“They paid the ultimate price for standing up for the working class”
August 22, 2014 3:46 PM   Subscribe

One Generation’s Time: The Legacy of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes (YouTube, 1 hour). The story of two activists who fought to improve the lives of Filipino workers in Alaskan canneries, their murders by members of a street gang, and the eight-year investigation that ultimately found Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos responsible for their deaths.

The story of Domingo and Viernes is also told in the Seattle Times’ coverage of the murder case against Tony Baruso, then-president of ILWU Local 37 which represented the cannery workers, and in a retrospective by the ILWU.

Also noteworthy, but overshadowed by the murders, are Domingo and Viernes’ work on class-action lawsuits on behalf of cannery workers. One of these suits, Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a ruling making it much more difficult for minority workers to win discrimination suits. Two years later, President George H. W. Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which aimed to restore the legal standards curtailed in Wards Cove. Unfortunately, the impact of the 1991 Act has been limited (PDF) and workers in Wards Cove are still specifically excluded from its protections.
posted by Banknote of the year (5 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
And here are some more links, that didn’t fit into the main post: Kudos to Jen Graves and her commenters for some of the links in this post.
posted by Banknote of the year at 3:52 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

People forrget that union organizers are fucking heroes.
Heroes who often pay with their lives
posted by lalochezia at 5:29 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Seconding that!

excellent post
posted by BlueHorse at 7:16 PM on August 22, 2014

People also forget that "members of a street gang" can often be very effective servants for the Status Quo.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:42 PM on August 22, 2014

Hmmm.. I'll have to return to it when I have time to follow the links properly, but thank you for an interesting bit of history with some ties to the area in which I live. I'll have to mention it to our local historical society; the history of the Alaskero cannery workers is briefly explained on one of the historical markers they have erected in downtown Ketchikan and it's an interesting story, but it doesn't cover all of this material.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:17 AM on August 23, 2014

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