America’s last general strike
Play • 42 min

Every business was shut down. People gathered on street corners and started directing traffic. They made a rule: restaurants were going to close, bars could stay open if they didn't serve hard liquor. They put the jukebox out on the street and people were actually dancing on the streets.

Dancing in the streets during a shutdown? That seems impossible in our current pandemic, but seventy-four years ago, there was indeed a spirit of rejoicing and solidarity in the city of Oakland, California when 100,000 workers walked off their jobs in the last general strike this country has seen. We’re devoting our entire show this week to remembering the 1946 Oakland General Strike, as Work Week’s Steve Zeltzer interviews labor historian and researcher Gifford Hartford, who talks about how the strike happened and why it’s still relevant today.

On this week’s Labor History in 2:00, Breaking Through the Racial Divide; Rick Smith tells us about the founding of the Colored National Labor Union. Music: General Strike by Moe Shinola, a musician and former cab driver who lives in Kansas City, Missouri.   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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