James Larkin was an Irish-born labor organizer who went on to found the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. Born in 1876 in Liverpool, England, Larkin grew up during a time when there weren’t any unions or laws governing labor. When Larkin traveled to the United States in 1914, and after he was deported, he embraced Marxist views and always prioritized safe, regulated laws for laborers.
Larkin grew up in the slums of Liverpool, and did not have much of a formal education. He started working odd jobs as a child, and made his way up to the position of foreman at the docks in Liverpool. Read more: James Larkin – Wikipedia
Even in his youth he had strong beliefs about workers being treated unfairly, so after joining the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL), and becoming a full-time organizer of unions, he then established his own union, Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.
The purpose of both unions was similar: to give Irish workers a reason to rally around each other and support each other, all the while going against businesses and big companies to argue in favor of regulated hours, better wages, and safer work environments. Learn more about Jeremy Goldstein: http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm and http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/books/the-definitive-biography-of-big-jim-larkin-372254.html
One of the most memorable work strikes Larkin headed up led to over 100,000 workers going on strike for just about eight months. These strikes and other movements within the unions eventually led to fair and more regulated employment.
In addition to making his voice heard in Irish labor unions, James Larkin also took part in anti-war movements during World War I. He was convicted of anarchy and communism, was pardoned but still deported Ireland, and then settled down and went on to get married and have four children.