The trade unionist hero: Jim Larkin

James Larkin, alias Big Jim was a devoted socialist and activist who believed in better treatment of laborers. He is well known for his push for fair treatment of workers in Ireland and for founding the biggest trade union in the region. Learn more about Jim Larkin: and

James was born to Irish parents in Liverpool, England on 21st January 1876. He grew up in poverty in the slums of Liverpool and as a result acquired little formal education. From a young age, Larkin had to do a variety of jobs to add-on to the family income.

In 1905 he became a full-time organizer for the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL).The union transferred him to Dublin where he organized strikes for workers and he was expelled. In 1908 he founded the popular Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU). The organization accommodated both skilled and unskilled workers since unskilled workers had very few rights at the time.

Larkin’s action methods were through boycotts and strikes. In 1913 he organized a very successful seven-month strike in Dublin Lockout. This strike by over hundred thousand workers saw them earn the right to fair employment to unskilled laborers. At the onset of the First World War, he discouraged the Irish men to participate in the war and to only fight for their land.

In 1914 he went to the United States where he started a career in public speaking although he still held a position in ITGWU as general secretary. He was later convicted of communism and criminal anarchy in America. He spent years in prison after which he was deported back to Ireland.

Back in Ireland he established Workers’ Union of Ireland and joined Irish Labor Party where he worked until his death in 1947. Remarkably, James Larkin was a true believer in fair treatment of workers and their rights.

The Story Behind the Birth of the Frontera Fund

Working in media houses comes with its own challenges. Media personalities clash with authorities at one time or another. This is the situation Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin found themselves in, on October 18th, 2007, when they were arrested. The two Village Voice media Executive had their privacy invaded by the Maricopa County Sheriff office. The arrest constituted armed deputies from the Sheriff’s office who are referred to as “Selective Enforcement Unit.”


The armed deputies who were under the orders of the Sheriff at the time, Joe Arpaio, locked the two journalists in two separate jails. Over the course of time, Joe Arpaio had become known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” The Sheriff was not a big fan of the two reporters due to their stories at the Phoenix New Times. These stories brought to the light his involvement in promoting anti-Mexican fear in Arizona. It also reported of the mismanagement of finances in the Sheriff’s office.


The accusations thrown at the Sheriff’s office were many. He was accused of mistreatment and death of inmates under his supervision; racial profiling; detention of Latin Americans in an unconstitutional manner; poor health conditions in his jails and abuse of power.


Joe Arpaio used his connection in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and invaded the privacy of Jim and Mike by going through their personal browsing histories and IP addresses. Luckily for the two media personalities, the public demanded their release and they were released in less than 24 hours. This case brought about another court battle, which was mainly centered on the First Amendment rights and abuse of power. It was discovered that everything about the case concerning Jim and Mike had been illegal.


Therefore, the two received a settlement of $3.7 million, which was paid by the Maricopa County in 2013. This settlement money gave birth to Frontera fund. The Fund was founded by Jim and Mike for the Hispanic community. The Hispanic community had been largely discriminated in Arizona. Jim Larkin attributes his giving heart to his upbringing. They continue to distribute funds through Frontera Fund to non-profit Organizations that are fighting for the rights of the Hispanic people.


According to Mike Lacey, the Sheriff’s office discriminated against everybody with brown skin. They went as far as creating advertisements that showed ISIS terrorists crossing the border from Mexico to Arizona. This was highly degrading for the Mexican people. Through the Frontera Fund, Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin continue to support members of the Hispanic group, and they will continue to fight for their rights. This goes to show how the minority groups need their own voice in the country. Through people like Mike and Jim, their cry is being heard.


The Story of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are publishers of the website Front Page Confidential. Michael came from a working class family in Newark, New Jersey. He moved to Arizona in the 1960’s to attend Arizona State University. He dropped out of school in 1970 and co-founded the Phoenix News Times as an opposition paper against conservative news coverage of campus anti-war protest. A short time later, Michael teamed up with Jim Larkin to make the business self sufficient. The paper continued to increase its circulation and by 1983, the duo expanded by purchasing multiple newspapers across the country to create a multimillion dollar conglomerate.


In 2007, Michael and Jim were arrested in their homes at the direction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio for revealing in their paper that grand jury subpoenas targeted their employees. The arrest was seen as a violation of their first amendment rights by them and their readers. Due to public outcry, the charges against them were dropped within 24 hours and the grand jury subpoenas were subsequently dismissed because an investigation discovered they were illegal.


Lacey and Larkin sued Maricopa County for false arrest and won a settlement of $3.75 million in 2013. The two used the money to create the Frontera Fund, which distributed the money to Latin American groups across the country.