Activity 6:
Get Organized

Bud found that sometimes it's hard to tell the "good guys" from the "bad guys." Are the labor organizers good or bad? It depends on your perspective.

Task

Take the role of a person that is in favor of or opposed to labor unions for railroad workers in the 1930s. Debate issues related to unions.

Process and Resources

  1. Read about labor unions in Flint Michigan.
  2. There were very few jobs for African American working on the railroad. Read about Segregation in Railroad Jobs.
  3. The police stopped Lefty Lewis's car looking for labor organizers coming from Detroit. Reread the labor union flyer on page 138-139 that Lefty was handing out. Read Striving for Justice. Look at the union poster at A Message to the Slacker Porter. Print out the worksheet and complete the activity. Compare Lefty's poster to the Slacker Porter poster.
  4. Lefty was involved with creating a union for Pullman Porters working for the railroad. What's a Pullman Porter? Look at a photo of a Pullman Porter. Learn more about the job of a Pullman Porter at The Life of the Pullman Porter website. Create a list of things that Pullman Porters do in their jobs. What duties would you like or dislike?
  5. Philip Randolph was the chief organizer of the Pullman Porters. Find out about his life. Then, learn about his labor organizing activities. Take the role of a person that is in favor of or opposed to labor unions for railroad workers in the 1930s. Create a list of reasons that support your perspective. Use the following websites to help:

Project Guidelines

Use the following guidelines for holding a debate:

  • List the main reasons that a person would be in favor or opposed to the union
  • Provide examples to support each reason
  • List the main reasons on the opposite side of your argument and provide examples of why your position would disagree

Conclusion

Take your debate online. Have an online debate about unions with another class. Try it using chat software, live.

 
Teacher Resources
Student Resources

Developed by Annette Lamb, 3/00.