Writings on labor & union labels

one of the classic television commercials from the early 1980s featuring members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union

A few years ago, I was obsessed with the stories and symbols involved in union labels and the label movement. Most people remember the Look for the Union Label ad campaign of 1978/81, but labels have had a long and complex tale that is completely intertwined with the history of the labor movement.

Here I am collecting links to some of my label related projects. It is my hope, someday, to do a book about this.

Here's an old blog post about my original concept for the label project: Signs of Unity: Stories and Symbols of the Union Label Movement.  

In 2008, I participated in "Syndicate," a piece for Bay Area Now 5 at YBCA, a collaboration with Jessica Tulley, Wendy Crittenden and Tom Griscom that included a gallery installation, street stencils of historic photos, and a walking tour. Out of that project grew our 2015 Labor Landmarks show Dual Views, hosted at SFSU by the Labor Archives and Reseach Center, featuring the photography of Griscom and Crittenden. In support of this show, I wrote "The Fight for San Francisco" which was published in Places Journal about the historic sites in SF important to the labor movement.

I have several articles published on academica.edu and on slideshare, including "Evolution of an Emblem: the Arm & Hammer" and "100 Years Hand-in-Hand: a Brief History of the AFL-CIO Emblem." I was honored to speak at the AFL-CIO Union Label Department's national convention about their history in 2009 (Pittsburgh, PA), as well as at the national convention of the Popular Culture Association (Albuquerque, NM).

As more people are giving up the power of numbers that unions provided them, I hope that in some small way I have been able to help the stories of the sacrifices workers made to win fairer pay and treatment live on.




Dual Views - SF Labor Landmarks at SFSU

Dual Views: Labor Landmarks of San Francisco, a project featuring the landscape photography of Wendy Crittenden & Tom Griscom, was on view at the SFSU library gallery 3/19 - 8/7 2015. The exhibition catalog is still available on Blurb & iTunes. Our related feature on Places JournalThe Fight for San Francisco, was selected by CityLab as one of the best articles about urban space of the week. Several SFSU classes viewed the exhibit, and we appreciate everyone's support. We'd like to thank Catherine Powell, Director of LARC and Nancy Arms Simon, SFSU's installer, for making the show look great. 

We are actively looking for other venues to host this exhibit, please contact Kim if you know of a gallery that would be a good match.