labor history

  • Hollywood Strikers Carry the Legacy of Ned Ludd

    by Gavin Mueller

    Our techo-utopian society holds the Luddites in low regard, but their actual history helps explain what's at stake in the screenwriters' strike and any labor conflict where new technology threatens workers' livelihoods. 

  • The Writers' Strike Opens Old Wounds

    by Kate Fortmueller

    The plot of each sequel of negotiations between the producers and writers has followed a formula of compromise for mutual self-preservation. Technological advances have convinced studio heads that they no longer need the labor of writers enough to keep compromising. 

  • Ayahs, Amahs and Empire: The History of Domestic Care Work under Colonialism

    by Julia Laite

    The history of domestic and child care work has become increasingly robust, but museums and public exhibitions have struggled to find ways to represent the work and experiences of women, many from south Asia, who traveled with white colonial families to perform this labor, putting marginalized people in charge of the empire's children. 

  • Buried Footage Helped Chicago Police Get Away with Killing 10 Labor Activists in 1937

    by Greg Mitchell

    Paramount's newsreel division shot footage of the murderous attack on a steelworkers' march in 1937. They sided with the bosses by burying the footage. Even after Senator Robert LaFollette pushed for the film's release, cities banned it from the screen as Chicago prosecutors ruled the killings justifiable. A new documentary tells the story of the film. 

  • Wins at Amazon and Starbucks Shouldn't Obscure the Hard Road Independent Unions Face

    by Erik Loomis

    The improvised and worker-led efforts to organize the new economy giants has led some commenters to proclaim the end of big labor. A labor historian says that workers still need the resources and support of legacy unions – if they commit to organizing new workplaces – to win against employers more determined than ever to bust unions. 

  • How Labor Won the Repeal of "Right to Work" in Michigan

    by Jennifer Standish

    Labor and its political allies must recognize the importance of state level legislation and coalition-building and resist the temptation to nationalize politics if they hope to repeat their success in Michigan and roll back the state-by-state advance of anti-labor legislation. 

  • When a Leading Evangelist Held a Revival to Thwart Labor

    by Matt Bernico

    The events surrounding the 1886 Haymarket Affair, when a Chicago general strike for the 8 hour day became violent, revealed tensions present in Christianity today: what happens when Christians side with the bosses? 

  • Child Labor is Back; History Says Don't be Surprised

    by Beth English

    In an effort to attract investment from key industries, state governments in the south actively rescinded existing laws banning child labor, showing that there has been no straight line of progress on the issue. 

  • The Power and Betrayal of Cross-Ethnic Solidarity in the 1903 Oxnard Beet Strike

    by Frank P. Barajas

    The Japanese Mexican Labor Association overcame the deliberate ethnic division of the farm labor force in Oxnard, California to win a major strike in the sugar beet fields in 1903, overcoming violent repression. Anti-Asian prejudice in the broader labor movement ended this successful experiment to the detriment of generations of workers. 

  • Howard Schultz Gets Roasted More than Starbucks Beans by Senators

    by Kim Kelly

    The CEO's reluctance to appear before a Senate Committee was made clear when Senator Bernie Sanders, labor law experts, and Starbucks workers confronted him with allegations that he violated labor laws in seeking to keep the coffee chain union-free. 

  • The History and Politics of the Right to Grieve

    by Erik Baker

    Grief isn't a personal psychological and emotional process; we experience it through the demands a capitalist economy makes on our time, energy and attention. It's time to make bereavement a matter of right, instead of a favor doled out at the whim of your boss. 

  • Little Bargains for Big Issues

    by Michael Paul Berlin

    Bargaining teams representing University of California graduate workers focused narrowly on economic issues, and not on building unity of workers and the communities around universities. This is a historical pattern of a "business unionism" model eclipsing a view of unions as social movements. Workers need to change this. 

  • It's Time for Labor Spring

    by Cindy Hahamovich, William P. Jones and Joseph A. McCartin

    In 1996, labor unions connected with campus activists to support anti-sweatshop movements, living wage campaigns for campus workers, and graduate student union organization. Now, labor must expand that effort for "wall-to-wall" organizing to make campuses better and more democratic workplaces. 

  • What Airports Can Tell Us About Histories of Regional Development

    by Eric Porter

    From the perspective of travelers, airports appear as generic "non-places." But for people who aren't just passing through—entrepreneurs, activists, and especially workers—their particularity makes them sites of struggle that shape the life of a region. Historians have much to learn from them, too.