Title: J.J. Ettor speaking to striking barbers – Union Square, N.Y, from the Library of Congress, 05/17/1913
Context: This photo shows labor leader Joseph James Ettor speaking to the Brooklyn barber’s union during the Brooklyn barbers’ strike of 1913. The large sign in the middle of the picture states “I.W.W.” along with demands for specific changes in working conditions in big bold letters. The I.W.W., or Industrial Workers of the World were a labor union group that sought to organize unskilled laborers to advocate for improved working hours, pay and conditions.
Icebreaker prompt: Analyze the image caption. Does it help the viewer understand the image? Create a new caption for the image.
Response: The image caption states what is happening, but could provide more context and agency to the strike. One potential new caption could be “I.W.W. and Brooklyn Barbers’ Union Strike For Better Working Conditions Conditions.”
Title: Picket line at Mid-City Realty Company, South Chicago, Illinois from the Library of Congress, 07/1941
Context: This photo is believed to be of a picket line at the Mid-City Realty Company in South Chicago, Illinois. The photo features strikers holding signs reading “Slavery was abolished – YET we work for $8 a week” and “Mid City Realty Unfair – Underpays his workers. Overcharges his tenants. Support the strike.”
Icebreaker prompt: Brainstorm a list of questions and rank them by your order of curiosity.
– What are the working conditions like at Mid-City Realty?
– What role did racism play determining how the strikers were treated by their employers?
– How did conditions differ for both male and female employees?
– Why do the workers think they are treated unfairly?
– How much was $8 a week worth during this time period?
– How long did the employees strike, and did they get their demands?
– Who was the owner of Mid-City Realty Company?
Title “The only way out – fighting them with their own weapons,” by Udo Keppler from Puck Magazine, 05/27/1903
Context: This cartoon is titled “The only way out,” by cartoonist Udo Keppler. The caption at the bottom states, “The only way out – fighting them with their own weapons.” The cartoon features a representative of the “Employers Union” gesturing at a “right to lock out” sign, much to the shock of laborers.
Icebreaker prompt: Analyze the bias of the image. How does the arrangement of the image create bias?
Response: The cartoonist is biased in favor of the factory owners and employers. The employer is the focus of the image and is much larger in stature compared to the three employees. Additionally, the cartoon states that locking the employees out is “as absolute as the [workers] right to strike.” The arrangement enforces this bias because while the workers are locked out, construction continues behind the employer.