During the 1950s and 1960s, labor leaders Harold Gibbons and Ernest Calloway championed a new kind of labor movement that regarded workers as "total persons" interested in both workplace affairs and the exercise of effective citizenship in their communities. Working through Teamsters Local 688 and viewing the city of St. Louis as their laboratory, this remarkable interracial duo forged a dynamic political alliance that placed their "citizen members" on the front lines of epic battles for urban revitalization, improved public services, and the advancement of racial and economic justice. Parallel to their political partnership, Gibbons functioned as a top Teamsters Union leader and Calloway as an influential figure in St. Louis's civil rights movement. Their pioneering efforts not only altered St. Louis's social and political landscape but also raised fundamental questions about the fate of the post-industrial city, the meaning of citizenship, and the role of unions in shaping American democracy.
Author Barry B. Witham reclaims the work of Manny Fried, an essential American playwright so thoroughly blacklisted after he defied the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1954, and again in 1964, that his work all but completely disappeared from the canon. Witham details Manny Fried’s work inside and outside the theatre and examines his three major labor plays and the political climate that both nurtured and disparaged their productions. Drawing on never-before-published interview materials, Witham reveals the details of how the United States government worked to ruin Fried’s career.
From Red-Baiting to Blacklisting includes the complete text of Fried’s major labor plays, all long out of print. In Elegy for Stanley Gorski, Fried depicts one of the many red-baiting campaigns that threatened countless unions in the wake of the Taft-Hartley Act and the collusion of the Catholic Church with these activities. In Drop Hammer, Fried tackles the issues of union dues, misappropriation, and potential criminal activities. In the third play, The Dodo Bird, perhaps his most popular, Fried achieves a remarkable character study of a man outsourced from his job by technology and plant closures.
Manny Fried’s plays portray the hard edges of capitalism and government power and illuminate present-day struggles with hostility to labor unions and the passage in several states of right-to-work laws. Fried had no illusions about the government’s determination to destroy communism and unionism—causes to which he was deeply committed.
“I am not here, then, as the accused; I am here as the accuser of capitalism dripping with blood from head to foot.”—John Maclean, Speech from the Dock, 1918
Feared by the government, adored by workers, celebrated by Lenin and Trotsky. The head of British Military Intelligence called John Maclean (1879–1923) “the most dangerous man in Britain.”
This new biography explores the events that shaped the life of a momentous man—from the Great War and the Great Unrest to the Rent Strike and the Russian Revolution. It examines his work as an organizer and educator, his imprisonment and hunger strike, and his rise to the position of Britain’s most famous revolutionary. At a moment when radical politics is drawing renewed attention and support, Maclean’s example of activism and commitment is as timely as ever.
Labor Leaders in America
Edited by Melvyn Dubofsky and Warren Van Tine University of Illinois Press, 1987 Library of Congress HD8073.A1L33 1987 | Dewey Decimal 331.87330922
Here are the life stories of the men and women who led the labor movement in America from Reconstruction to recent times, from William H. Sylvis, the first major labor leader, to Cesar Chavez, who organized California's farm workers in the 1960s. In each profile, a leading authority provides a profile of the figure's life and work. Taken together, these short biographies provide a broad overview of the American labor movement that will appeal to students, interested readers, and specialists. Profiles include: William H. Sylvis, Terence V. Powderly, Samuel Gompers, Eugene V. Debs, William D. "Big Bill" Haywood, William Green, Rose Schneiderman, John L. Lewis, Sidney Hillman, Philip Murray, A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, Jimmy Hoffa, George Meany, and Cesar Chavez
Philadelphia native Wendell W. Young III was one of the most important American labor leaders in the last half of the twentieth century. An Acme Markets clerk in the 1950s and ’60s, he was elected top officer of the Retail Clerks Union when he was twenty-four. His social justice unionism sought to advance wages while moving beyond collective bargaining to improve the conditions of the working-class majority, whether in a union or not. Young quickly gained a reputation for his independence, daring at times to publicly criticize the policies of the city’s powerful AFL-CIO leadership and tangle with the city’s political machine.
Editor Francis Ryan, whose introduction provides historical context, interviewed Young about his experiences working in the region’s retail and food industry, measuring the changes over time and the tangible impact that union membership had on workers. Young also describes the impact of Philadelphia’s deindustrialization in the 1970s and ’80s and recounts his activism for civil rights and the anti-war movements as well as on John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign.
The Memoirs of Wendell W. YoungIII provides the most extensive labor history of late twentieth-century Philadelphia yet written.
When C. Wright Mills published The New Men of Power in 1948, he
thought labor leaders a new strategic elite and the unions a set of vanguard organizations that were crucial to "stopping the main drift towards war and slump." Today, as the unions once again seek to play a decisive role in American life, Mills' remarkable probe into the structure and ideology of mid-twentieth-century trade unionism remains essential reading. A new introduction by historian Nelson Lichtenstein offers insight into the Millsian political world at the time he wrote The New Men of Power.
Shadow of the Racketeer: Scandal in Organized Labor tells the story of organized crime's move into labor racketeering in the 1930s, focusing on a union corruption scandal involving payments from the largest Hollywood movie studios to the Chicago mob to ensure a pliant labor supply for their industry. The book details the work of crusading journalist Westbrook Pegler, whose scorching investigative work dramatically exposed the mob connections of top labor leaders George Scalise and William Bioff and garnered Pegler a Pulitzer Prize for reporting.
From a behind-the-scenes perspective, David Witwer describes how Pegler and his publisher, the politically powerful Roy W. Howard, shaped the news coverage of this scandal in ways that obscured the corrupt ties between employers and the mob while emphasizing the perceived menace of union leaders empowered by New Deal legislation that had legitimized organized labor. Pegler, Howard, and the rest of the mainstream press pointedly ignored evidence of the active role that business leaders took in the corruption, which badly tarnished the newly reborn labor movement.
Because he was more concerned with pursuing political gains for the conservative movement, Pegler's investigative journalism did little to reform union governance or organized crime's influence on labor unions. The union corruption scandal only undercut the labor movement. Pegler's continuing campaign against labor corruption framed the issue in ways that set the stage for postwar political defeats, culminating with the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which greatly limited the power of labor unions in the United States.
Demonstrating clearly and convincingly how journalism is wielded as a political weapon, Witwer studies a broad range of forces at play in the labor union scandal and its impact, including the influence of the press, organized crime, political corruption, and businessmen following their own economic imperatives.
In this trenchant work, James Barrett traces the political journey of a leading worker radical whose life and experiences encapsulate radicalism's rise and fall in the United States.
A self-educated wage earner raised in the slums of a large industrial city, William Z. Foster became a brilliant union organizer who helped build the American Federation of Labor and, later, radical Trade Union Educational League. Embracing socialism, syndicalism, and communism in turn, Foster rose through the ranks of the American Communist Party to stand at the forefront of labor politics throughout the 1920s. Yet by the time he died in 1961, in a Moscow hospital far from the meat-packing plants and steel mills where he had built his reputation, Foster's political marginalism stood as a symbol for the isolation of American labor radicalism in the postwar era.
Integrating both the indigenous and the international factors that determined the fate of American communism, William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism provides a new understanding of the basis for radicalism among twentieth-century American workers.