Why is funding for public services so inadequate? Why are our pensions under attack? Where did “seniority” come from? Can strikes be won? And why do these things matter?
The Occupy movement injected general strikes and economic inequality into public conversation–new concepts for many people. But in 1934, the S.F. General Strike wasn’t a concept or goal: it happened, the most important event in local history most people never heard of.
In “California Labor History,” a three unit City College San Francisco course offered at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evenings at Mission Campus, Room 162, 1125 Valencia Street, beginning August 18, we find the fight for worker justice stretches to 1934 and back before the Gold Rush. These stories offer insights on current realities.
The fall semester course is taught by longtime labor educator and union communications director Fred Glass. It places contemporary unions within the broader stream of labor history, and showcases struggles by California’s working people for dignity, economic security, and civil rights.
Union members who have taken the course note that it provides a space tucked away from their sometimes hectic lives to reflect on work and labor issues. As San Francisco nurse Martha Hawthorne put it, “Films, speakers, and presentations by fellow students from other unions kept the class lively and fun. Fred’s lectures were always fascinating and I especially liked the unit on public employees. Even learning about labor’s defeats and setbacks made me proud to be part of the union movement. I highly recommend this class!”
The course is built around the ten-part public TV series Golden Lands, Working Hands. Class discussions and the oral history assignment often turns up surprising things about students’ own unions and even their family histories.
The class earns you three units of college credit, and costs $138, but financial assistance is also available. For registration information, call Bill Shields at the CCSF Labor and Community Studies Department, 415-550-4472, or go to www.ccsf. For course information call 510-579-3343.