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Finding aid of the Working Group Records
2008/005, 2009/007  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Organizational / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Other Finding Aids
  • Related Material
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Working Group records
    Dates: 1984-2005
    Bulk Dates: (Bulk 1988-1999)
    Accession number: 2008/005, 2009/007
    Creator: Working Group Records
    Collection Size: 33 record cartons.
    Repository: San Francisco State University. Labor Archives and Research Center.
    480 Winston Drive
    San Francisco, California 94132
    (415) 564-4010
    Abstract: The Working Group Collection contains production, research, outreach, and financial records generated by the The Working Group in producing the television series California Working, We Do the Work, and Livelyhood. The collection also contains materials created in the production of contract documentaries and films for client organizations such as labor unions and apprenticeship programs. The bulk of the collection spans the years 1988-2002, and reveals the activities of the organization in producing local and nationally distributed television programs for broadcast on public television. The Working Group is an independent media production company based in Oakland, California.
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Center's online catalog.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English.

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives and Research Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Labor Archives and Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Working Group Records, Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University.

    Acquisition Information

    The Working Group Records were donated to the Labor Archives and Research Center by The Working Group in September of 2008. A second accession was donated by Rhian Miller of The Working Group in February of 2009.

    Processing Information

    Archivist Conor Casey processed, arranged, re-foldered and re-boxed the collection in acid free containers in the fall and winter of 2008-2009, creating a finding aid. Photographs and negatives were removed and integrated into the Labor Archives Photograph Collection as Collection #25. Videocassettes were integrated into the Labor Archives Film and Videocassette Collection. Materials that were judged active records of The Working Group, such as personal release forms, footage and music use agreements; and personal releases were removed and returned to The Working Group. Tape Logs were photocopied and the originals were returned to The Working Group. Photocopies of these files there then integrated into their original folders. Three audiotapes and a small box of computer floppy discs of material used in show production were also returned to The Working Group. The collection remains stored at Iron Mountain facilities.

    Organizational / Administrative History

    In 1988, a coalition of labor leaders, educators, independent filmmakers and community activists founded the California Working Group in response to a deficiency of coverage of workers by the mainstream media. The era was politically conservative in national and statewide politics, and when the program went on the air it was the only independently produced program about work and working people on the Public Broadcasting System in the United States. Patrice O'Neil and Edwin Herzog co-created the newsmagazine on local labor issues California Working, which aired on local public television stations KCSM (San Mateo) and KQED (San Francisco).
    In 1990, a report by the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) found negative or non-existent depictions of working people in the national media. The organizers of the California Working Group saw this as a mandate for creating a national series on working people's issues. We Do the Work, a monthly magazine format series, included occasional documentary special reports and also featured the work of other independent filmmakers.
    The original 35 member board of California Working met at the headquarters of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in San Francisco. Early on, the board members handled the outreach, public relations, and fundraising of the organization. While the producers were still experimenting with the show's format, California Working featured several celebrity guest hosts, but eventually comedian and commentator Will Durst became the main host.
    The series struggled to gain distribution throughout local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) media markets in the US; The Working Group's members focused outreach efforts on a station-by-station basis, convincing programming directors at each local station to carry the series. At this time, revenue was generated from station fees, tier pricing allowed each affiliate to pay according to its market share. This market by market distribution meant uneven distribution and often-irregular scheduling or non-primetime slots in stations that did not prioritize labor programming. It also resulted in some station-level battles. For example, when a St. Louis affiliate refused to carry the program because of its labor content, local unions and labor-supporters staged a campaign to get the station to carry the show. The series ran for 7 seasons. Working Group members maintained a grueling schedule to produce the program in monthly installments 10 months of the year.
    After gaining experience and recognition with a national labor series, The Working Group approached PBS with a proposal to create a national primetime program, meaning a broadcast from a single "hard feed" transmission from PBS national headquarters rather than a variable affiliate-by-affiliate basis that characterized the distribution of the We Do the Work series. In theory, a "hard feed" series from PBS national headquarters meant that each affiliate would broadcast the series during the same timeslot nationwide, thus guaranteeing it a larger audience and broader exposure in national media markets. With this in mind, Working Group producers developed the series Livelyhood. The program, hosted by Durst, examined the impact of globalization and the "new economy" on American workers. The series was differed in format, scope, frequency, and tone from We Do the Work. Livelyhood, which ran for three seasons, was sponsored by United Airlines, The UAW Daimler Chrysler National Training Center, a joint fund of UAW members and the company, funding that was leveraged by the associated unions.
    One 1993 episode of We Do the Work, "Not In Our Town", focused on residents of Billings, Montana who reacted to hate violence against Jewish, African American and Native American neighbors by organizing to create to fight hate groups. The documentary grew into a PBS series and national anti-hate campaign, with on-site conferences staged across the US and several sequels and follow-ups. The campaign continues to this day, incorporating current events to galvanize discussions about race and diversity.
    In 2006, The Working Group produced "The Outsource Report,” broadcast by LinkTV, available still as a streamed web-based serial at linktv.org
    In addition, from its inception the Working Group was making made independent contract documentaries for PBS, unions, and for other organizations. The production of one such documentary Test of Courage is reflected in this collection, as well as several other contract productions.
    For list of the closest location of Working Group documentaries and library catalog records, please see the following WorldCat Catalog List of Working Group Documentaries. 

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The records of the Working Group reveal the activities of the organization to produce, fund, and promote their documentary projects. The bulk of the collection reflects the group’s history between the years 1988-1999. The records of Series I reflect the broader activities of the organization to promote, research, and produce shows. Series I also contains meeting notes and minutes of the Working Group’s Board and correspondence. Other Working Group activities include producing and promoting the series California Working, We Do the Work, and Livelyhood; reflected in Series II, III, and IV. Series V is comprised of records collected or created by the Working Group’s production of contract films for organization clients as well as some stand-alone documentaries.

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged into five series:
    SERIES I: THE WORKING GROUP ORGANIZATION FILES, 1984-2002
    SERIES II: CALIFORNIA WORKING SERIES FILES, 1984-1992
    SERIES III: WE DO THE WORK SERIES FILES, 1989-2005
    SERIES IV: LIVELYHOOD SERIES FILES, 1995-2001
    SERIES V: CONTRACT PRODUCTIONS, 1990-2005
    The series are arranged depending on the activity that created them. Thus, Series I contains records pertaining to the overall operation and activities of The Working Group, while Series II-V are arranged to reflect the group’s activities in producing specific television series and contract productions, including planning, production, outreach, and episode research. Sub-series are subdivided similarly, with files documenting the overall series preceding files generated by each episode. The California Working series is subdivided by activity into outreach, production, research, and financial activities. We Do the Work are arranged alphabetically by title and within divided into outreach, production, research, and financial sections. Episodes from Livelyhood are arranged chronologically and divided into outreach, production, and research sections.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection:
    Subject Headings

    Topics Covered in Programs:

    Aeronautics -- United States -- Safety measures.
    Aeronautics -- United States -- Accidents.
    Aeronautics, Commercial -- United States -- Safety measures.
    African Americans -- Mississippi -- Indianola -- Economic conditions.
    African Americans -- Employment -- Mississippi -- Indianola.
    African Americans -- Mississippi -- Indianola -- Economic conditions.
    African Americans --Employment -- Mississippi -- Indianola.
    Airlines -- Safety regulations -- United States.
    Airlines -- United States.
    Airlines -- United States -- Deregulation.
    Airplanes -- Maintenance and repair -- Law and legislation.
    Airplanes -- Maintenance and repair.
    Airplanes -- Parts.
    Allied health personnel -- California -- San Francisco.
    Antisemitism -- United States.
    Antisemitism.
    Barter -- United States.
    Bread and Roses Cultural Festival.
    Brick layers -- United States.
    Bridges -- California -- San Francisco Bay.
    Building trades -- Employees -- Labor unions -- California.
    Fire fighters -- Recruiting -- California -- Oakland.
    Fire fighters -- Training of -- California -- Oakland.
    Canada -- Treaties, etc, -- 1992 Oct. 7.
    Career changes -- United States.
    Child labor.
    Children of working parents -- United States.
    Children of working parents -- United States -- Social conditions.
    Cities and towns -- Flathead River Valley (B.C. and Mont.) -- Growth.
    Cities and towns -- United States.
    Clothing workers -- Cambodia.
    Coffee industry -- Guatemala.
    Coffee industry -- United States.
    Collective labor agreements -- Retail trade.
    Commuting.
    Computer industry -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Computer industry -- Social aspects -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Computer software industry -- Ghana.
    Computers -- Social aspects -- California -- Santa Clara County -- Case studies.
    Construction workers -- United States -- California -- Labor unions.
    Construction workers -- United States -- California.
    Construction workers -- United States -- Labor unions.
    Construction workers -- United States.
    Convict labor -- China.
    Convict labor -- United States.
    Corporate culture -- United States.
    Corporations, American -- Mexico.
    Corporations, American -- Mexico.
    Defense industries -- Mississippi -- Waveland.
    Defense industries -- Mississippi -- Waveland -- Employees -- Economic conditions.
    Delta Pride Catfish Inc. Strike, Indianola, Miss., 1990.
    Documentary films.
    Documentary television programs.
    Downsizing of organizations -- United States.
    Dual-career families -- United States.
    Employee ownership -- United States.
    Employees -- Effect of technological innovations on.
    Employment -- United States -- History.
    Factory laws and legislation.
    Family -- California -- Santa Clara County -- Case studies.
    Fire departments -- California -- Oakland.
    Fire fighters -- California -- San Francisco.
    Food habits -- France.
    Foundry workers -- United States.
    Franchises (Retail trade) -- United States.
    Free trade -- Mexico.
    Free trade -- United States.
    General Strike, San Francisco, Calif., 1934.
    Globalization.
    Hate crimes -- United States.
    High technology industries -- Social aspects -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Hours of labor -- United States.
    Industrial relations -- United States.
    Industrial safety .
    Industries -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Industries -- Social aspects -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    International business enterprises -- Social aspects -- United States.
    International business enterprises -- Employees.
    International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union -- History.
    Job stress -- United States.
    Labor disputes -- Michigan -- Detroit -- History.
    Labor movement -- California -- History.
    Labor unions -- California -- History.
    Labor unions -- Organizing -- United States.
    Labor unions -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    Labor unions -- United States -- Political activity -- History.
    Loma Prieta Earthquake, Calif., 1989.
    Mexico -- Commercial policy.
    Microelectronics industry -- Social aspects -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Minorities -- Crimes against -- United States.
    Navajo Indians -- Health and hygiene.
    Navajo Indians -- Medical care.
    Night work -- United States.
    Occupational retraining -- United States.
    Offshore assembly industry -- Mexican-American Border Region.
    Older volunteers -- United States.
    Organizational change -- United States.
    Pacific Coast Longshoremen's Strike, 1934.
    Painters -- United States -- Biography.
    Plant shutdowns -- Mississippi -- Waveland.
    Prison industries -- China.
    Prison industries -- United States.
    Producer cooperatives -- United States.
    Profit-sharing -- United States.
    Quality of life -- United States.
    Quality of work life -- United States.
    Race relations.
    Racism.
    Semiconductor industry -- Social aspects -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Shift systems -- United States.
    Shift systems -- United States.
    Social change -- Flathead River Valley (B.C. and Mont.)
    Social conflict -- Flathead River Valley (B.C. and Mont.)
    Sole proprietorship -- United States.
    Stevedores -- Labor unions -- Pacific Coast -- History.
    Stevedores -- Pacific Coast -- Labor unions -- History.
    Strikes and lockouts -- Fisheries -- Mississippi.
    Strikes and lockouts -- California -- San Francisco.
    Strikes and lockouts -- Fisheries -- Mississippi.
    Strikes and lockouts.
    Technological innovations -- United States.
    Technology -- Social aspects -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Telecommuting -- United States.
    Telemarketing -- India.
    Temporary employment -- United States.
    Toleration.
    Union busting -- United States.
    United States -- Commercial policy.
    Video recordings for the hearing impaired.
    White supremacy movements -- United States.
    Women -- Employment -- United States.
    Women construction workers -- United States -- California.
    Work and family -- California -- Santa Clara County.
    Work and family -- United States.
    Work design -- United States.
    Work environment -- United States.
    Work environment.
    Work ethic -- United States.
    Working class in art.
    Working class in motion pictures.
    Working class writings, American.
    Working class.
    Workweek -- United States -- History -- 20th century.

    Creator Corporate Names:

    California Working Group.
    KQED-TV (Television station : San Francisco, Calif.)
    We California Working Group Inc.
    We Do the Work (Association)
    We Do the Work (Firm)
    Working Group (Oakland, Calif.)

    Creator Names, Working Group:

    Bayha, Betsy.
    Durst, Will.
    Friedman, Katrina.
    Herzog, Edwin.
    Halperin, Jon.
    Liard, Bob.
    Mercer, Gary.
    McGinn, Sean.
    Needham, Sara.
    O'Connell, Cathleen.
    O'Neill, Patrice.
    Peckham, Linda.
    Miller, Rhian.
    Morgenstern, Angela.
    Searles, Heather.
    Yu, Kyung Sun.
    Whalen, Kelly.

    Documentary Subjects and Cast:

    Beatty, Ned.
    Broderick, Anthony.
    Fromer, Jon.
    Fromer, Reed.
    Galimore, Wayne.
    Hallinan, Conn Malachi.
    Hamer, Fannie Lou.
    Kaihatsu, Tim.
    Kopple, Barbara.
    Lowery, Joseph (Joseph E.)
    Ocean, Billy David.
    Pearson, Scott.
    Pritchard, Michael (Michael K.)
    Schiavo, Mary.
    Smith, Wesley J.
    Spano, Joe.
    Studi, Wes.
    Woodard, Alfre.

    Geographic Names in Programs:

    Alliance (Neb.)
    Billings (Mont.) -- Race relations.
    California Century Freeway (Calif.)
    Detroit (Mi.) -- Newspapers.
    East Liberty (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
    Flathead River Valley (B.C. and Mont.) -- History.
    Flathead River Valley (B.C. and Mont.) -- History
    Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Green Bay (Wis.)
    Kalispell (Mont.) -- History.
    Kalispell (Mont.) -- Environmental conditions.
    Mexico -- Commercial policy.
    New Orleans (La.)
    Nome (Alaska)
    San Francisco (Calif.)
    San Jose (Calif.)
    Seattle (Wash.)
    United States -- Commercial policy.
    United States -- Race relations.
    Waveland (Miss.) -- Economic conditions.
    Westminster (Md.)

    Other Finding Aids

    Print version of finding aid and MS Word version available on-site.

    Related Material

    The Labor Archives Film and Video Collection contains most of the VHS copies of Livelyhood and We Do the Work and some episodes of California Working. Several of the Working Group’s contract productions are also in the video collection.
    Photographs and negatives from the Working Group Collection have been removed into the Working Group Photograph Collection #25.

    Separated Material

    Photographs and negatives were removed and integrated into the Labor Archives Photograph Collection as Collection #25. Videocassettes were integrated into the Labor Archives Film and Videocassette Collection. Materials that were judged active records of The Working Group such as personal release forms, footage and music use agreements, and personal releases were removed and returned to The Working Group. Tape Logs were photocopied and the originals were returned to The Working Group and copies integrated into their original folder. Three audiotapes and a small box of computer floppy discs of material used in show production were also returned to The Working Group. The collection remains stored at Iron Mountain facilities.