L Historic Site

Flour Milling (Phoenix Mill)

104 Platt St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
In the second quarter of the 19th century, the Genesee Valley was the breadbasket of America's eastern seaboard and Rochester was known as the Flour City. Grain grown in the valley was brought by boat to Rochester where it was made into flour in mills powered by the river and then shipped east in barges on the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825. Rochester's earliest mill was built in 1789; by 1835 there were four mill races and 21 mills. Between 1826 and 1833 flour output doubled to 300,000 barrels; by the late 1830s 500,000 barrels a year were being milled and shipped from Rochester. (This created a demand for boat-building, cooperage and other ancillary trades.) As grain production shifted to the plains states and railroad transportation outstripped canals, Rochester's economy came to depend increasingly on manufacture. By 1909, there were only nine flour mills employing 152 workers. The last flour mill closed in 1937.
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Mercury Statue

50 E Broad St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
The Statue of Mercury was originally made of bronze in 1881 by the John Siddons Company and erected atop Kimball's Peerless Tobacco Works on the corner of Broad and Exchange streets. It was taken down in 1951 and put into storage before the Kimball's building was razed. In 1973 the statue was rebuilt by members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 46, working for the Spring Sheet Metal and Roofing Company. Mercury was then mounted on top of the Lawyers Cooperative Building (now West Thomson Company), across Broad Street from its former location.
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L Organizations - historic

Baden Street Settlement House

152 Baden St
Rochester, NY, 14605 US
In the beginning of the 19th century new immigrants crowded into working-class neighborhoods and Rochester’s elite, concerned with the social impact of this development, established settlement houses to work with specific ethnic and religious groups. The Baden Street Settlement was established in 1901 to serve poor German and Polish Jews moving into the area just north of the New York Central Railroad tracks. The Lewis Street Settlement was founded at 120 Ontario Street in 1907 as the Practical Housekeeping Center to work with Italian immigrants moving into the German and Irish neighborhood just south of these tracks. (NB., the Lewis Street records are preserved in the University of Rochester’s Rare Books Library).
The mission of these institutions included “Americanizing” the immigrants through language and civics instruction, providing training in such work skills as sewing and cooking, assisting working mothers with nursery care, improving health through clinics and dispensaries, and providing social events, sports activities, and arts and crafts programs. The “Americanization” emphasis diminished after the 1930s and as black and later Hispanic families began moving into the neighborhoods in the 1950s, the settlements, including Genesee (1918), Charles Street (1920) and Montgomery (1951), focused their efforts on health and social programs.
The Jordan Health Center, established in 1968 as the Rochester Neighborhood Health Center (82 Holland Street), traces its roots to the Baden Street Settlement House, near which it first opened: today the Center, staffed by many members of SEIU 1199, offers comprehensive primary and preventive health care to Rochester’s poor.
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Building Trades Council

Water St
Rochester, NY, US
The Rochester Building Trades Council was established in 1888. Recognizing that the interests of those in the construction trades were distinct from those of workers in other industries, union leaders agreed that while the trades would continue their affiliation with the larger body, a separate council was also needed. In order to preserve the relationship between the
two structures, delegates to the Building Trades Council served as delegates to the Trades Assembly/Central Trades and Labor Council. In the early 1900s, the Building Trades Council met at the corner of Water and Andrews Streets.
Overlooking the Genesee River just south of where it was controlled by sluice gates, the Water Street area was a hub of labor activity near the centers of Rochester’s clothing, boot and shoe, brewing and optical industries. In the early 1900s, Boot and Shoe Workers were employed at six different factories on North Water Street, which then started at Main Street. Holding meetings at the corner of Water and Andrews Streets were the Building Trades Council, the Brewers & Coopers Association #1796, the Brewery Peddlers, Helpers, Teamsters & Barnmen Local 156, the Carpenters & Joiners Association German Local, Carpenters & Joiners Local 179, and Metal Polishers, Buffers & Platers #113.
The Rochester Building Trades Council continues to provide construction unions with collaborative power to more effectively represent members’ interests in securing commercial and public works contracts and responsible legislation.
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Carpenters Hall

113 Fitzhugh St N
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
This was, from 1842 to 1859, the site of the Unitarian Church at which the second Women’s Rights Convention was held on August 2, 1848. The Unitarian Church was destroyed by fire and St. Paul's German Evangelical Church was erected here in the 1860s. The United Shoe Workers Union bought the property in 1919; the Shoe Workers’ Joint Council #6 and six affiliated locals held their meetings here for several years. When the Carpenters District Council acquired the building around 1932, the Central Trades and Labor Council took up headquarters here along with the barbers, electrical workers, laborers, operating engineers, and plumbers & steamfitters. In May, 1946 hundreds of angry city workers jammed Carpenters Hall before parading to City Hall to protest the discharge of 489 Department of Public Works' employees who had recently joined the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; a city-wide general strike followed soon thereafter.
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Knights of St. Crispin Hall

140 Main St W
Rochester, NY, 14608 US
In April 1874 the Industrial Congress held its annual convention at this site in a hall named for the patron saint of shoemakers. Seeking to establish a national labor organization, the Congress articulated a declaration of principles which began with words that four years later would be adopted by the Knights of Labor: “The recent alarming development and aggression of aggregated wealth which, unless checked, will inevitably lead to the pauperization and hopeless degradation of the toiling masses, renders it imperative that a check should be placed upon its power and unjust accumulation, and a system adopted which will secure to the laborer the fruits of his toil ...” Christopher Kane, leader of Rochester's shoemakers (who numbered 700 by the end of the decade), gave the welcoming address and representatives of the Monroe County Workingman's Assembly participated. Susan B. Anthony addressed the delegates on the issue of woman suffrage. Kane was elected Vice President but the Industrial Congress only lasted another year, a victim, along with many workers and their national unions, of the Depression
of 1873-78.
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Rochester Central Trades and Labor Council

16 E Main St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
From 1903 to 1932, when it was torn down, the old Reynolds Arcade housed the Rochester Central Trades and Labor Council at this site. The RCTLC, organized in 1900, was preceded by the Workingmen's Assembly of Rochester, formed by 1863 (perhaps as early as 1855, according to local directories), and the Rochester Trades Assembly, founded in 1888. At its inception the RCTLC represented 13,000 workers in 103 unions. A number of these unions had offices in the Reynolds Arcade – street and railway employees, carpenters, machinists, cigarmakers, bricklayers and masons – as well as an independent merchant who dealt only in union label goods.
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United Labor Chest

68 E Main St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
In 1919 Rochester renamed its War Chest as the Community Chest, which it launched with George Eastman as President. Headquartered at the Chamber of Commerce the Community Chest invited Rochester’s wage earners to contribute one day's pay.
It wasn’t long, however, before labor and the Community Chest were at loggerheads. In 1921 the Chest printed and distributed subscription cards without a union label and clothing workers at Hickey Freeman refused to use them. In 1923 the Chest had cards printed in union shops without any union label; again Hickey-Freeman workers returned their pledge cards.
Noting that "In every other community, the Community Chest recognized the integrity of the nationwide agreement between labor and the Community Chests," in 1943 Rochester's AFL and CIO labor councils joined to form a non-profit corporation the United Labor Chest of Monroe County. An office was opened at 68 East Main Street and the Labor Chest launched its first drive to collect funds to distribute for community and war purposes.
Forty-two community agencies offered to participate in the Labor Chest and, at the request of their workers, a number of employers included Labor Chest pledges in their payroll deduction systems. Over 5,500 individual pledges raised $83,000 and in 1944 the Labor Chest announced its second annual campaign: a principal project would be to expand child-care for parents working in war industries. The success of the United Labor Chest helped persuade the Community Chest to make peace with labor. In December 1944 four labor leaders went on the Community Chest Board and the Chest announced that "a Campaign Advisory Committee, made up of labor leaders, will be formed to assist with the solicitation in union shops in the 1945 campaign."
Both AFL and CIO leaders urged labor to support the 1945 Community Chest drive, noting labor's new involvement at all levels of the Chest. Union members were asked to identify their union affiliation on subscriber cards so that labor contributions could be properly credited.
In 1947 and again in 1948 Rochester workers donated $500,000 -- 25% of funds raised by the Community Chest drives. In 1959 the CTLC adopted a resolution to ask the Community Chest to put a full-time labor rep on its payroll and appointed a committee of five to work with the Chest’s Labor Advisory Committee to establish a Community Services Program.
The Rochester Labor Council and United Way of Greater Rochester give a Community Services Award to a union or to a union member for outstanding community involvement. Since 1999 that award has been named the Bob Flavin Community Services Award, after the late president of Communication Workers of America Local 1170.
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L Friends of Labor

Catholic Worker House

502 South Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
The Saint Joseph House of Hospitality was founded at this site in 1941 to provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need. St. Joe's grew out of a Catholic Worker study group established in Rochester in 1933, the same year that Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin began the Catholic Worker movement in New York City. From its inception the movement, through its nationally-distributed Catholic Worker newspaper (with a subscription rate of "1 cent a year"), participation in demonstrations and the efforts of its Catholic Worker Houses, has protested the injustices of the capitalist system and sided with the cause of workers. During
Rochester’s 1946 general strike, Thomas F. Scahill, financial secretary of the local Catholic Worker Group, wrote to the Democrat & Chronicle supporting "the right of any worker to organize and bargain collectively." The movement has no overall plan for social change, but asks members to take personal responsibility for changing society and making the world a better place.
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Emma Goldman Residence

120 Kelly St
Rochester, NY, 14605 US
The 1887 City Directory lists "Emma Goldman, tailoress, boards 120 Kelly." Born in Russia in 1869, Goldman had moved to Rochester from New York City in 1886 and worked 10 hours a day making overcoats, earning $2.50 a week. Responding to the November 1887 execution of the Haymarket martyrs, Goldman became an anarchist, dedicating herself "to the memory of my martyred comrades, to make their cause my own." She ended a brief marriage and returned to New York City in 1889, working as a seamstress and factory hand and organizing a cloak makers strike.
Following the 1892 defeat of Homestead steelworkers by an army of Pinkerton guards, Goldman assisted her lover, Alexander Berkman, in his failed attempt to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, Chairman of Carnegie Steel. After years of opposing the established order through her journal, Mother Earth, and through lecture tours, free speech fights and arrests, and dissemination of birth control information, Emma Goldman was imprisoned in 1917 for organizing against military conscription; upon her release in 1919 she was deported to Russia.
As critical of Soviet as of U.S. suppression of free speech, Goldman soon left Russia, traveled and lectured in Europe and Canada, then settled in France with Berkman and wrote an autobiography, Living My Life. Finally allowed to visit the U.S. in 1934, Goldman made a 90- day lecture tour, even visiting Rochester where she told a City Club audience that "your city and the action of the State of Illinois in the Haymarket cases made an anarchist out of me." She supported the anarchists during the Spanish Civil War and was raising funds for Spain when she died in Canada in 1940. She was buried in Chicago's Waldheim Cemetery near the monument to the Haymarket martyrs.
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Frederick Douglass Gravesite

1133 Mt Hope Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
Though abolitionist journalist Frederick Douglass died in Washington, DC (1895), after moving there to become editor of The New National Era (1869) and being elected president of the National Colored Labor Union (1870), Frederick Douglass is buried in Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery. Perhaps his most famous words – taken to heart by the labor movement – were uttered at Canandaigua in his August 4, 1857 address on West Indian Emancipation speech: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they have resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they suppress.”
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Labor News

35 E Main St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
The first edition of the Labor News, “official publication of the AFL unions of Monroe County,” was published at this address on December 14, 1945 under the direction of editor Rodney Fisher and Central Trades and Labor Council president Anthony Capone. This location was also the headquarters of Typographical Union #15, Rochester’s first union, organized in 1853. The Labor News was not Rochester’s first labor paper: the first, published in 1882, was the International Laborers Advocate. A weekly labor journal was established in 1901 and, in 1913, the Council published the Labor Herald. The Labor News continues to be published from their current office on Humboldt Street.
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Lewis Henry Morgan Gravesite

1133 Mt Hope Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) started out in Rochester as a lawyer, speculator and state legislator. He went on to study the Seneca tribe, conducting the first ethnographic interviews, and expanded his research, publishing in 1851 League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee, or Iroquois. This attorney and father of anthropology advocated for the Iroquois in New York's legislature and courts.
Morgan expanded his study of kinship among the Iroquois, completing in 1871 Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family and, in 1877, Ancient Society, in which he advanced a general theory of social development based on the relationships between modes of material production and the creation of property and systems of kinship regulating reproduction and inheritance. Morgan's work was acclaimed by Frederick Engels, who considered Ancient Society “one of the few epoch-making works of our time" and made it the basis of his materialist history of the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, published in 1884. Engels ends his study with Morgan's own conclusion: “Since the advent of civilisation, the outgrowth of property has been so immense, its forms so diversified, its uses so expanding and its management so intelligent in the interests of its owners that it has become, on the part of the people, an unmanageable power. The human mind stands bewildered in the presence of its own creation. The time will come, nevertheless, when human intelligence will rise to the mastery over property, and define the relations of the state to the property it protects, as well as the obligations and the limits of the rights of its owners.” At his death Morgan left $80,000 for the education of women at the University of Rochester. Morgan is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.
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Metro Justice

167 Flanders St
Rochester, NY, 14619 US
Metro-Justice began as Friends of FIGHT, organizing support in the progressive white community for FIGHT’s struggle for economic justice for Rochester’s black workers; a busload of members accompanied FIGHT to the Kodak shareholders’ meeting in New Jersey in 1967. By 1968 the group began to define a role independent of FIGHT, developing its focus on employment, housing, education and anti-poverty issues into struggles over power in the community, over issues that affected whites as well as blacks. Reorganized in 1968 as Metro-Act the group took on a wide range of issues in the 1970s and 1980s: challenging Penfield’s zoning laws (a case ultimately lost in the U.S. Supreme Court); supporting anti-draft activities; exposing the Community Chest’s lack of accountability; opposing Rochester Gas & Electric rate increases; revealing corporate property tax exemptions; fighting the “red-lining” loan practices of local banks; challenging license renewal by the FCC of local television and radio stations (forcing them to increase minority hiring and programming); establishing a Rochester Area Unemployment Council; prohibiting the City from dealing with companies doing business in South Africa; supporting Latin America solidarity efforts. In 1996 Metro-Act merged with the Peace & Justice Education Center and became Metro-Justice, which has sustained its efforts by exposing the misuse of community development block grants and County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency abuse of corporate tax subsidies intended to create local jobs. In 1997 Metro-Justice became an Associated Organization of the Rochester Labor Council, increasing its links with the labor community and supporting the Campaign for a Living Wage.
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Susan B. Anthony House

17 Madison St
Rochester, NY, 14608 US
Susan B. Anthony died here at home on March 13, 1907. Born in Massachusetts on February 15, 1820 Anthony came to Rochester in 1845 and taught school for several years. She began her public life in the temperance movement but embraced abolitionism and became a leading spokesperson for women’s rights. On November 5, 1872 Anthony and 14 other Rochester women illegally cast votes in a presidential election. Anthony was subsequently arrested and fined $100, which she never paid.
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The North Star

27 E Main St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
At this location in 1847, abolitionist Frederick Douglass began to publish The North Star, a weekly whose masthead declared "Right is of no sex, Truth is of no color." In 1851, the paper merged with the Liberty Party Paper (published in Syracuse); the renamed Frederick Douglass's Paper (with the motto "All Rights for All") was published weekly through 1860, then monthly through 1863. Douglass advocated on behalf of wage workers, urged them to organize, and criticized trade unions that refused to organize black workers or to let them work in shops with white workers. In an address on September 24, 1883 Douglass declared that “The cause of Negro workers is one with the labor classes all over the world. The labor unions of this country should not throw away this colored element of strength. It is a great mistake for any class of laborers to isolate itself and thus weaken the bond of brotherhood between those on whom the burden and hardships of labor fall.”
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The Rochester Socialist

40 State St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
The Rochester Socialist was published weekly at this site from December 1907 to March 1908. Its banner proclaimed that "Labor is the Sole Creator of Wealth" and "Wealth Should Belong to Those Who Create It." During the early 1900s, Socialists were active in Rochester’s working class culture, local politics, and organized labor. Among unions with strong socialist membership in 1900 were the garment workers, typographers, glass blowers, boot and shoe workers, and iron molders. Eugene Debs, leader of the American Railway Union, a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World, and five-time presidential candidate on the Socialist Party ticket, campaigned in Rochester during his unsuccessful bids.
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Women's Educational and Industrial Union

86 North Street
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
The WEIU was organized in 1893 by Susan B. Anthony and other Rochester women after a woman who had fainted on the street was jailed overnight because there was no other shelter. The organization's programs served working women by advocating for their legal rights, providing a place where they could safely rest, eat, and socialize, and working closely with other
institutions to improve opportunities for women and children. From 1917 until the 1980s the WEIU operated a thrift store at this site known as the Opportunity Shop.
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L Labor Struggles

Chamber of Commerce

55 St Paul St
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
The Rochester Chamber of Commerce, organized in 1887, moved into this building which George Eastman had constructed for it in 1917. Although generally at odds, the Chamber and Rochester’s labor community collaborated in fighting chain stores during the Depression.
In early 1930 the Central Labor Council passed a resolution “That the so-called chain stores, doing business with the backing of outside capital, and with their profits going to those who have no interest in this locality other than to take profits from it to be expended elsewhere, are a menace to the best interests of our people.” The Council called on “the Retail Merchants’ Council of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, the Rochester Retail Grocers’ Assoc, and kindred organizations ...to join ... in a crusade against chain stores, as detrimental to the welfare of our home city.”Anticipating today’s anti-Walmart campaign, the Council argued that while theoretically money-savers, “inasmuch as by buying in large quantities and having fewer employees, they are in a position to sell goods at a less figure than an individual store,” chain stores are not “OF, FOR or BY the community” and noting that “the employees of all chain stores work for the lowest possible wage, their hours being long and are mere puppets in the hands of the local manager.
”Rochester was the first eastern city to join this crusade, which quickly spread to hundreds of towns across America. Soon Rochester’s labor paper carried full page ads, castigating chain stores and extolling independent merchants who had banded together as the Rochester Civic Defense League. This crusade continued for several years, until labor turned its energies to organizing under the National Recovery Act.
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Clothing Workers (Keller-Heumann-Thompson)

1415 N Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY, 14621 US
In June, 1933, during an intensive organizing drive, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America set up a picket line around all six of the Keller-Heumann-Thompson Clothing Manufacturing shops. The main shop was here on Clinton Avenue. When the police were called in they used tear gas and clubs against the picketers. Abe Chatman, Manager of the Rochester Joint Board, ACWA, telegraphed Frances Perkins, U.S. Secretary of Labor, for assistance; she secured from the War Department 500 gas masks for the picketers. This was greatly disturbing to employers everywhere, for the government generally assisted them, not picketers! The company eventually agreed to recognize the union and granted the 40-hour week.
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Eastman Kodak Company

343 State St
Rochester, NY, 14608 US
Founded in 1880 by George Eastman, Kodak grew from 5 employees in 1882 to 1200 in 1898, over 10,000 in 1924 (one-fifth of Rochester’s industrial workforce) and 23,000 in 1934. Eastman was opposed to organization of his employees, closing the plating and polishing division when workers demanded a pay increase following union activity in 1901. In the 30s, however, “special needs” compelled the company to briefly recognize unions of photo-engravers and metal polishers. Kodak has a long history of good relations with the building trades unions, however; Eastman himself apparently directed that union workers be hired to construct the Eastman Theatre and School of Music. Philanthropic toward the community, Eastman was paternalistic toward his workforce, advancing profit-sharing as an alternative to unions. Despite its position as Rochester’s dominant employer, Kodak resisted hiring black workers. As the city’s black population grew from 7600 in 1950 to 32,000 in 1964, unemployment among black workers reached 25%. Lack of jobs coupled with lack of housing created tensions which erupted in July 1964 in a three-day race riot. Following the violence, the black community hired community organizer Saul Alinsky and FIGHT (”Freedom, Integration, God, Honor, Today” -- after St. Paul’s admonition to “fight the good fight”) was formed. FIGHT was founded to increase black representation on policy boards, achieve collective bargaining rights, negotiate directly on black job placement, end labor union discrimination, etc. In December 1966, an agreement negotiated by FIGHT to train and place 600 unemployed black workers was rejected by Kodak due to concern about the labor law implications of the pact. In 1967 FIGHT took its demands to the annual Kodak shareholders‚ meeting, generating adverse national publicity which, together with continued local pressure, led Kodak to revise its hiring policies. Organizer Saul Alinsky remarked that “The only contribution Eastman Kodak has ever made to race relations is the invention of color film.”
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Eastman Theater

60 Gibbs St
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
On Saturday evening, May 18, 1946, forty fired municipal workers who were war veterans demonstrated outside Eastman Theater, where an "I Am an American Day" program was being held. A riot alarm was called in when Labor Council president Anthony Capone and other demonstrators entered the theater to address the audience about the city firings. More than one hundred audience members left when Vice Mayor Van Lare denied Capone the floor.
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Electronics Workers

391 Lyell Ave
Rochester, NY, 14606 US
For the first time in its turbulent labor history Rochester is involved in a nationwide strike,” reported the Labor News on January 17, 1946. At issue were the 2100 members of the United Electrical, Radio, & Machine Workers of America (UE-CIO) picketing the Lyell Avenue plant of the Delco Appliance Division of General Motors as part of a nation-wide walkout of more than 200,000 workers. Soon, the Teamsters Joint Council #17 of the AFL, the Allied Building Trades (AFL) and the independent Railroad Brotherhood were refusing to cross the picket lines. The point of contention was GM’s refusal to agree to a recommendation by President Truman’s fact-finding board that wages be increased 19.5 cents/hour. Less than one month after the walk-out workers returned to their jobs with an 18.5 cent increase.

In March 1950 there was an election to determine whether the UE (which had represented the Delco workforce since 1943, but was allegedly now communist-influenced) or the IUE would represent Delco workers. The latter won by a vote of 1639 to 135 and IUE Local 509 continues to represent these employees to this day, although the plant is now located at 1555 Lyell Avenue and is owned by Valeo Wiper Systems and Electric Motors.
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Gannett Newspapers

55 Exchange Blvd
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
On this site in 1988, with the support of the Rochester Labor Council, members of Newspaper Guild Local 17, wearing buttons proclaiming "I'm worth more than 9 cents," picketed over contract issues. Labor relations at Gannett Newspapers, headquartered in Rochester, had never been good. In November 1946 owner Frank Gannett tried to bring in scabs while the members of Typographical Union #15 were locked-out. He fired members of Photo Engravers Local 22 for refusing to scab. When he tried to advertise on local radio stations for replacement workers he was turned down. In early 1947 a strike by Gannett workers left the company unable to publish a daily paper for over three months. That year the Labor News reported a confidential bulletin from Frank Gannett to his editors suggesting a strategy to slant news against labor: "We who are opposed to the closed shop are using the wrong phraseology. We should be talking about “the right to work." The closed shop does destroy that right. Thousands of men in this country cannot get work without joining union and agreeing to obey the orders that come from the top. This is in effect a form of slavery. If we say “the right to work, "we are speaking as friends of labor."
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Garment District

49 - 198 St. Paul Street
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
For years Rochester was among the top five U.S. cities in clothing and shoe production -- half of the city’s workforce worked in one industry or the other. In 1904-05 this area was the heart of the garment district with over 25 wholesale clothing dealers on this section of St. Paul Street alone; there were others throughout this neighborhood as well as many manufacturers. The men’s clothing industry employed over 5000 workers in Rochester factories while another 10,000 did homework or piecework in small shops.
In 1911, following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City in which 146 clothing workers were killed as a result of employer negligence, Senator Robert Wagner conducted factory inspections statewide and found fault with 31 of the 33 factories inspected in Rochester.
Ten thousand Rochester clothing workers went on strike on January 23, 1913 for the 8 hour day, a 10% wage increase, union recognition, and extra pay for overtime and holidays. Daily parades were held throughout the clothing district; there was at least one instance of mounted police charging the crowd of strikers on St. Paul Street and arresting 25 picketers. Over the course of the 1913 strike, six people were wounded and one worker, 18 year old Ida Breiman, was shot to death by a sweatshop contractor.
The pocketmakers and pressers at Rosenberg's struck for higher wages on July 16, 1918 precipitating strikes in a number of other shops. Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, came here to negotiate a settlement on behalf of all area garment workers. The first collective bargaining agreement in the Rochester clothing industry was reached on April 1, 1919 when all members of the Clothiers Exchange agreed to recognize the ACWA.
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General Strike

400 Dewey Ave
Rochester, NY, 14613 US
On May 28, 1946 fifty thousand Rochester workers walked off the job in a one-day general strike. Municipal workers had begun several months earlier to organize into a local of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Workers. Unable to deter the union drive, the city manager summarily discharged 489 city workers on May 15. The next day, 500 workers attended a protest meeting at Carpenters Hall and marched to City Hall; that night both the AFL and CIO central labor bodies held emergency meetings. The following week police carried out mass arrests of pickets at Dewey Avenue and Felix Street, near the Department of Public Works (54 on May 21, 2 on May 22, and 208 on May 23). Charged with disorderly conduct, pickets were held several hours and released on $100 bond posted by the AFL Central Trades and Labor Council. On the evening of May 23 a mass meeting was held at Washington Square Park to protest the arrests. The general strike began when the city manager failed to meet a deadline to negotiate with a joint strategy committee of the AFL and CIO. After 22 hours, the strike resulted in complete victory for labor: the discharged workers regained their jobs, the City recognized municipal workers' right to organize, and charges against all those arrested were dropped.
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Liberty Pole

East Main Street at East Avenue
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
Erected in the fall of 1965, this liberty pole stands on the site of three other such poles in Rochester's past, the first of which was set here in 1859. The liberty pole has been the site of numerous grassroots demonstrations and rallies, including one on April 1, 1992 sponsored by the Civil Service Employees Association at which more than 500 public sector unionists protested their inability to secure a contract. In May 1996, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rochester General Strike, the Rochester Labor Council marched from the liberty pole to City Hall.
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Rochester Teachers

131 W Broad St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
From 1926 to 1979 the Rochester City School District Board of Education was housed at the Academy Building, constructed in 1872-73 at 13 South Fitzhugh Street. District offices were moved to West Broad Street in 1979. At this site teachers waged an eight-day contract struggle in 1980.
The Rochester Teachers Association, formed in 1894, had, in 1978, accepted a contract that provided few improvements in deference to the District’s contention that there were severe budget constraints. In 1980 the District showed a $5.3 million surplus and RTA expected to redress their earlier concessions. The District, however, proposed unacceptable contract terms.
Outraged at the District’s offer, the members of RTA went on strike in September 1980, forcing the closure of all city schools. Despite a New York State public sector labor law provision that penalizes striking workers two days pay for each day out, Rochester teachers, teacher aides, and substitute teachers were unified.
After 8 days of strike activity, the union persuaded the District to reconsider its position and a settlement was reached that granted improved wages and benefits.
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Washington Square Park

Woodbury Blvd
Rochester, NY, US
This land was donated to the village of Rochesterville in 1822. On May 30, 1892 the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was unveiled with Frederick Douglass, President Harrison, and Governor Flower on hand for the festivities. Since that time, Washington Square Park has been the site of many labor rallies and demonstrations. For instance, on March 5, 1930 several thousand workers gathered here to demand jobs. The Rochester Building Trades converged on the park on May 16, 1990 to protest the non-union hiring practices of contractor Fluor Daniels. The Communication Workers of America staged several rallies here during their successful 1996 struggle with Rochester Telephone Company in. In June1999, area workers rallied here in support of SEIU 1199 members who had been fired from the Nortonian Nursing Home.
The largest demonstrations, however, occurred in 1946. On May 28, fifty thousand Rochester workers walked off the job in a one-day general strike. Two weeks earlier, on May 15, the city manager had summarily discharged 489 city workers for joining a union. The next day, 500 workers attended a protest meeting at Carpenters Hall and marched to City Hall; that night both the AFL and CIO central labor bodies held emergency meetings.
The following week police carried out mass arrests of pickets at Dewey Avenue and Felix Street, near the Department of Public Works, charging them with disorderly conduct. On the evening of May 23 a mass meeting was held at Washington Square Park to protest the arrests.
By May 24, trash collection had come to a virtual standstill. That evening, at an open meeting of the Central Trades and Labor Council, the joint labor strategy committee was authorized to take whatever action it saw fit. The 10 PM deadline passed without a response. On May 28 many factories did not open. The entire clothing industry was shut down by 13,500 striking members of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. Throughout the day pickets under the direction of AFL and CIO leaders were sent from a rallying point at Carpenters Hall to strategic points around the city. Taxi drivers refused to work. Movie houses closed when projectionists refused to cross picket lines. However, at the request of the joint strategy committee, union waitresses remained on the job as restaurants as well as hotels and food deliveries were exempted from the strike. Restaurants and department stores were thronged with idled workers.
After 22 hours, the strike resulted in complete victory for labor: the discharged workers regained their jobs, the City recognized municipal workers' right to organize, and charges against all those arrested were dropped.
That night organized labor kicked off the Memorial Day holiday with the largest Central Trades and Labor Council meeting ever held. Though the municipal workers had to fight to win their first contract, organized labor had won the battle for the right of public employees to organize in unions of their choice. Labor was able to hold its head up in Rochester. However, it had taken a general strike to achieve this victory.
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L Meeting Site

Amalgamated Clothing Workers Hall

476 N Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY, 14605 US
Built around 1860, this three-story structure, which had two large assembly halls and a recreation room, was named Germania Hall and provided meeting space to a number of nationality clubs. It was sold in 1905 and converted to an Italian club. On April 10, 1911, it was the site of a gathering in memory of the 146 garment workers killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City two weeks earlier. For a period the building was owned by the Workmen’s Circle (a militant faction of Polish and Russian Jews, socialists and anarchists) and called the Workmen’s Circle and Progressive Library Lyceum. In 1919 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers moved into the building, which they purchased in 1923. In the program for their House Warming Banquet, the union proclaimed: “We Have Progressed: From a handful to a powerful organization. From 56 to 44 hours per week. From starvation wages to a decent standard of living/ From subjects to citizens in the industry. From nothing to a mansion.” The union held classes here for members: in 1940, over 500 signed up for instruction in labor, trade unions, and democracy. When the Congress of Industrial Organizations became active in Rochester, they operated out of Amalgamated Hall. In April of 1946, thousands attended a mass meeting here, sponsored by the AFL, the CIO, and the railroad brotherhoods, to protest the proposed Taft-Hartley “slave labor” Act. When the Amalgamated Clothing Workers’ new union hall opened on East Avenue in 1967, the Clinton Avenue building was donated to the city for a youth recreation center.
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Convention Hall

75 Woodbury Blvd
Rochester, NY, 14607 US
Constructed in 1868 as an arsenal, this building housed the 54th Regiment which, in 1871, was dispatched to subdue canal workers west of Fairport. In 1907 the militia moved to the new armory on East Main Street and this site was converted to a convention hall. In October, 1908, the year he received 1400 votes in Rochester, Eugene Debs arrived on his presidential train, the "Red Special," and spoke to 5000 people at the hall: “The capitalist refers to you as mill hands, farm hands, factory hands, machine hands – hands, hands! ...A capitalist would feel insulted if you called him a hand. He's a head. The trouble is he owns his head and your hands.” In 1912 the American Federation of Labor held its national convention at this site with Central Trades and Labor Council President Koveleski leading the Rochester delegation. In 1913, Rochester clothing workers voted at a mass meeting here to strike and 10,000 of them walked out on January 23 over issues of union recognition, the 8 hour day, and wage improvements. Rochester socialists sponsored talks and debates at the hall: in 1913 Helen Keller spoke here and in 1914 Clarence Darrow debated John Sargent of the National Association of Manufacturers on the merits of the closed shop. During the Depression the building held a soup kitchen to feed the unemployed; from 1937 to 1948 it housed the social welfare department; from 1949 to 1970 it reverted to a naval armory; from 1971 to 1975 various City agencies were located here including Rochester's Center for Manpower Services. In 1982 the building's parking area became a festival site which was the staging area for the Labor Day Parade, revived by the Rochester Labor Council in 1986. Since 1985 the hall has housed Geva Theater.
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Fitzhugh Hall

21 S Fitzhugh St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
Able to seat 2200, Fitzhugh Hall was the site of many public events. William Jennings Bryan, Democratic presidential candidate, visited Rochester on October 19, 1900; he spoke from the balcony of the Powers Hotel to 30,000 people gathered on Main Street before proceeding to Fitzhugh Hall where he addressed another 20,000. Running against both Bryan and Republican candidate McKinley, Socialist Democratic Party candidate Eugene V. Debs was paraded to Fitzhugh Hall on November 2, 1900 by 600 working people and socialists; there he reminded his audience that "the men who build Pullman cars do not ride in them. Andrew Carnegie would not have an income of $68,000 per day if he had not been able to exploit the labor of thousands of his fellows." And he urged that "it is better to vote right and be unsuccessful than to vote wrong and win." Debs appeared in the hall again on February 8, 1903, speaking to 2000 on the ills of capitalism and proposing an alternative system.
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Labor Temple

69 & 71 N Fitzhugh Street
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
From 1909 through 1932 the central labor council anticipated moving to a building to be built by the Labor Temple Association on land purchased on this site.
In May, 1915 The Labor Herald published an architectural rendering of the proposed Labor Temple along with article whose author anticipated the exultation of Rochester Labor “as it marches thousands strong ... next Labor Day” to “such a headquarters and social center building as City Labor has dreamed of and longed for,”... “A fitting monument to the Sacrifice and Unity of the Local Movement.” The reader was taken on a tour of the entire Labor Temple — its offices for union reps, reading rooms and library, eleven lodge rooms, banquet room and kitchen, ladies’ parlor, and an 1000 capacity assembly hall with balcony, stage and ante-rooms, etc. Atop the Temple’s ornamental facade would be placed an emblem of two clasped hands and the words “8 HOURS.”
Though the land was fully paid for, construction of the Labor Temple was postponed because of WWI and then the post-war depression. Meanwhile the Carpenters purchased the property of the Shoe Workers just up the block at 113 North Fitzhugh and immediately remodeled it; by the end of 1925 Carpenters Hall had been dedicated and was booking unions into its meeting halls. When the Labor Council had to vacate Reynold’s Arcade in 1932 they abandoned efforts to build the Labor Temple and rented space at Carpenters Hall.
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New Osburn House

South Ave
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
On this site stood the New Osburn House, a hotel which hosted many meetings of Rochester's Socialist Party and where the Knights of Labor held its twentieth convention in 1896. The KOL was the largest national labor organization of 19th century America. In his welcoming remarks, Rochester mayor George Warner praised the Knights for accomplishing "a great deal of good for the working men and women" including shorter hours, safety regulations, factory inspections, payment in cash, etc. The Knights played an important role in Rochester, organizing between 1877 and 1894 fifty-nine Local Assemblies as well as two District Assemblies; at their height the KOL had 7000 members here. Local Assemblies represented workers in many of the construction trades and in manufacturing, especially the clothing and shoe industries. In 1888 KOL shoemakers met here at the call of Rochester District Assembly 63 and formed the KOL National Trade Assembly 216, which later became the Boot and Shoe Workers Union.
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NYS United Teachers Building

30 N Union St
Rochester, NY, 14607 US
The New York State United Teachers have owned this building since 1995. Tenants include the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and the Rochester Teachers Association.
The Rochester Labor Council is the offspring of the Workingmen’s Assembly of Rochester, begun by 1863. Founding unions included the Typographers, Iron Molders, Cutters, Carpenters and Joiners, and Painters. Within their first year they added the machinists, coopers, tinsmiths, tailors, and shoemakers. The Rochester Central Trades Council received its charter from the American Federation of Labor in 1888 and by 1913 represented 60 local unions. Today, the 125 unions affiliated with the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO represent 60,000 working women and men.
When public employees in New York State won collective bargaining rights in 1967 with the passage of the Taylor Law, the New York State Teachers Association, a predecessor of NYSUT, established offices in key cities, such as Rochester, to provide support and direct services to local teachers‚ unions. Rochester NYSUT labor relations specialists assist local unions of teachers and educational support staff in an eight county area with negotiations, grievances, arbitrations, organizing, unemployment insurance hearings, health and safety issues, discipline and discharge matters, political action, etc.
The Rochester Teachers Association negotiated its first contract with the City School District in 1965 and today has a membership of over 4000.
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Progressive Working People’s Lyceum

580 St Paul St
Rochester, NY, 14605 US
Following its expulsion from City Hall in 1911 the Labor Lyceum reestablished its program at a site built and owned by progressive unions and German community groups. The cornerstone of the Progressive Working People’s Lyceum was laid on Labor Day, September 2, 1912 and the building opened on December 31, dedicated to “scientific working-class education.”
In addition to hosting a weekly lecture and discussion program on labor topics, the Lyceum housed Brewers Union 74, the Workmen’s Singing Society and its Ladies Section, the Workmen’s Sick and Death Benefit Fund, Local Rochester Socialist Party, the German Branch of the Socialist Party, the Workers‚ Library, the Socialist School, and the Young People’s Socialist League. Later, the Lyceum also housed the Working People’s Consumers League and a Labor Lyceum Gymnasium.
In 1919 the left Amalgamated Optical Workers were headquartered here - a union with which Bausch & Lomb refused to deal, even when meeting the workers‚ demand for a wage increase. The Labor Lyceum was one of several sites, including the offices of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, raided by Rochester police in November 1919 - concurrently with the first raid ordered by U.S. Attorney General Palmer. The police seized the library of the Proletarian Party and arrested three party members, charging them with criminal anarchy. Socialist candidates continued to appear at the Lyceum, including Norman Thomas, who spoke on October 23, 1946, and the Labor Open Forum continued to be run on Sunday afternoons through the 1950s. Declining participation and support led to the closing of the Labor Lyceum in September 1976.
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Shoemakers Hall

21 Andrews St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
At this site, in the center of the shoe manufacturing district known as the "leather swamp," stood Shoemakers Hall. The Central Trades and Labor Council met here in 1904-05, as did Machinists Local 93. In February 1901, Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, spoke to a mass meeting at the hall under the auspices of the Council and the machinists. Not only did he press for the eight-hour day for Rochester's clothing and shoe workers, but he urged the organizing of workers in the Eastman and Brownell Kodak factories.
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UNITE-HERE Headquarters

750 East Ave
Rochester, NY, 14607 US
What is now the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees was known as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America when this building was dedicated on October 16, 1967. 1000 guests attended the dedication at which International ACWA President Jacob Potofsky spoke along with various business and elected officials. At that time, ACWA represented 15,000 workers in the area, including clothing workers, Xerox production employees, sales people at leading men’s clothing stores, and workers at Rochester Button Company, Bravo Macaroni, five box factories, and Bourjois Cosmetics.
The construction of this building was possible due to the tenacity and vision of Abraham Chatman, then Manager of the Rochester Joint Board of the ACWA. When Chatman announced that the ACWA would build a union hall on fashionable East Avenue, the neighborhood association took its opposition to the city planning commission,which denied the Amalgamated’s plans. City Council, however, reversed the commission’s vote. Despite continued outcry from area residents, the construction went on and the building itself won the “Better Rochester Building Contest” in 1967. A unique feature of the hall is that it includes a health clinic for the union’s members.
One of the most important health care struggles in Rochester took place over labor’s efforts to establish its own clinic. In early 1956, labor recognized that a merged Rochester AFL-CIO with 60,000 members would be “large enough to finance a medical clinic and diagnostic center for union workers and their families.” By mid-1956 the 13,000 Rochester clothing workers had voted and a majority of their locals approved a local ACWA medical center. In 1957 the Central Trades & Labor Council agreed to study the feasibility of a labor medical facility that would serve members of all the area’s unions. In 1958 ACWA officers and spokesmen for clothing employers appeared before the Monroe County Medical Society: although they proposed that Rochester ACWA medical center would offer “some measure of treatment as well as diagnostic service,” the Medical Society opposed offering ambulatory medical care. The Sidney Hillman Health Center, opened in 1963 in the Medical Arts Building on Alexander Street, provided diagnostic examinations and preventive medicine for ambulatory patients. It served 1200 members during its first four months of operation. The Sidney Hillman Center continues today at the UNITE HERE headquarters on East Avenue.
The Executive Board of the Rochester Labor Council held their meetings at this site in the early 1980s. ACWA later became UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees) which then merged with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees to become UNITE-HERE. In 1999, the Labor Council rallied at the hall to protest the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.
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United Auto Workers Hall

221 Dewey Ave
Rochester, NY, 14608 US
The United Auto Workers (UAW-CIO) first came to Rochester in 1951 to organize the workforce at Rochester Products Division of GM (now Delphi). The union lost the first election of April 22, 1952 by 237 votes. The second election, held April 30, 1953, was successful with a vote of 2222 to 1131. The women who worked on the second campaign are credited with turning the tide by organizing the many women who worked in the plant. This building was bought by UAW Local 1097 in 1956 and was dedicated on October 20, 1957, with International UAW President Leonard Woodcock presiding. Forty two years later, on October 27, 1999, this was the site of a reception and rally featuring national AFL-CIO president John Sweeney.
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L Union Workplace

Clothing Workers (Hickey-Freeman)

1155 N Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY, 14621 US
Hickey-Freeman, manufacturer of high-quality men's apparel, is the last remnant of what was once a key Rochester industry. The factory was moved from St. Paul Street to this location in 1911. Several years later, Russian immigrant Abraham Chatman came to work here as a coat maker. In 1924, at the age of 27, Chatman was appointed leader of the newly-formed union that represented Hickey-Freeman workers. Considered a radical union agitator, Chatman led the Amalgamated Clothing Workers in Rochester for 56 years, bringing the benefits of unionization to workers in every Rochester clothing factory and many other industries as well. Hickey-Freeman founder Jeremiah Hickey, who never attended high school, was himself the son of a tailor. When Hickey died in 1960, Chatman lauded him as "a man of the highest integrity who firmly believed in the worth and dignity of the individual man. He always held, and deserved, the greatest respect of the union.
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Clothing Workers (Michaels-Stern)

87 N Clinton Ave
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
The seven-story Michaels-Stern clothing factory was state-of-the-art when it was erected in 1893 with electric lights, steam heat, elevators, and power-driven cutting machines. Progressive in its technological advances, Michaels-Stern had a repressive approach to labor relations. In 1919, all Rochester clothing manufacturers signed a collective bargaining agreement with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America except Michaels-Stern, which resigned from the Clothiers' Exchange to avoid being covered by the contract, calling ACWA president Sidney Hillman a Bolshevik. When the ACWA struck the factory (which employed 3000), the employer invited the more manageable United Garment Workers to organize their shop, got an injunction against picketing, and sued Hillman for $200,000. The suit was eventually set aside, but the injunction was upheld. It wasn’t until 1938, after Michaels-Stern cutters requested admission into the ACWA, that the firm joined the Clothiers Exchange and came under the ACWA agreement.
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Erie Canal Viaduct

Broad Street
Rochester, NY, US
The Erie Canal traversed the Genesee River on an aqueduct which, when it was completed in September 1823, was the longest stone bridge in America. Work on the project was undertaken with convict labor, authorized by special act of the State Legislature to be brought from the prison at Auburn. Though all the convicts escaped, the Canal opened on October 26, 1825 and quickly became a major transportation artery. A new and wider aqueduct was completed in 1842, permitting two-way crossing. Canal workers formed Rochester's earliest labor organizations: the Boatman's Mutual Relief Society and the Caulkers Society were founded in 1830 and 1831 respectively. Canal workers waged largely unsuccessful strikes in 1837, 1851, 1855, 1859, 1869, and 1871. The canal route through downtown Rochester was abandoned in 1919 in favor of the Barge Canal loop south of the city; the bypass, begun in 1905 with immigrant Italian labor, was completed in 1920.
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Kimball's Tobacco Factory

Court Street
Rochester, NY, US
In 1881 William S. Kimball, who had manufactured chewing tobacco, built a factory to produce cigarettes. By early 1883 Kimball’s 800 employees constituted the city’s largest factory workforce. During 1882-1883, the Knights of Labor organized several hundred cigarette factory girls into Local Assembly 1776. In 1883 more than 1100 cigarette makers struck for three months in an unsuccessful effort to increase their wages. By the late 1880s, these women, working at piece rates ranging from two to eleven dollars a week, were rolling and packing a million cigarettes a day. In 1892, 45 cigarette packers struck unsuccessfully for two weeks over a 20 percent wage reduction. In 1890, Kimball's merged with the American Tobacco Company and, in 1905, the Rochester operation was shut down.
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Lehigh Valley Railroad Station

99 Court St
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
This building, one of the few remaining railroad stations in Rochester, was constructed in 1905. At that time, Rochester was served by several railroads carrying passengers, coal or freight: the Lehigh Valley, the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh, the New York Central & Hudson River, the Erie and the Pennsylvania. In the early 1890s there were strikes of railroad brotherhoods at the Central’s yards as well as at the Lehigh Valley. In 1911, 700 freight cars were loaded daily in Rochester, with the NY Central (at Central Avenue and St. Paul Street) primary among the five serving this city. 58 trains ran west out of Rochester every day. In 1947 more than 1500 skilled workers were employed on the Rochester railroads in AFL unions such as the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, and Express and Station Employees; non-AFL unions representing local railroad workers included the elite Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.The electric railway system provided transportation both within and outside of the city limits, connecting Rochester to Sodus Point, Charlotte, Canandaigua, and Geneva. During a two-month strike of street car drivers in 1889, a curb-to-curb police line was required to escort strike-breaking drivers down Main Street. By 1912, Rochester street car drivers were traveling approximately 27,000 miles per day and were represented by the Amalgamated Association of Street and Railway Employees Local 282.
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Nursery Workers

668 Mt Hope Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620-2731 US
During the 1870's Rochester became known as the "Flower City" because of its numerous nurseries and seed companies. By the mid 1880's there were over thirty nurserymen. One of the oldest was the Mount Hope Nurseries.
Established by Ellwanger and Barry in 1840 on the land bounded today by Mt. Hope Avenue, Highland Avenue, South Goodman Street and South Clinton Avenue, it was recognized as America's premiere horticultural farm because of the quality and reliability of its trees and plants. Ellwanger and Barry also contributed significantly to scientific horticulture.
The Mount Hope Nurseries employed 400-500 workers during peak production season. Foremen supervised both skilled and common laborers in the production, packing and shipping of fruit trees, grapes, small plants and ornamentals. Ellwanger & Barry workers struck over wages as early as 1883 and again in 1894 and 1902, and in 1918 they struck for a shorter workday. In 1887 the City accepted the nursery's offer of 20 acres of land near the reservoir and two specimens of each of its plants to form the nucleus of Highland Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Today the Park is maintained by members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA 828), working for the Monroe County Parks Department.
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Rochester Bicycle Workers Union

24 Spring St
Rochester, NY, 14608 US
At 24 Spring Street stood Eaton & Oakley's Palm Cycle Company, a union shop which custom built and repaired bicycles. George Oakley was vice president of the Rochester Bicycle Workers Union and Hiram Eaton was financial secretary. Around the corner the Rochester Cycle Manufacturing Company, started in 1889, was the city¹s largest bicycle maker. By 1897 they employed a large number of skilled mechanics and produced 15,000 bicycles a year. They occupied a six-story building on Exchange Street, between Court and Spring streets: 6th floor: nickelling, buffing and polishing; 5th floor: braising, filing and tube cutting, enameling and striping; 4th floor: assembling and stockroom; 3rd floor: machining (sprockets, hubs); 2nd floor: sales and offices; 1st floor: shipping
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Rochester Button Company

300 State St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
Button manufacture in Rochester began in 1887 as a result of the city's flourishing ready-to-wear men's clothing industry. By 1910 there were three firms, employing 1500 workers, making half the nation's buttons. Using small machines, these workers carved, shaped, colored and polished individual buttons of Tagua Palm nut (vegetable ivory). During the 1930s–40s the button industry, to reduce labor costs, converted to plastics. The Rochester Button Company, which had operated at State Street since 1904, became the leading manufacturer of quality imitation mother-of-pearl buttons. However, in response to foreign competition, the company moved some operations to the South in the 1950s; 200 plant workers, represented by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, struck to prevent closing of the Rochester plant, which continued production until 1990 when takeovers and a leveraged buyout stripped company assets, including the pension fund.
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Shoe Factory

Commercial Street and Browns Race
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
This building at the upper falls housed factories which produced Rochester's famous footwear. In 1888, when it burned down (Factory Fire), it was the site of shoe manufacturer Williams, Hoyt. The fireproof Gorsline Building, which replaced it, housed workers at Hough & Ford Shoes, among the 4600 employed in Rochester shoe factories in 1890. That year, AFL president Samuel Gompers spoke at Rochester's City Hall in support of union efforts to prevent the permanent replacement of striking shoe workers. By 1905 some 10,000 Rochesterians were employed by 70 boot and shoe manufacturers, 13 of them located on Mill Street. Several unions represented this workforce, including the Knights of Labor District Assembly 63, the Boot and Shoe Workers Union, and the United Shoe Workers of America. Conditions in the industry led workers to strike frequently: in 1883 at Reed and Weaver Shoes (27 South St. Paul Street), in 1882 and 1887 at Kelly Shoes (25 Mumford Street), in 1890 at Hough and Ford Shoes (Gorsline Building), in 1894 at both Wright, Peters & Co. (207 Mill Street) and Bolton Shoe Co. (93 Andrews Street), and in 1895 at Harding Todd Shoes (289 State Street).
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Shoe Workers (E. P. Reed)

250 N Goodman St
Rochester, NY, 14607 US
Formerly located at 179 St. Paul Street, E. P. Reed’s new shoe factory opened in 1906 as the largest & best-equipped in the state, unsurpassed in working conditions with rest rooms, sanitary facilities, and fire fighting equipment. But, in 1922, E. P. Reed was among the Rochester shoe manufacturers who attempted to break the shoemakers’ union by locking out the workforce for two weeks. When they reopened they brought in strikebreakers after the union workers refused to work with non-union employees. Both the union and the shoe industry in Rochester were devastated by this conflict -- neither ever recovered.
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L Labor Education

George Eastman House

900 East Ave
Rochester, NY, 14607 US
Completed in 1905 as the residence of George Eastman, who pioneered the development of flexible film, this building became a photographic museum in 1947. With an addition built in 1989, the International Museum of Photography and Film houses thousands of historic cameras, over twenty thousand motion pictures, and 400,000 photographic prints and negatives. One of the most significant collections is that of Lewis Wickes Hine, a founder of social documentary photography. While best remembered today for his images of the construction of the Empire State Building, his work in the early 1900's for the Pittsburgh Survey and the National Child Labor Committee showing slums, sweatshops and young mill workers helped spur urban and child labor reform. The Museum also houses the Dryden Theatre where, since 1989, the Rochester Labor Council and the George Eastman House have jointly sponsored annual Labor Film Series featuring movies related to work and workers.
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Labor Lyceum Program

30 W Broad St
Rochester, NY, 14614 US
From 1897 to 1911 the Labor Lyceum met weekly on Sundays in the Common Council chamber in the old City Hall. An organization with elected officers and an advisory committee of prominent citizens, the Labor Lyceum, which, in 1897, grew out of the Knights of Labor and the Socialist Party Central Labor Congress, presented speakers, debates, and papers followed by discussion. Topics ranged from “The Right Conception of Trade Unionism”and “Child Labor, Its Cause and Cure” to issues of academic freedom in public schools, “Dogmatic and Practical Socialism,” and a critique of Edward Bellamy ’s Looking Backward.
In 1911 the Labor Lyceum was expelled from the Common Council chamber by Mayor Edgerton to prevent socialist Kendrick Shedd (“While I am a professor at the University of Rochester, I have not yet sold that institution my brains”) from delivering an address on “Free Speech.” Edgerton had already denied Kendrick access to the public school social centers where he ran popular evening and Sunday programs and where he had praised the red flag of international brotherhood over the flags of nations. On February 26, the Labor Lyceum met on the steps of City Hall, found themselves barred, and marched to the Shubert Theatre for a protest meeting at which 2000 heard Shedd defend free speech on public property.
In 1912 the Progressive Working People’s Lyceum agreed to sponsor the Labor Lyceum program and undertook construction of a Lyceum building at 580 St. Paul Street.
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Mechanics Institute

42 S Washington St
Rochester, NY, 14608 US
Bevier Memorial Hall, designed by local architect Claude Bragdon, was built in 1910 on the site of Nathaniel Rochester's home as the School of Art at the Mechanics Institute. Founded in 1885 by Captain Henry Lomb and other industrial leaders, the Mechanics Institute provided technical and craft training to Rochester youth. By 1908 25,000 students had enrolled in one or more courses. Bevier housed the art school after the Mechanics Institute became the Rochester Institute of Technology, which in 1968 moved to its Henrietta campus.
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Public Library

115 South Ave
Rochester, NY, 14604 US
If you want to find out more about entries covered in this map/guide or if you wish to research other labor-related events, places or persons, you will want to consult materials at the Rochester Public Library.The Local History Division on the second floor of the Rundel Memorial Building began in 1886 as the Reynolds Reference Library, a collection of 24,000 books and periodicals housed in the Reynolds Arcade. Following Morton Reynolds’ death and with funds from his endowment the collection was maintained at his home on Spring Street after 1894 and was relocated to the Rundel building in 1936, when the City opened its first central public library. By then the collection had increased to 90,000 volumes. Today the collection of the local history division includes 30,000 volumes. In addition to publications on many aspects of local history, the collection includes old city directories (which list Rochester residents and their occupations, as well as information about businesses and fraternal organizations, including unions), plat maps (which not only show streets but detail buildings and addresses), and other important reference materials. There are also manuscript collections, clipping files, and an extensive photo archive. (www2.libraryweb.org) The Bausch & Lomb library building, completed in 1998, houses the Microfilm Department with such records as local newspapers. Rundel also housed the office of the Rochester City Historian. From 1948 to 1984 Blake McKelvey held this position; his four-volume study of Rochester, based largely on materials in the Library collections, pioneered American urban history and remains an important resource. In 2007 the City Historian position was eliminated.
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Rochester Labor Studies Program

249 Highland Avenue
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
In 1972 the Rochester Extension office of the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations-Cornell University initiated a labor studies program at this location with an enrollment of 35 students. Since then, over 250 union members and leaders have earned the Certificate in Labor Studies by taking college courses in labor law, labor history, collective bargaining, contract administration, etc. The Labor Studies Program, an associated organization of the Rochester Labor Council, continues to be offered by Cornell-ILR at the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
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Rush Rhees Library

Library Rd
Rochester, NY, US
During the years Herbert G. Gutman taught at the University of Rochester, 1967-1972, he played a major role in establishing Labor History as a field of American historical study. Influenced by E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class, Gutman studied American workers' resistance to the demands of the industrial regime and its work ethic that developed between 1815 and 1919, focusing especially on the successive waves of new immigrants who continually redefined the structure and culture of America's working class. Gutman developed his ideas in articles, papers and reviews and through discussion with colleagues and students, formulating them in the title essay of Work, Culture & Society in Industrializing America (1977). Gutman's contribution to American history continued after he left Rochester. In 1973 he co-edited Many Pasts, a collection of readings in American social history; in 1977 he published Slavery and the Numbers Game, attacking the methods and conclusions of Time on the Cross, a controversial work on the economics of slavery; that same year he completed The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, refuting Daniel P. Moynihan's theses on the historic disfunctionality of black families. Two important publications followed Gutman's early death in 1985 at age 56: Power and Culture (1987), a collection of essays, many unpublished, and Who Built America? Working People and the Nation's Economy, Politics, Culture and Society (1989), produced by the American Social History Project under Gutman's direction - perhaps the most useful resource on the making of the American working class.
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L Labor Markers & Monuments

Factory Fire

1133 Mt Hope Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
This monument commemorates the workers killed in the 1888 fire which destroyed the eight-story building near the upper falls which housed the Williams, Hoyt & Company (Shoe Factory), the Steam Gauge and Lantern Works, and a box factory. When the fire broke out there were over a hundred workers on site. Men in the upper stories ran for stairways and windows; some jumped from windows, falling 60 to 100 feet to the pavement below. A total of 34 workers were killed in the disaster, half of them minors. A worker subsequently arrested under suspicion of arson was apparently not convicted.
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Firefighters Memorial

1100 Mt Hope Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
Mt. Hope Cemetery was established in 1836. A Firefighters’ memorial was dedicated in the “new” part of Mt. Hope cemetery on September 9, 1880. The 50-foot monument was chiseled entirely by Rochester workers and features an 8 foot, 9 inch figure of a firefighter at the top. All of the city’s firefighters attended the dedication along with visitors from other communities. The first Rochester firefighter killed on the job was Thomas Rathbun who was killed by a falling chimney at a paper-mill fire on December 21, 1827. Early firefighters fought many severe blazes: the 1858 destruction of the south side of Main Street from St. Paul to Stone Streets, the tragic fire at the Steam Gauge and Lantern Works at the Upper Falls in 1888 where 34 died, the 1901 fire at the orphan asylum where 31 children died, and the conflagration of 1904 which destroyed the dry goods district on East Main Street. Fire fighting in Rochester became a paid, instead of volunteer, job in 1862.
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Ida Breiman Gravesite

68 Stonewood Ave
Rochester, NY, 14612 US
At the outset of the clothing workers' strike in January 1913, strikers noted that lights were on at this subcontractor’s shop, so they pounded on windows to call the workers out. The proprietor grabbed a rifle and shot into the crowd, killing 18 year old Ida Breiman, a striker whose father was a member of the Brotherhood of Tailors. Several thousand marched in a funeral procession two days later. Ida was buried at the Stone Road Cemetery; a monument, erected by the Brotherhood, reads simply: “Ida Breiman - Lost her life during the struggle of 1913.” Following the murder, public sentiment was with the strikers; soup kitchens were formed and relief collections made. Finally, though, the United Garment Workers called the strike off on March 20, 1913.
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Susan B. Anthony Gravesite

1133 Mt Hope Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
Though Anthony devoted much of her life to encouraging Americans to afford equal rights to women, her efforts to recruit working women into the suffrage struggle were controversial. Eager to participate in the 1868 convention of the National Labor Union, she qualified for credentials by forming, just prior to the meeting, a Workingwomen's Protective Association comprised of typesetters and clerks employed at her magazine, Revolution. While the convention refused to endorse women’s suffrage, it did support equal pay for equal work, trade unions for women, and inclusion of women in eight-hour demands. However, because the WPA was not an actual labor union and because, to find them employment, Anthony sent members to work at shops on the typographical union's rat list, sometimes as strikebreakers, the typographers challenged her credentials and she was not seated at the 1869 NLU convention. Her magazine subsequently reported that "The worst enemies of Women's Suffrage will ever be the laboring class of men."
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Workers Memorial

249 Highland Ave
Rochester, NY, 14620 US
In 1989 the Rochester Labor Council, with the Rochester Council on Occupational Safety and Health, dedicated a permanent marker in Highland Park as a tribute to those who are killed or injured on the job. In 1998, there were almost six million occupationally-related injuries and illnesses among U.S. workers; there were just over six thousand fatal job injuries in the same year. The marker was dedicated on Workers‚ Memorial Day, April 28, a day of observation established by the national AFL-CIO and the occupational safety and health movement as a reminder of the human cost of the American way of doing business. Annually, members of the local labor community observe Workers‚ Memorial Day by gathering at the monument and reciting the names of area workers who have died on the job.
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Rochester Labor History eMap

Welcome to the Rochester Labor History eMAP, an on-line resource on Rochester New York workers and their unions. The map displays in text and image where they worked, held their meetings, conducted their struggles, and were commemorated.

RochesterLabor.org is the website of the Rochester Labor Education Committee and the Pettengill Labor Education Fund.

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