Interview, Peter Cole's Blog

Ben Fletcher & the Legendary IWW Local 8 w/ Peter Cole— Laborwave Radio

Laborwave Radio

Peter Cole joins the show to discuss the second edition of his book Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly published by PM Press.

The range and scope of this episode expands over the backdrop of early 20th century Philadelphia and recounts the biographical details of Wobbly organizer Ben Fletcher and the tale of IWW Local 8, a powerful dock workers union that practiced anti-racist unionism which Ben Fletcher helped to create. We also discuss the demise of Local 8, brought down by a multitude of historical forces such as WWI and employer counter-offensives as well as fraught internal divisions between the IWW and Communist Party and competition from business unions such as the International Longshoremen’s Association.

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Peter Coleis a professor of history at Western Illinois University in Macomb and a research associate in the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cole is the author of the award-winning Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area and Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive-Era Philadelphia. He coedited Wobblies of the World: A Global History of the IWW. He is the founder and codirector of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project.

Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly