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Labor

The 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
Students “become” several of the social groups who participated in the 1934 Longshore Workers Strike—some of whom had to answer the question, “Which side are you on?”

Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Suffragist and labor leader Agnes Nestor | Zinn Education Project

Birth of a Rank-and-File Organizer

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 7 pages.
Writing activity for students to complete the narrative of women workers striking at a glove-making factory, exploring possible outcomes.

Themes: Labor, Organizing, Social Class, Women's History
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Factory workers | Zinn Education Project

Free to Think, Talk, Listen, or Sing

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 6 pages
Students work with a chapter from Milton Meltzer’s classic book, Bread and Roses, to see the impact of late 19th century factory work on workers’ home lives.

Themes: Labor, Social Class
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The Homestead Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 10 pages.
This role play activity on the famous 1892 Homestead Strike, explores the possibility of solidarity among workers of very different backgrounds and at different levels in the workplace hierarchy.

Themes: Immigration, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Labor Songs

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 7 pages.
Students explore the power of songs to build solidarity and increase understanding. This is the final activity from Bigelow and Diamond’s labor history book, The Power in Our Hands, and draws on the other lessons.

Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Lawrence, 1912: The Singing Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
Role play on the 1912 Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Mass.

Time Periods: 20th Century, World War I: 1910 - 1919
Themes: Art & Music, Immigration, Labor, Organizing, Women's History
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Lewis Hine’s Photographs

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. 4 pages.
Using photographs to spark creative writing and critical thinking about child labor issues and social justice.

Time Periods: 19th Century, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899, 20th Century, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909
Themes: Art & Music, Immigration, Labor, Media, Social Class
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Modern Times

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
This lesson uses Charlie Chaplin’s hilarious classic film, Modern Times, to help students think about the impact of “scientific management” on the workplace.

Themes: Economics, Labor, Social Class
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Organic Goodie cartoon | Zinn Education Project

Organic Goodie Simulation

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 7 pages.
Lesson engages students in a lively simulation that helps them experience some of the pressures that lead workers to organize.

Themes: Economics, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Paper Airplane Simulation

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
In this simulation, students make paper airplanes to learn about the origins and effects of “scientific management”—owners’ attempt to capture workers’ skills and knowledge, and then to exploit that knowledge to reorganize work and cut costs by deskilling workers.

Themes: Economics, Labor
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Salt of the Earth: Grounds Students in Hope

Teaching Activity. By S.J. Childs.
The author describes how she introduces students to the classic 1953 film, Salt of the Earth, about a miners’ strike in New Mexico.

Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Labor, Latino, Social Class, Women's History
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Shutdown!—Confronting Plant Closures

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
In this role play activity, students assume the roles of union members and attempt to figure out how to respond to a threatened plant closure.

Themes: Economics, Labor, Organizing, Social Class
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Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union: Black and White Unite?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
Role play on farm labor organizing in the 1930s shows how racism had to be challenged to create effective worker alliances.

Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: African American, Labor, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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“Taylorizing” Burgers: A Fantasy

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 8 pages.
In this playful activity, students utilize the principles of “scientific management” to restructure a burger joint—one that has been run a good deal more democratically and imaginatively.

Themes: Economics, Labor, Social Class
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Union Maids (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Union Maids

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
Activity for students to write from the point of view of one of the women featured in the film Union Maids.

Themes: Art & Music, Labor, Organizing, Social Class, Women's History
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What Rights Do We Have?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond.
This lesson teaches some of the nuts and bolts of labor unions and then moves beyond to ask students to consider what rights they have at work, and to recognize that “rights” depend in large part on what people have fought for and won.

Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing
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