Big Talk - Remembering Mother Warren

1910 postcard illustration of S.D. Warren - public domain image

The latest Big Talk show is a reairing of a documentary produced by the show called "Remembering Mother Warren," which chronicles the labor history of the S.D. Warren paper mill in Westbrook, one of the nation's oldest. The piece won a first place prize for public affairs programming from the Maine association of Broadcasters in 2003 and was sponsored by the Southern Maine Labor Council, the AFL-CIO and the Maine Humanities Council.

"Remembering Mother Warren" unearths the culture of an industrial community, the drama of life working for a once-great employer, and probes the meaning of workers' memories in the face of disruptive industrial change.

You'll hear stories from generations of mill workers and managers, including Shirley Lally, a 30-year veteran who sorted reams of paper by hand, Phil LaViolette, who recalls the struggles of Warren's Franco workers, and Howard Reiche, a former mill manager who describes the mill's paternalism and the favoritism encountered by workers prior to unionization. Other workers tell the history of the S.D. Warren "family," of their experiences in the mill dating back as far as the 1920s, of the extreme heat, dangerous equipment and deadly accidents, a forgotten 1916 strike, unionizing in the 1960s, and of the mill's recent decline. University of Maine historian Charles Scontras, and University of Southern Maine economist and labor historian Michael Hillard provide analysis of the mill's unique labor history.

Download the show here. Subscribe to the podcast here.