LAWCHA is an organization of scholars, teachers, students, labor educators, and activists who seek to promote public and scholarly awareness of labor and working-class history through research, writing, and organizing.
Donald Rogers recent book Workers against the City: The Fight for Free Speech in Hague v. CIO (2020) reminds us of the terrific struggles that workers endured against policing, and the way that these struggles led to the fight for civil liberties. Frank Hague was a Jersey City, N.J. Democratic Party boss who banned picketing and distribution of leaflets on public property by the newly organized Committee of Industrial Organizations in 1937. He claimed the CIO was a Communist organization and used a city ordinance that banned gatherings of groups that advocated obstruction of government by unlawful means. Hague used the city police to brutally suppress organizing drives. As they did in the South, CIO’s organizers compared Hague’s iron rule to Hitler, using anti-fascism as a call to action. Led by the CIO’s left-wing Lee Pressman, they also took the case to the courts in coalition with the American Civil Liberties Union. I asked Prof. Rogers a few questions that highlight some of this story. Read more →