Labor Loses a Woman of Iron

File:Anna Walentynowicz.JPG

Anna Walentynowicz, a powerhouse in the history of the modern Polish labor movement, died on April 10, 2010, in a plane crash in western Russia. The crash also killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski, along with ninety-five other people, many of whom were prominent military and civilian leaders in Poland. The country is in a state of national mourning.

Ms. Walentynowicz was a crane driver at the Gdansk Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, and her firing in 1980 led to massive worker strikes and the formation of the independent trade union Solidarity, which eventually brought down the Communist government in Poland. In the photo above (CC/Wikimedia) from 2006, President Kaczynski is awarding her the Order of the White Eagle (a gold cross), the nation’s highest decoration.

To understand why Ms. Walentynowicz’s death is such a tragic loss for Poland, and to learn more about Poland and its history, check out our Visual Geography Series title Poland in Pictures.

sweat and blood cover In the United States, women have long been powerhouses in the American labor movement. To learn more about our own labor history, check out TFCB’s People’s History title Sweat and Blood: A History of U.S. Labor Unions by Gloria Skurzynski.

And check in next week for more from TFCB!