Dan Swinney and Erika Swinney

Recorded February 25, 2016 Archived February 25, 2016 40:08 minutes
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Id: chi001576


Erika Swinney (39) and her father and boss Dan Swinney (71) discuss Dan's history as a community organizer and labor force activist, and how that led to his current work in manufacturing education. He started a manufacturing training school that Erika is now program director for.

Subject Log / Time Code

Dan was raised with a sense of social consciousness from his parents, his school was the first segregated school in Virginia.
D talks about college opening up his world, was introduced to folk music, the "Selma happened" and this led to his involvement with activism.
D became a part of the Labor Movement. At his first manufacturing job he organized the employees to petition their boss for a 25 cent raise--they signed their names in a circle so there was no indication of a leader--and it was successful.
D went into manufacturing and thought his trajectory was to be a labor union organizer and leader.
D lost his job in 1983. There was a wave of plant closings in the '80s and people were calling it the end of manufacturing. D started a org to research that question.
His group worked to save dying companies in Chicago. He came to the conclusion that manufacturing was viable.
Erika talks about going away to college and not understanding what her dad did.
In the 2000s D began to research education in manufacturing, found there was a huge gap. He started a high school to train kids for these jobs.
Erika describes going away to the Peace Corps after college, it was then that she became more curious about what her dad did. D describes this as a turning point in their relationship.
E came to work for Austin Polytechnical Academy, building the program from scratch.
E describes why she's stuck with the work, because it is "deeply profound."


  • Dan Swinney
  • Erika Swinney

Recording Locations

Chicago Cultural Center

Venue / Recording Kit