Paul Robeson and the 1948 Library of Congress cafeteria workers’ strike
Play • 43 min

With 95% of DC’s hotel and restaurant workers out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we look back at the history of cafeteria workers’ struggle for a union at the Library of Congress and how singer and activist Paul Robeson supported their 1948 strike.

Former AFSCME organizer and DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts tells how a showdown with New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller over the right of state workers to organize led to her being jailed for two weeks in December, 1968.

The Heartland Labor Forum talks with Mark Bradley, author of Blood Runs Coal, about the brutal 1968 murder of Jock Yablonski and his family by United Mineworkers president Tony Boyle, and how it inspired a surge in union democracy. 

And, on this week’s Labor History in 2:00, Rick Smith tells us about The Beginning of the End of Apartheid.

Music: Joe Hill and Old Man River, by Paul Robeson; The Jablonski Murder, by Hazel Dickens. Produced and edited by Chris Garlock. To contribute a labor history item, email

Labor History Today is produced by the Metro Washington Council’s Union City Radio and the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. We're a proud founding member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network, nearly 80 shows focusing on working people’s issues and concerns. #LaborRadioPod

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