Labor Archives of Washington


Labor in the Modern Era

Fair Trade
Fair trade not free trade ; Stop corporate globalism

During the 1960s and 1970s, the activists who agitated for civil rights and freedoms turned a part of their attention to continuing the work of the labor movement. The U.W. makes available, in its digital collection of Vietnam War Era Ephemera, examples of posters, fliers, and pamphlets distributed in Seattle that advocated workers' rights. The primary emphasis of these documents is on the importance of boycotting non-union produce to support migrant farm workers, and the work of Cesar Chavez to organize these workers. Some materials focus on the use of the 1919 general strike as inspiration for activism, and on continued efforts by some groups to advocate for a more radical labor movement to oppose capitalism and the interests of corporations.

In late 1999, Seattle hosted a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO), an international organization of nations that seeks to regulate and encourage international trade. At the time, concerns were increasing about the WTO’s influence, particularly about the impact of globalization and the expansion of international trade on workers, both here in the United States and overseas in impoverished nations. As a result, an unexpectedly large number of protesters gathered in the streets of Seattle between November 29th and December 3rd, leading to clashes with local police, who attempted to drive the crowds out of the “no-protest zones” with pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets. The U.W.’s digital collection, entitled the WTO Seattle Collection, presents hundreds of documents – fliers and leaflets distributed by protesters, interviews conducted after the protests with those involved, and photographs of the demonstrations.

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