Jim Larkin: Working Man’s Friend

James Larkin, or Big Jim, was born in Liverpool, England on January 21, 1876. He grew up in the slums and received almost no formal education. Forced to work to help support his family, Larkin worked many jobs as a young man. One of those jobs led to him becoming a dock foreman. Larkin was a committed socialist and Marx follower, and believed that dock workers were not receiving fair treatment.

He joined the National Union of Dock Labourer’s in 1905, and began to work full time as a trade union organizer. However the NUDL did not like James Larkin’s organizing of numerous strikes, and transferred him to Dublin a couple of years later. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/big-jim-larkin-hero-and-wrecker/

There he worked as an activist and labor organizer who founded the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. Skilled and unskilled Irish industrial worker joined, and the union grew to become the biggest in the region. Largely due to the success of the union, in 1912 Congress agreed to the establishment of the Irish Labour Party. Read more: The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin – Irish Examiner and James Larkin | Wikipedia

During this time, Larkin led a series of strikes, including the Dublin Lockout of 1913, where a strike involving more than 100,000 workers lasted nearly eight months before ending with a win and fair employment rights.

As the first World War began, James Larkin led demonstrations in Dublin protesting the war. In 1914, Larkin came to the United States for a new career as a socialist public speaker.

He became a member of the Socialist Party, and began to try to turn it into a communist party. In 1920, he was convicted of criminal anarchy, for which he received a pardon in 1923 and was deported. Ending up in Ireland, he began the Workers’ Union of Ireland.

Jim Larkin had a family. In 1903, he married Elizabeth Brown and they had four sons, but the couple separated in the 20’s. Larkin continued to work with labor organizing all the way into the 1940’s.

Larkin was supervising repairs on a building when he fell through a floor in 1946. He never fully recovered and died in Dublin, Ireland on January 30, 1947.

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