Illinois Valley workers organized to protect their rights, wages and conditions during the 1840s canal building era. By the Civil War, there was a vibrant labor movement in the Valley. Significant events, like the Cherry Mine Disaster and the Ottawa Radium Girls, had not only national, but global resonance. Labor leaders like Spring Valley’s John Mitchell were significant national figures, working to improve conditions for workers. Learn these stories and more as we examine the “National Significance of Illinois Valley Labor.”
Speaker Michael G. Matejka is the Governmental Affairs Director for the Great Plains Laborers District Council, covering northern and central Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Mr. Matejka also edits the Grand Prairie Union News. He is a vice-president for the Illinois Labor History Society and past president of the McLean County Historical Society. He served 18 years on the Bloomington city council and writes and lectures on labor issues and history.