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Clark Co. labor history exhibit opens; special reception July 24

Clark-Co-museum-exhibitVANCOUVER (July 18, 2013) — Last week, the Clark County Historic Museum debuted its new exhibit, “Labor: A Working History.” Next week, delegates and guests to the Washington State Labor Council 2013 Convention — and all other interested union members and supporters in the area — are invited to see this exhibit at a special reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, the night before the convention begins.

The Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO collaborated with the museum, located at 1511 Main St. in Vancouver, to bring labor’s history in Southwest Washington to light and to the public. This exhibit, made possible by generous contributions from many unions and individuals (and formerly known as the “Tools of the Trade” exhibit), will be on display through the end of next year Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A $20 suggested donation to attend the July 24 reception will be split between the museum to help fund the exhibit and the Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders (WA YELL), which is hosting the event. The reception’s co-sponsors are United Labor Bank, Sunrise Dental, Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, and the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council.

“In these times when labor is under attack, the need to remember and celebrate our history and share it with the community becomes all the more important,” wrote WSLC President Jeff Johnson and Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson in a letter to affiliated unions urging them to contribute to the effort. “We are grateful to the Southwest Washington CLC and the Clark County Historical Museum for putting it together for all of us, our families, and our communities to enjoy.”


Visitors enjoy the exhibit at its official opening ceremony on July 11.

“Labor: A Working History” follows the path of workers’ rights locally and on a national scale beginning in the 1800s with Hawaiian and Native American laborers for the Hudson’s Bay Company. As industry began to grow in Vancouver through large companies like the Star Brewery and service industry jobs increased as a result, workers began to band together to protect their wages and rights.

Continuing through the 20th century, the exhibit highlights the effects of the world wars on workers’ unions and the internal struggles between organized labor groups such as the AFL and the CIO. The exhibit also notes the plight of present-day workers and the specter of a future where they do not have the protections of strong labor unions.

For more information about the exhibit, visit the Clark County Historic Museum website. For more information about the July 24 reception, email


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