Living New Deal at the San Francisco Labor Fest


Coit Tower mural by Victor Arnautoff

Coit Tower mural by Victor Arnautoff
Detail of newspaper headlines

The Living New Deal’s Gray Brechin and Harvey Smith are going to be busy bees at this summer’s Labor Fest in San Francisco.  They’ve been doing this for years, usually leading WPA bus tours, but this year they’re exceeding all previous engagements and leading visits to Coit Tower and Downtown Berkeley, providing the living audio for bus and boat tours, and participating in panels.

Here’s the full schedule, which runs throughout the month of July.

Coit Tower Mural Walk 

July 6 (Sunday) 9:45 AM (Free) Meet at Coit Tower entrance

With Peter O’Driscoll, Gray Brechin and Harvey Smith.

In the past few years there has been a growing community effort to defend the Coit tower murals from leaking water and to stop the plans for privatization of the site. This led to the critical renovation of the murals on their 80th anniversary. They were being painted during the time of the 1934 general strike in San Francisco. LaborFest will hold its annual guide tour of the murals with Peter O’Driscoll, Gray Brechin and Harvey Smith. At the time of their installation, an organized effort was made to destroy them for their leftist themes and the artists and their supporters had to physically defend the site. They were successfully defended and we have them today as our heritage. The artists were working under the Civil Works Administration and Public Works of Art program which was later extended to many buildings and sites throughout the US.

Labor, Privatization and How to Defend Public Education

July 6 (Sunday) 7:00 PM (Free) 518 Valencia St., near 16th St.

Billionaires from the Walton Walmart family to the Gates Foundation, the Fisher GAP KIPP operation and the Broad Foundation are spending fortunes pushing charters to loot public education. The “Common Core” and testing schemes profiting Pearson Inc. are part of the drive to totally privatize public education. UC Regent Richard Blum and others with ties to politicians are also benefiting financially from this transformation. Politicians in California and nationally are actively supporting privatization, the “Common Core” and charters to eliminate and re-segregate our public schools.
At the same time in San Francisco privatizers are seeking to revoke accreditation of the City College of San Francisco in order to destroy the unions and privatize the largest community college in California.  This forum will look at how this privatization agenda is being implemented and what our unions and the labor movement need to do to fight it.
Kathleen Carroll, fired Commission On Teacher Credentialing, attorney & whistleblower; Rick Baum, member of CCSF AFT Local 2121; George Wright, retired Professor AFT 1493; Gray Brechin, UCB Geography Department, Author of “Imperial San Francisco”; Sharon Higgins, researcher on privatization and Gulen charter chain
Sponsored by United Public Workers For Action


George Washington High School Athletic Frieze

George Washington High School Athletic Frieze
San Francisco, CA: George Washington High School Athletic Frieze

WPA Bus Tour
With Gray Brechin & Harvey Smith

July 12 (Saturday) 10:00 AM ($20) Meet at front of Bill Graham Auditorium – 99 Grove, SF Civic Center

Join Gray Brechin and Harvey Smith as they travel through history on a bus tour of sites built by the New Deal’s “alphabet soup” agencies. You will learn about the major contribution government-paid workers made during the depression era’s New Deal programs. Gray and Harvey will discuss the art, architecture and social programs that effectively dealt with the period’s economic meltdown in contrast with today’s response. Please be aware that the tour will take about 5 hours depending on the traffic and the discussions.

Reservation required:  Send e-mail: [email protected] or call: (415) 642-8066, and leave your name, number of reservations and phone number (this is to let you know that we have space for your reservation, and also we can get back to you in case of any changes. )
Make reservation, then send check to: LaborFest, P.O. Box 40983, SF, CA 94140
Please bring your own lunch. For those who can’t bring one, we will have some sandwiches and drink on the bus for a small cost. Bus will return to Civic Center.
Tour lasts about 5 hours.


“Class Struggle ” CD Release Party with Redd Welsh

July 12 (Saturday) 7:00 PM (Free) Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists – 1924 Cedar & Bonita, Berkeley

Labor troubadour, SFLC Council Delegate and retired NALC 214 letter carrier Dave Welsh, who now performs as Redd Welsh, will release his new music CD titled Class Struggle. The CD includes new original songs by Redd, including Class War Goin’ On (in America), Somebody’s Daughter and Young People Rising. The event on July 12th will feature Redd on vocals and organ, as well as Bay Area favorites Alex and Harriet Bagwell, and the ReSisters. Redd is also involved in fighting the privatization of the US post office where he has sung at rallies to stop the sell-off of the Berkeley Post office by CB Ellis owned by Richard Blum, US Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband. Welsh also works with Community and Postal Workers United which is working nationally against privatization of the post offices.

Gray at PO

Staples, Our Public Post Office, Privatization And Theft

July 13 (Sunday) 10:00 AM (Free) ILWU 34 Hall – 801 2nd St. next to AT&T ball park

There is a concerted organized drive to totally sell off the profitable parts of the public post office. Diane Feinstein’s husband and UC Regent Richard Blum is involved with his company CB Ellis in selling off the buildings and the postal management has a contract to turn the postal system over to union busting Staples. This outsourcing threatens an institution which has been vital for the American people.
Join with David Welsh, retired NALC postal worker with Community and Postal Workers United; Gray Brechin, geographer with the Living New Deal and representatives from other postal unions; Susan Harmon, Bank Act, Researcher on Public Postal Bank.
Sponsored by United Public Workers For Action


Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill - San Francisco, CABuilding Bridges and Labor Maritime History
Boat Tour

July 20 (Sunday) 5:45 PM ($45) Pier 41 left of Pier 39 near outside ticket booth – Fisherman’s Wharf, SF

5:45 PM Boarding, 6:00 PM Departure
Boat leaves promptly at 6:00 PM
Please arrive 30 minutes before the departure time
Tour lasts 3 hours
A complimentary meal will be provided, however, if you are on a special diet, please bring your own food.
(Sorry, we do not take any special orders for food.)

This year, LaborFest’s maritime boat cruise will look at the completed Eastern Span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the disassembling of the old Eastern span. Labor photographer Joe Blum and others will talk about how the old bridge is being taken down.  We will hear about the labor and maritime history of the San Francisco Bay Area from historians including Harvey Smith, Gray Brechin and others. We will also have trade unionists talking about labor struggles in the Bay Area and the struggle to protect the environment.   We will also have music with labor guests from around the world and a dinner.

To make your reservation:
By E-mail:
[email protected]
Or call: (415) 642-8066 and leave (1) your name, (2) phone number and (3)number of people in your party. (We prefer e-mail.)
We will contact you back to confirm your reservation. Then, you should mail a check ($45/person, children under 6 – free, 6 to 12 $25) to LaborFest, P.O.Box 40983, San Francisco, CA 94140.

We don’t send you tickets, but we will either e-mail or call you back to let you know that we received your check, and as soon as we receive your check, your reservation will be confirmed.
You will get your ticket at the pier before you get on the boat.
We will be gathering west side of Pier 39 (when you face the Pier 39, go toward Pier 41, toward left.)
Please be there at least 30 minutes before the departure time in order to go through paper work.
We expect the tickets to be sold out quickly, so please make your reservation early.


WPA Berkeley Walk
With Harvey Smith

July 27 (Sunday) 10:00 AM (Free) Meet at The Main Berkeley Post Office at corner of Milvia and Alston Berkeley High School Relief of the Goddess Cybele

This walk will explore the “New Deal nexus” in Berkeley that includes Berkeley High School, the Community Theater, Civic Center Park, Post Office art, the old UC Press Building (now being repurposed as the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive), and the old Farm Credit Building. The tour will also include the incredible mosaic mural on the UC Berkeley campus and photographs of the California Folk Music Project, Western Museum Laboratory, WPA prints at the Berkeley Public Library, and WPA projects on the UC Berkeley campus.
For more info: 510-684-0414


Event details

Date: Mon. Jul 7th, 2014 - Sun. Jul 27th, 2014
Location: Various

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