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labor history



  • The Filing Cabinet: A Material History

    by Craig Robertson

    The humble filing cabinet in fact tells the story of the rise of bureaucratic structures in capitalism and government, and the potential for information to be used efficiently – or weaponized. 



  • Weary of Work

    by Emily K. Abel

    Historian Emily Abel's book on fatigue deals in part with how Progressive era reformers approached the problem of the tired industrial worker. Ultimately, they favored solutions that emphasized efficiency and management, undercutting the ability of the labor movement to demand shorter work hours. 



  • Why the Amazon Workers Never Stood a Chance

    by Erik Loomis

    "We may be in a period where economic justice concerns are more central to our politics than any time since the mid-20th century. But without a new round of labor law reform, organized labor cannot succeed."



  • America Needs to Empower Workers Again (Opinion)

    by Paul Krugman

    Times columnist Paul Krugman argues that the decline of labor was a political outcome; reviving unions requires changing the rules governing management during a union drive, but is a key to alleviating inequality.



  • The Union Battle at Amazon Is Far from Over

    by Alec MacGillis

    The effort to organize Amazon's Alabama warehouse workers has failed. In this, it resembles the early stages of other organizing efforts that led to the brief golden era of American labor. Unexpected contingencies helped push management of American industry to accept unions by the 1940s despite their violent opposition decades before. 



  • The Health Care Crucible (Review)

    Gabriel Winant's "The Next Shift" examines the shift from industrial manufacturing toward care work as the economic base of the Rust Belt, where profit comes from treating the old, sick, and poor of one generation of the working class through the labor of the next generation.



  • The Age of Care (Review of Gabriel Winant's "The Next Shift")

    by Nelson Lichtenstein

    Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein says Gabriel Winant's book on the rise of the care industry is the story of community change in the last 50 years, with union retiree health care dollars reabsorbed by capital through the treatment of diseases of despair provoked by deindustrialization (with care provided by a workforce of women and people of color).



  • The Ultimate David and Goliath Fight in Alabama

    The effort to organize Amazon Workers in Bessemer, Alabama may succeed if it connects the cause of labor to broader civil rights issues that resonate with the local Black community and echo the involvement of Martin Luther King in struggles for workers and economic justice, say historians Keri Leigh Merritt and Michael Innis-Jiménez. 



  • Interview: A Rich Man's War, A Poor Man's Fight

    Historian Keri Leigh Merritt, interviewed about the history of labor organizing in the South, links the history of Southern policing to the maintenance of exploitative labor practices after the Civil War and explains how the fight to unionize Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama facility extends the politics of the Civil Rights Movement.



  • The Triangle Fire and the Fight for $15

    by Christopher C. Gorham

    The Triangle Shirtwaist fire inspired workplace safety regulation and advanced the cause of organized labor. It's time to remember the victims with a commitment to a federal living wage law.



  • The Deep South Has a Rich History of Resistance, as Amazon Is Learning

    Columnist Jamelle Bouie draws on the work of historians Michael W. Fitzgerald, Paul Horton, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Robert Widell, Jr. which shows that Alabamians, and Black Alabamians in particular, have organized to fight both racial oppression and labor exploitation.