Historical Society Exhibit Explores Organized Labor
An exhibit opening Monday at the Virginia Historical Society explores the evolution of labor unions in Virginia.
The exhibit, Organized Labor in Virginia, may hold some surprises.
Levengood: It highlights what is really kind of a hidden story for most people, I think, because most people don't automatically associate organized labor movement and Virginia.
Paul Levengood, President and CEO of the Historical Society.
Levengood: So we chronicle it really from the end of the Civil War, when organized labor in the 1870s and 80s really begins to pick up steam right through the merger of the AFL-CIO in the 1950s.
The minimum wage, health benefits, required lunch breaks, and a 40-hour work week, Society Curator Bill Rasmussen explained, were won by the sacrificing and suffering of thousands of workers, black and white, of both sexes.
Rasmussen: The movement presses for a number of things: better wages, lower number of hours to work, and we sorta end the show in the 1950s with a number of agreements. They made slow progress and these agreements were reached that defined exactly what was expected of the worker.
John Ogle, WCVE News