Ruth Milkman's groundbreaking research in women's labor history has contributed important perspectives on work and unionism in the United States. On Gender, Labor, and Inequality presents four decades of Milkman's essential writings, tracing the parallel evolutions of her ideas and the field she helped define. Milkman's introduction frames a career-spanning scholarly project: her interrogation of historical and contemporary intersections of class and gender inequalities in the workplace, and the efforts to challenge those inequalities. Early chapters focus on her pioneering work on women's labor during the Great Depression and the World War II years. In the book's second half, Milkman turns to the past fifty years, a period that saw a dramatic decline in gender inequality even as growing class imbalances created greater-than-ever class disparity among women. She concludes with a previously unpublished essay comparing the impact of the Great Depression and the Great Recession on women workers.
In Only One Place of Redress David E. Bernstein offers a bold reinterpretation of American legal history: he argues that American labor and occupational laws, enacted by state and federal governments after the Civil War and into the twentieth century, benefited dominant groups in society to the detriment of those who lacked political power. Both intentionally and incidentally, claims Bernstein, these laws restricted in particular the job mobility and economic opportunity of blacks. A pioneer in applying the insights of public choice theory to legal history, Bernstein contends that the much-maligned jurisprudence of the Lochner era—with its emphasis on freedom of contract and private market ordering—actually discouraged discrimination and assisted groups with little political clout. To support this thesis he examines the motivation behind and practical impact of laws restricting interstate labor recruitment, occupational licensing laws, railroad labor laws, minimum wage statutes, the Davis-Bacon Act, and New Deal collective bargaining. He concludes that the ultimate failure of Lochnerism—and the triumph of the regulatory state—not only strengthened racially exclusive labor unions but contributed to a massive loss of employment opportunities for African Americans, the effects of which continue to this day. Scholars and students interested in race relations, labor law, and legal or constitutional history will be fascinated by Bernstein’s daring—and controversial—argument.
Blacks and Whites. Men and Women. Historically, each group has held very different types of jobs. The divide between these jobs was stark—clean or dirty, steady or inconsistent, skilled or unskilled. In such a rigidly segregated occupational landscape, race and gender radically limited labor opportunities, relegating Black women to the least desirable jobs. Opportunity Denied is the first comprehensive look at changes in race, gender, and women’s work across time, comparing the labor force experiences of Black women to White women, Black men and White men. Enobong Hannah Branch merges empirical data with rich historical detail, offering an original overview of the evolution of Black women’s work.
From free Black women in 1860 to Black women in 2008, the experience of discrimination in seeking and keeping a job has been determinedly constant. Branch focuses on occupational segregation before 1970 and situates the findings of contemporary studies in a broad historical context, illustrating how inequality can grow and become entrenched over time through the institution of work.
Why has the large income gap between blacks and whites persisted for decades after the passage of civil rights legislation? More specifically, why do African Americans remain substantially underrepresented in the highest-paying professions, such as science, engineering, information technology, and finance? A sophisticated study of racial disparity, Opting Out examines why some talented black undergraduates pursue lower-paying, lower-status careers despite being amply qualified for more prosperous ones.
To explore these issues, Maya A. Beasley conducted in-depth interviews with black and white juniors at two of the nation’s most elite universities, one public and one private. Beasley identifies a set of complex factors behind these students’ career aspirations, including the anticipation of discrimination in particular fields; the racial composition of classes, student groups, and teaching staff; student values; and the availability of opportunities to network. Ironically, Beasley also discovers, campus policies designed to enhance the academic and career potential of black students often reduce the diversity of their choices. Shedding new light on the root causes of racial inequality, Opting Out will be essential reading for parents, educators, students, scholars, and policymakers.
Between 1910 and 1920, the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) inaugurated a massive organizing drive in the city’s meatpacking and steel industries. Although the CFL sought legitimately progressive goals, worked earnestly to organize an interracial union, and made major inroads among both black and white workers, their efforts resulted in a bitter defeat. David Bates provides a clear picture of how even the most progressive of intentions can be ground to a halt.
By organizing workers into neighborhood locals, which connected workplace struggles to ethnic and religious identities, the CFL facilitated a surge in the organization’s membership, particularly among African American workers, and afforded the federation the opportunity to aggressively confront employers. The CFL’s innovative structure, however, was ultimately its demise. Linking union locals to neighborhoods proved to be a form of de facto segregation. Over time union structures, rank-and-file conflicts, and employer resistance combined to turn the union’s hopeful calls for solidarity into animosity and estrangement. Tensions were exacerbated by violent shop floor confrontations and exploded in the bloody 1919 Chicago Race Riot. By the early 1920s, the CFL had collapsed.
The Ordeal of the Jungle explores the choices of a variety of people while showing a complex, overarching interplay of black and white workers and their employers. In addition to analyzing union structures and on-the-ground relations between workers, Bates synthesizes and challenges previous scholarship on interracial organizing to explain the failure of progressive unionism in Chicago.
Between 1870 and 1942, successive generations of Asians and Asian Americans—predominantly Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino—formed the predominant body of workers in the Pacific Coast canned-salmon industry.
This study traces the shifts in the ethnic and gender composition of the cannery labor market from its origins through it decline and examines the workers' creation of work cultures and social communities. Resisting the label of cheap laborer, these Asian American workers established formal and informal codes of workplace behavior, negotiated with contractors and recruiters, and formed alliances to organize the workforce.
Whether he is discussing Japanese women workers' sharing of child-care responsibilities or the role of Filipino workers in establishing the Cannery and Field Workers Union, Chris Friday portrays Asian and Asian American workers as people who, while enduring oppressive restrictions, continually attempted to shape their own lives.
In the series Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Võ.
Out in the Union tells the continuous story of queer American workers from the mid-1960s through 2013. Miriam Frank shrewdly chronicles the evolution of labor politics with queer activism and identity formation, showing how unions began affirming the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers in the 1970s and 1980s. She documents coming out on the job and in the union as well as issues of discrimination and harassment, and the creation of alliances between unions and LGBT communities.
Featuring in-depth interviews with LGBT and labor activists, Frank provides an inclusive history of the convergence of labor and LGBT interests. She carefully details how queer caucuses in local unions introduced domestic partner benefits and union-based AIDS education for health care workers-innovations that have been influential across the U.S. workforce. Out in the Union also examines organizing drives at queer workplaces, campaigns for marriage equality, and other gay civil rights issues to show the enduring power of LGBT workers.