35th Annual Conference Set for May 21

Immigrant workers will tell their stories and historians will provide perspective on the role of labor unions in this issue that has ignited conflicts in the 2016 elections at the 35th Annual Conference of the Wisconsin Labor History Society in 2016, scheduled for 9 a.m., Saturday, May 21.

Entitled “A Historical Look at Immigration and Unions: Lesson for Today,” the conference will be held at UAW Local 72 Hall, 3615 Washington Rd., Kenosha.  A special showing of the prize-winning documentary, “Brothers on the Line,” will be shown at the end of the conference.

Immanuel Ness, professor of political science at Brooklyn College and author of books on immigrants and worker groups, will be the keynote speaker at the event.  A onetime union organizer and longtime community activist, Ness has authored books on immigration, worker movements and similar topics.

Michael Rosen, professor of economics at Milwaukee Area Technical College, will discuss impact of trade agreements upon immigration and working people.  Rosen is also president of AFT Local 212 at MATC.

Neidi Dominguez, AFL-CIO, director of Workers Centers Partnerships and Deputy Director of Community Engagement, will lead off an afternoon panel that will discuss the response of unions and their members to immigration.  Noted activists will be responding to her remarks.

Four immigrant workers from various ethnic backgrounds will discuss their experiences in coming to the United States and in their workplaces and family life.

The annual conferences of the Society have traditionally attracted between 70 and 100 participants and are designed for union activists, historians, educators, researchers and interested citizens.  Labor history books for adults and children and other resources will be available.  The winners of three education-oriented contests will be awarded their prizes and a lifetime achievement “Solidarity Award” will be presented to a longtime activist to be named later.

The showing of “Brothers on the Line” is being co-sponsored by the Illinois Labor History Society and will be accompanied by a presentation by Sasha Reuther, grandson of Victor Reuther and director and producer, of the prize-winning program that tells the story of the founding of the United Auto Workers union and the role of the three Reuther brothers, Walter, Victor and Roy.

Information and a registration form is available here.   For online registration, click here.

For information, contact Ken Germanson, conference chair, at

130th Anniversary of Bay View Tragedy

The 130th Anniversary commemoration of the Bay View Tragedy will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, May 1, 2016, at the State Historical Marker Site, located at the intersection of S. Superior St. and E. Russell Ave. in Milwaukee.

William Jones, prominent author and historian of labor and civil rights causes, will be featured speaker. A re-enactment of the May 5, 1886 event will be staged by the Milwaukee Public Theatre and the Milwaukee Puppet and Mask Theatre.

The event that has become an annual event over the last 30 years typically attracts 300 to 400 persons. It is free and open to the public. For background on the historical event, click here.