The Bosses’ Clubs: Employers organizing against workers, and the campaigns to defeat Billy Gohl and the Wobblies along the Washington Coast
Historian and author Aaron Goings brings you into the true-crime world of Billy Gohl (dubbed by newspapers as the Ghoul of Grays Harbor), a labor organizer from Aberdeen arrested for the murder of dozens of sailors and lumber workers. He’ll also delve into the collective, often brutal, union-crushing activity of employers toward working people.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Pacific Northwest workers launched mass union and political campaigns to improve their conditions. Less well-known were those organizations on the other side of the class divide – groups of employers whose agenda was to stop workers from unionizing and enacting reform. These “Unions against Unions” formed across North America, and achieved remarkable success in the Pacific Northwest by relying on sophisticated surveillance and armed violence, among other methods.
Drawing from his two recent books, The Red Coast (Oregon State University Press, 2019) and The Port of Missing Men: Billy Gohl, Labor, and Brutal Times in the Pacific Northwest (University of Washington Press, 2020), Goings will survey the actions of anti-unionists along the Washington coast. He’ll focus especially on their efforts to crush the Sailors’ Union, led by Billy Gohl, and the radical movement of the Industrial Workers of the World (also known as the Wobblies).
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