April 5, 1994
Contact: Jennifer McNulty (408/459-2495)
RACE AND ETHNICITY IS THE THEME OF THE TWENTIETH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE SOUTHWEST LABOR STUDIES ASSOCIATION
UC Santa Cruz hosts two-day conference April 29-30
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SANTA CRUZ, CA--People who believe the American labor movement is dead haven't heard María Elena Durazo talk about her work. Durazo, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, Local 11 of Los Angeles, is at the forefront of the struggle to organize immigrant workers in southern California. Durazo, a dynamic and inspiring speaker, will deliver a keynote address at the upcoming twentieth annual conference of the Southwest Labor Studies Association at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
"Durazo's work represents the direction the labor movement is taking today," says conference organizer David Brundage, an associate professor of community studies at UCSC. "She recognizes that the movement can only move forward by reaching out to women, immigrant workers, and workers of color. That's what this conference is about."
The theme of the conference, which takes place April 29-30, is "Race, Ethnicity, and the American Labor Movement." Durazo's address is titled "Economic Inequality: LA's Other Faultline. A Union Perspective." The conference is open to the public; registration for both days is $25; $5 for retired or unemployed; free for students. Most events will take place at UCSC's Oakes College. Participants can register at the Oakes College Learning Center.
Highlights of the conference include another keynote speech by Michael Honey, an associate professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma, who will deliver a talk titled "Organized Labor and Black Freedom: The View from Memphis." His address will be followed by comments from Clayborne Carson, a professor of history at Stanford University and editor of the Martin Luther King, Jr., papers. The schedule also includes a screening of the new film "At the River I Stand," which documents the strike by Memphis sanitation workers in 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr., was working on the Memphis strike at the time of his death.
Panel discussions will cover a range of topics such as global restructuring and cross-border solidarity, agricultural labor, the repression of organized labor, perceptions of women workers, radicals in the labor movement of the early twentieth century, labor activism among women workers, labor and civil rights in the postwar American economy, and making labor films and videos. A panel on the legacy of Cesar Chavez, featuring Richard A. Garcia and Frank Bardacke, will be thought-provoking; Garcia is writing a biography of Chavez, and Bardacke recently wrote a controversial assessment of Chavez's career in The Nation.
In addition to the panels, there will be a roundtable discussion on the work of historian and former labor activist Alexander Saxton, who has written about the history of white working-class racism. Workshops will be held on "The Influence of 1960s Social Movements on Women's Participation in the Labor Movement" and "Technology and Labor: The New Mix."
A screening of "Watsonville on Strike," a documentary by Jon Silver about the successful cannery strike of 1985-87, is scheduled, and the story of Neshtey Crudup, the first African American woman to be admitted to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Los Angeles, will be told in the video "In My Own Words: Against All Odds."
The conference provides a rare opportunity for labor activists and labor scholars to come together and share their perspectives, says Brundage. "Labor organizations are reaching out to ethnic communities and women," he says. "At the same time, labor historians are focusing more on gender, race, and ethnicity than they have in the past. That's bringing activists and scholars closer together than ever before." The Southwest Labor Studies Association was established in 1974 and is one of the very few groups made up of labor activists and scholars.
The conference is sponsored by the association. Cosponsors include the UCSC Divisions of Social Sciences and Humanities, the UCSC Center for Cultural Studies, and the Santa Cruz County Central Labor Council.
(Editor's Note: For detailed schedule information, call Brundage at 408/459-4645.)
(This release is also available on UC NewsWire, the University of California's electronic news service. To access by modem, dial 1- 209-244-6971.)