3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
“Bulwark Against Radicalism: Labor Conservatives in World War I”
Jennifer Luff, University of California at Los Angeles
“Organized labor has two tasks,” American Federation of Labor president William Green announced in 1927. “The first is to use its strength to advance the interests of workingmen and the second is unalterable opposition to communism and all other isms.” Beginning with the Bolshevik Revolution, the AFL fought communists in its unions and helped build the foundations of American anticommunism. This paper describes the origins of labor anticommunism during World War I, when AFL leaders tracked a German spy infiltrating American unions, sent detectives to IWW meetings, and collaborated with the federal Bureau of Investigation and Lusk Committee investigators.
Commentators: Rosemary Feurer, Northern Illinois University, and Colleen Doody, DePaul University