ljones's blog

General Gordon Baker, Jr.: A Detroit Revolutionary to the Core

There is a select group of people who place the needs of others above their own, do so against formidable forces and at great risk to their own welfare and well-being. They take these risks never knowing exactly how they will fare, but recognizing that their convictions demand that they cannot do otherwise. General Gordon Baker, Jr., a Detroit revolutionary, was among this select group of people. On May 24, 2014, a packed audience at Dearborn, Michigan’s UAW Local 600 memorialized his life that ended six days before. It was there that attendees gave tribute to a man whose impact did not pass with his death.  read more »

Collection Spotlight: Wade McCree's contribution to Detroit and the nation

The Walter P. Reuther Library continues to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting the life of Wade McCree and his papers.

In his work as a judge, appointed official, and educator coupled with his sense of civic responsibility, Wade Hampton McCree, Jr. made a unique contribution to the Detroit metropolitan area and beyond. His success in these areas are noteworthy by themselves, but even more so given the barriers to success experienced by African Americans  read more »

Book Announcement: How to Keep Union Records

Like other organizations, labor unions and the archives that house their material operate in and are shaped by history. That history is largely informed by the records that labor archives receive from labor unions, the “symbiotic relationship” between the two, as Michael Nash reminds us, and the extent to which they are made available to and used by researchers. This is the message found within How to Keep Union Records. Edited by Michael Nash with selections by a cadre of labor archivists, the book is intended as much for labor archivists requiring guidance as it is for unions seeking ways to manage their records and ensure that their legacy lives into the future.  read more »

Reuther Library at Wayne State University opens SEIU District 925 Oral history interviews for research


Oral history interviews focusing on relationship between women’s movement and organized
labor donated to Wayne State University’s Walter P. Reuther Library

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 925 Legacy Project donated 47
transcribed oral history interviews and corresponding audiotapes to Wayne State
University’s Walter P. Reuther Library. These oral histories, which are now open for
research, chronicle the organization’s 20-year history and provide insight into the
relationship between the women’s movement and organized labor.

In 1975, SEIU partnered with members of 9to5, National Association of Working Women to organize office workers in Boston and created Local 925. Stakeholders expanded upon this idea in 1981 by forming SEIU District 925 in order to organize office workers into chapters throughout the country. District 925 dissolved in 2001 when it consolidated with other SEIU locals. While District 925 also organized men, the collective power of organized women is a unifying theme throughout the oral histories.

9to5, the association, and District 925, the union, used a variety of techniques to raise community consciousness about the issues facing women clerical workers. When 925 launched, office workers were one of the largest, lowest-paid, most-exploited and least-unionized segments of the nation’s workforce. The 1980 movie Nine to Five, starring Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Dabney Coleman, drew from real life experiences of women clerical workers and touched millions of people on a comedic level with a serious message about workplace oppression. District 925 helped to legitimize “women’s issues” in the workplace as union issues. They organized women, propelled them into national leadership positions within the labor movement, tackled pay inequity, and addressed issues such as family and medical leave – all during a time of great social and technological change.

Union leaders Karen Nussbaum, Debbie Schneider, Kim Cook, Bonnie Ladin, Anne Hill and Ellen Cassedy, as well as activists such as Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Tom Hayden, are among the subjects of these oral histories. The donation of these transcripts to the Walter P. Reuther Library will add to the 925 Manuscript Collection that is already part of the Reuther’s holdings.

For more information, contact Alexandra Orchard.

Louis Jones, PhD, CA, is the Field Archivist for the Walter P. Reuther Library.

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