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Illinois Labor History Society

Labor History Articles

Filtering by Tag: memorial remembrance

William J. (Bill) Adelman Remembered

Webtrax Admin

September 17, 2009
By Leslie F. Orear, President Emeritus, Illinois Labor History Society

A life of devotion to the pursuit of labor history came to an abrupt end on September 15th with the death of William J Adelman, a founder of the Illinois Labor History Society and its Vice President. The cause of death was a heart attack.

Adelman began his professional career as a high school history teacher. Later Professor Adelman joined the faculty of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

He was one of the few academics offering a labor history perspective in the Chicago region during the 60s and 70s. His lectures, seminars and tours to labor sites became extremely popular, particularly in the labor union community. His content was always designed to produce the maximum understanding of the historical roots of contemporary issues, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the subject was legendary.

As one of an informal group of labor attorneys, educators and editors he helped create the Haymarket Workers Memorial Committee which issued a call for a ceremony in Haymarket Square on May 1, 1969 to correct public misunderstanding of the "so-called" Haymarket riot. The success of that effort led to the incorporation of the Illinois Labor History Society and Adelman's election as Vice President that same year.

Aware of the need for better teaching tools, Adelman produced self-guided tours to the Pullman community where the great strike of 1894 had taken place and to areas associated with the Haymarket Tragedy of 1886. He continued the series with Pilsen and the West Side, including the Ashland Avenue neighborhood known as Union Row because of its numerous labor union headquarters. His visual works began in the 16mm days with "Packingtown USA" followed by "Palace Cars and Paradise," a walking tour of the Pullman community with Adelman himself as guide. Both have been transferred to video. Most of these materials are available today through the Illinois Labor History Society.

He served on the official public committee to select the sculptor for the Haymarket Memorial sculpture installed by the City of Chicago in Haymarket Square in 2004 after 35 years of agitation by the labor community. This historic event followed the naming of the Haymarket Martyrs Monument in Forest Home Cemetery as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. National Park Service in 1998. Adelman had urged such action at a conference held by the Park Service.

In May 2009, Adelman's "Haymarket Revisited" was republished in the English language by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions in New Delhi with a foreword by its president, M.K. Pandhe. In this new version entitled "Glorious Saga of May Day Martyrs," Pandhe notes that he and his wife had been members of a Haymarket tour party in 2008. Pandhe declares: "...I must mention the remarkable guidance given by Prof. William J. Adelman.... For over two hours he narrated the entire background to us in a lucid manner which reflected his firm commitment to the working class and their legitimate struggles... I was deeply impressed. by the book ["Haymarket Revisited"] and thought that Indian readers should know about the glorious struggle of the Chicago workers."

Adelman was immediately informed when the book arrived at the ILHS office in late August of this year, but unfortunately he did not have the opportunity to see it before his untimely death.

Jacqueline B. Vaughn

Webtrax Admin

A tribute to the life of the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, now deceased.

We have gathered to celebrate the induction into the Union Hall of Honor of the Illinois Labor History Society, of one who was for almost ten years the Chicago area's most visible union leader in this age of the nightly news on TV.

As the leader and spokesperson for the Chicago Teachers Union, the late Jacqueline B. Vaughn was a frequent vision on the screen, addressing the issues and interests of both teachers and students in her calm yet firm voice. Clearly and succinctly, with dignity and style, she presented the union's position through the years while school crisis after crisis seized the public's attention.

What those of us who were not among her colleagues at union headquarters could not have known, however, are things about her gift for consensus building among members of the leadership team; and, indeed, among the men and women in the trenches, the teachers and support staff within the schools.

Nor could we be aware of her interests, at both the structural and content level, in educational reform that would bring about a better learning environment in the classroom, and better instruction to the students.

It was her vision that captured $1,000,000 worth of attention from the MacArthur Foundation in support of the Chicago Teachers Union's Quest Center. The Center gives teams of personnel at individual schools a place to design their own more effective methods to structure the teaching process, on the one hand, and student learning on the other.

More than 2,000 CTU members have attended Quest Center classes and conferences. There are now over forty-five schools with individually structured educational environments in place, tailored to fit their particular educational goals.

Jacque, as she liked to be called, came to the union leadership from the classroom. She began her collective bargaining apprenticeship in 1968 under the presidency of John Desmond. She went through no less than nine strikes as a member of the bargaining team. She was elected vice-president of the CTU in 1972, and became its president on July 9, 1984.

This extraordinary woman was able to be wife, mother, and labor union executive in a host of leadership capacities. She became a vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers as far back as 1974. She was elected president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers in 1989, and undertook leadership responsibilities for its 70,000 members state-wide.

Still, she found time to serve on policy boards of public and private agencies and organizations; and, of course, the Pilgrim Baptist Church where she was among the most devoted and active of members.

Jacque Vaughn was unstoppable. Even her illness, debilitating though it was, could not keep her sidelined from the tense contract negotiations of 1993. The essential elements of the contract were saved, despite the intense "take-away" pressures that besieged the union from many sides.

As President Tom Reece, whom she called her "right arm" has observed, "she left us footprints, not only behind her, but leading ahead. We intend to follow them."

So can we all.

November 19, 1994

If the Rev. Martin Mangan were alive, he'd turn 75 years old today

Webtrax Admin

reprinted from Decatur Herald & Review - Sunday, December 12, 2004

By AMY HOAK - H&R Staff Writer

DECATUR - If the Rev. Martin Mangan were alive, he'd turn 75 years old today.

If he had the energy, the St. James priest would still be fighting for justice in the workplace, say those who knew him. He'd be urging corporations to see that people should come before profit, that workers' rights should always trump any bottom line.

And if local labor's epitome of social justice was there to accept the honor bestowed upon him Saturday night at the Decatur Trades and Labor Assembly's annual community services and awards banquet, he would have done so quite modestly.

"He would have been quite humbled by it," said Sister Glenda Bourgeois, who worked closely with Mangan during his days at St. James Catholic Church.

Mangan was posthumously inducted into the Illinois Labor History Society's Union Hall of Honor on Saturday, a distinction bestowed on only about 10 downstate leaders and a couple of priests during the 20 years it has been in existence

Every year, two or three Illinoisans who have had a significant impact on workers rights are chosen as recipients, and most are from Chicago, said Mike Matejka, who is on the state labor history board and presented the award Bourgeois accepted. Many prior inductees worked in the early 1900s, he said.

Mangan, however, was a contemporary labor advocate conditioned by the civil rights movement in the 1960s who later came to bring strength to local unions facing off with their ever-competitive corporate bosses.

"He had a real sense of social justice," Matejka said. "He brought an appreciation for Catholic teaching - that people came before profit."

He also did it without any airs of self-importance, agreed Matejka and Bourgeois.

Some of Mangan's most remembered moments came during Decatur's labor unrest in the mid-1990s. He once stood chained for 12 hours to a fence outside A.E. Staley Mfg. Co., protesting the 12-hour workday of those inside. He was also one of scores arrested for trespassing during a demonstration at the plant.

In September 2001, Mangan lost a battle with cancer at the age of 71.

Local historian and Macon County Board member Bob Sampson works to keep Mangan's spirit alive through a "Friends of Mitz" group, which hosts lectures and whose members wear lapel buttons bearing the letters "FOM" on them.

Mike Shampine says he likes to think the Decatur Trades and Labor Assembly also has continued Mangan's tradition. Shampine is president of the organization, which serves as an umbrella for local AFL-CIO unions.

"We champion those standing out and speaking out against wrongs done against workers," he said, then quickly shifted gears to lament the large number of union jobs lost during the past 3½ years. New jobs in the service industry often don't provide an even swap for the good-paying union jobs lost, he said.

Mangan would have had the same complaints, Shampine said.

Though Mangan got involved in labor issues during a lockout at Staley and strikes at Bridgestone/Firestone and Caterpillar Inc., he still would have no trouble finding labor issues to work on in the community, said Bourgeois.

"Whenever he saw rights denied, he stepped up to the plate," she said.

As a reminder of that, the plaque she accepted Saturday will be hung in the vestibule of St. James, next to a picture of the revered father.

"He's a legend," she said.

Franklin Rosemont Remembered

Webtrax Admin

Sadly, the Illinois Labor History Society reports the death of Franklin Rosemont, managing editor of the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., arguably this country's most important publisher of labor, radical and what might be called "alternative" books.

Organized in 1886, the Kerr Company introduced Marx to the American political discussion through publication of the Communist Manifesto. Kerr also published the International Socialist Review. During the great Pullman Strike of 1894, Kerr brought out The Pullman Strike by Rev. William Carwardine, Methodist minister at Pullman, which provided a full account of the workers' grievances against the Company. When Mother Jones wrote her Autobiography, it was at the behest of Kerr who published this classic in 1925 with an introduction by Clarence Darrow. The Autobiography and The Pullman Strike were reprinted under the sponsorship of the Illinois Labor History Society in 1971-72, shortly after the founding of the Society in 1969.

A member of the IWW since his childhood, Franklin was the son of Henry Rosemont, a prominent figure in the Chicago Typographical Union, and of Sally Rosemont, a jazz musician and union member. He was elected to the Board of Trustees of the ILHS in 1981, where he served until his untimely death at age 65 on April 12, 2009. He and his wife Penelope, Secretary-Treasurer of the Kerr Company, were inducted into the Union Hall of Honor of the Illinois Labor History Society in 2005. The citation describes them as "faithful stewards of the Charles H. Kerr Company, publishers of labor and radical classics since 1886."

Franklin was an author in his own right, his most recent book being Joe Hill: The IWW & the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture. Profuse with IWW illustrations, it should be in every labor historian's collection. Another of his major contributions is the Haymarket Scrapbook, written with David Roediger in 1986 to mark the centennial of the Haymarket Tragedy. The Big Red Song Book was his most recent collaboration with David Roediger, Salvatore Salerno and the late great folklorist Archie Green.

Les Orear
President Emeritus
Illinois Labor History Society