Interviews conducted by Rick Halpern and Roger Horowitz under a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The 128 interviewees are primarily members and former members of local unions of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (CIO). The interviews concern the interviewees' personal backgrounds, experiences during the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee era, the formation of the UPWA and the growth of government regulation in the 1940s, internal dissension, the aggressive national union civil rights policy and its implementation on the local level, the role of women in the UPWA, union organization and operation within the plants, various job actions and strikes, and plant closings and the decline of the union in the 1960s.
Three themes run throughout the UPWA history: active involement of the rank-and-file in the union, conscious maintenance of internal union diversity in political and trade union matters, and an unwavering commitment to the interests and needs of black, Hispanic, and female workers.
Interviewees discuss their locals in Hormel, Wilson, Armour, Swift, Patrick Cudahy, Rath, and other plants in Chicago, Kansas City, Fort Worth, Austin (MN), Cedar Rapids, Cudahy (WI), East St. Louis, Omaha, St. Joseph, South St. Paul, Sioux City, and Waterloo (IA).
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