Union Organizer Joe Hill

joe_hill002Union organizer Joe Hill is as much a folk legend as an actual historical figure. Known best as a folk musician and cartoonist, Joe Hill was also a dedicated union organizer who was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) which were also somewhat infamously known as the Wobblies. Among the most controversial unions of all time, the Wobblies none the less were dedicated to improving the conditions of the workers in the increasingly industrialized nations of the world. This was particularly true of the of United States, where rapid industrialization was more and more leaving workers in an ever more precarious position, living harsh lives with little security.

Joe Hill was born in Sweden in 1879 and moved to the United States at unclear time in the early 1900s. He learned English very well over the years and when he became a migrant worker. These were hard years for the man as he frequently faced unemployment and underemployment, oftentimes having difficulty making ends meet. During this time, he found his way into the IWW and the larger Labor Movement. It was there that he made his mark on the world. His most famous contributions to the IWW are his works as a song writer, where he composed a number of anthems of laborers intended to raise the spirits of workers who had little to run on but the hope that together they could change their conditions.

His most famous song by a larger margin is “The Preacher and the Slave” which coined the phrase “pie in the sky” and was inspired heavily by the Wobblies’ clashes with the then far more militant Salvation Army during the larger battles over labor. He wrote a number of other songs as well, many of which were included in the now famous IWW’s Little Red Songbook, an icon of the move itself.

Jimmy Hoffa And The Pro-Union Actions He Took

Jimmy Hoffa has gone down in American history as one of the great unsolved disappearances of the past fifty years. Late night TV show jokes, books by professional researchers and a great deal of urban legends have since emerged around the disappearance of the man. A number of figures in organized crime have since come forward to confess their involvement in Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance, though many of their claims are contradictory to each other, and many bear the markings of a tall tale intended to raise the teller’s apparent stature in the shady world of organized crime.

However, there was far more to Jimmy Hoffa than his disappearance and work with organized crime syndicates. The good things he did for unions have reverberated through the decades, even with the weakening of unions in the United States over the past thirty five years. While his infamous disappearance happened in 1975 and he spent most of the 1960s embroiled in a number of controversies, his work in the 1950s and 1960s proved pivotal to a number of labor disputes over the past few decades.

Of particular note among Hoffa’s achievements is the National Master Freight Agreement. After being re-elected president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1961, Hoffa began a dedicated push to expand the union until he had brought nearly all overland truck drivers in North America into a single union that would work towards bettering conditions for all truckers on the continent. He made similar efforts to expand this union towards airline workers and other people involved in the transport industry, though these efforts were not as successful.

Additionally, during Hoffa’s tenure in the upper echelons of IBT leadership, the union saw a sizable growth in membership, reaching a record high of over 170,000 members backing the union. This allowed the union to become a genuine force in Washington DC and its lobbying world. Even though, according to an expert at www.speedybailbondsNJ.com, he was ultimately arrested for a slew of crimes and sentenced to 13 years in prison, but negotiated a pardon from Richard Nixon.