In the last days of my tenure at the University of Illinois, I spent several hours digging through vertical files in the library of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations. Because of changes in professors’ interests–generally away from collective bargaining–and space considerations, the bulky and little used file cabinets were slated for removal. Not sure if the files would be destroyed or stored out of reach, I wanted to at least assess what might be lost.
And that’s where I found the wonderful, full-color comic book “Joe Worker and the Story of Labor” produced by the CIO Research and Education Department in 1948. Through the good graces of Betsy Kruger at the UIUC Library, the entire booklet is now available for free download at the Internet Archive. You can read about it here, and download it here. UIUC has uploaded a few other similar pamphlets from the CIO, like How Big is Big Business, and I’m still looking forward to the scanning of the CIO’s comic book on the “Bible and the Working Man.”
From the first page, above panels depicting Elamites and Chaldians trading racial slurs: “The trick of setting worker against worker started way back. The idea was to keep common men of different tribes and tongues divided and enslaved. King Nimrod of Anciet Babylonia tried this, but it didn’t work–he even lost his own kingdom. The centuries have taught Labor the great lesson–only in union is there strength. So today all American workers, native born and foreign, Christian and Jew, White and Negro, together march forward.”