Thursday, May 27, 2004

Labor 1973

Matt and I are participating in the Labor Archive Project, for which I would create a hotlink if I knew how. It's a project run by the Minneapolis Labor Review, the newspaper of the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council and the oldest independent labor paper in the Twin Cities.

The newspaper is electronically archiving its back issues, and everything will be available online. I spent many hours putting each piece of newspaper on a vacuum table, turning on the vacuum, pressing a button to take a picture, and then stacking the pages again. I archived the first half of 1945, and then all of 1973.

It's impossible to do without taking a minute here and there to read the stories, although the ads were just as interesting. The first half of 1945 was devoted to the war, of course, and the papers were filled with tributes after FDR died. There was a special women's column that noted that women's faces were seen to be more haggard and lined lately, probably due to pressures from rations and worrying about loved ones overseas.

There was a filler from someone in the garment workers saying that women who were involved with the war effort had first dibs on good bras. "Let's give them the support they deserve!" he said.

1973 was even better. There was a boycott against Farah pants, and a Minnesota Vikings football player (name escapes me) stood in front of Dayton's in a barrel, angry that Dayton's would carry Farah pants. NFL players are members of the AFL-CIO and I wish they would do more of that kind of stuff.

1973 was also the year the Minneapolis Labor Review stopped running ads for massage parlors. A letter in April from a female clerical worker called the editorial staff out for running the ads -- "Any newspaper that says it's concerned with equal rights for all should take a good look at the ads they're carrying." The editor said he would look into it. The next week, a letter form an electrician said he was just fine with the ads: "Lots of times, they're the best part of the paper!"

The editor's note said, "Sorry, women are outvoting men on this one. We're dropping the ads."

The next week, there was a full-page ad from the national Democratic Party announcing a fundraiser on nationwide TV. The ad showed a woman in a bikini holding a phone, standing on text that read, "Is this CWA worker going to answer YOUR call?"

It's still around, of course. Lots of times I feel like I'm fighting the side I think I'm on, rather than the enemies that are out there.

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