Jim Larkin was an Advocate for the Workers

James Larkin was born in Liverpool, England in 1876. He was an Irish labor organizer and formed the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU). Larkin grew up working a variety of jobs as a youth in order to help his family. He eventually elevated himself to the position of foreman at the docks in Liverpool. He became a member of the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL). Mr. Larkin was a self proclaimed socialist who always felt workers were not treated with the fairness and respect they deserved.

In 1905, Larkin became a full time union organizer and often employed militant strike methods to get his point across. His methods concerned NUDL greatly and in 1907, Larkin was transferred to Dublin, Ireland and formed the ITGWU. The main goal of the union was to organize all skilled and unskilled laborers into one organization and create solidarity among the workers.

Larkin was responsible for leading a series of strikes after he established the Irish Labor Party. In 1913, Larkin led the Dublin Lockout where more than 100,000 unionized workers went on strike and eventually won the right to fair employment practices. The strike lasted for eight months.

As World War One was gearing up, Larkin once again organized anti-war demonstrations in Dublin. Traveling to the United States, he also raised funds to help fund the fight against the British.

Larkin was convicted, in 1920, of communism and capital anarchy. After three years of unfortunate incarceration, he was pardoned and deported back to Ireland. Once back in Ireland. Larkin established the Worker’s Union of Ireland and in 1924, the group was recognized by Communist International.

Larkin launched a newspaper in 1911, entitled the “Irish Worker.” The paper proved to be a huge success and demonstrated Larkin’s ability to be an editor of substance. Shortly after the paper launched, the “Great Labor Unrest” occurred in Britain and brought the ITGWU into the fray.

Larkin took on the challenge of the unrest and was responsible for expanding the union from a mere 5,000 members to more than 15,000 members. The group suddenly had exceptional power and through the group’s efforts. Congress agreed to establish the Labor Union in 1912.

Larkin accrued great power and popularity, but the extra work load he was taking on was beginning to affect his health. He believed it was essential to always set a good example so he never looked for an easier way to complete a task. Many employers were beginning to resent Jim Larkin and his union winning methods and referred to his methods as Larkinism. Employers were resentful of his popularity and power and worked endlessly to minimize his power and keep employees from embracing Larkins winning ways. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

In 1914, Larkin travelled to the United States. Even though he remained with the ITGWU as the general secretary, he was more interested in embarking on a different career path and it was as a public speaker. He announced he was taking a brief respite from the union business and most thought it was for health reasons, but it was to pursue his other chosen career path.

Larkin spent the rest of his days in tumultuous pursuit of his public speaking interest and his love of labor and organizing unions. He decided to return to Ireland, but was unable to get a passport from the United States government.

He was eventually deported to England by J. Edgar Hoover and found his onetime admirers were turning their backs on him. Larkin passed away in 1947 never regaining the glory that was once bestowed him.

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