Livingston & McLean County Labor
Bloomington & Normal Trades & Labor Assembly / Livingston & McLean Counties Building & Trades Council
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  • Labor Culture
    This page will contain announcements and reviews of labor-related books, films and music.
    New novel explores Illinois' 1930s coal field wars
    Nov 30, 2016
    A novel about a union battle?  “Yawn” might be the response, unless that novel includes gun battles, dynamite and sadistic sex. Throw Out the Water tells a family tale, as Illinois miners fight a unique and bloody coal fields battle. Now most coal field stories feature a greedy company, collapsing mines and exploited but militant miners.
    "Dirt Work" captures laboring life
    Aug 08, 2016
    reviewed by Mike Matejka Leaving their air-conditioned office, what goes through someone’s mind when they pass a construction site on a sticky-humid August day? Do the motorists give a thought to the men and women in the bright orange and lime green Ts behind the asphalt paver.
    What our grandparents ate
    Jun 28, 2016
    Food in the Gilded Age: What Ordinary Americans Ate, by Robert Dirks   If we go back 100-plus years ago, what did our grandparents and great-grandparents eat, before the days of golden arches, microwaves and frozen pizza? With a scrupulous look at early diet research, retired Illinois State University anthropologist Rob Dirks reconstructed the food ways of America’s workers.
    Like a good mystery? Meet Lenny Moss
    Mar 30, 2016
    What’s your image of a detective? Sherlock Holmes in his deerslayer hat, magnifying glass at the ready? Humphrey Bogart as the tough guy, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth? A femme fatale in a revealing red evening gown, slowly and seductively pulling information from some unwitting male? Meet Lenny Moss. He mops bathroom floors and hospital hallways.
    Civil Rights anthem live again in "Oh Freedom"
    Jan 21, 2016
    Every movement - labor, women, civil rights - has its music.  No American political effort used music more effectively and burrowed itself into the national song track like the 1960s Civil Rights fight. Drawing on gospel, jazz, blues and spirituals, a rich musical texture overlaid the effort.   We Shall Overcome became an international anthem, adapted to many causes and efforts.
    Joe Hill has never died, 1915-2015
    Nov 16, 2015
    “Joe Hill has never died” -- if you are of a certain generation, you remember Woodstock and Joan Baez singing an “organizing song” about some guy named Joe Hill. Joe Hill was real -- a Swedish immigrant who became a vocal union organizer, executed by Utah in 1915, charged with a murder which many claim was trumped up.
    Old Wobbly songs zap with style
    Sep 30, 2015
    Joe Hill’s Last Will by John McCuthcheon, Appalsongs On November 19, 1915, a Swedish immigrant, Joel Emmanuel Hagglund, was executed by a firing squad in Salt Lake City, Utah, charged with murdering a grocer. That event might be long forgotten, except that immigrant was better known for his anglicized name, “Joe Hill.
    Ordinary "extraordinary" workers shine in new book
    Sep 30, 2015
    Are we our jobs, or are we more?  The eight or more hours we spent working daily often defines \ our life.  Even when retired, we refer back to the job we once had.   Yet who ever looks beneath the surface to see a person, not just an occupation, an individual with dreams and aspirations.
    Children's books, local music tell workers' stories
    Sep 04, 2015
    Here’s two new children’s books with a workers’ rights theme and two new musical compilations by local artists. Hardball Press has two just released titles for children, for more information, go to Joelito’s Big Decision by Ann Berlak, illustrated by Daniel Camacho, features a young man making a hard choice.
    New CD rocks with spirit of Mother Jones
    Jul 27, 2015
    No one in American labor history has won the mythic status of Mary “Mother” Jones (1837-1930). This Irish immigrant, who lost her family to disease and her business to the Great Chicago Fire, became the nation’s roving rabble-rouser in the final third of her life.   Traveling from picket line to coal mine to jail cells, this spirited figure rallied many a strike.
    Down on the Farm - Land of Milk & Uncle Honey
    May 26, 2015
    Though we all eat multiple times a day, fewer Americans have direct connections to the land.  The rural population is smaller and bigger machinery and consolidations have left rural communities vacant. Remembering agriculture 50 years ago is the theme of Alan Guebert’s Land of Milk & Uncle Honey.
    Rednecks fight for union rights
    May 20, 2015
    The Devil Is Here In These Hills: West Virginia Coal Miners and their Battle for Freedom, by James Green,  Atlantic Monthly Press, ISBN 978-0-8021-2331-2   $28.
    Laborer by Day, Artist by night
    Apr 06, 2015
    Metro-east artist Paul Martin Butkovich, a Laborers 338 member & a famed artist
    Bloomington activist blazed trails
    Feb 02, 2015
    Famous activist and union members get remembered, but what about the everyday people who strive to make life better in their own community? Tina Stewart Brakebill, an ISU history instructor, has done that for Barbara (Barbe) Lennon (1881-1983), a Bloomington teacher, activist and mother who strove to represent her profession and improve local conditions.
    What did you learn at work today?
    Sep 04, 2014
    What did you learn at work today? by Helena Worthen We all learn something new.  We learn from school, family and friends, and much of what we learn is on the job.  That can not only mean job skills, but also learning human personalities, workplace issues and basic job justice.
    Building Trades: Mutual support or go it alone?
    Sep 04, 2014
    Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits: A century of Building Trades History  by Grace Palladino  Cornell University Press  ISBN 978-0-8014-7414-9  Reviewed by Mike Matejka  Almost every construction trades worker has been at a union meeting or on the job where that infamous word “jurisdictional dispute” has arisen.
    The price of inequality
    Sep 04, 2014
    The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future  By Joseph Stiglitz  Norton & Company, 2012  ISBN 978-0-393-08869-4  Reviewed by Mike Matejka  Economics, the study of how we earn and spend our hard-earned pay, can be dry stuff, often lost in obscure charts and mathematical models.
    Money well Spent? - The Obama Stimulus
    Sep 04, 2014
    Money Well Spent?  The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History  By Michael Grabell  Public Affairs $27.99  ISBN: 9781610390095  Reviewed by Mike Matejka  The stimulus is often slammed in the news media as a failure. The $825 billion stimulus package is reviled by conservatives as a deficit lead weight.
    Food producers shut out from the bounty they create
    Sep 04, 2014
    The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan (Simon & Schuster)  Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman (Cornell University Press)  The Chicken Trail: Following Workers, Migrants and Corporations Across the Americas by Kathleen C. Schwartzman(Cornell University Press)  Reviewed by Mike Matejka We have become a food conscious and an eating out nation.
    Bucky Halker channels Woody Guthrie
    Sep 04, 2014
    The Ghost of Woody Guthrie  CD by Bucky Halker & Andy Dee  Reviewed by Mike Matejka  Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (1912-1967) is an American musical genius few people know, outside of leftists and folkies, but we sing his songs.
    Rail Labor led the way for 1930s reforms
    Sep 04, 2014
    American Railroad Labor & the Genesis of the New Deal, 1919 - 1935  by Jon R. Huibregtse  University Press of Florida  ISBN 978-0-8130-3465-2  reviewed by Michael G. Matejka  In the telling of labor’s story, the 1930s is the seminal, triumphant decade. With a sympathetic President, Franklin D.
    How to read e-mail and the internet
    Sep 04, 2014
    The internet and e-mail can be a wonderful thing, but they also bring some strange things inside our homes.   Suddenly you are a multi-millionaire, if only you will give a Siberian or a Nigerian your bank account; a friend is stranded in London (Madrid, Paris, take your pick) with their passport and wallet stolen, send money now.

    Page Last Updated: Nov 30, 2016 (08:21:07)
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