washington, D.C.)

Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) Records

1972-1981
12 boxes 17 linear feet
Call no.: MS 479
Image of PATCO representatives
PATCO representatives

Established in 1968, PATCO was certified as the exclusive representative for all FAA air traffic controllers. A little more than a decade later, union members went on strike demanding better working conditions despite the fact that doing so was in violation of a law banning strikes by government unions. In response to the strike, the Reagan administration fired the strikers, more than 11,000, and decertified the union. Over time the union was eventually reformed, first in 1996 as an affiliate with the Federation of Physicians and Dentists union, and later as an independent, national union in 2004.

Correspondence, financial records, notes and memos documenting the activities of the Boston area branch of PATCO. Letters, announcements, and planning documents leading up to the 1981 strike shed light on the union’s position.

Subjects

  • Air traffic controlers--Labor unions
  • Collective bargaining--Aeronautics--United States
  • Labor unions--Massachusetts

Contributors

  • Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (Washington, D.C.)
Richardson, Charley

Charley Richardson Papers

ca.1985-2012
32 boxes 48 linear feet
Call no.: MS 862

A shipfitter and union activist, Charley Richardson was a visonary labor educator. After working for a time in a machine shop and driving a school bus, Richardson hired on as a shipfitter at Sun Ship in Philadelphia in 1976, and grew active in the labor movement as a steward for the United Steelworkers. After relocating to the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy seven years later, he sustained a workplace injury that ended his career, but he remained active in the workers’ cause. Helping served as director of the Labor Extension Program at UMass Lowell and helped to create the Technology and Work Program where he and his wife Nancy Lessin developed educational programs to aid unions in countering harmful workplace changes and build strength and solidarity for the union. An advocate for social and economic justice, he became a vocal opponent of the U.S. war in Iraq in 2002, and was co-founder of Military Families Speak Out. After a long battle with cancer, Richardson passed away in May 2013.

The Richardson papers document over thirty years of work as a labor educator and United Steelworkers activist. At the heart of the collection are materials relating to Richardson’s research and instruction at UMass Lowell, teaching “continuous bargaining” and other techniques for unions coping with economic and political change. The collection is informed throughout by Richardson’s concerns for workplace safety and health and the impact of technology, downsizing, deregulation, and globalization.

Gift of Susan Winning, Apr. 2015

Subjects

  • Industrial safety
  • Labor unions and education
  • United Steelworkers of America
  • University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Labor Education Prograss

Contributors

  • Lessin, Nancy