LABOR HISTORY SOCIETY
Historic Kohler strikes and future
of labor topics at conference
Wisconsin Labor History Society set for 8:30 am May 17 in Sheboygan, Emil Mazey Hall
The historic three decades of struggles that workers faced at Wisconsin’s
Kohler Co. to win decent working conditions will be reviewed – along with
their relevance for today’s economy – at the 33rd Annual
Conference of the Wisconsin Labor History Society to be held Saturday, May 17
Kohler Strikes – Three Decades of Struggle: What Can Labor Learn?
What Works Today?” the all-day
conference will be held at Emil Mazey Hall, 5425
Superior Ave., Sheboygan, home of United Auto Workers Local 833 which
represents workers at the company in nearby Kohler.
Roger Bybee, of Milwaukee, a
prominent columnist and editor of the former Racine Labor newspaper, will
lead off the conference, tracing the history of the Local 833 efforts to win
a contract and decent working conditions. Two strikes marked the
struggle, one in 1934 for recognition, and the other that lasted from 1954
until 1964 making it the longest strike in U. S. history.
Three participants from the last strike – former Local 833 President
Charles Conrardy and Gordy
Billmann and Julius Siech
– and former State Senator Cal Potter will relate
experiences as part of a panel that will examine how the strikes affected the
community and the workers involved. Current Local 833 President
Dave Boucher will discuss the local’s situation today.
Looking at how unions can move ahead in today’s difficult economy will be Matthew
Luskin, organizer for the Chicago Teachers
Union, and Joe Burns, author, labor attorney and union
Luskin was the lead organizer of the Chicago
Teachers in their community-wide strike in September 2012, fighting back
management demands for an unfair teacher evaluation system, halting the merit
pay proposal and ensuring protections for teachers in phased out schools.
Burns, author of Reviving the Strike: How Working People Can Regain
Power and Transform America, argues that workers will need to
rediscover the power of the strike. Not the ineffectual strike of today,
where employees meekly sit on picket lines waiting for scabs to take their
jobs, but the type of strike capable of grinding industries to a halt—the
kind employed up until the 1960s.
An open discussion will follow the presentations of Lewis and Burns.
Lunch will be served and the Society will present its annual awards to
high school students for their essays on labor history, college and graduate
students for their research and a “Solidarity Award” to an individual for
lifetime achievement to workers, unions and the community.
Established in 1981, the Society is an affiliate of the Wisconsin
Historical Society and is supported by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and many
local unions and labor councils in Wisconsin.
Registration is $30.00. Local 833
Members get one free with one purchased. Register by May 10th at
the Union Hall
UAW 2014 Best Ball Golf Outing
Hickory Hills Country Club
Friday and Saturday July 11 & 12, 2014
Only UAW members and retirees are eligible to Golf!
Entry fee of $26 per person should be turned in with the
Includes golf, carts, dinner, refreshments and door
Forms are available at the Union hall