UPWA District #1 Hall with the Mural, "The Worker," and Oral Histories


In 1974, renowned muralist William Walker completed "The Worker," a depiction of the work and labor struggles of Chicago's packinghouse workers. The mural is located on the exterior south wall of the Charles Hayes Family Investment Center, a Chicago Park District Building, which was once the union hall for District #1 of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA). The union building was a key site for organizing and community meetings. To name just one of many examples, in December 1949, the union hosted the Conference to End Mob Violence, which sought to end violence against black Chicagoans who had moved into previously all-white neighborhoods. The Conference included black and white activists from labor unions, the Chicago Urban League, and other local organizations. It was labeled as a "Communist-inspired movement." In this video, legendary UPWA activist Reverend Addie Wyatt describes her experiences in the Union, including the benefits she received from membership in the UPWA -- including a maternity leave in 1942 -- as well as her work as the vice president of her union local. Also, see this transcript of historian Betty Balanoff's 1977 Interview with Rev. Wyatt in which Wyatt discusses her childhood, her introduction to the union movement, and many experiences in the labor civil rights movement. Finally, in this video, Professor Timuel Black, Chicago historian, educator, and labor activist, describes the founding of the Negro American Labor Council, the UPWA's role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington, and the implications of a declining union movement. Black was president of the Chicago Chapter of the NALC, as well as chair of the Chicago organizing committee for the March on Washington.

Labor Trail





4859 S Wabash Ave

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at www.labortrail.org.

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at: www.workingclassstudies.org

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer