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VISIT Introducing Labor  Films at LaborFilms.org

Film still The Navigators movie

SEE Rochester: A  Community of Workers  Photo Exhibit

machinist at work



How well do we know our own history, including the history of work and the history of our unions here in Rochester?

Answer: not well enough.

If we don't educate ourselves, our students and our community about our work and our unions, who will?

Answer: no one.

The business community tells its story to young people in the schools; Junior Achievement, a national program of the US Chamber of Commerce, encourages children to see themselves as potential entrepreneurs. If we want our kids to have positive images of unions and to take pride in seeing themselves as workers, it's up to us — the labor community — to conduct our own programs.


That's why the Labor Council and several affiliates created the Rochester Education Alliance of Labor — REAL — to bring together local educators and other workers to develop materials that unions, schools and community groups can use to study our history. REAL developed two basic types of educational materials: labor histories and work-related curricula.

Labor History materials include:

  • Struggle in Smugtown, a 45-minute video documentary which begins to tell the story of Rochester's workers, radicals and reformers: their work, their unions, their struggles for social justice.
  • Rochester Labor History eMAP, an on-line resource on Rochester workers and their unions, showing in both text and image where they worked, held their meetings, conducted their struggles, and were commemorated.
  • Sesquicentennial History of the Rochester Labor Council, an on-line and print publication sponsored and published by the Ronald G. Pettengill Labor Education Fund.
  • The 1946 General Strike of Rochester, New York, an on-line essay which traces the story of the1946 struggle between organized labor and City Hall; illustrated with images from an AFL photographer.
  • Rochester Labor History Map/Guide, a pocket-size booklet intended to facilitate self-guided tours.

Work Curriculum materials include an exhibit and coloring book showing Rochester workers on the job, a work guide for high school students, and several study guides to using these materials in the classroom:

  • Our Community of Workers Coloring Book includes 31 captioned line drawings based on images in the photo exhibit, along with sample activities for children. Now in its 6th printing, over 50,000 copies have been distributed to unions and schools. A companion Workbook contains age-appropriate work-related exercises for young students using the coloring book.
  • Smugtown Video Study Guide, an instructional aid for secondary teachers using the documentary, "Struggle in Smugtown." Its 15 sections correspond to the sections of the video and include sample classroom activities and exercises.
  • Rochester: A Community of Workers, a virtual exhibit of photographs depicting members of more than 30 affiliate unions of the Rochester Labor Council on their jobs. With the images are quotes from worksite interviews with these workers.
  • REAL WorkGuide, a pocket-size booklet that addresses high school students' questions about the world of work. One section traces the changing US economy over the past 50 years while another deals with workplace issues such as pay, safety, rights, and unions.


REAL Projects:

Our Community of Workers Coloring Book and Workbook

Struggle in Smugtown video documentary and Study Guide

Rochester Labor History eMAP
on-line resource on Rochester workers and their unions

Rochester: A Community of Workers on-line photo exhibit

Web version of Rochester CLC Labor History publication