University of Pittsburgh

Plenary Speakers

David Montgomery

David Montgomery is Farnam Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University where he taught courses on the history of working people in the United States, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and immigration. He also serves as Past President of the Organization of American Historians. Working for ten years as a machinist in the Twin Cities, Montgomery was an active member of the IAM, the UE, and the Teamsters. He earned a Ph.D. in History at the University of Minnesota in 1962, and since that time spent fourteen years teaching at the University of Pittsburgh and two years in England helping E. P. Thompson establish the Centre for the Study of Social History at the University of Warwick. He has held visiting teaching positions at Oxford University and in Canada, Brazil, and the Netherlands.

A renowned author, his work on the history and current prospects of working people in the United States includes The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925 (Pulitzer Prize finalist nomination 1988), Citizen Worker: The Experience of Workers in the United States with Democracy and the Free Market during the Nineteenth Century (1993), Workers’ Control in America: Studies in the History of Work, Technology, and Labor Struggles (1979), and Beyond Equality: Labor and the Radical Republicans, 1862-1872 (1967). His latest book Black Workers’ Struggle for Equality in Birmingham, written in collaboration with Professor Horace Huntley of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is based on oral histories and examines the ways African American workers made use of different kinds of unions in their quest for equality and dignity on the job and in the community.

Janet Zandy

Janet Zandy is a professor of English and American Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology. Formerly the editor of Women’s Studies Quarterly, she is the author of Hands: Physical Labor, Class, and Cultural Work (2004, honorable mention for the John Hope Franklin prize in American Studies), and the editor of Calling Home: Working-Class Women’s Writings (1990), Liberating Memory: Our Work and Our Working-Class Consciousness (1995), What We Hold in Common: An Introduction to Working-Class Studies (2001), and (with Nicholas Coles) American Working-Class Literature, An Anthology (2007).

Her current project is on the vernacular of photography by and about working-class people. She has recent articles on photography and writing (exposure 08), and photography and the city (Transformations 08), and has been awarded two photography travel awards: an Ansel Adams Research Fellowship at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, and a Peter E. Palmquist Memorial award for under-researched women photographers.

Fred Redmond

International Vice President, United Steelworkers (USW)

Since assuming the role of International Vice President for Human Affairs in 2006, Fred Redmond has brought new vigor to negotiations with the health care and public employee sectors. His resolution of the Medco lockout of 580 USW members in Las Vegas in 2006 was typical of the tenaciousness he brings to the position.
Redmond joined the Steelworkers union when he went to work at Reynolds Metals Company in McCook, Ill., in 1973. He became active in Local 3911 almost immediately, serving as shop steward, grievance committee member and chairman, vice-president and three terms as president.

Redmond serves as Chairman of the USW Container Industry Conference and coordinates bargaining for the USW Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Public Employees Sector. He also serves on the AFL-CIO Executive Council for Working America, a Community Affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and as chairman of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI). In addition, Redmond is the Regional 6 Representative for the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist (CBTU).

Among the most visible projects Redmond has taken on in recent years is the cause of the Firestone rubber plantation workers in Liberia. Redmond traveled to Liberia many times to help the Liberian workers form a new, independent union that could stand up to the company and demand decent living and working conditions.

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Bill Fletcher, Jr., is the Director of Field Services & Education for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and serves as the executive editor of
Prior to joining AFGE, Bill was the Belle Zeller Visiting Professor at Brooklyn College-City University of New York. From January 2002 through April 2006 he served as the President and
CEO of TransAfrica Forum, a national non-profit organization organizing, educating and advocating for policies in favor of the peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Bill got his start in the labor movement as a rank & file member of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America. Combining labor and community work, he was also involved in ongoing efforts to desegregate the Boston building trades.

He served as Education Director and later Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO. Bill's union staff experience also included the Service Employees International Union, where his last position was Assistant to the President for the East and South. He served as the Organizational Secretary/Administrative Director for the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. Prior to the Mail Handler's Union, Bill was an organizer for District 65-United Auto Workers in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bill received his undergraduate education at Harvard University and his Masters from Brooklyn College-City University of New York. He has authored numerous articles published in a variety of books, newspapers and magazines. He is also the co-author of the 1987 pictorial booklet: The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941. He is the co-author, with Fernando Gapasin, of the book Solidarity Divided (University of California Press, 2008) which examines the crisis of organized labor in the United States.

Lee Siu Hin

Lee Siu Hin is the founding member and volunteer national coordinator of National Immigrant Solidarity Network. NISN is a coalition of community, immigrant, labor, human rights and student activist groups, founded in 2002 in response to the urgent needs for the national coalition to fight immigrant bashing, support immigrant rights, no to the sweatshops exploitation and end to the racism on the community, headquarter in Washington DC, with several local chapters and 4,000 memberships. Lee is also the founding member and national coordinator for ActionLA Coalition, an Los Angeles-based activist group, and Peace No War Network, a national peace & justice education project. In addition, he's the current steering committee members for United for Peace & Justice, Latin America Solidarity Coalition, and an active member of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.

Workshop Leaders

Ira Shor

Ira Shor is a Professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center where he founded the doctoral program in Rhetoric/Composition. At the Graduate Center, he offers seminars in literacy and conquest, critical pedagogy, whiteness studies, composition theory and practice, the rhetorics of space and place, and working-class culture. He also serves on the English faculty at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, where he teaches courses in writing, literature, and mass media as well as graduate classes for schoolteachers.

His nine published books include a three-volume set in honor of the late Paulo Freire, the noted Brazilian educator who was his friend and mentor: Critical Literacy in Action(college language arts) and Education is Politics (Vol 1, k-12, and Vol. 2, Postsecondary Across the Curriculum). Shor’s work with Freire began in the early 1980s and lasted until Freire’s death in 1997. He and Freire co-authored A Pedagogy for Liberation in 1986, the first “talking” book Freire published with a collaborator. Shor also authored the widely used Empowering Education(1992) and When Students have Power(1996), two foundational texts in critical teaching. His Critical Teaching and Everyday Life(1980) was the first book-length treatment of Freire-based critical methods in the North American context. That book grew out of Shor’s literacy teaching for Open Admission students in the City University in the 1970s, where he helped build an open-access writing program recognized then by the NCTE as one of three successful efforts in higher education but crushed by conservative authorities in 1976. Coming to the City University in 1971 after completing a literature PhD at Wisconsin, he experimented with critical literacy, taught Basic Writing for 15 years, and still teaches first-year composition as well as other courses.

Shor has a son, Paulo, born in 2003, and this child is doing a reasonably good job of raising his father.


Nicholas Coles

Nicholas Coles is on the faculty of University of Pittsburgh’s English Department, where he has directed the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and the Composition Program. He is also a Field Director of the National Writing Project, based at the University of California at Berkeley, working to improve students’ writing and academic performance in K-12 schools.

Coles teaches and writes about literacy and pedagogy, working-class literature, contemporary poetry, and teacher-research. His articles have appeared in College English and many other journals and edited collections. He is the co-editor, with Peter Oresick, of two collections of poetry about work: Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life (1990) and For a Living: The Poetry of Work (1995), both from the University of Illinois Press.
American Working-Class Literature, was published by Oxford University Press in 2007, co-edited with Janet Zandy of Rochester Institute of Technology.

Charles McCollester

Charles McCollester is the director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Labor Relations and a professor of Industrial and Labor Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A former president of the Pennsylvania Labor History Society, he is now the president of the Battle of Homestead Foundation.

In 1970, he obtained a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Louvain, Belgium. His blue-collar career extended from 1973 to 1986 and included working seven years as a machinist and being elected chief steward of UE Local 610 at the Union Switch & Signal in Swissvale, Pennsylvania. He has published articles in numerous journals including Monthly Review, Labor’s Heritage and The Nation. He edited Fighter With a Heart: Writings of Charles Owen Rice, Pittsburgh Labor Priest. His “people’s history” of the Pittsburgh region, The Point of Pittsburgh: Production and Struggle at the Forks of the Ohio (illustrated by Bill Yund), was published in 2008.

Featured Artist

Bill Yund

Bill Yund is an artist and writer with a number of labor journalism awards. His subject matter leans heavily to working class issues and history. He is a retired industrial insulator (Insulators Local 2) with deep roots in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He has published several graphic novels including Cooper’s Walk, a story of a 19th Century worker in Pittsburgh. His banners, representing more than one hundred years of workers at the great Homestead steel mill, adorn the Pump House in Munhall, scene of the 1892 Battle of Homestead. His work is available on his website: