Resources | Worth Repeating
Studs Terkel, 1912-2008
"I'm known around the block as a writer and broadcaster," Terkel tells me, "but also as that old guy who talks to himself. I never learnt to drive. Why should I have? The bus was there. So one day I'm on the corner alone, waiting for the 146. I'm talking to myself, finding the audience very appreciative. Then other people arrive; I talk to them too.
This one couple ignore me completely. He's wearing Gucci shoes and carrying The Wall Street Journal. She's a looker. Neiman Marcus clothes. Vanity Fair under her arm. So I told them, 'Tomorrow is Labor Day: the holiday to ' honour the unions.'
The guy gives me the kind of look Noel Coward might have given a bug on his sleeve. 'We despise unions.'
I fix him with my glittering eye, like the Ancient Mariner, and I ask, 'How many hours do you work a day?' He tells me eight. 'How come you don't work 18 hours a day, like your great-grandparents?' He can't answer that. 'Because four men got hanged for you.' I explain that I'm referring to the Haymarket Affair, the union dispute here in Chicago in May 1886.
The bus is late. I have him pinned against the mailbox. Then I say, 'How many days a week do you work?' He says five." Terkel laughs, and takes a sip of water. "I say: 'Five - oh, really? How come you don't work six and a half ?' He isn't sure. 'Because of the Memorial Day Massacre. These battles were fought, all for you.' I tell him about that massacre of workers, in Chicago, in 1937. He's never heard of these things before. She drops her Vanity Fair. I pick it up, being gallant. I am giving it to them now: the past. Because, like James Baldwin said, without the past, there is no present. The bus arrives. They leap in. I never see them again. But I'll bet... they live in an upscale condominium that faces the bus stop. I'll bet she looks down every morning, from the 20th floor, and he says: 'Is that old nut still down there?' And can you blame them?"
Studs Terkel was a famous writer and broadcaster who died in 2008 at the age of 96. Above is an excerpt from an interview with him done in October of 2007.
"Leaders must tell the truth, we can't just tell our members what they want to hear, or what is popular.
We have always said that union workers are the most skilled and productive workers, and should receive the best wages and benefits. We need to deliver this promise.
There is nothing wrong with companies being successful - we need our partner employers to do well, and we can't let the very small number of our members who do not live up to our standards of excellence, pride in our labour and citizenship, bring us down.
We need to look in the mirror and make sure we are living up to our values. It takes guts, and honesty."
Buddy Satterfield is a special assistant to IBEW President Ed Hill and he is in charge of the IBEW Membership Developement Department. He made these remarks in 2008
Martin Luther King Jr., 1929 - 1968
"The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome."
Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of the civil-rights movement in the United States from the Mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. King promoted non-violent means to achieve civil-rights reform and was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. This quotation is from a speech he made on Oct. 7, 1965
Warren Franklin Hatheway, 1850 - 1923
"You forget your strongest weapon - the ballot," he wrote in 1906, "You men of labour belong to the first order...of labour from which all wealth and art evolve, see to it that you advance with the time, that you get the share of life and liberty due to every decent man, and do not allow yourselves to be thrust back into tireless rounds of unending work by the ruthless hand of the millionaire."
Warren Franklin Hatheway was born in Saint John, New Brunswick on September 16, 1850. When he passed away on October 30, 1923, he was described in his obituary as "a strong supporter of labour." Frank Hatheway was that and much more.
Hatheway owned a wholesale grocery business, which became very successful. He served for two terms (1894-1895) as president of the Saint John Board of Trade and was one of Saint John's leading citizens, yet he never wavered in his support of the working class.
He fought for legislation to regulate the conditions in New Brunswick factories and was finally successful in having the government pass the Factory Act. In 1903 he was successful in his fight to have Workers Compensation introduced in New Brunswick. As a result, it was commonly referred to as "The Hatheway Act."