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

4859 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60615, US

Category: Unions

Used in the following map:

Labor Trail

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.