James Larkin, Labor Organizer Extraordinaire

James Larkin was a labor organizer who lived from 1876 to 1947. He was based mainly in Ireland and helped found the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU). He was born in 1874 in Liverpool England.

The ITGWU which he founded went on to become Dublins largest union before falling apart due to the Dublin lockout. After ITGWU’s collapse, Lakrin went to the US in 1914 where he was deported. He was always a dedicated Marxist who continued his labor organizing until his death on January 30, 1947, in Ireland.

Larkin was born and raised in the slums of Liverpool. He grew up in poverty and he had little to no formal education. He supplemented the family income by working various jobs during his teenage years. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/ and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

He rose through the ranks becoming a foreman at Liverpool’s docks. He was a socialist from a young age who believed workers were treated unfairly by their employers. He became a member of the NUDL (National Union of Dock Laborers) and in 1905 he became a fulltime union organizer. Lakrin’s militant strike methods were too much for the NUDL to stomach so they transferred him to Dublin in 1907.

In Dublin James Larkin made an immediate impact by founding the ITGWU. He was politically active founding the Irish Labor Party with the aim of combining all Irish skilled and unskilled labor into one organization.

The Irish Labor Party was responsible for the Dublin Lockout of 1913 where over 100000 workers were on strike for more than seven months. The lockout was successful with workers gaining the right to fair employment.

At the onset of World War 1 Larkin organized several large antiwar demos in Ireland. He went to the US to raise money for the war against the British. However, while in the US he was convicted of communism and criminal anarchy. He was released and deported to Ireland where he continued to fight for workers’ rights. He was also a family man having sired four sons with his wife Elizabeth Brown.

Read more: The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin

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