Strix the harbinger
guards the exit gate, quizzing all
Who will pass this night?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Big Strike Ends

When I was in High School our community was torn apart by a strike by the United  Packinghouse Workers.  It became ugly and violent, and for a time the city was under marshall law. My classmate, Cheri Register, wrote a book about it, Packinghouse Daughter. Go buy it, Cheri's babies need new shoes. Well, maybe Cheri needs new Birkenstocks.

The following is from today's Albert Lea Tribune.
 
The caption of this Associated Press photo printed Sunday, Jan. 31, 1960, in the Evening Tribune read: “Solidarity March — This is part of more than 2,000 United Packinghouse Workers union members who marched on Albert Lea Saturday to demonstrate union solidarity. The demonstrators marched along a parade route more than a mile in length.”

Former Wilson & Co. workers speak about an experience that divided the community

Published Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Some had started at the packinghouse right out of high school, others were married with children and yet others had worked at the plant for decades.Before Albert Lea’s United Packinghouse Workers Local 6 gained national attention in 1959 for their involvement with the Wilson & Co. strike, they were average citizens just trying to make a living. But no matter what the experience, each worker was affected in some way, and for many their lives were interrupted. Now, 50 years after the last day of the strike, the Tribune interviewed four former Wilson & Co. workers about their experiences at that time. What led up to the disagreement between the union and the company, what took place during the strike and how was it resolved?  While these four men have agreed to share their stories openly, a few were afraid this article would open old wounds. They said it took years to overcome the experiences they went through.
Here are their stories:

4 comments:

Margadant said...

Thanks for posting this, although 50+ years later, the memory of the "Chicago Irish Mafia" still raises my blood pressure.

Gunnar Berg said...

Cheri R. sez, "Next time I'm at Schuler Shoes, I'll have you to thank, I suppose."

Buy the damned book!

Anonymous said...

Read the book...from her point of view...didn't correlate with mine living in A.L. at the time. Though my dad was "blue-collar" I didn't have the same feelings she did about the "class-system".
I too, remember the strike and being on curfew and having militia driving around town. Guess not having a dad work for the packinghouse did make a difference some-how.

Masini said...

Never ever thought I'd read the phrase "march on Albert Lea". Shows how little I know...