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Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.


Contact: Matt Itelson
phone: (415) 338-1743

SFSU experts on labor movement are available to comment about Labor Day

Labor Day is more than a picnic--holiday pays tribute to American labor movement

SAN FRANCISCO - Labor Day, to be observed Monday, Sept. 3, is more than just the last chance for a vacation and picnic before summer ends. San Francisco State University experts on the labor movement are available to remind the public why all American workers should be thankful on this holiday, informing them of the history of the labor movement and recent trends in the labor movement.

Brenda Cochrane, director of the SFSU Labor Studies Program, says the labor movement is still thriving - especially among women and minorities - despite the fact that far fewer American workers belong to unions these days.

"Minorities and women now have become more active in labor organizing," she says. "In addition, white males now make up less than 50 percent of membership in unions, which represents a significant change."

Cochrane, also an expert on international labor movements, has done extensive studies on growing unionization efforts by sweatshop workers in third-world countries. Cochrane may be reached at her office at (415) 338-2885 or at her home at (415) 824-5866.

SFSU history Professor Robert Cherny can discuss the history of the labor movement, particularly in the West Coast maritime industries from 1900 to 1950. He notes that this year marks the 100th anniversary of a strike by maritime workers on the San Francisco waterfront. The strike, spurred by employers' attempts to destroy the Teamsters union, forced the thriving Port of San Francisco to shut down for several months, hurting California's economy.

"As a result, the Teamsters weren't destroyed and the union dominated San Francisco politics for the next 10 years," Cherny says. "This helped give San Francisco its reputation as a union town."

Cherny is also writing a book on Harry Bridges, a hero of the Bay Area labor movement who served as founding president of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union for 40 years. Harry Bridges Plaza was dedicated on The Embarcadero in San Francisco on July 28, when he would have turned 100 years old. Cherny may be reached at his office at (415) 338-7561 or via e-mail at

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Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs