Virginia Festival of the Book
Organizing for the Common Good: Labor Unions & Strikes in America
Fri. March 22, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
605 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Jessica Salfia (55 Strong) and Lynn Waltz (Hog Wild) discuss their personal experiences with and research into contemporary labor unions and strikes in America, from the 2018 West Virginia teachers’ strike to the world’s largest meatpacking union. Book sales and signing will follow. FREE to attend and open to the public.
Why should you attend?
“What compelled West Virginia’s teachers to strike? How did they organize? What were teachers and allies doing during the strike? And how is the West Virginia labor movement celebrating its victory? 55 Strong: Inside the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike answers these questions and offers unique, on-the-ground insight into this historic strike. The book includes essays by teachers from around the state, organizing documents, images from the picket lines, and material on the history of the labor movement in West Virginia.”—Belt Publishing
“Lynn Waltz weaves in-depth interviews of key actors and court records with contemporaneous newspaper reporting into a compelling saga of the fourteen-year campaign to unionize the world’s largest meatpacking plant. Hog Wild is a valuable addition to the literature on workers’ struggles for better wages and working conditions in the meatpacking industry.”—Donald D. Stull, co-author of Slaughter-house Blues
Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.
Virginia Premiere of “Union Time.”
Location: Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalists
809 Military Highway
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Union Time: Fighting for Workers’ Rights • 86 min. 2016 • Directed by Matthew Barr
In 1993, a group of employees at the Smithfield Pork Processing Plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, began to work with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to organize the 5,000 workers at the plant. In 2008, after a 16-year struggle, they won the right to form a union.
Jobs in meatpacking are among the most dangerous in the country. Once dominated by skilled butchers working in unionized jobs, the industry gradually moved packing plants to rural areas in right-to-work states. What used to be respected as skilled labor is now broken down into assembly-line tasks, with workers—many of them African American or immigrant—often treated as expendable. Dangerous conditions, wage theft, intimidation, and abuse are rampant.
Union Time weaves together labor rights and civil rights to show how unions can be a potent force for economic and social justice. Above all, it celebrates the courage of meatpacking workers who refused to give up through a 16-year-long struggle.