minewar.org documenting the 1930's Illinois Mine War

Happy Birthday, Les!

Earlier this month, Les Orear celebrated his 100th birthday. Happy Birthday, Les!

Earlier this month, the venerable Les Orear celebrated his 100th birthday. Many may know Les as a founder of the Illinois Labor History Society.   Les led that organization for decades and continues today as its President Emeritus.  I count myself fortunate to have been able to collaborate with Les over the years.  Together we created a number of internet and video projects to help preserve Illinois’ rich labor history.

However prior to that, Les also helped make history.  As labor historian Kim Scipes recently noted: “Les–whom I’m honored to call a personal friend and mentor–went into the Chicago stockyards to help organize packinghouse workers in 1933, and that he is one of the founders of the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee (1937), and the United Packinghouse Workers of America (1943). He served the union until retiring. The UPWA, always predominantly white nationally and internationally, and predominantly white in Chicago until after World War II, directly confronted racial oppression in the union, the workplace and the community in ways far beyond any other CIO or AFL-CIO union: for example, by 1962, EVERY UPWA contract in the US and Canada had a non-discrimination clause included, which covered hiring and working.”

Happy birthday, brother.


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