Learning to Avoid Repeats of History

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So said philosopher George Santayana and a lot of other people. They may not have been referring to labor history in particular, but the lesson applies there as well. That’s why the work done by the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association is so important: We help workers remember their history.

The PNLHA was founded in 1968 as a non-profit association of trade unionists, students, academics, and others dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of workers in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.

An international organization, it holds an annual conference in one of the three membership regions. The next one will be at SeaTac (Seattle), WA, on 1-3 May 2015. At this main public event, historians, students, unionists, and others come together to share information and exchange views on past events that shaped the labor movement in both the United States and Canada.

The organization produces a colorful calendar each year. It is available for sale individually and in bulk, it is free to members. Inside, the dates of historic events that transpired in the lives of working people in the Pacific Northwest are highlighted. The calendar has been welcome in trade union homes since its inception in 1979.

The www.pnlha.org web site provides users with a steady flow of news and updates on its own activities and those of other labor history institutions. There’s also a resources section that will be of interest to trade unionists, working historians, students, and all those wanting to avoid repeating the bad parts.

PNLHA members are active in many areas. Some are authors of labor history fiction, self-published articles or booklets on hidden historical events, and academic works. Others remain active trade unionists that continue to be inspired by
the history of workers’ struggles for rights, fairness, and social justice.

Some are studying formally at universities and colleges. Others pursue study interests privately and among friends. All find a home at PNHLA. Some PNLHA members are teachers, lecturers, speakers, journalists, filmmakers, and museum
curators. Others are poets, musicians, actors, and artists. Members get involved in festivals, help create museum displays, and offer labor history talks in schools.

The PNLHA is a diverse organization that welcomes new ideas and innovative approaches to labor history. Membership is open to individuals, unions, associated labor organizations (e.g., retirees councils), and institutions.

If you are interested in the Pacific Northwest’s labor past, and you share a desire to avoid repeating history, please consider joining us by visiting pnlha.org and downloading the membership form.

SEIU Local 085