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Solidarity subtopics

Read about Rochester’s central labor bodies’ historic solidarity efforts:


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Topics » Solidarity


During the latter 19th and first half of the 20th century a “culture of solidarity” prevailed among American workers, who recognized their common interest in improving wages and conditions in all workplaces and defended that interest through collective action. As one reader of Rochester’s Labor Journal noted in a letter to the editor, “The two greatest weapons in the hands of organized labor are the Union Label and the ballot and until they learn to use them their citizenship is a farce.”

Central labor bodies have played a unique role in providing leverage to individual unions seeking to exert economic pressure against unfair employers. At the same time they have been able to influence consumers to purchase products and services from employers who support the union values of dignity and voice in the workplace. In this role Rochester’s central labor bodies have applied several tactics:

  • Do Buy” campaigns to encourage consumers to purchase products bearing the Union Label and to purchase services from employers of union labor who display a Union Shop Card or whose workers wear Service Buttons;
  • Don't Buy” and boycott campaigns to discourage consumers from patronizing businesses or purchasing products from firms deemed unfair to workers;
  • Mutual Support efforts on behalf of local and non-local strikes called to address such issues as wages, hours, and working conditions. These efforts include picket lines, donations to striking unions, and moral support.

By the 1970s, however, social and economic changes had diminished workers’ sense of community and the effectiveness of “Do Buy” and “Don’t Buy” campaigns waned as workers sought to maximize their declining purchasing power. However, the Rochester Labor Council has continued to express the labor community’s collective solidarity through mutual support activities.