Robert Houston University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3558.O873B57 1999 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Bisbee, Arizona, queen of the western copper camps, 1917. The protagonists in a bitter strike: the Wobblies (the IWW), the toughest union in the history of the West; and Harry Wheeler, the last of the two-gun sheriffs. In this class-war western, they face each other down in the streets of Bisbee, pitting a general strike against the largest posse ever assembled. Based on a true story, Bisbee '17 vividly re-creates a West of miners and copper magnates, bindlestiffs and scissorbills, army officers, private detectives, and determined revolutionaries. Against this backdrop runs the story of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, strike organizer from the East, caught between the worlds of her ex-husband—the Bisbee strike leader—and her new lover, an Italian anarchist from New York. As the tumultuous weeks of the strike unfold, she struggles to sort out what she really feels about both of them, and about the West itself.
When the Detroit newspaper strike was settled in December 2000, it marked the end of five years of bitter and violent dispute. No fewer than six local unions, representing 2,500 employees, struck against the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, and their corporate owners, charging unfair labor practices. The newspapers hired permanent replacement workers and paid millions of dollars for private security and police enforcement; the unions and their supporters took their struggle to the streets by organizing a widespread circulation and advertising boycott, conducting civil disobedience, and publishing a weekly strike newspaper. In the end, unions were forced to settle contracts on management's terms, and fired strikers received no amnesty. In The Broken Table, Chris Rhomberg sees the Detroit newspaper strike as a historic collision of two opposing forces: a system in place since the New Deal governing disputes between labor and management, and decades of increasingly aggressive corporate efforts to eliminate unions. As a consequence, one of the fundamental institutions of American labor relations—the negotiation table—has been broken, Rhomberg argues, leaving the future of the collective bargaining relationship and democratic workplace governance in question. The Broken Table uses interview and archival research to explore the historical trajectory of this breakdown, its effect on workers' economic outlook, and the possibility of restoring democratic governance to the business-labor relationship. Emerging from the New Deal, the 1935 National Labor Relations Act protected the practice of collective bargaining and workers' rights to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment by legally recognizing union representation. This system became central to the democratic workplace, where workers and management were collective stakeholders. But efforts to erode the legal protections of the NLRA began immediately, leading to a parallel track of anti-unionism that began to gain ascendancy in the 1980s. The Broken Table shows how the tension created by these two opposing forces came to a head after a series of key labor disputes over the preceding decades culminated in the Detroit newspaper strike. Detroit union leadership charged management with unfair labor practices after employers had unilaterally limited the unions' ability to bargain over compensation and work conditions. Rhomberg argues that, in the face of management claims of absolute authority, the strike was an attempt by unions to defend workers' rights and the institution of collective bargaining, and to stem the rising tide of post-1980s anti-unionism. In an era when the incidence of strikes in the United States has been drastically reduced, the 1995 Detroit newspaper strike stands out as one of the largest and longest work stoppages in the past two decades. A riveting read full of sharp analysis, The Broken Table revisits the Detroit case in order to show the ways this strike signaled the new terrain in labor-management conflict. The book raises broader questions of workplace governance and accountability that affect us all.
Charcoal and Blood is a detailed account of a heinous crime perpetrated on Italian immigrants engaged in the production of charcoal on Nevada’s mining frontier at the close of the nineteenth century. On August 18, 1879, in a canyon near Fish Creek, outside Eureka, Nevada, five Italian charcoal burners were slain and six more were wounded, while fourteen were taken prisoner by a sheriff’s posse.
Through meticulous research on the event, relying on such primary sources as newspaper articles, author Silvio Manno provides the only comprehensive account of Eureka’s charcoal crisis and what came to be known as the Fish Creek Massacre. This is a well-documented narrative history of an important instance of class and ethnic conflict in the West. Readers interested in Nevada history, Italian American history, frontier trade unionism, and mining in the West will find this book a unique examination of an incident that occurred almost a century and a half ago and that has, until now, been largely overlooked.
The strike that paralyzed the mining camps of Clifton and Morenci during 1915–16 and gained nationwide attention was one of the most remarkable that ever occurred in the West. During an era when physical violence, death, and property destruction were almost accepted elements of Western labor difficulties, this walkout was peaceful. With few exceptions, law and order continually predominated. This, then, is the seldom-seen side, a positive side, to a state's labor history.
Coming at a time when western labor was purging itself of radicalism and recharting its goals, the Clifton-Morenci strike may well have been that "milestone" in organized labor's groping for recognition in the West. Violence did not erupt—this notable absence of bloodshed thereby making the strike unique in that time of industrial turbulence.
Kluger's answer to the question of why and how peace prevailed is significant reading. Strikers and managers hurled charges at each other, but both sides showed restraint when it came to action. When negotiations reached an impasse, Governor George W. P. Hunt moved to prevent the managers from importing strike-breakers. At the same time, the Department of Labor entered the situation, and the rise in copper prices and loss of wages made a settlement desirable for both sides.
When the mine whistles blew on January 26, 1916, to signal the end of the strike, the repercussions of the events of 1915 were still to be felt. Author Kluger traces how the strike affected working conditions, wages, and the cause of unionism in the district. Overall, he provides insight into feelings concerning the fears of management regarding unionism, and labor's manner of making itself heard during these years.
Western historians, labor historians, and all those concerned with labor relations will recognize the importance of this highly readable work.
A mirror of great changes that were occurring on the national labor rights scene, the 1913–14 Michigan Copper Strike was a time of unprecedented social upheaval in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With organized labor taking an aggressive stance against the excesses of unfettered capitalism, the stage was set for a major struggle between labor and management. The Michigan Copper Strike received national attention and garnered the support of luminaries in organized labor like Mother Jones, John Mitchell, Clarence Darrow, and Charles Moyer. The hope of victory was overshadowed, however, by violent incidents like the shooting of striking workers and their family members, and the bitterness of a community divided. No other event came to symbolize or memorialize the strike more than the Italian Hall tragedy, in which dozens of workers and working-class children died. In Community in Conflict, the efforts of working people to gain a voice on the job and in their community through their unions, and the efforts of employers to crush those unions, take center stage. Previously untapped historical sources such as labor spy reports, union newspapers, coded messages, and artifacts shine new light on this epic, and ultimately tragic, period in American labor history.
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.
From the beginning of the Industrial Age and continuing into the twenty-first century, companies faced with militant workers and organizers have often turned to agencies that specialized in ending strikes and breaking unions. Although their secretive nature has made it difficult to fully explore the history of this industry, From Blackjacks to Briefcases does just that.
By digging through subpoenaed documents of strike-bound companies, their mercenaries, and the testimony of executive officers and rank-and-file strikebreakers, Robert Smith examines the inner workings of the antiunion industry. In a clear and lively style, he brings to life the violent armed guards employed on the picket line or in the coal camps; the ruffians who filled the armies marshaled by the “King of the Strikebreakers,” Pearl Bergoff; the labor spies who wrecked countless unions; and, after the Wagner Act, those who manipulated national labor law to serve their clients.
In From Blackjacks to Briefcases, Smith follows the history of this ongoing struggle and tells a compelling story that parallels the history of the United States over the last century and a half.
GENERATION OF BOOMERS
Shelton Stromquist University of Illinois Press, 2000 Library of Congress HD5325.R1S77 1987 | Dewey Decimal 331.892813850973
"'Boomer' railroad men have a cherished place in the popular imagination. Although the romance of their vocations and the itinerancy of their lives have been exaggerated, the term ‘Boomer' fittingly characterizes a significant portion of the generation of workers that built and operated the railroads during the expansive years of the late nineteenth century. There are numerous excellent accounts of the major railroad strikes for this period. There is also a rich literature of local studies that focus primarily on changes in working class culture and community in a variety of industrial settings. But we lack a framework for integrating the local analysis of social and cultural patterns with changes in the political economy of nineteenth-century American capitalism, and we lack an analysis of strikes that locates episodes within broader patterns of emerging class conflict. This volume is an attempt to build such a larger framework."
Before Rosa Parks and the March on Washington, four African American women risked their careers and freedom to defy the United States Army over segregation. Women Army Corps (WAC) privates Mary Green, Anna Morrison, Johnnie Murphy, and Alice Young enlisted to serve their country, improve their lives, and claim the privileges of citizenship long denied them. Promised a chance at training and skilled positions, they saw white WACs assigned to those better jobs and found themselves relegated to work as orderlies. In 1945, their strike alongside fifty other WACs captured the nation's attention and ignited passionate debates on racism, women in the military, and patriotism. Glory in Their Spirit presents the powerful story of their persistence and the public uproar that ensued. Newspapers chose sides. Civil rights activists coalesced to wield a new power. The military, meanwhile, found itself increasingly unable to justify its policies. In the end, Green, Morrison, Murphy, and Young chose court-martial over a return to menial duties. But their courage pushed the segregated military to the breaking point ”and helped steer one of American's most powerful institutions onto a new road toward progress and justice.
This history of New York transit workers from the Great Depression to the monumental 1966 transit strike shows how, through collective action, the men and women who operated the world's largest transit system brought about a virtual revolution in their daily lives. Joshua Freeman's detailed descriptions of both transit work and transit workers, and his full account of the formation and development of the Transport Workers Union provide new insight into the nature of modern industrial unionism. Freeman pays particular attention to the role of Communists and veterans of the Irish Republican Army—including TWU president Michael J. Quill—in organizing and leading the union, as well as to the Catholic labor activists who were the principal union dissidents. Freeman also explores the intense political struggles over the New York transit system. He links the TWU's pioneering role in public sector unionism to worker militancy and the union's deep involvement in New York politics. His portrait of Fiorello La Guardia's determined opposition to the TWU belies La Guardia's pro-labor reputation. By combining social and political history with the study of collective bargaining, In Transit makes a major contribution to the history of American labor, radicalism, and urban politics. Now with a new epilogue that frames the history of the union in the context of labor’s revival and recent changes in TWU’s leadership, In Transit is an intimate portrait of the politics of mass transit and public sector unionism, and one of the most detailed reconstructions to date of the social processes of industrial unionism. This book will appeal to anyone interested in New York City's subways, politics, history, and labor.
The two defining moments of Western coalfield labor relations have been massacres: Wyoming's Rock Springs Massacre of 1885 and Colorado's Ludlow Massacre of 1914. But it wasn't just the company guns that were responsible for the deaths of 28 Chinese coal miners and 13 women and children. It was the result of racial tensions and the economics of the coal industry itself.
In Industrializing the Rockies, David A. Wolff places these deadly conflicts and strikes in the context of the Western coal industry from its inception in 1868 to the age of maturity in the early twentieth century. The result is the first book-length study of the emergence of coalfield labor relations and a general overview of the role of coal mining in the American West.
Wolff examines the coal companies and the owners' initial motivations for investment and how these motivations changed over time. He documents the move from speculation to stability in the commodities market, and how this was reflected in the development of companies and company towns.
Industrializing the Rockies also examines the workers and their workplaces: how the miners and laborers struggled to maintain mining as a craft and how the workforce changed, ethnically and racially, eventually leading to the emergence of a strong national union. Wolff shines light on the business of coal mining detailing the market and economic forces that influenced companies and deeply affected the lives of the workers.
Killing for Coal
Thomas G. Andrews Harvard University Press, 2002 Library of Congress HD5325.M63 1913C736 2008 | Dewey Decimal 331.892822334098
This book offers a bold and original perspective on the 1914 Ludlow Massacre and the “Great Coalfield War.” In a story of transformation, Andrews illuminates the causes and consequences of the militancy that erupted in colliers’ strikes over the course of nearly half a century.
Lamps at High Noon
Jack S. Balch University of Illinois Press, 1941 Library of Congress PS3503.A5514L36 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
The Federal Arts Projects were created by FDR in the summer of 1935. A year later, a handful of writers employed in the St. Louis office of the Missouri Writers' Project, including Jack Balch, went out on strike. Lamps at High Noon is the only novel about this strike and the only one to treat comprehensively any aspect of the Federal Writers' Project, whose participants included some of the country's most accomplished and promising authors.
Charlie Gest, the wide-eyed and well-intentioned protagonist of the novel, confronts firsthand the project's sometimes underhanded efforts to monitor the political views of its writers. Named assistant director of the project in Monroe (a fictional St. Louis), Gest is vaguely aware that the program's good intentions do not always overshadow the abuses it tolerates, which include shielding corporate interests and avoiding hiring highly qualified black writers. Gest is hounded by a nagging suspicion that, like lamps that burn in broad daylight, the issues at stake in the work stoppage are not the ones that most need addressing.
Part radical socialist commentary, part absurdist theater, Balch's novel offers a peerless critical engagement of the economic constraints and political exigencies surrounding debates over the federal funding of art since the New Deal.
The Marikana Massacre of August 16, 2012, was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of apartheid. Those killed were mineworkers in support of a pay raise. Through a series of interviews conducted with workers who survived the attack, this account documents and examines the controversial shootings in great detail, beginning with a valuable history of the events leading up to the killing of workers, and including eyewitness accounts of the violence and interviews with family members of those who perished.
While the official Farlam Commission investigation of the massacre is still ongoing, many South Africans do not hold much confidence in the government’s ability to examine its own complicity in these events. Marikana, on the other hand, examines the various roles played by the African National Congress, the mine company, and the National Union of Mineworkers in creating the conditions that led to the massacre. While the commission’s investigations take place in a courtroom setting tilted toward those in power, Marikana documents testimony from the mineworkers in the days before official statements were even gathered, offering an unusually immediate and unfiltered look at the reality from the perspective of those most directly affected. Enhanced by vivid maps that make clear the setting and situation of the events, Marikana is an invaluable work of history, journalism, sociology, and activism.
On May 19, 1920, gunshots rang through the streets of Matewan, West Virginia, in an event soon known as the “Matewan Massacre.” Most historians of West Virginia and Appalachia see this event as the beginning of a long series of tribulations known as the second Mine Wars. But was it instead the culmination of an even longer series of proceedings that unfolded in Mingo County, dating back at least to the Civil War? Matewan Before the Massacre provides the first comprehensive history of the area, beginning in the late eighteenth century continuing up to the Massacre. It covers the relevant economic history, including the development of the coal mine industry and the struggles over land ownership; labor history, including early efforts of unionization; transportation history, including the role of the N&W Railroad; political history, including the role of political factions in the county’s two major communities—Matewan and Williamson; and the impact of the state’s governors and legislatures on Mingo County.
In 1986 Lon Savage published Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War, 1920–21, a popular history now considered a classic. Among those the book influenced are Denise Giardina, author of Storming Heaven, and John Sayles, writer and director of Matewan. When Savage passed away, he left behind an incomplete book manuscript about a lesser-known Mother Jones crusade in Kanawha County, West Virginia. His daughter Ginny Savage Ayers drew on his notes and files, as well as her own original research, to complete Never Justice, Never Peace—the first book-length account of the Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike of 1912–13.
Savage and Ayers offer a narrative history of the strike that weaves together threads about organizer Mother Jones, the United Mine Workers union, politicians, coal companies, and Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency guards with the experiences of everyday men and women. The result is a compelling and in-depth treatment that brings to light an unjustly neglected—and notably violent—chapter of labor history. Introduced by historian Lou Martin, Never Justice, Never Peace provides an accessible glimpse into the lives and personalities of many participants in this critical struggle.
For three weeks in 1970 and for eleven weeks in 1971, the schools in Newark, New Jersey, were paralyzed as the teachers went on strike. In the wake of the 1971 strike, almost two hundred were arrested and jailed. The Newark Teachers Union said their members wanted improved education for students. The Board of Education claimed the teachers primarily desired more money. After interviewing more than fifty teachers who were on the front lines during these strikes, historian Steve Golin concludes that another, equally important agenda was on the table, and has been ignored until now. These professionals wanted power, to be allowed a voice in the educational agenda.
Through these oral histories, Golin examines the hopes of the teachers as they picketed, risking arrest and imprisonment. Why did they strike? How did the union represent them? How did their action—and incarceration—change them? Did they continue to teach in impoverished schools? Golin also discusses the tensions arising during that period. These include differences in attitudes toward unions among black, Jewish, and Italian teachers; different organizing strategies of men and women; and conflict between teachers’ professional and working-class identities.
The first part of the book sets the stage by exploring the experience of teachers in Newark from World War II to the 1970 strike. After covering both strikes, Golin brings the story up to 1995 in the epilogue, which traces the connection between educational reform and union democracy. Teacher Power enhances our understanding of what has worked and what hasn’t worked in attempts at reforming urban schools. Equally importantly, the teachers’ vivid words and the author’s perceptive analysis enables us to view the struggles of not just Newark, but the entire United States during a turbulent time.
How important are local newspapers for disseminating information during election campaigns? A large body of literature theorizes that they should have very little effect on political behavior since the electorate is largely immune to any media influence. To what lengths would the average citizen go to obtain information about candidates should a media source suddenly be suspended during an election? Most of the literature argues that the average citizen would not seek out any additional information to supplement what they passively acquire. A newspaper strike in Pittsburgh during the 1992 elections afforded Jeffery J. Mondak an unparalleled opportunity to test these assumptions--and to prove them both wrong.
Nothing to Read compares the information gathering and voting behavior of residents in Pittsburgh and Cleveland during the 1992 campaign season. Comparable in demographics and political behavior, the only significant difference between the two cities was the availability of local newspapers. Using a research design that combines elements of the opinion survey and the laboratory experiment, the author exploited this situation to produce an unusually sound and thorough examination of media effects on voters.
The results are startling. First and foremost, Nothing to Read reasserts the role of the newspaper in the dissemination of information acquisition. It is the only media source that can rival television in the electoral arena, and it is often more important to voters as a source for local information, including information about U.S. House races. Nothing to Read also shows that voters are more active in seeking out information than typically postulated. Indeed, many voters even differentiate between media sources for information about Senate and House contests and sources for the presidential campaign. Within limits, the electorate is clearly not a passive news audience. Nothing to Read provides a wealth of information on such related topics as the relationship between partisanship and media influence, the interplay between media exposure and interpersonal political conversations and other social interaction, and newspapers' effect on coattail voting. A unique book, Mondak's important study lays a solid foundation for all future work on the relationship between American media and politics.
Jeffery J. Mondak is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh.
It is we who push the papers, put the paychecks in the mail; It is we who type the letters, mind the office without fail. And until we get a contract, it is we who'll shut down Yale, For the union makes us strong. (To the tune of "John Brown's Body")
"Must reading for anyone who wants to learn what a revitalized labor
movement would look like." -- Labor Notes
"A textbook on solidarity unionism." -- Staughton Lynd
"One of the very best books on labor in the 1970s and 80s."
-- Dana Frank, University of California at Santa Cruz
"There are very few case studies in recent labor history as readable
and provocative as this one." -- Karen Sawislak, Stanford University On Strike for Respect is a lively account of the 1984-85 strike
by clerical and technical workers at Yale University. Members of Local
34, with a strong female majority, mobilized themselves and the public,
breathing new life into the labor movement as they fought for and won
substantial gains. A short update on current conditions concludes this
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.
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.
Ardis Cameron focuses on the textile workers' strikes of 1882 and 1912
in this examination of class and gender formation as drawn from the experience and language of the working-class neighborhoods of Lawrence. She shows clearly that the working women who unionized and fought for equality were considered the "worst sort" because they challenged both economic and sexual hierarchies, providing alternative models for turn-of-the-century women.
Rainbow at Midnight details the origins and evolution of working-class strategies for independence during and after World War II. Arguing that the 1940s may well have been the most revolutionary decade in U.S. history, George Lipsitz combines popular culture, politics, economics, and history to show how war mobilization transformed the working class and how that transformation brought issues of race, gender, and democracy to the forefront of American political culture. This book is a substantially revised and expanded work developed from the author's heralded 1981 Class and Culture in Cold War America.
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.
For one week in late July of 1877, America shook with anger and fear as a variety of urban residents, mostly working class, attacked railroad property in dozens of towns and cities. The Great Strike of 1877 was one of the largest and most violent urban uprisings in American history.
Whereas most historians treat the event solely as a massive labor strike that targeted the railroads, David O. Stowell examines America's predicament more broadly to uncover the roots of this rebellion. He studies the urban origins of the Strike in three upstate New York cities—Buffalo, Albany, and Syracuse. He finds that locomotives rumbled through crowded urban spaces, sending panicked horses and their wagons careening through streets. Hundreds of people were killed and injured with appalling regularity. The trains also disrupted street traffic and obstructed certain forms of commerce. For these reasons, Stowell argues, The Great Strike was not simply an uprising fueled by disgruntled workers. Rather, it was a grave reflection of one of the most direct and damaging ways many people experienced the Industrial Revolution.
"Through meticulously crafted case studies . . . the author advances the thesis that the strike had urban roots, that in substantial part it represented a community uprising. . . .A particular strength of the book is Stowell's description of the horrendous accidents, the toll in human life, and the continual disruption of craft, business, and ordinary movement engendered by building railroads into the heart of cities."—Charles N. Glaab, American Historical Review
Mary Heaton Vorse University of Illinois Press, 1991 Library of Congress PS3543.O88S77 1991 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
The most famous of the bloody southern textile strikes that took place in the late 1920s occurred at the Loray Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina, where workers endured fifty-five-hour work weeks, the stretchout, and pay so low that everyone in their families over sixteen normally was expected to enter the mill. Strike! is a vivid portrait of the mill workers' living and working conditions, the discomfort of the few southern liberals, the labor spies, the wavering morale of the strikers, the shootings, deaths, and trials, and the vigilante mobs.
The story is told by Mary Heaton Vorse, the leading labor reporter of the period, who had covered major strikes since 1912. This novel was the first of six inspired by the Gastonia strike. Critics hailed it as the best.
Amsterdam University Press, 2007 Library of Congress HD5306.S845 2007 | Dewey Decimal 331.892222222
Are strikes going out of fashion or are they an inevitable feature of working life? This is a longstanding debate. The much-proclaimed ‘withering away of the strike’ in the 1950s was quickly overturned by the ‘resurgence of class conflict’ in the late 1960s and 1970s. The period since then has been characterized as one of ‘labor quiescence’. Commentators again predict the strike’s demise, at least in the former heartlands of capitalism.Patterns of employment are constantly changing and strike activity reflects this. The secular decline of manufacturing in mature industrialized economies is of major importance here (though the global relocation of manufacturing may lead to some ‘relocation’ of strikes). Simultaneously we see the growth of disputes in the service sector (the ‘tertiarization’ of strikes). This is evident particularly in public services, including health care, social care and education, and is accompanied by a ‘feminization’ of strikes, given the prevalence of women working there. This unique study draws on the experience of fifteen countries around the world – South Africa, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, United States, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Covering the high and low points of strike activity over the period 1968–2005, the study shows continuing evidence of the durability, adaptability and necessity of the strike.
Jack Metzgar Temple University Press, 2000 Library of Congress HD8039.I52U574 2000 | Dewey Decimal 331.892869142092
Having come of age during a period of vibrant union-centered activism, Jack Metzgar begins this book wondering how his father, a U.S> Steel shop steward in the 1950s and '60s, and so many contemporary historians could forget what this country owes to the union movement.
Combining personal memoir and historical narrative, Striking Steel argues for reassessment of unionism in American life during the second half of the twentieth century and a recasting of "official memory." As he traces the history of union steelworkers after World War II, Metzgar draws on his father's powerful stories about the publishing work in the mills, stories in which time is divided between "before the union" and since. His father, Johnny Metzgar, fought ardently for workplace rules as a means of giving "the men" some control over their working conditions and protection from venal foremen. He pursued grievances until he eroded management's authority, and he badgered foremen until he established shop-floor practices that would become part of the next negotiated contract. As a passionate advocate of solidarity, he urged coworkers to stick together so that the rules were upheld and everyone could earn a decent wage.
Striking Steel's pivotal event is the four-month nationwide steel strike of 1959, a landmark union victory that has been all but erased from public memory. With remarkable tenacity, union members held out for the shop-floor rules that gave them dignity in the workplace and raised their standard of living. Their victory underscored the value of sticking together and reinforced their sense that they were contributing to a general improvement in American working and living conditions.
The Metzgar family's story vividly illustrates the larger narrative of how unionism lifted the fortunes and prospects of working-class families. It also offers an account of how the broad social changes of the period helped to shift the balance of power in a conflict-ridden, patriarchal household. Even if the optimism of his generation faded in the upheavals of the 1960s, Johnny Metzgar's commitment to his union and the strike itself stands as an honorable example of what a collective action can and did achieve. Jack Metzgar's Striking Steel is a stirring call to remember and renew the struggle.
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.
To Make My Bread
Grace Lumpkin University of Illinois Press, 1959 Library of Congress PS3523.U54T6 1995 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
A story of the growth of the
new South, To Make My Bread revolves around a family of Appalachian
mountaineers—small farmers, hunters, and moonshiners—driven
by economic conditions to the milltown and transformed into millhands,
strikers, and rebels against the established order. Recognized as one
of the major works on the Gastonia textile strike, Grace Lumpkin's novel
is also important for anyone interested in cultural or feminist history
as it deals with early generations of women radicals committed to addressing
the difficult connections of class and race. Suzanne Sowinska's introduction
looks at Lumpkin's volatile career and this book's critical reception.
Originally published in 1932
"[The book's] meaning
rises out of people in dramatic conflict with other people and with the
conditions of their life. . . . [Lumpkin] treats her theme with a craftsman's
and a psychologist's respect. The novel springs naturally from its author's
immersion in and personal knowledge of her absorbing subject material."
-- The New York Times
"Unpretentious . . .
written in a simple and matter-of-fact prose, and yet reading it has been
a more real, more satisfying experience than that which almost any other
recent work of fiction has given me. I cannot imagine how anyone could
read it and not be moved by it." -- The Nation
"A beautiful and sincere
novel, outstanding." -- The New Republic
During the last two decades, many U.S. universities have restructured themselves to operate more like corporations. Nowhere has this process been more dramatic than at New York University, which has often been touted as an exemplar of the "corporate university." Over the same period, an academic labor movement has arisen in response to this corporatization. Using the unprecedented 2005 strike by the graduate student union at NYU as a springboard, The University Against Itself provides a brief history of labor organizing on American campuses, analyzes the state of academic labor today, and speculates about how the university workplace may evolve for employees.
All of the contributors were either participants in the NYU strike -- graduate students, faculty, and organizers -- or are nationally recognized as writers on academic labor. They are deeply troubled by the ramifications of corporatizing universities. Here they spell out their concerns, offering lessons from one historic strike as well as cautions about the future of all universities.
Contributors include: Stanley Aronowitz, Barbara Bowen, Andrew Cornell, Ashley Dawson, Stephen Duncombe, Steve Fletcher, Greg Grandin, Adam Green, Kitty Krupat, Gordon Lafer, Micki McGee, Sarah Nash, Cary Nelson, Matthew Osypowski, Ed Ott, Ellen Schrecker, Susan Valentine, and the editors.
Few work settings can compete with the waterfront for a long, rich history
of multi-ethnic and multiracial interaction. Here, five scholars focus
on the complex relationships involved in this intersection of race, class,
"Opens up some of the most significant questions in American labor
and social history, including the struggle for control at the workplace
and, even more important, the relationship between black and white workers
and among various ethnic groups on the docks." -- David Brundage,
author of The Making of Western Labor Radicalism: Denver's Organized Workers, 1878-1905 A volume in the series The Working Class in American History, edited by David Brody, Alice Kessler-Harris, David Montgomery, and Sean Wilentz
Changes in the global economy have real and contradictory outcomes for the everyday lives of women workers. In 2001, Nancy Plankey-Videla had a rare opportunity to witness these effects firsthand. Having secured access to one of Latin America's top producers of high-end men's suits in Mexico for participant-observer research, she labored as a machine operator for nine months on a shop floor made up, mostly, of women. The firm had recently transformed itself from traditional assembly techniques, to lean, cutting-edge, Japanese-style production methods. Lured initially into the firm by way of increased wages and benefits, workers had helped shoulder the company's increasing debts. When the company's plan for successful expansion went awry and it reneged on promises it had made to the workforce, women workers responded by walking out on strike.
Building upon in-depth interviews with over sixty workers, managers, and policy makers, Plankey-Videla documents and analyzes events leading up to the female-led factory strike and its aftermath—including harassment from managers, corrupt union officials and labor authorities, and violent governor-sanctioned police actions. We Are in This Dance Together illustrates how the women's shared identity as workers and mothers—deserving of dignity, respect, and a living wage—became the basis for radicalization and led to further civic organizing against the state, the company, and the corrupt union to demand justice.
In this extraordinary tale of union democracy, Dana L. Cloud engages union reformers at Boeing in Wichita and Seattle to reveal how ordinary workers attempted to take command of their futures by chipping away at the cozy partnership between union leadership and corporate management. Taking readers into the central dilemma of having to fight an institution while simultaneously using it as a bastion of basic self-defense, We Are the Union offers a sophisticated exploration of the structural opportunities and balance of forces at play in modern unions told through a highly relevant case study.
Focusing on the 1995 strike at Boeing, Cloud renders a multi-layered account of the battles between company and the union and within the union led by Unionists for Democratic Change and two other dissident groups. She gives voice to the company's claims of the hardships of competitiveness and the entrenched union leaders' calls for concessions in the name of job security, alongside the democratic union reformers' fight for a rank-and-file upsurge against both the company and the union leaders.
We Are the Union is grounded in on-site research and interviews and focuses on the efforts by Unionists for Democratic Change to reform unions from within. Incorporating theory and methods from the fields of organizational communication as well as labor studies, Cloud methodically uncovers and analyzes the goals, strategies, and dilemmas of the dissidents who, while wanting to uphold the ideas and ideals of the union, took up the gauntlet to make it more responsive to workers and less conciliatory toward management, especially in times of economic stress or crisis. Cloud calls for a revival of militant unionism as a response to union leaders' embracing of management and training programs that put workers in the same camp as management, arguing that reform groups should look to the emergence of powerful industrial unions in the United States for guidance on revolutionizing existing institutions and building new ones that truly accommodate workers' needs.
Drawing from communication studies, labor history, and oral history and including a chapter co-written with Boeing worker Keith Thomas, We Are the Union contextualizes what happened at Boeing as an exemplar of agency that speaks both to the past and the future.
Depression-era Harlan County, Kentucky, was the site of one of the most bitter and protracted labor disputes in American history. The decade-long conflict between miners and the coal operators who adamantly resisted unionization has been immortalized in folksong by Florence Reece and Aunt Molly Jackson, contemplated in prose by Theodore Dreiser and Sherwood Anderson, and long been obscured by popular myths and legends.
John W. Hevener separates the fact from the legend in his Weatherford Award-winning investigation of Harlan's civil strife, now available for the first time in paperback. In Which Side Are You On? Hevener attributes the violence–-including the deaths of thirteen union miners–-to more than just labor conflict, viewing Harlan's troubles as sectional economic conflict stemming from the county's rapid industrialization and social disorganization in the preceding decade.
Detailing the dimensions of unionization and the balance of power spawned by New Deal labor policy after government intervention, Which Side Are You On? is the definitive analysis of Harlan's bloody decade and a seminal contribution to American labor history.
In this groundbreaking interdisciplinary study, Loftis examines the artists who put a human face on the farmworkers’ plight in California during the Great Depression, focusing on writer John Steinbeck, photographer Dorothea Lange, sociologist and author Paul Taylor, and journalist Carey McWilliams. Loftis probes the interplay between journalism and art in the 1930s, when both academics and artists felt an urgent need to be relevant in the face of enormous misery. The power of their work grew out of their personal involvement in both the labor struggles and the hardships endured by workers and their families. Steinbeck, Lange, and the other artists and intellectuals in their circles created the public images of their times. Works such as The Grapes of Wrath or Lange’s Migrant Mother actually helped mold public opinion and form government policies. Even today these works remain icons in our shared perception of that era. Loftis helps us understand why this art still seems the truest representation of those desperate times, three-quarters of a century later.
Challenging the claim that workers supported Stalin's revolution "from above" as well as the assumption that working-class opposition to a workers' state was impossible, Jeffrey Rossman shows how a crucial segment of the Soviet population opposed the authorities during the critical industrializing period of the First Five-Year Plan.