WELCOME: News and Events

Announcement: Women and Labor -- Saluting the Women who helped Build the Labor Movement, with Elise Bryant
(Download Full-sized image)


For over a hundred years, women have played a major role in building the Michigan labor movement. Ever since Matilda Rabinowitz Robbins mounted a soapbox to organize workers at the Ford Highland Park plant in 1913, and Anna "Big Annie" Clemenc, helped lead the 1913 copper miners’ strike in the Upper Peninsula, women have inspired and led worker struggles throughout the decades.

On Tuesday, June 26, the Michigan Labor History Society will honor women who built Michigan’s labor movement at its annual meeting at UAW Local 22, 4300 Michigan Avenue, Detroit. Elise Bryant, a native Detroiter and national president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), will chair the event, and MLHS women will present reports on several of the women who are being honored while photos of their work will be projected. Detroit singer and actor Lynn Marie Smith will perform.

In addition to Anna Clemenc and Matilda Rabinowitz Robbins, the women being honored include Genora Dollinger, who organized the Women’s Emergency Brigade during the 1937 Flint sitdown strike; Dorothy Haener, a UAW organizer, trustee, and international representative; Lillian Hatcher, the first black woman to be appointed a UAW international representative; Erma Henderson, the first black woman port secretary of the National Maritime Union and a Detroit city councilwoman; Mildred Jeffrey, who led the UAW Women’s Bureau starting in 1944; Edelmira Lopez, a United Farm Workers Union organizer in Lansing; Olga Madar, the first woman vice-president of the UAW; Mary Ellen Riordan, long-time leader of the Detroit Federation of teachers; Ann Shafer, an organizer and officer of the Grain Millers union in Battle Creek; and Myra Wolfgang, a leader in the 1937 Woolworths sit-down and later president of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union in Detroit.

The June 26 event is free of charge, and refreshments will be served by the Wobbly Kitchen. There is free parking at the Local 22 hall. A short business meeting of the Michigan Labor History Society will hear brief reports and elect officers

Further information is available by calling the MLHS at 313-577-4003.


Last year, ceremonies and a press conference were held at the site of a new park to be built near the Fort Street bridge at Fort and Oakwood in Detroit. The park will include memorial signage about the 1932 Ford Hunger March. Workers who participated in that march gathered at the Fort Street bridge before marching to the Ford Rouge plant, where five people were killed by bullets fired by Ford security agents. The park development is being coordinated by the Motor Cities National Automobile Heritage Area, an affiliate of the U.S. National Parks Service.


Members and friends of the Michigan Labor History Society are invited to attend the annual Labor Day Mobilization Luncheon on Wednesday, August 22, at IBEW Local 58 hall, 1358 Abbot St., Detroit. This year’s luncheon, as usual, will build support for the annual Labor Day Parade in Detroit on Monday, September 3rd.

For information and tickets, please call the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO at 313-961-0800 or the MLHS office at 313-577-4003.


"What a great event. I learned so much. All the anecdotal stores were terrific"
"Thank you for a great and informative tour."

Those are among the comments we received from guests on Michigan Labor History Society Bus Tours.

The tours, which have been given to more than 2,000 people over the past five years, visit the sites of the Battle of the Overpass at the Ford Rouge plant, the 1932 Ford Hunger March, the old Model T-Plex/Studebaker plant, Grand Circus Park, the Woolworth's 1937 sit-down strike, Cadillac Square, and the Labor Legacy Landmark and Underground Railroad monument at Hart Plaza. They also stop in front of the Motown Museum for a brief history of the Detroit Federation of Musicians.

Tours have been given for delegates to the North American Labor History Conference, for the Wayne State University Labor School, for members of the clerical workers’ union at Michigan State University, and many other groups, including the board of the MotorCities National Heritage Area, UAW education representatives students from the University of Richmond, Virginia, delegates to the United Association for Labor Education convention, and other groups. The New York Times has requested a tour for its student "From Washington to Detroit" tour, and we are providing self-guided tour brochures for delegates to the UAW and Letter Carriers’ conventions this year in Detroit.

With a half-dozen trained guides on hand, MLHS can offer bus or walking tours to other interested groups. There is no charge for our services, but groups must provide their own transportation for bus tours. To book a tour, please call the MLHS office at 313-577-4003.


"Transcending," the Labor Legacy Landmark at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, continues to be a popular site for visitors to Detroit, where they can view sculptures and quotations related to events in labor and civil-rights history. Nearby, on the riverfront, is the Underground Railroad Monument, commemorating the thousands of escaped slaves who crossed the Detroit River to freedom in Canada.

To the east of "Transcending" is a wall of honor bearing the names of individuals and organizations who have contributed funds for building and maintaining "Transcending." For a one hundred dollar donation, names can be added to the wall of honor. To arrange for a name to be added, please write to the Michigan Labor History Society, 5401 Cass, Detroit MI 48202, or telephone 313-577-4003, to request a form for adding a name to the wall.

Last edited: Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Valid XHTML 1.0 StrictValid CSS!