The Labor Movement and Japanese Immigrants in the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s

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The aim of this article is to examine the change of the relationship between the American labor movement and Japanese communities in the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s. The relationship between the American labor movement and Japanese communities in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1930s was not a friendly one. Most labor organizations continued to reject Japanese workers. White workers, suffering as a result of the Great Depression, were often hostile to the Japanese. The attitudes of Japanese communities toward the labor movement were also not favorable ones. However, some people : Kazue Miyata, Yoshiaki Yamane, Gentaro Oe, and many other unknown activists, continued to believe in the importance of the organization of Japanese workers and committed themselves to the cause of the labor movement in this difficult situation. The situation began to change in the mid−1930s. The start of the NIRA regime made Japanese communities reconsider the significance of the organization of workers in the United States. The development of the CIO lowered barriers for Japanese workers to join unions throughout the United States. Moreover, the general development of the labor movement in the United States, which was stimulated by the enactment of the NIRAand the Wagner Act, of course, affected Japanese communities too. In response to such conditions, the Japanese Restaurant Workers' Union was organized in around 1936 in Seattle. In the canned−salmon industry in which many Asians were working, the Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers Union was organized in 1933. This union was organized by Filipino workers, but, before long,Japanese and Chinese workers also took part in it. By the beginning of the 1940s, as Daisho Miyagawa stated later, "the union idea was no longer novel or especially provocative of tension and controversy in the Seattle Japanese community".


  • Okayama economics review

    Okayama economics review 37(4), 395-406, 2006-03



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