Way back in 1958, I was just beginning my career as a photographer. I had my first 35mm camera, a few lenses, and a darkroom set up in an unused room in the house we rented.
We were friends with the Davis family, and Leon "Dave" Davis was the president of RWDSU local 1199. So it was natural that I got some assignments from the union. This is some of my first paid work. The assignments paid $25 and up, depending on how many pictures they used. In 1958, $25 would buy a considerable amount of film and paper, so these assignments kept a budding photographer in supplies.
Over the next year or so, I shot lots of pictures for the union, culminating with pictures of the hospital strike in May of 1959. One of my pictures of the strikers, taken outside the hospital, ran full page on the front page of the New York Post and was awarded a prize for Labor Photo of the Year.
These pictures have a special poignancy for me, recalling some of the great union victories that resulted in better working conditions, fair pay, equal rights, and benefits like health care. It's sad that there is presently a movement, funded by big money, that is trying to turn back the clock on the unions in America.
If you work in a job where there's a forty-hour work week, paid overtime, sick leave, vacations with pay, health care, and fair pay for workers, you can thank a union for making it possible.
The pictures here are from the black and white prints that still remain in my collection.
Some technical notes: The original pictures were shot with miscellaneous Canon rangefinder cameras. The film was most likely Tri-X or Plus-X, developed in UFG. The prints were photographed with a Sony DSC-R1 camera and post processing was done with LightZone 3.
Copyright 1957-2020 Tony & Marilyn Karp