San Francisco: Black Star Agency, 1970. Double weight silver gelatin photographs, 8 x 10 inches. With credits on versos to Gene Daniels or Fred Kaplan for the Black Star Agency. Mostly fine, a few stray flaws, near fine overall. Near Fine. Item #List801
The General Motors strike of 1970 was one of the major labor events in the company’s history, lasting 67 days and affecting over 300,000 workers. The strikes would eventually lead to improvements in cost-of-living adjustments and to the guarantee of pensions for those with over thirty years of service. The strikes happened in a relatively active period for American labor movements, concurrent with the beginnings of the UFW movement and before the PATCO strike of 1981, which is considered by labor historians to be a turning point in American labor history, as many unions weakened afterward. The next GM strike wouldn’t happen until 2009.
Collected here are forty compelling photographs of striking workers in San Francisco and Van Nuys from the second day of the strike, on September 15, 1970. Fred Kaplan and Gene Daniels of the noted Black Star Agency, whose ranks at different points included Robert Capa and W. Eugene Smith, among many others - were dispatched to cover the event. The stronger images in the series show close-up portraits of the workers, others show familiar scenes of strikes - pickets, etc. The racial diversity of the striking workers is notable. Overall the group offers a portrait of the California labor movement during a period of relative strength, when the UFW movement was galvanizing agricultural workers and before the setbacks of the 1980s.
A compelling group overall, mostly in fine condition, with a couple of images showing some flaws. The prints, on double weight paper, are of very nice quality, and we find no other examples of these images, though copies may be held at the Black Star archive at the Ryerson Image Center in Toronto.
Status: On Hold