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Snapshots from the Family Album: Milwaukee Labor

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The 'golden age" of organized labor is captured through the lens of Milwaukee laborer Ed Eisenscher, photographer for the Wisconsin CIO News . His black & white photographs and additional images document this manufacturing center after World War II. Unions were popular, effective, and influential, and addressed members' social as well as economical needs.

Image 1- The Bronzeville Bombers bowling team, April 5, 1947, just moved into tenth place in the state CIO Tournament. The five men are all CIO'ers from different plants throughout Milwaukee. Wisconsin CIO News (M97-094.737)

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Inside the Gates

Introduces viewers to Milwaukee's major factories, neighborhoods and occupations. Photographs show workers inside factory gates involved in various activities on the shop floor.

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Image 2- Workers seasonal lay-off from Peters Tool and Die Co., Nov. 12, 1948. Wisconsin CIO News (97-094.1242)

Image 3- Workers chipping imperfections from a rough casting, Crucible Steel Co., 1946. Wisconsin CIO News (97-094.443)

Bread and Butter

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Milwaukee unions participated in a nationwide wave of strikes for such bread-and-butter issues as wages and benefits. Photos show union politics, strike votes, picket lines, and some Allis Chalmers activities demonstrating community support of strikers.

Image 4 - Strike kitchen of Local 50, United Packinghouse Workers of America (Plankinton Packing Company), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 22, 1948.

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Image 5 - Food Drive, outside Harnischfeger plant gates, April 19, 1946. Local 1114, USA, members are not on strike but pledge to continue weekly food and collections to support other workers on strike. Wisconsin CIO News (97-094.419)

After Hours

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Outside the factory gates union-sponsored sporting events, dances, holiday activities and family picnics helped foster commitment
to one's fellows and to the union.

Image 6- Preparing food for a banquet celebrating the 11th anniversary of the UAW Auxiliary No. 2 (Seaman Body Co.), October 23, 1946. Wisconsin CIO News (M97-094.470)

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Image 7- Members of Steelworkers Local 1114 (Harnischfeger) at a Holiday costume party, December 20, 1947. Wisconsin CIO News (M97-094.981)


Envisioning Community

Economic security and social dignity could not be won inside the factories alone. CIO unions tried to build larger communities around political, economic and civil rights issues. Images show workers struggling to implement a vision of a more just and equitable post-war society.

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Image 8 - A few members of the Auxiliary of Local 75, UAW, at the Seaman Body Plant work at the CIO office getting campaign literature out. October 1946. Wisconsin CIO News (M97-094.403)

Image 9- Anti-Franco demonstration, Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, March, 1946. CIO members joined Lincoln Brigade veterans to demand breaking off U.S. diplomatic relations with fascist Spain.Wisconsin CIO News (M97-094.414)

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