Jim Larkin is a prominent historical figure in the worker’s rights movements. Reports are that he was rather cantankerous for most of his life in his pursuit of justice for workers but he got along better with people in old age. He was born on January 21, 1876. His family lived in Liverpool, England and were very poor. Because of these circumstances he never received a formal education and instead learned on the streets as it were.
Moving to Dublin, Ireland, after having worked on Liverpool’s docks for a number of years, he started an influential union. This was the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. He invited all workers into his union and it became the biggest one in the city because of this. He called for strikes against employers who refused his demands for fair and honest treatment of workers. His last strike, called the Dublin Lockout, virtually shut down the city. It also ended his union, although he did achieve some successes, and so he moved to the United States. While in America he did his best to keep Ireland out of the World War and he continued advocating for the rights of workers. He eventually got deported for his activities and once back in Dublin he once again started to organize labor. He did this up through his death on January 30, 1947.
Jim Larkin was a firm believer in militant strike methods. He said that was the only way to really get the attention of business owners who otherwise used and abused workers with impunity. The Dublin Lockout, for instance, lasted for eight months and involved more than 100,000 workers including those skilled and unskilled. His big success with the Dublin Lockout, though, was that his union members gained the right to fair employment practices. So, even though the union fell apart, he succeeded in what he was after.
In his personal life, Jim Larken was married to a woman by the name of Elizabeth Brown. They had married in 1907 when he was 31 years old and they had four sons together.