by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
On the Ground in Wisconsin with Tom Morello
Historian and Rolling Stone contributor Rick Perlstein travelled to Wisconsin last weekend to report on the final days of the historic campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker. Perlstein met up with musician, and 2012 Hillman Officers' Award-winner Tom Morello on the campaign trail:
Then I reached my destination, Madison's Labor Temple, and saw another Wisconsin on full display – a lucky thing or I would have just about jumped into Lake Mendota.
I saw police officers there, too — relaxing in the sun getting ready to enjoy a Friday get-out-the-vote concert put on by the independent group We Are Wisconsin and starring Jackson Browne, Mike McColgan of the Dropkick Murpheys, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, rapper Brother Ali, and mighty Tom Morello, who put it all together and MC'ed. These officers wore T-shirts reading "COPS FOR LABOR." There were little old ladies, too, sporting "PROUD TO BE A UNION THUG" T-shirts. There were young people, and middle aged people, and people of color, yuppies and blue-collars — just like the congregations of 100,000 and more who descended upon Madison's state capitol day after frigid day the moment Governor Walker introduced his union-busting bill. That, back in February of 2011, Tom Morello told me backstage before the show, was the first thing he noticed about the Madison Uprising: "not just the usual suspects of young anarchists and old hippies, but, you know, firefighters, policemen, Green Bay Packers, longshoremen."
"And vets, and farmers,” Jackson Browne chimed in. “It almost sort of presaged Occupy." [Rolling Stone]
[Photo credit: Tom Morello in Wisconsin in February, 2011. By Dave Hoefler, Creative Commons.]