Langston Hughes called it "a great dark tide from the South": the unprecedented influx of blacks into Cleveland that gave the city the nickname "Alabama North." In this remarkable study, Kimberley Phillips reveals the breadth of working-class black experiences and activities in Cleveland and the extent to which these were shaped by traditions and values brought from the South. Phillips shows how migrants' moves north established complex networks of kin and friends and infused the city with a highly visible southern African-American culture. She examines the wide variety of black fraternal, benevolent, social, and church-based organizations working-class migrants created and demonstrates how they prepared the way for new forms of individual and collective activism in workplaces and the city. Giving special consideration to the employment patterns and experiences of working-class black women in Cleveland, AlabamaNorth reveals how migrants' expressions of tradition and community gave them a new consciousness of themselves as organized workers in the urban North and created the underpinning for new forms of black labor activism.
Over a period of six years, at factory and warehouse, at the tavern across the road, in their homes and union meetings, on fishing trips and social outings, David Halle talked and listened to workers of an automated chemical plant in New Jersey's industrial heartland. He has emerged with an unusually comprehensive and convincingly realistic picture of blue-collar life in America. Throughout the book, Halle illustrates his analysis with excerpts of workers' views on everything from strikes, class consciousness, politics, job security, and toxic chemicals to marriage, betting on horses, God, home-ownership, drinking, adultery, the Super Bowl, and life after death. Halle challenges the stereotypes of the blue-collar mentality and argues that to understand American class consciousness we must shift our focus from the "working class" to be the "working man."
This book is the first devoted entirely to an examination of working-class activism, broadly defined as that of farmers’ organizations, labor unions, and (often biracial) political movements, in Arkansas during the Gilded Age. On one level, Hild argues for the significance of this activism in its own time: had the Arkansas Democratic Party not resorted to undemocratic, unscrupulous, and violent means of repression, the Arkansas Union Labor Party would have taken control of the state government in the election of 1888. He also argues that the significance of these movements lasted beyond their own time, their influence extending into the biracial Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union of the 1930s, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and even today’s Farmers’ Union and the United Mine Workers of America.
The story of farmer and labor protest in Arkansas during the late nineteenth century offers lessons relevant to contemporary
working-class Americans in what some observers have called the “new Gilded Age.”
Between a River and a Mountain details American labor's surprisingly complex relationship to the American war in Vietnam. Breaking from the simplistic story of "hard hat patriotism," Wehrle uses newly released archival material to demonstrate the AFL-CIO's continuing dedication to social, political, and economic reform in Vietnam. The complex, sometimes turbulent, relationship between American union leaders and their counterparts in the Vietnamese Confederation of Labor (known as the CVT) led to dangerous political compromises: the AFL-CIO eventually accepted much-needed support for their Vietnamese activities from the CIA, while the CVT's need to sustain their relationship with the Americans lured them into entanglements with a succession of corrupt Saigon governments. Although the story's endpoint--the painfully divided and weakened labor movement of the 1970s--may be familiar, Wehrle offers an entirely new understanding of the historical forces leading up to that decline, unraveling his story with considerable sophistication and narrative skill.
"Stunning in its research and sophisticated in its analysis, Between a River and a Mountain is one of the best studies we have of labor and the Vietnam War."
--Robert K. Brigham, Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations, Vassar College
"Skillfully blending diplomatic and labor history, Wehrle's book is a valuable contribution to the ever-widening literature on the Vietnam War."
--George Herring, University of Kentucky
"Wehrle has written a compelling and original study of the AFL-CIO, the South Vietnamese labor movement and the Vietnam War."
--Judith Stein, Professor of History, City College and Graduate School of the City University of New York
"With this important book, Edmund Wehrle gives us the first full-fledged scholarly examination of organized labor's relationship to the Vietnam War. Based on deep research in U.S. and foreign archives, and presented in clear and graceful prose, Between a River and a Mountain adds a great deal to our understanding of how the AFL-CIO approached the war and in turn was fundamentally altered by its staunch support for Americanization. Nor is it merely an American story that Wehrle tells, for he also presents fascinating information on the Vietnamese Confederation of Labor and its sometimes-strained relations with U.S. labor."
--Fredrik Logevall, Cornell University
Edmund F. Wehrle is Assistant Professor of History, Eastern Illinois University.
"For anyone who believes that there was no important labor movement before Roosevelt, or before Gompers, or before the Knights of Labor, this well-documented work should prove a shocker. And for those who look to the past for enlightenment to guide us through our troubled tomorrows, this book is a reservoir of historic information and insights." -- New Leader
"Beyond Equality is a masterpiece. . . . A book of bold and brilliant originality, it is now shaping the perspective of a new generation of graduate students." -- David Brion Davis, author of The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture
As the world economy becomes increasingly integrated, companies can shift production to wherever wages are lowest and unions weakest. How can workers defend their rights in an era of mobile capital? With national governments forced to compete for foreign investment by rolling back legal protections for workers, fair trade advocates are enlisting consumers to put market pressure on companies to treat their workers fairly. In Beyond the Boycott, sociologist Gay Seidman asks whether this non-governmental approach can reverse the "race to the bottom" in global labor standards. Beyond the Boycott examines three campaigns in which activists successfully used the threat of a consumer boycott to pressure companies to accept voluntary codes of conduct and independent monitoring of work sites. The voluntary Sullivan Code required American corporations operating in apartheid-era South Africa to improve treatment of their workers; in India, the Rugmark inspection team provides 'social labels' for handknotted carpets made without child labor; and in Guatemala, COVERCO monitors conditions in factories producing clothing under contract for major American brands. Seidman compares these cases to explore the ingredients of successful campaigns, as well as the inherent limitations facing voluntary monitoring schemes. Despite activists' emphasis on educating individual consumers to support ethical companies, Seidman finds that, in practice, they have been most successful when they mobilized institutions—such as universities, churches, and shareholder organizations. Moreover, although activists tend to dismiss states' capabilities, all three cases involved governmental threats of trade sanctions against companies and countries with poor labor records. Finally, Seidman points to an intractable difficulty of independent workplace monitoring: since consumers rarely distinguish between monitoring schemes and labels, companies can hand pick monitoring organizations, selecting those with the lowest standards for working conditions and the least aggressive inspections. Transnational consumer movements can increase the bargaining power of the global workforce, Seidman argues, but they cannot replace national governments or local campaigns to expand the meaning of citizenship. As trade and capital move across borders in growing volume and with greater speed, civil society and human rights movements are also becoming more global. Highly original and thought-provoking, Beyond the Boycott vividly depicts the contemporary movement to humanize globalization—its present and its possible future. A Volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology
Katherine Benton-Cohen Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress HD8083.A6B466 2009 | Dewey Decimal 305.800979153
“Are you an American, or are you not?” This is the question at the heart of Katherine Benton-Cohen’s provocative history, which ties that seemingly remote corner of the country to one of America’s central concerns: the historical creation of racial boundaries. By showing the multiple possibilities for racial meanings in America, Benton-Cohen’s insightful and informative work challenges our assumptions about race and national identity.
The first thoroughly documented history of organized labor in nineteenth-century Cuba, this work focuses on how urban laborers joined together in collective action during the transition from slave to free labor and in the last decades of Spanish colonial rule in Cuba.
Although unions are by no means entirely gone or lacking in lobbying power, their membership in traditional industries is on the decline and their influence continues to diminish. Only a generation ago, large unions such as the United Mine Workers of America held greater political and economic capital and inspired millions beyond their immediate ranks. In this book, Christian Wright explores the complex history of the UMWA and coal mining in the West over a fifty-year period of the twentieth century, concentrating on the coal miners of Carbon and Emery counties in Utah. Wright emphasizes their experience during the 1970s, which saw the rise and passing of American workers’ most successful postwar effort to internally reform a major labor organization: the Miners for Democracy movement. As Wright details how and why Miners for Democracy and nonunion mining raced to control coal’s future, he also touches on the UMWA’s regional origins during and immediately after the New Deal, when cracks in union efficacy and benefit programs began to appear. Using sophisticated demography, Wright not only details how miners’ racial, gender, and generational identities shaped their changing relationships to mining and organized labor, he also illustrates the place of nonunion miners, antiunion employers, the unemployed, ethnic minorities, and women in transforming “Carbon County, USA.”
Drawing on a variety of primary sources, Wright provides evidence for organized labor’s continuing significance and value while effectively illuminating its mounting frustrations during a relatively recent chapter in the history of Utah and the United States.
Catholic Labor Movements in Europe narrates the history of industrial labor movements of Catholic inspiration in the period from the onset of World War I to the reconstruction after World War II. The stated goal of concerned Catholics in the 1920s and 1930s was to "rechristianize society." But dominant labor movements in many countries during this period consisted of socialist elements that viewed religion as an obstacle to social progress. It was a daunting challenge to build robust organizations of Catholics who identified themselves with the working classes and their struggles.
Childhood in the Promised Land is the first history of France's colonies de vacances, a vast network of summer camps created for working-class children. The colonies originated as a late-nineteenth-century charitable institution, providing rural retreats intended to restore the fragile health of poor urban children. Participation grew steadily throughout the first half of the twentieth century, "trickling up" by the late 1940s to embrace middle-class youth as well.
At the heart of the study lie the municipal colonies de vacances, organized by the working-class cities of the Paris red belt. Located in remote villages or along the more inexpensive stretches of the Atlantic coast, the municipal colonies gathered their young clientele into variously structured "child villages," within which they were to live out particular, ideal visions of the collective life of children throughout the long summer holiday. Focusing on the creation of and participation in these summer camps, Laura Lee Downs presents surprising insights into the location and significance of childhood in French working-class cities and, ultimately, within the development of modern France.
Drawing on a rich array of historical sources, including dossiers and records of municipal colonies discovered in remote town halls of the Paris suburbs, newspaper accounts, and interviews with adults who participated in the colonies as children, Downs reveals how diverse groups—including local Socialist and Communist leaders and Catholic seminarians—seized the opportunity to shape the minds and bodies of working-class youth. Childhood in the Promised Land shows how, in creating the summer camps, these various groups combined pedagogical theories, religious convictions, political ideologies, and theories about the relationship between the countryside and children's physical and cognitive development. At the same time, the book sheds light on classic questions of social control, highlighting the active role of the children in shaping their experiences.
Beginning just before the start of World War II and ending during the Cold War, Gerald Horne's masterful examination of British Guiana and the British West Indies details the collapse of British colonial structures and the corresponding rise of U.S. regional influence. Horne reveals the realities of race and color in the Caribbean under colonial rule, while the colonizers-Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States-battled each other for hegemony on the world stage.
Horne seamlessly weaves a variety of untapped archival sources-including personal correspondence and newspaper stories from three continents-with a wide range of scholarly publications, journals and memoirs to illustrate an important, yet underexamined, regional history in a global context.
Highlighting the centrality of the "labor question" in relation to colonial rule, Cold War in a Hot Zone is a compelling exposé of the racial dimensions of U.S. foreign policy and anti-communist initiatives during WWII and the Cold War that followed.
Communists and Community seeks to reframe the traditional chronology of the Communist Party in the United States as a means to better understand the change that occurred in community activism in the mid-twentieth century. Ryan Pettengill argues that Popular Front activism continued to flourish throughout the war years and into the postwar period. In Detroit, where there was a critical mass of heavy industry, Communist Party activists mobilized support for civil rights and affordable housing, brought attention to police brutality, sought protection for the foreign-born, and led a movement for world peace.
Communists and Community demonstrates that the Communist Party created a social space where activists became effective advocates for the socioeconomic betterment of a multiracial work force. Pettengill uses Detroit as a case study to examine how communist activists and their sympathizers maintained a community to enhance the quality of life for the city’s working class. He investigates the long-term effects of organized labor’s decision to force communists out of the unions and abandon community-based activism. Communists and Community recounts how leftists helped workers, people of color, and other under-represented groups became part of the mainstream citizenry in America.
Confronting American Labor traces the development of the American left, from the Depression era through the Cold War, by examining four representative intellectuals who grappled with the difficult question of labor’s role in society. Since the time of Marx, leftists have raised over and over the question of how an intelligentsia might participate in a movement carried out by the working class. Their modus operandi was to champion those who suffered injustice at the hands of the powerful. From the late nineteenth through much of the twentieth century, this meant a focus on the industrial worker.
The Great Depression was a time of remarkable consensus among leftist intellectuals, who often interpreted worker militancy as the harbinger of impending radical change. While most Americans waited out the crisis, listening to the assurances of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Marxian left was convinced that the crisis was systemic. Intellectuals who came of age during the Depression developed the view that the labor movement in America was to be the organizing base for a proletariat. Moreover, many came from working-class backgrounds that contributed to their support of labor.
World War II and the resultant economic recovery shattered this coherence on the left. How did radicals opposed to capitalism deal with a labor movement that was very successful in terms of membership and power but clearly capitalist in its orientation? Coker describes the marked ambivalence and confusion of the intellectual left in the postwar years—a period of frustration brought on by a misreading of labor militancy during the 1930s and an unsuccessful search for a radical proletarian movement. The result was a politically and intellectually weakened left for decades to come.
Confronting American Labor examines four individuals who represent a cross section of postwar radicalism. Each came of age on the socialist left, expecting that an anticapitalist movement would emerge from the ranks of labor. Seymour Martin Lipset and C. Wright Mills were professional sociologists. Sidney Lens spent his early life working within the labor movement before becoming a political commentator for a variety of leftist magazines and journals in the postwar era. Historian Herbert Gutman helped to create a “new labor history” that reflected broader transformations within the intellectual left. In tracing their various approaches to the problem of labor, Confronting American Labor explores the diverse nature of the postwar left. This important work will be of value to anyone interested in labor, class, and American thought.
French trade unions played a historical role in the 1930s quite unlike that of any other labor movement. Against a backdrop of social unrest, parliamentary crisis, and impending world war, industrial unionists in the great metal-fabricating plants of the Paris Region carried out a series of street mobilizations, factory occupations, and general strikes that were virtually unique in Western history.
The unionization of the metal industry, following a series of anti-fascist demonstrations and plant seizures, would constitute the defining episode in modern French labor history and one of the great chapters in European social history. Yet little is known of these extraordinary events.
With a style that captures the vivid character of these experiences, Every Factory a Fortress tells the story of the Paris metal workers, who succeeded in organizing the largest Communist union in the Western world, reshaping the parameters of French social relations, and, ultimately, altering the course of French destinies.
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.
Monumental and revelatory, Free Labor explores labor activism throughout the country during a period of incredible diversity and fluidity: the American Civil War.
Mark A. Lause describes how the working class radicalized during the war as a response to economic crisis, the political opportunity created by the election of Abraham Lincoln, and the ideology of free labor and abolition. Grappling with a broad array of organizations, tactics, and settings, Lause portrays not only the widely known leaders and theoreticians, but also the unsung workers who struggled on the battlefield and the picket line. His close attention to women and African Americans, meanwhile, dismantles notions of the working class as synonymous with whiteness and maleness.
In addition, Lause offers a nuanced consideration of race's role in the politics of national labor organizations, in segregated industries in the border North and South, and in black resistance in the secessionist South, creatively reading self-emancipation as the largest general strike in U.S. history.
In recent years, New Yorkers have been surprised to see workers they had taken for granted—Mexicans in greengroceries, West African supermarket deliverymen and South Asian limousine drivers—striking, picketing, and seeking support for better working conditions. Suddenly, businesses in New York and the nation had changed and were now dependent upon low-paid immigrants to fill the entry-level jobs that few native-born Americans would take. Immigrants, Unions, and the New U.S. Labor Market tells the story of these workers' struggle for living wages, humane working conditions, and the respect due to all people. It describes how they found the courage to organize labor actions at a time when most laborers have become quiescent and while most labor unions were ignoring them. Showing how unions can learn from the example of these laborers, and demonstrating the importance of solidarity beyond the workplace, Immanuel Ness offers a telling look into the lives of some of America's newest immigrants.
These nine essays by a prominent scholar in American labor history self-consciously evoke the tensions between the worker as historical subject and the historian as outside observer. Encompassing studies of labor culture, strategy, and movement building from the late nineteenth century to the present, In Search of the Working Class also connects the trials of the early labor economists to the conceptual challenges facing today's academic practitioners.
"Fink places American labor history in the broader context of American political historiography better than any other historian I can think of." -- James R. Barrett, author of Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894-1922
The Jewish Labor Bund was one of the major political forces in early twentieth-century Eastern Europe. But the decades after the Second World War were years of enormous difficulty for Bundists. Like millions of other European Jews, they faced the challenge of resurrecting their lives, so gravely disrupted by the Holocaust. Not only had the organization lost many members, but its adherents were also scattered across many continents. In this book, David Slucki charts the efforts of the surviving remnants of the movement to salvage something from the wreckage.
Covering both the Bundists who remained in communist Eastern Europe and those who emigrated to the United States, France, Australia, and Israel, the book explores the common challenges they faced—building transnational networks of friends, family, and fellow Holocaust survivors, while rebuilding a once-local movement under a global umbrella. This is a story of resilience and passion—passion for an idea that only barely survived Auschwitz.
A classic piece of Old Left scholarship made available to a new generation of students and activists
Bernard Mandel's classic study provides a concise overview of the relationship between organized abolitionism and the fledgling labor movement in the period before the Civil War. Mandel argues that slavery reinforced the powerlessness of white workers North and South, and the racial divisions that it upheld rendered effective labor solidarity impossible. Deep distrust between abolitionists and the working classes, however, compelled Northern workers to find their own way into the antislavery ranks.
Is class outmoded as a basis for understanding labor history? This significant new collection emphatically says "No!" Touching on such subjects as migrant labor, religion, ethnicity, agricultural history, and gender, these thirteen essays by former students of David Montgomery--a preeminent leader in labor circles as well as in academia--demonstrate the sheer diversity of the field today.
On April 5, 1918, as American troops fought German forces on the Western Front, German American coal miner Robert Prager was hanged from a tree outside Collinsville, Illinois, having been accused of disloyal utterances about the United States and chased out of town by a mob. In Labor, Loyalty, and Rebellion: Southwestern Illinois Coal Miners and World War I, Carl R. Weinberg offers a new perspective on the Prager lynching and confronts the widely accepted belief among labor historians that workers benefited from demonstrating loyalty to the nation.
The first published study of wartime strikes in southwestern Illinois is a powerful look at a group of people whose labor was essential to the war economy but whose instincts for class solidarity spawned a rebellion against mine owners both during and after the war. At the same time, their patriotism wreaked violent working-class disunity that crested in the brutal murder of an immigrant worker. Weinberg argues that the heightened patriotism of the Prager lynching masked deep class tensions within the mining communities of southwestern Illinois that exploded after the Great War ended.
Wisconsin’s workers and their leaders have always been in the vanguard of those concerned with social justice, fair labor practices, humane working conditions, and political equality. Professor Ozanne’s book, based upon years of research in newspapers, manuscripts, and the archives of both labor and management, provides a broad overview of an important chapter in Wisconsin history.
In Labors Appropriate to Their Sex Elizabeth Quay Hutchison addresses the plight of working women in early twentieth-century Chile, when the growth of urban manufacturing was transforming the contours of women’s wage work and stimulating significant public debate, new legislation, educational reform, and social movements directed at women workers. Challenging earlier interpretations of women’s economic role in Chile’s industrial growth, which took at face value census figures showing a dramatic decline in women’s industrial work after 1907, Hutchison shows how the spread of industrial sweatshops and changing definitions of employment in the census combined to make female labor disappear from census records at the same time that it was in fact burgeoning in urban areas.
In addition to population and industrial censuses, Hutchison culls published and archival sources to illuminate such misconceptions and to reveal how women’s paid labor became a locus of anxiety for a society confronting social problems—both real and imagined—that were linked to industrialization and modernization. The limited options of working women were viewed by politicians, elite women, industrialists, and labor organizers as indicative of a society in crisis, she claims, yet their struggles were also viewed as the potential springboard for reform. Labors Appropriate to Their Sex thus demonstrates how changing norms concerning gender and work were central factors in conditioning the behavior of both male and female workers, relations between capital and labor, and political change and reform in Chile.
This study will be rewarding for those whose interests lie in labor, gender, or Latin American studies; as well as for those concerned with the histories of early feminism, working-class women, and sexual discrimination in Latin America.
Business leaders, conservative ideologues, and even some radicals of the early twentieth century dismissed working people's intellect as stunted, twisted, or altogether missing. They compared workers toiling in America's sprawling factories to animals, children, and robots. Working people regularly defied these expectations, cultivating the knowledge of experience and embracing a vibrant subculture of self-education and reading. Labor's Mind uses diaries and personal correspondence, labor college records, and a range of print and visual media to recover this social history of the working-class mind. As Higbie shows, networks of working-class learners and their middle-class allies formed nothing less than a shadow labor movement. Dispersed across the industrial landscape, this movement helped bridge conflicts within radical and progressive politics even as it trained workers for the transformative new unionism of the 1930s. Revelatory and sympathetic, Labor's Mind reclaims a forgotten chapter in working-class intellectual life while mapping present-day possibilities for labor, higher education, and digitally enabled self-study.
In this, the first broad historical overview of labor in the United States in twenty years, Philip Nicholson examines anew the questions, the villains, the heroes, and the issues of work in America. Unlike recent books that have covered labor in the twentieth century, Labor's Story in the United States looks at the broad landscape of labor since before the Revolution. In clear, unpretentious language, Philip Yale Nicholson considers American labor history from the perspective of institutions and people: the rise of unions, the struggles over slavery, wages, and child labor, public and private responses to union organizing. Throughout, the book focuses on the integral relationship between the strength of labor and the growth of democracy, painting a vivid picture of the strength of labor movements and how they helped make the United States what it is today. Labor's Story in the United States will become an indispensable source for scholars and students.
In Like Cattle and Horses Steve Smith connects the rise of Chinese nationalism to the growth of a Chinese working class. Moving from the late nineteenth century, when foreign companies first set up factories on Chinese soil, to 1927, when the labor movement created by the Chinese Communist Party was crushed by Chiang Kai-shek, Smith uses a host of documents—journalistic accounts of strikes, memoirs by former activists, police records—to argue that a nationalist movement fueled by the effects of foreign imperialism had a far greater hold on working-class identity than did class consciousness. While the massive wave of labor protest in the 1920s was principally an expression of militant nationalism rather than of class consciousness, Smith argues, elements of a precarious class identity were in turn forged by the very discourse of nationalism. By linking work-related demands to the defense of the nation, anti-imperialist nationalism legitimized participation in strikes and sensitized workers to the fact that they were worthy of better treatment as Chinese citizens. Smith shows how the workers’ refusal to be treated “like cattle and horses” (a phrase frequently used by workers to describe their condition) came from a new but powerfully felt sense of dignity. In short, nationalism enabled workers to interpret the anger they felt at their unjust treatment in the workplace in political terms and to create a link between their position as workers and their position as members of an oppressed nation. By focusing on the role of the working class, Like Cattle and Horses is one of very few studies that examines nationalism “from below,” acknowledging the powerful agency of nonelite forces in promoting national identity. Like Cattle and Horses will interest historians of labor, modern China, and nationalism, as well as those engaged in the study of revolutions and revolt.
In this intellectually ambitious study, Elizabeth McKillen explores the significance of Wilsonian internationalism for workers and the influence of American labor in both shaping and undermining the foreign policies and war mobilization efforts of Woodrow Wilson's administration. McKillen highlights the major fault lines that emerged within labor circles as Wilson pursued his agenda in the context of Mexican and European revolutions, World War I, and the Versailles Peace Conference. McKillen's spotlight falls on the American Federation of Labor, whose leadership collaborated extensively with Wilson, assisting with propaganda, policy, and diplomacy. At the same time, other labor groups (and even sub-groups within the AFL) vehemently opposed Wilsonian internationalism. As McKillen shows, the choice to collaborate with or resist U.S. foreign policy remained an important one for labor throughout the twentieth century. In fact, it continues to resonate today in debates over the global economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the impact of U.S. policies on workers at home and abroad.
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 Wisconsin became the first state in the nation in 1959 to let public employees bargain with their employers, the legislation catalyzed changes to labor laws across the country. In March 2011, when newly elected governor Scott Walker repealed most of that labor law and subsequent ones—and then became the first governor in the nation to survive a recall election fifteen months later—it sent a different message. Both times, Wisconsin took the lead, first empowering public unions and then weakening them. This book recounts the battle between the Republican governor and the unions.
The struggle drew the attention of the country and the notice of the world, launching Walker as a national star for the Republican Party and simultaneously energizing and damaging the American labor movement. Madison was the site of one unprecedented spectacle after another: 1:00 a.m. parliamentary maneuvers, a camel slipping on icy Madison streets as union firefighters rushed to assist, massive nonviolent street protests, and a weeks-long occupation that blocked the marble halls of the Capitol and made its rotunda ring.
Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, award-winning journalists for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, covered the fight firsthand. They center their account on the frantic efforts of state officials meeting openly and in the Capitol's elegant backrooms as protesters demonstrated outside. Conducting new in-depth interviews with elected officials, labor leaders, police officers, protestors, and other key figures, and drawing on new documents and their own years of experience as statehouse reporters, Stein and Marley have written a gripping account of the wildest sixteen months in Wisconsin politics since the era of Joe McCarthy. They offer new insights on the origins of Walker's wide-ranging budget-repair bill, which included the provision to end public-sector collective bargaining; the Senate Democrats' decision to leave the state to try to block the bill; Democrats' talks with both union leaders and Republicans while in Illinois; and the reasons why compromise has become, as one Republican dissenter put it, a "dirty word" in politics today.
“Stein and Marley, veteran reporters with enviable access, have penned the definitive journalistic account of the Wisconsin uprising, especially as it played out in the state Legislature. They make it a story about individuals, not titanic forces.”—Wisconsin Watch
“Stein and Marley deliver an impressively objective account of the struggle, ably describing the objectives and tactics of each side in a confident and engaging style.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Stein and Marley deliver a swashbuckling tale of Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker's election and tumultuous first year in office. . . . Instead of an expected dry read, the authors' lively, economical prose, supplemented by snippets of social media reporting in real time, place readers in the crowded Capitol building stairwells, or in the midst of Wisconsin's largest sustained demonstration since Vietnam protests rocked the University of Wisconsin campus.”—Publishers Weekly
“This book is a political thriller, an activists’ handbook (for the Left on how to organize mass protests, and for the Right on how to effectively fight public employee unions), and a work of investigative journalism all rolled into one. Social scientists, political junkies, and anyone interested in public affairs will devour it.”—Library Journal
“Not only have Stein and Marley organized this mass of material into a coherent whole, but they also write well, ensuring that even the drier parts of their narrative are clear as well as fair. Their book provides plenty of ammunition for both sides. But it also offers something far better: the basis for an adult conversation about what actually happened.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“This timely account covers the ethics investigations, public demonstrations, runaway legislators, recalls, and physical confrontation between two state Supreme Court justices. . . . This book is written in a concise, unbiased manner and includes complete details. In a greater sense, it explores the drastic polarization endemic in American society today.”—Choice
“A testament to the information-gathering powers of good beat reporters. In Bob Woodward style, they reconstruct the backroom meetings that ushered Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 legislation through the protester-crammed halls of the Wisconsin State Capitol.”—Milwaukee Magazine
“Stein and Marley have managed to produce a very readable, well-researched, and thoroughly interesting narrative without any notable bias—a major accomplishment.”—Wisconsin People & Ideas Magazine
Previously available only in an out-of-print Swedish edition published in 1955, Henry Bengston's firsthand account deals with what historian Dag Blanck calls the "other Swedish America."
Swedish immigrants in general were conservative, but Bengston and others—most notably Joe Hill—joined the working-class labor movement on the left, primarily as Debsian socialists, although their ranks included other socialists, communists, and anarchists. Involved in the radical labor movement on many fronts, Bengston was the editor of Svenska Socialisten from 1912 until he dropped out of the Scandinavian Socialist Federation in 1920. Even after 1920, however, his sympathies remained with the movement he had once strongly espoused.
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.
In January 1919 the Peruvian government issued a decree establishing the eight-hour work day—the culmination of thirty years of struggle by Peru’s works and evidence of the increasing influence of the labor movement in Peruvian politics and society.
Beginning in October 1883 at the time of Treaty of Ancón terminating four years of warfare with Chile, Peru’s workers started a thirty-year effort to become an active and influential sector of society. They formed organizations, actively participated in the nation’s political life, engaged in industrial agitation—all revealing a growing class consciousness and an ability to compel both employers and governments to respond to their demands. Blanchard’s analysis and insights into the economic factors underlying Peru’s labor unrest also extends to labor developments and the modernization process throughout Latin America.
The first comprehensive biography of progressive labor organizer, peace worker, and economist Clinton Jencks (1918–2005), this book explores the life of one of the most important political and social activists to appear in the Southwestern United States in the twentieth century. A key figure in the radical International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers (IUMMSW) Local 890 in Grant County, New Mexico, Jencks was involved in organizing not only the mine workers but also their wives in the 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company. He was active in the production of the 1954 landmark labor film dramatizing the Empire Zinc strike, Salt of the Earth, which was heavily suppressed during the McCarthy era and led to Jencks's persecution by the federal government.
Labor historian James J. Lorence examines the interaction between Jencks's personal experience and the broader forces that marked the world and society in which he worked and lived. Following the work of Jencks and his equally progressive wife, Virginia Derr Jencks, Lorence illuminates the roots and character of Southwestern unionism, the role of radicalism in the Mexican-American civil rights movement, the rise of working-class feminism within Local 890 and the Grant County Mexican American community, and the development of Mexican-American identity in the Southwest. Chronicling Jencks's five-year-long legal battle against charges of perjury, this biography also illustrates how civil liberties and American labor were constrained by the specter of anticommunism during the Cold War.
Drawing from extensive research as well as interviews and correspondence, this volume highlights Clinton Jencks's dramatic influence on the history of labor culture in the Southwest through a lifetime devoted to progress and change for the social good.
Politics of Solidarity explores the transformation of public services in post-apartheid South Africa and the effects of privatization in three cities: Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and Cape Town. Drawing on extensive qualitative fieldwork, Carmen Ludwig sheds light on local conflicts on the provision of public services and on trade union strategies that cope with rising public-private partnerships. In the face of persistent social inequality and the rise of precarious work, Ludwig asks how trade unions can create solidarity in fragmented workforces and bridge the gap between permanent workers and those on the margins in the workplace and society. Politics of Solidarity offers insights into the changing world of municipal work, the struggles of precarious workers and more broadly, on the labor dynamics of contemporary South Africa.
This is the story of immigrant copper workers and their attempts to organize at the turn of the century in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and El Paso, Texas. These Mexican and European laborers of widely varying backgrounds and languages had little social, economic, or political power. Yet they achieved some surprising successes in their struggles—all in the face of a racist society and the unbridled power of the mine owners. Mellinger's book is the first regional history of these ordinary working people—miners, muckers, millhands, and smelter workers—who labored in the thousands of mountain and desert mining camps across the western heartland early in this century. These men, largely uneducated, frequently moving from camp to camp, subjected to harsh and dangerous conditions, often poorly paid, nevertheless came together for a common purpose. They came from Mexico, from the U.S. Hispanic Southwest, and from several European countries, especially from Greece, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, and Spain. They were far from a homogeneous group. Yet, in part because they set aside ethnic differences to pursue cooperative labor action, they were able to make demands, plan strikes, carry them out, and sometimes actually win. They also won the aid of the Western Federation of Miners and the more radical Industrial Workers of the World. After initial rejection, they were eventually accepted by mainstream unionists. Mellinger discusses towns, mines, camps, companies, and labor unions, but this book is largely about people. In order to reconstruct their mining-community lives, he has used little-known union and company records, personal interviews with old-time workers and their families, and a variety of regional sources that together have enabled him to reveal a complex and significant pattern of social, economic, and political change in the American West.
Under the leadership of Gary M. Fink and Merl E. Reed, Georgia State University hosts the Southern Labor Studies Conferences approximately every two years. The conferences have yielded two previous volumes, published in 1977 and 1981, and this volume, which contains selected papers from the seventh conference held in 1991.
As evidence by the quality of these essays, the field of southern labor history has come into its own. Research interest is peaking: the practitioners are younger scholars, and much of their work emphasizes the new social and political history. While the topics covered in this volume usually reflect that methodology, their chronology ranges from the antebellum period to the 1970s, suggesting the variety of sources and changing research approaches that can be used in rendering new meaning to the past. Although the subject of gender was generally a minor theme in these sessions, work now being done leaves no doubt that at some future conference gender will attract a commanding amount of attention.
In introducing and describing their respective areas, the associate editors, Robert H. Zieger (textile workers), Joe W. Trotter (African Americans), and Clifford Kuhn (labor politics), have provided a rich historiographical background.
The essays in this volume will enlighten the reader on many important aspects of the history of southern labor, and they will also raise new questions to be explained by other scholars and future conferences.
The Red Coast is a lively and readable informal history of the labor, left-wing, and progressive activists who lived, worked, and organized in southwest Washington State from the late nineteenth century until World War II. The book serves as a hidden history for a region frequently identified with conservatism, rescuing these working-class activists from obscurity and placing them at the center of southwest Washington’s history.
With a focus on socialists, militant unionists, Wobblies, “Red” Finns, and Communists, The Red Coast covers the people, places, and events that made history—well-known events like the 1919 Armistice Day Tragedy in Centralia and the murders of labor activists William McKay and Laura Law in Aberdeen as well as lesser-known events that have been lost to posterity until now.
The Red Coast also delves deep into the lives and work of the region’s anti-radical forces, examining the collective efforts of employers, news editors, and vigilantes to combat working-class organization. Topics include the Wobblies, the labor wars of the 1910s and 1930s, and the lumber and maritime industries. Labor historians, scholars, and general readers with interest in the working-class history of the Pacific Northwest will welcome this comprehensive and accessible account.
During the struggle for the eight-hour workday and a shorter workweek, Chicago emerged as an important battleground for workers in "the entire civilized world" to redeem time from the workplace in order to devote it to education, civic duty, health, family, and leisure.
William A. Mirola explores how the city's eight-hour movement intersected with a Protestant religious culture that supported long hours to keep workers from idleness, intemperance, and secular leisure activities. Analyzing how both workers and clergy rewove working-class religious cultures and ideologies into strategic and rhetorical frames, Mirola shows how every faith-based appeal contested whose religious meanings would define labor conditions and conflicts. As he notes, the ongoing worker-employer tension transformed both how clergy spoke about the eight-hour movement and what they were willing to do, until intensified worker protest and employer intransigence spurred Protestant clergy to support the eight-hour movement even as political and economic arguments eclipsed religious framing.
A revealing study of an era and a movement, Redeeming Time illustrates the potential--and the limitations--of religious culture and religious leaders as forces in industrial reform.
On September 10, 1897, a group of 400 striking coal miners--workers of Polish, Slovak, and Lithuanian descent or origin--marched on Lattimer, Pennsylvania. There, law enforcement officers fired without warning into the protesters, killing nineteen miners and wounding thirty-eight others. The bloody day quickly faded into history. Paul A. Shackel confronts the legacies and lessons of the Lattimer event. Beginning with a dramatic retelling of the incident, Shackel traces how the violence, and the acquittal of the deputies who perpetrated it, spurred membership in the United Mine Workers. By blending archival and archaeological research with interviews, he weighs how the people living in the region remember--and forget--what happened. Now in positions of power, the descendants of the slain miners have themselves become rabidly anti-labor and anti-immigrant as Dominicans and other Latinos change the community. Shackel shows how the social, economic, and political circumstances surrounding historic Lattimer connect in profound ways to the riven communities of today. Compelling and timely, Remembering Lattimer restores an American tragedy to our public memory.
The fundamentals guiding labor historians are under scrutiny today as never before. The field has attempted to uncover the socioeconomic conditions that produced labor militancy and class consciousness, with scholars focusing on proletarianization---the loss of control over the production process---as the key to class conflict. Currently, this entire approach is being questioned.
In Rethinking Labor History, nine well-known French labor historians join the debate. Advocates of both revisionist Marxism and discourse analysis are represented, and examples of empirical research emerging from the theoretical disputes are included.
The International Workers Order was an American consortium of ethnic mutual self-insurance societies that advocated for unemployment insurance, Social Security and vibrant industrial unions. This interracial leftist organization guaranteed the healthcare of its 180,000 white, black, Hispanic and Arabic working-class members. But what accounted for the popularity—and eventual notoriety—of this Order?
Mining extensive primary sources, Robert Zecker gives voice to the workers in “A Road to Peace and Freedom.” He describes the group's economic goals, commitment to racial justice, and activism, from lobbying to end segregation and lynching in America to defeating fascism abroad. Zecker also illustrates the panoply of entertainment, sports, and educational activities designed to cultivate the minds and bodies of members.
However, the IWO was led by Communists, and the Order was targeted for red-baiting during the Cold War, subject to government surveillance, and ultimately "liquidated." Zecker explains how the dismantling of the IWO and the general suppression of left-wing dissenting views on economic egalitarianism and racial equality had deleterious effects for the entire country. Moreover, Zecker shows why the sobering lesson of the IWO remains prescient today.
Samuel Gompers (1850–1924) devoted his life to improving the conditions of American workers through better wages, shorter workdays, and safer workplaces, achieved through common effort, democratic organization, and practical action. His objective was betterment, or, as he often said, "more." His moral vision was grounded in a commitment to social justice and a passion for service. A cigar maker by trade, he became the American Federation of Labor's first president in 1886 and, except for one year, remained its president until his death, guiding it through prosperity and recession, war and peacetime. By the time Gompers died, the AFL was a major force on the national scene and had claimed over four million members.
Gompers was a tireless writer and impassioned speaker, and he left behind an immense archive of articles and editorials, addresses and testimony before a variety of audiences, and extensive correspondence with allies and adversaries alike. His correspondents included trade unionists and political leaders, reformers and radicals, captains of industry defending their positions, and workers asking for help or advice.
The twelve volumes of The Samuel Gompers Papers, edited by Stuart B. Kaufman, Peter J. Albert, and Grace Palladino, for the first time make Gompers' wide-ranging and complex documentary legacy accessible to scholars, students, historians, and serious readers in the labor movement and among the public at large.
This invaluable comprehensive index provides a key to the Gompers volumes. It not only allows quick reference to individual documents but permits scholars to see at a glance the contours and emphases in subject matter and locate the substantive annotations of key individuals and unions, strikes and lockouts, conferences and meetings, and legislation and key concepts in the history of the Gompers era.
Soapbox Rebellion, a new critical history of the free speech fights of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), illustrates how the lively and colorful soapbox culture of the “Wobblies” generated novel forms of class struggle.
From 1909 to 1916, thousands of IWW members engaged in dozens of fights for freedom of speech throughout the American West. The volatile spread and circulation of hobo agitation during these fights amounted to nothing less than a soapbox rebellion in which public speech became the principal site of the struggle of the few to exploit the many. While the fights were not always successful, they did produce a novel form of fluid union organization that offers historians, labor activists, and social movement scholars a window into an alternative approach to what it means to belong to a union. Matthew May coins the phrase “Hobo Orator Union” to characterize these collectives.
Soapbox Rebellion highlights the methodological obstacles to recovering a workers’ history of public address; closely analyzes the impact of hobo oratorical performances; and discusses the implications of the Wobblies’ free speech fights for understanding grassroots resistance and class struggle today—in an era of the decline of the institutional business union model and workplace contractualism.
In Solidarity and Survival, three generations of Iowa workers tell of their unrelenting efforts to create a labor movement in the coal mines and on the rails, in packinghouses and farm equipment plants, on construction sites and in hospital wards. Drawing on nearly one thousand interviews collected over more than a decade by oral historians working for the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Shelton Stromquist presents the resonant voices of the men and women who defined a new, prominent place for themselves in the lives of their communities and in the politics of their state.
Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights chronicles the rarely studied southern industrial union movement from the Great Depression to the cold war, using the strategically located river city of Memphis as a case study. Michael Honey analyzes the economic basis of segregation and the denial of fundamental human rights and civil liberties it entailed.
Frequently telling his story through personal portraits of those directly involved, Honey documents the dramatic labor battles and sometimes heroic activities of organizers and ordinary workers that helped to set the stage for segregation's demise. His study of interracial industrial union organizing locates some of the roots of the 1960s civil rights struggles in this earlier era. Honey provides a new context for understanding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1968 campaign in support of poor people and black labor organizing in Memphis.
This detailed account provides a fresh perspective on African-American, labor, civil rights, and southern history. It clarifies the relationship between labor and civil rights struggles, deepens our understanding of the role of racism in blocking working-class advancement, and emphasizes the importance of southern interracial organizing to the history of social movements in the United States.
Winner of the Herbert G. Gutman Prize from the Labor and Working-Class History Association
In Spirit of Rebellion, Jarod Roll documents an alternative tradition of American protest by linking working-class political movements to grassroots religious revivals. He reveals how ordinary rural citizens in the south used available resources and their shared faith to defend their agrarian livelihoods amid the political and economic upheaval of the first half of the twentieth century.
On the frontier of the New Cotton South in Missouri's Bootheel, the relationships between black and white farmers were complicated by racial tensions and bitter competition. Despite these divisions, workers found common ground as dissidents fighting for economic security, decent housing, and basic health, ultimately drawing on the democratic potential of evangelical religion to wage working-class revolts against commodity agriculture and the political forces that buoyed it. Roll convincingly shows how the moral clarity and spiritual vigor these working people found in the burgeoning Pentecostal revivals gave them the courage and fortitude to develop an expansive agenda of workers' rights by tapping into the powers of existing organizations such as the Socialist Party, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the NAACP, and the interracial Southern Tenant Farmers' Union.
This on-the-ground labor history focuses on the bitterly contested labor conflict in the early 1990s at the A. E. Staley corn processing plant in Decatur, Illinois, where workers waged one of the most hard-fought struggles in recent labor history. Originally family-owned, A. E. Staley was bought out by the multinational conglomerate Tate & Lyle, which immediately launched a full-scale assault on its union workforce. Allied Industrial Workers Local 837 responded by educating and mobilizing its members, organizing strong support from the religious and black communities, building a national and international solidarity movement, and engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the plant gates.
Drawing on seventy-five interviews, videotapes of every union meeting, and their own active involvement organizing with the Staley workers, Steven K. Ashby and C. J. Hawking bring the workers' voices to the fore and reveal their innovative tactics, such as work-to-rule and solidarity committees, that inform and strengthen today's labor movement.
In 1946, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) undertook Operation Dixie, an initiative to recruit industrial workers in the American South. Elizabeth and Ken Fones-Wolf plumb rarely used archival sources and rich oral histories to explore the CIO's fraught encounter with the evangelical Protestantism and religious culture of southern whites.
The authors' nuanced look at working class religion reveals how laborers across the surprisingly wide evangelical spectrum interpreted their lives through their faith. Factors like conscience, community need, and lived experience led individual preachers to become union activists and mill villagers to defy the foreman and minister alike to listen to organizers. As the authors show, however, all sides enlisted belief in the battle. In the end, the inability of northern organizers to overcome the suspicion with which many evangelicals viewed modernity played a key role in Operation Dixie's failure, with repercussions for labor and liberalism that are still being felt today.
Identifying the role of the sacred in the struggle for southern economic justice, and placing class as a central aspect in southern religion, Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South provides new understandings of how whites in the region wrestled with the options available to them during a crucial period of change and possibility.
Judith Stepan-Norris and Maurice Zeitlin University of Illinois Press, 1996 Library of Congress HD6475.A2I787 1996 | Dewey Decimal 331.881292097743
As an institutional, political,
and cultural oral history of the struggle to unionize the River Rouge
Plant near Detroit during the 1930s and 40s, this book affords us a rare
insight into the difficulties of organizing a union in the face of the
then anti-union Ford Motor Company. Against a backdrop of the depression
and entrenched racism, history was made by courageous individuals whose
rich, eloquent stories illuminate the character and views of others like
them across the nation, from all backgrounds: left, right, and center;
black and white; native and foreign born, Jew and gentile.
The Taming of Free Speech
Laura Weinrib Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress KF4772.W44 2016 | Dewey Decimal 342.730853
Laura Weinrib shows how a coalition of lawyers and activists made judicial enforcement of the Bill of Rights a defining feature of American democracy. Protection of civil liberties was a calculated bargain between liberals and conservatives to save the courts from New Deal attack and secure free speech for both labor radicals and businesses.
A wave of teacher strikes in the 1960s and 1970s roiled urban communities. Jon Shelton illuminates how this tumultuous era helped shatter the liberal-labor coalition and opened the door to the neoliberal challenge at the heart of urban education today. Drawing on a wealth of research ranging from school board meetings to TV news reports, Shelton puts readers in the middle of fraught, intense strikes in Newark, St. Louis, and three other cities where these debates and shifting attitudes played out. He also demonstrates how the labor actions contributed to the growing public perception of unions as irrelevant or even detrimental to American prosperity. Foes of the labor movement, meanwhile, tapped into cultural and economic fears to undermine not just teacher unionism but the whole of liberalism.
What Unions No Longer Do
Jake Rosenfeld Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress HD8072.5.R67 2014 | Dewey Decimal 331.880973
From workers' wages to presidential elections, labor unions once exerted tremendous clout in American life. In the immediate post-World War II era, one in three workers belonged to a union. The fraction now is close to one in five, and just one in ten in the private sector. The only thing big about Big Labor today is the scope of its problems. While many studies have explained the causes of this decline, What Unions No Longer Do shows the broad repercussions of labor's collapse for the American economy and polity.
Organized labor was not just a minor player during the middle decades of the twentieth century, Jake Rosenfeld asserts. For generations it was the core institution fighting for economic and political equality in the United States. Unions leveraged their bargaining power to deliver benefits to workers while shaping cultural understandings of fairness in the workplace. What Unions No Longer Do details the consequences of labor's decline, including poorer working conditions, less economic assimilation for immigrants, and wage stagnation among African-Americans. In short, unions are no longer instrumental in combating inequality in our economy and our politics, resulting in a sharp decline in the prospects of American workers and their families.
In six months bridging 1989 and 1990, the German Democratic Republic underwent a transformation that took the world almost completely by surprise. Yet unlike the revolution in Poland a decade earlier, only a small percentage of workers played apolitically active role in the fall of socialism in Germany.
In this unprecedented study, Linda Fuller sets out to explain why the working class was largely missing from the 1989-90 revolution. Drawing on pre- and post-revolutionary visits to East German work sites and dozens of interviews, Fuller documents workers' day-to-day experience of the labor process, workplace union politics, and class. She shows how all three factors led most workers to withdraw from politics, even while prompting a handful to become actively involved in the struggle.
The Worker: Dominion and Form
Ernst Jünger, Edited by Laurence Paul Hemming, Translated from the German by Bogdan Costea and Laurence Paul Hemming Northwestern University Press, 2017 Library of Congress HD4901.J8613 2017 | Dewey Decimal 331.8
Written in 1932, just before the fall of the Weimar Republic and on the eve of the Nazi accession to power, Ernst Jünger’s The Worker: Dominion and Form articulates a trenchant critique of bourgeois liberalism and seeks to identify the form characteristic of the modern age. Jünger’s analyses, written in critical dialogue with Marx, are inspired by a profound intuition of the movement of history and an insightful interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy.
Martin Heidegger considered Jünger “the only genuine follower of Nietzsche,” singularly providing “an interpretation which took shape in the domain of that metaphysics which already determines our epoch, even against our knowledge; this metaphysics is Nietzsche's doctrine of the ‘will to power.’” In The Worker, Jünger examines some of the defining questions of that epoch: the nature of individuality, society, and the state; morality, justice, and law; and the relationships between freedom and power and between technology and nature.
This work, appearing in its entirety in English translation for the first time, is an important contribution to debates on work, technology, and politics by one of the most controversial German intellectuals of the twentieth century. Not merely of historical interest, The Worker carries a vital message for contemporary debates about world economy, political stability, and equality in our own age, one marked by unsettling parallels to the 1930s.
Wisconsin accounts for about two percent of the nation's total population, but its contribution to the history of working people and social reform extends far beyond these numbers. In the early years of the twentieth century, Wisconsin became a veritable laboratory for social and political reform, producing such landmark legislation as workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, and other laws that became models for several states and helped shape federal labor policies. The study of the history of labor also began in Wisconsin when University of Wisconsin economics professor John R. Commons started to document the history of work and labor in America.
Workers and Unions in Wisconsin includes nearly one hundred selections covering the period from 1850 to 1990, illustrated by scores of historic photos, most of which have never before been reprinted. Editor Darryl Holter has included accounts of episodes that took place in more than twenty-five cities and towns in Wisconsin, including labor activities at such nationally known companies as Oscar Mayer, Kohler, Case, Allis-Chalmers, and Ray-O-Vac and workers as diverse as dairy farmers and university teaching assistants, lumberjacks and hosiery makers, municipal employees and paper mill workers. The result is a book that will fascinate and inform anyone interested in American labor history and economics, as well as in the personal stories that are part of any great societal change.
A massive population shift transformed Los Angeles in the first decades of the twentieth century. Americans from across the country relocated to the city even as an unprecedented transnational migration brought people from Asia, Europe, and Mexico. Together, these newcomers forged a multiethnic alliance of anarchists, labor unions, and leftists dedicated to challenging capitalism, racism, and often the state. David M. Struthers draws on the anarchist concept of affinity to explore the radicalism of Los Angeles's interracial working class from 1900 to 1930. Uneven economic development created precarious employment and living conditions for laborers. The resulting worker mobility led to coalitions that, inevitably, remained short lived. As Struthers shows, affinity helps us understand how individual cooperative actions shaped and reshaped these alliances. It also reveals social practices of resistance that are often too unstructured or episodic for historians to capture. What emerges is an untold history of Los Angeles and a revolutionary movement that, through myriad successes and failures, produced powerful examples of racial cooperation.
"An outstanding piece of scholarship and a welcome contribution to the field, this collection of neglected but powerful poetry speaks to our own time as much as it does to its own era."
---Nicholas Coles, University of Pittsburgh
"Opens up a dramatic new aspect of American literature for study, discussion, and enjoyment. The collection of poems is original and engaging and is sure to be useful for classes in literature, American history, and labor studies."
---Alan Wald, University of Michigan
You Work Tomorrow provides a glimpse into a relatively unknown aspect of American literary and labor history---the remarkable but largely forgotten poems published in union newspapers during the turbulent 1930s. Members of all unions---including autoworkers, musicians, teachers, tenant farmers, garment workers, artists, and electricians---wrote thousands of poems during this period that described their working, living, and political conditions. From this wealth of material, John Marsh has chosen poetry that is both aesthetically appealing and historically relevant, dispelling the myth that labor poetry consisted solely of amateurish and predictable sloganeering. A foreword by contemporary poet Jim Daniels is followed by John Marsh's substantive introduction, detailing the cultural and political significance of union poetry.
John Marsh is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Coordinator of The Odyssey Project, a year-long, college-accredited course in the humanities offered at no cost to adults living below or slightly above the federal poverty level.
The National Reform Association (NRA) was an antebellum land reform movement inspired by the shared dream of a future shaped by egalitarian homesteads. Mark A. Lause's Young America argues that it was these working people's interest in equitable access to the country's most obvious asset--land--that led them to advocate a federal homestead act granting land to the landless, state legislation to prohibit the foreclosure of family farms, and antimonopolistic limitations on land ownership.
Rooting the movement in contemporary economic structures and social ideology, Young America examines this urban and working-class "agrarianism," demonstrating how the political preoccupations of this movement transformed socialism by drawing its adherents from communitarian preoccupations into political action. The alliance of the NRA's land reformers and radical abolitionists led unprecedented numbers to petition Congress and established the foundations of what became the new Republican Party, promising "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men."