James Larkin

James Larkin was born in Liverpool, England, on January 21, 1876. He grew up in the slums and had little formal education. To help supplement his family’s income he worked various job in his youth. One job he held in his youth was at the Liverpool Docks, eventually making it to become the foreman.

It was at the docks where Larkin first started to believe that the workers were treated unfairly. Eventually, this led his to start with unionizing. First, he joined the National Union of Dock Laborers(NUDL), and was a full-time trade union organizer by 1905. By 1907, he alarmed the NUDL with his aggressive and militant methods of protest and was transferred to Dublin, Ireland.

It was in Ireland, that his Socialist views about workers being paid fairly for their hard work started taking shape. His goal was for all Irish workers to belong to one union that would work for all of their best interest.

In 1908 he formed the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU). This was formed to meet his goal of having all Irish workers in one organization. In 1912, he formed the Irish Labor Party with James Connolly. Read more: Jim Larkin – Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

They led a series of strikes. The most significant strikes took place in 1913, and is referred to as the Dublin Lockout. During this strike, over 100,000 laborers went on strike for over seven months. Leading to the right to fair employment for unskilled workers. The Irish press were against him, but he had many supporters.

After the Dublin Lockout, he traveled to the United States but he remained the secretary of the ITGWU. In America he embarked on a lecture tour to help raise funds to fight the British for Irish freedom. While in the U.S. he joined the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm

To honor his friend James Connolly who died in the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916, he formed the James Connolly Socialist Club in New York which became the hub of left-wing activities. By 1920, he was convicted of communism and criminal anarchy and in 1923 he was deported back to Ireland after being pardoned.

After living lavishly while in the United States, he had grown accustomed to surrounding himself with people who only supported him and his ego. Now back in Ireland, he felt “his” union, the ITGWU, had slipped from his control while in the U.S. and he began a slanderous campaign against its new leaders and demanded his ultimate control.

When this did not work he form the Workers Union of Ireland in (WUI). Eventually, gaining recognition of the Communist Party by 1924. He continued to work for workers right until his very last. He died on January 30, 1947.