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labor history



  • The Labor Upsurge Calls Us to Rethink Organizing Rules

    by Chris Brooks

    Do the successes of organizers at Amazon and Starbucks mean the age of slow, methodical and gradual organizing is over? Can workers use a union vote itself as an organizing tool to move quickly and defeat union-busting? 



  • The Laundry Workers' Uprising and the Fight for Democratic Unionism

    by Jenny Carson

    African American and Black Caribbean immigrant women were key organizers of New York laundry workers who pushed for a union movement that rejected divisions of occupation, race and nationality in favor of workplace democracy. 



  • Union Organizing in the Long Shadow of the Gilded Age

    by Daisy Pitkin

    On listening to Andrew Carnegie's "The Gospel of Wealth" in Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library as librarians perform the kind of social services Carnegie deplored (and try to organize a union, which he deplored more). 



  • We Got a Great Big Convoy

    by Dan Albert

    The media obscured the reality of recent protests in Ottawa and Washington by unquestioningly adopting a mythology of the North American trucker drawn from the 1970s when independent truckers had real grievances.



  • The Automation Myth (Review Essay)

    by Clinton Williamson

    Neither utopian nor cataclysmic predictions about the effects of automation made in the 20th century have come exactly to pass; technology has changed, but not replaced, work. Several new books try to connect the past and future of work.



  • With Amazon Union, What's Old is New Again

    by Rosemary Feurer

    The victory of the Amazon Labor Union in Staten Island doesn't represent a revival of "the 1930s insurgency," but a new generation finding guidance from some of the bottom-up solidarity building strategies from that decade. Today's unionism will have to avoid some mistakes of the CIO to endure.



  • The Amazon Union Vote is a Win for Hope

    by Ian Rocksborough-Smith

    "Despite historically low unionization rates, recent polls suggest at least 2/3 of Americans approve of labor unions – the highest approval rating since 1965. The ALU seems to have come along at exactly the right moment."



  • 2022's Labor Uprising Reminds of More Radical Past and Possible Future

    by Xochitl Gonzalez

    The Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers' Organization encouraged its college-educated members to take on industrial work to support a labor union movement in crisis; the moment encouraged a broader sense of who is a worker. Today, are workers in health, service, and logistics coming to a similar recognition? 



  • How Did Amazon Workers Win a Union? Look Back 100 Years

    by Kim Kelly

    The radical Black waterfront worker and organizer Ben Fletcher established a model of a democratic, antiracist, integrated labor union on Philadelphia's waterfront that echoes in the worker-led victory in establishing a union at Amazon's Staten Island warehouse. 



  • Mill Mother's Lament: The Legacy of Ella May Wiggins

    by Karen Sieber

    The city of Gastonia has struggled to agree on the commemoration of the bloody 1929 Loray Mill strike, including how to account for the murder of pregnant union activist Ella May Wiggins. 



  • Baseball's Labor War

    by Peter Dreier

    Organizing the Brotherhood of Professional Base-ball Players in 1885, John Montgomery Ward asked whether team owners could treat their players as chattel through the "reserve clause." Today's players seem to be learning some similarly radical lessons from the recent owner's lockout.



  • When Musicians Went on Strike – and Won

    by Joey De La Neve Defrancesco

    Professional unionized musicians in the 1940s struck to stop the impact of recording technology on their livelihoods. It's an example for musical artists being squeezed by streaming services today. 



  • Baseball Players Can't Live on a "Cup of Coffee"

    by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier

    Framing the baseball lockout as a battle of billionaire owners vs. millionaire players misses the fact that most players who ever reach the big leagues won't make great salaries, garner endorsements, or get a league pension.