Pure and Simple Politics

Author: Julie Greene
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781139427043
Format: PDF, Docs
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Scholarship on American labor politics has been dominated by the view that the American Federation of Labor, the dominant labor organization, rejected political action in favor of economic strategies. Based upon extensive research into labor and political party records, this study demonstrates that, despite the common belief, the AFL devoted great attention to political activity. The organization's main strategy, however, which Julie Greene terms 'pure and simple politics', dictated that trade unionists alone should shape American labor politics. Exploring the period from 1881 to 1917, Pure and Simple Politics focuses on the quandaries this approach generated for American trade unionists. Politics for AFL members became a highly contested terrain, as leaders attempted to implement a strategy which many rank-and-file workers rejected. Furthermore, its drive to achieve political efficacy increasingly exposed the AFL to forces beyond its control, as party politicians and other individuals began seeking to influence labor's political strategy and tactics.

Defending Rights

Author: Thomas R. Clark
Publisher: Wayne State University Press
ISBN: 9780814330432
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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In ongoing efforts to understand the "exceptionalism" of the American labor movement, historians have proposed a reason why American unions never fully embraced the independent and social democratic politics of their European counterparts: a hostile legal system, they argue, fostered a deep distrust of state intervention among early labor leaders. Thomas Clark joins revisionists in questioning this "apolitical" and "antistatist" characterization of the early labor movement, but from a new perspective. By focusing on law and labor activity at the state level rather than the national level and using California as his case study, Clark shows how legal hostility pushed labor into politics on a local level with greater urgency and failed to compel labor to oppose state intervention more generally. Focusing on California provides Clark a unique opportunity to investigate the law's impact in two different settings -- "closed shop" San Francisco and "open shop" Los Angeles -- within the parameters of a single state legal system. Clark describes how local court and police hostility pushed labor into periodic experiments with third-party politics, and, as in San Francisco, sometimes helped labor achieve some measure of control over the police. Since employers could still turn to state courts for injunctions, unions began an anti-injunction campaign through interest-group lobbying and building coalitions with Progressive reformers. As it sought to limit state intervention in labor disputes, the movement still pursued an array of state-sponsored reforms. Such approaches to law and politics, argues Clark, forecast the labor-liberal alliance that would become the hallmark of the New Deal coalition.

The Struggle for America s Promise

Author: Claire Goldstene
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi
ISBN: 1626741352
Format: PDF
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In The Struggle for America’s Promise, Claire Goldstene seeks to untangle one of the enduring ideals in American history, that of economic opportunity. She explores the varied discourses about its meaning during the upheavals and corporate consolidations of the Gilded Age. Some proponents of equal opportunity seek to promote upward financial mobility by permitting more people to participate in the economic sphere thereby rewarding merit over inherited wealth. Others use opportunity as a mechanism to maintain economic inequality. This tension, embedded with the idea of equal opportunity itself and continually reaffirmed by immigrant populations, animated social dissent among urban workers while simultaneously serving efforts by business elites to counter such dissent. Goldstene uses a biographical approach to focus on key figures along a spectrum of political belief as they struggled to reconcile the inherent contradictions of equal opportunity. She considers the efforts of Booker T. Washington in a post–Civil War South to ground opportunity in landownership as an attempt to confront the intersection of race and class. She also explores the determination of the Knights of Labor to define opportunity in terms of controlling one’s own labor. She looks at the attempts by Samuel Gompers through the American Federation of Labor as well as by business elites through the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Civic Federation to shift the focus of opportunity to leisure and consumption. The Struggle for America’s Promise also includes such radical figures as Edward Bellamy and Emma Goldman, who were more willing to step beyond the boundaries of the discourse about opportunity and question economic competition itself.

Capital Labor and State

Author: David Brian Robertson
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780847697298
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Capital, Labor, and State is a systematic and thorough examination of American labor policy from the Civil War to the New Deal. David Brian Robertson skillfully demonstrates that although most industrializing nations began to limit employer freedom and regulate labor conditions in the 1900s, the United States continued to allow total employer discretion in decisions concerning hiring, firing, and workplace conditions. Robertson argues that the American constitution made it much more difficult for the American Federation of Labor, government, and business to cooperate for mutual gain as extensively as their counterparts abroad, so that even at the height of New Deal, American labor market policy remained a patchwork of limited protections, uneven laws, and poor enforcement, lacking basic national standards even for child labor.

Frontiers of Labor

Author: Greg Patmore
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
ISBN: 0252050509
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Alike in many aspects of their histories, Australia and the United States diverge in striking ways when it comes to their working classes, labor relations, and politics. Greg Patmore and Shelton Stromquist curate innovative essays that use transnational and comparative analysis to explore the two nations' differences. The contributors examine five major areas: World War I's impact on labor and socialist movements; the history of coerced labor; patterns of ethnic and class identification; forms of working-class collective action; and the struggles related to trade union democracy and independent working-class politics. Throughout, many essays highlight how hard-won transnational ties allowed Australians and Americans to influence each other's trade union and political cultures. Contributors: Robin Archer, Nikola Balnave, James R. Barrett, Bradley Bowden, Verity Burgmann, Robert Cherny, Peter Clayworth, Tom Goyens, Dianne Hall, Benjamin Huf, Jennie Jeppesen, Marjorie A. Jerrard, Jeffrey A. Johnson, Diane Kirkby, Elizabeth Malcolm, Patrick O'Leary, Greg Patmore, Scott Stephenson, Peta Stevenson-Clarke, Shelton Stromquist, and Nathan Wise

Commonsense Anticommunism

Author: Jennifer Luff
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0807869899
Format: PDF, ePub
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Between the Great War and Pearl Harbor, conservative labor leaders declared themselves America's "first line of defense" against Communism. In this surprising account, Jennifer Luff shows how the American Federation of Labor fanned popular anticommunism but defended Communists' civil liberties in the aftermath of the 1919 Red Scare. The AFL's "commonsense anticommunism," she argues, steered a middle course between the American Legion and the ACLU, helping to check campaigns for federal sedition laws. But in the 1930s, frustration with the New Deal order led labor conservatives to redbait the Roosevelt administration and liberal unionists and abandon their reluctant civil libertarianism for red scare politics. That frustration contributed to the legal architecture of federal anticommunism that culminated with the McCarthyist fervor of the 1950s. Relying on untapped archival sources, Luff reveals how labor conservatives and the emerging civil liberties movement debated the proper role of the state in policing radicals and grappled with the challenges to the existing political order posed by Communist organizers. Surprising conclusions about familiar figures, like J. Edgar Hoover, and unfamiliar episodes, like a German plot to disrupt American munitions manufacture, make Luff's story a fresh retelling of the interwar years.

Labor s Home Front

Author: Andrew E. Kersten
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 0814747868
Format: PDF, Kindle
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One of the oldest, strongest, and largest labor organizations in the U.S., the American Federation of Labor (AFL) had 4 million members in over 20,000 union locals during World War II. The AFL played a key role in wartime production and was a major actor in the contentious relationship between the state, organized labor, and the working class in the 1940s. The war years are pivotal in the history of American labor, but books on the AFL’s experiences are scant, with far more on the radical Congress of Industrial Unions (CIO). Andrew E. Kersten closes this gap with Labor’s Home Front, challenging us to reconsider the AFL and its influence on twentieth-century history. Kersten details the union's contributions to wartime labor relations, its opposition to the open shop movement, divided support for fair employment and equity for women and African American workers, its constant battles with the CIO, and its significant efforts to reshape American society, economics, and politics after the war. Throughout, Kersten frames his narrative with an original, central theme: that despite its conservative nature, the AFL was dramatically transformed during World War II, becoming a more powerful progressive force that pushed for liberal change.

American Workers American Unions

Author: Robert H. Zieger
Publisher: JHU Press
ISBN: 1421413442
Format: PDF, Docs
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Highly acclaimed and widely read since its first publication in 1986, American Workers, American Unions provides a concise and compelling history of American workers and their unions in the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. Taking into account recent important work on the 1970s and the Reagan revolution, the fourth edition newly considers the stagflation issue, the rise of globalization and big box retailing, the failure of Congress to pass legislation supporting the right of public employees to collective bargaining, the defeat in Congress of legislation to revise the National Labor Relations Act, the emasculation of the Humphrey-Hawkins Act, and the changing dynamics of blue-collar politics. In addition to important new information on the 1970s and 1980s, the fourth edition contains a completely new final chapter. Largely written by Timothy J. Minchin, this chapter provides a rare survey of American workers and their unions between 9/11 and the 2012 presidential election. Gilbert J. Gall presents new information on government workers and their recent battles to defend workplace rights. An extensive collection of bibliographical material will be made available online.

The Wages of Sickness

Author: Beatrix Hoffman
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0807860727
Format: PDF, Docs
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The Clinton administration's failed health care reform was not the first attempt to establish government-sponsored medical coverage in the United States. From 1915 to 1920, Progressive reformers led a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful crusade for compulsory health insurance in New York State. Beatrix Hoffman argues that this first health insurance campaign was a crucial moment in the creation of the American welfare state and health care system. Its defeat, she says, gave rise to an uneven and inegalitarian system of medical coverage and helped shape the limits of American social policy for the rest of the century. Hoffman examines each of the major combatants in the battle over compulsory health insurance. While physicians, employers, the insurance industry, and conservative politicians forged a uniquely powerful coalition in opposition to health insurance proposals, she shows, reformers' potential allies within women's organizations and the labor movement were bitterly divided. Against the backdrop of World War I and the Red Scare, opponents of reform denounced government-sponsored health insurance as "un-American" and, in the process, helped fashion a political culture that resists proposals for universal health care and a comprehensive welfare state even today.

Sweatshops at Sea

Author: Leon Fink
Publisher: UNC Press Books
ISBN: 0807877808
Format: PDF, ePub
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As the main artery of international commerce, merchant shipping was the world's first globalized industry, often serving as a vanguard for issues touching on labor recruiting, the employment relationship, and regulatory enforcement that crossed national borders. In Sweatshops at Sea, historian Leon Fink examines the evolution of laws and labor relations governing ordinary seamen over the past two centuries. The merchant marine offers an ideal setting for examining the changing regulatory regimes applied to workers by the United States, Great Britain, and, ultimately, an organized world community. Fink explores both how political and economic ends are reflected in maritime labor regulations and how agents of reform--including governments, trade unions, and global standard-setting authorities--grappled with the problems of applying land-based, national principles and regulations of labor discipline and management to the sea-going labor force. With the rise of powerful nation-states in a global marketplace in the nineteenth century, recruitment and regulation of a mercantile labor force emerged as a high priority and as a vexing problem for Western powers. The history of exploitation, reform, and the evolving international governance of sea labor offers a compelling precedent in an age of more universal globalization of production and services.