Notes on the 1946 General Strike

When people found out that we were making work about Oakland, we were asked one question time and again: "What do you know about the general strike?" The answer was, not much. We'd never heard of it before moving to the city. For us, this video was a way to learn about the strike—it took place in 1946, and was the last of many general strikes that broke out in America in the first half of the 20th century—and relate it to our present-day experience of Oakland.

The Taft-Hartley Act, which passed—overriding a presidential veto—in 1947, was a direct response to the six General Strikes that broke out in 1946. Still in effect today, Taft-Hartley puts severe limits on labor's abilities to call strikes. In 1953, the hosts of a television news program called Longines Chronoscope interviewed former US Representative, and Taft-Hartley co-sponsor, Fred A. Hartley. You can watch the interview below. Video courtesy the National Archives and Records Administration.