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Solidarity Trade Union 30th Anniversary Experts

Solidarity Trade Union 30th Anniversary Experts

A UC Riverside librarian who witnessed the signing of the Gdansk Agreement and a scholar of Central and Eastern European economies offer insights on the historic event.

(August 18, 2010)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Amid widespread strikes that paralyzed Poland in the summer of 1980, shipyard workers in Gdansk formed the Inter-Factory Striking Committee, which won the right to form a trade union. Solidarność – Solidarity in Polish – became the first independent trade union in the Communist bloc and its leader, Lech Walesa, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and in 1990 was elected president of the Republic of Poland.

As the Aug. 31 anniversary of the signing of the Gdansk Agreement approaches, a University of California, Riverside librarian who witnessed that historic event and a political economist with expertise in eastern Europe are available to speak with journalists. An exhibit of clandestine publications from that period of Polish history remains on display at UCR’s Tomás Rivera Library through September.

The exhibit of publications and photos is located in the lobby of the main floor and on the fourth floor in Special Collections. The Rivera Library is open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Hours for Special Collections are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Experts who are available to discuss Solidarity and its impact on Poland’s political history and economy are:

Gwido Zlatkes, reference librarian, Special Collections and Archives
(951) 827-4660

Zlatkes was a poet working in Poland’s experimental theater movement in the summer of 1980. He witnessed the signing of the agreement between striking workers and Communist Party leaders in the Gdansk Shipyard. He later worked for Solidarity as a journalist and wrote at various times for the most influential publications of resistance and later briefly worked as a foreign desk editor for Gazeta Wyborcza, which now is the second-largest newspaper in Poland with a circulation today of more than 670,000. He also was a leader in the draft resistance movement Freedom and Peace Movement – the first independent peace group in the communist world, and was arrested several times in the days before the opening of an international peace conference in Warsaw in May 1987.

“There is a whole tradition of resistance in Poland from the early 19th century when Poland did not exist as a state, was partitioned between Russia, Prussia and Austro-Hungary,” said Zlatkes, now a U.S. citizen. “When martial law was declared in 1981 people sought advice from their grandfathers who had during World War II fought the Germans with the underground Home Army in Poland. What was new about Solidarity was that it was nonviolent. It took 10 years for the government to change, but nonviolence worked. Not just for us, but for most of eastern Europe.”

Jana Grittersova, assistant professor of political science
(951) 827-5597

Professor Grittersova’s areas of expertise include political and economic transformations in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism. She has taught courses on the political economy of post-communist transition in Central and Eastern Europe. She is currently expanding her dissertation into a book manuscript, examining how financiers influence the decisions of governments with regard to exchange rates, and monetary and regulatory policies in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland is one of four case studies examined in-depth in her dissertation. She conducted dissertation field research in Poland in 2006-2007 while a visiting fellow at the central bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski). Her field research in Poland entailed numerous interviews with policymakers and government officials, including some members of Solidarity. She is available to discuss the political role of Solidarity in post-communist Poland, as well as Poland’s transition to a democratic society and economic reforms that transformed a command economy into a successful market economy. She is a native of Slovakia.

Grittersova also served in an advisory assignment at the European Commission in Brussels, where she focused on issues related to competition and state aid to the banking and energy sectors in the old and new members of the European Union. She also worked as an economist at the central bank of Slovakia (National Bank of Slovakia) focusing on the European economic and monetary integration of the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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