A Tale of Two Labor Laws  

Come to Perth next year and give us a keynote address. That was the gist of an e-mail I got one July day in 2008 from the Australian Society for the Study of Labor History. At the time, both the …









What Next for Labor Rights?  

What are the prospects for labor rights in the next four years? The question would seem to require some estimate, first, of what the Republicans intend and, second, of their capacity to do it. But current labor law is not …



Union Town  

Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II by Joshua B. Freeman The New Press, 2000 393 pp $35 I’m sitting here in sunny California poring over short-term rentals in downtown Manhattan. My wife stops short at a …





Making Sense of Reuther  

Midway through his extraordinarily rich biography of Walter Reuther, Nelson Lichtenstein writes about an episode that occurred in 1947 while Republican Congress was passing the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) called for protest demonstrations. Reuther, in …



Criminalizing the Rights of Labors  

There was a time when trade unionists despaired of finding justice in the American courts. Consider the landmark cases: In re Debs (1894), handing federal judges unlimited power to restrain labor activity by means of injunctions; Loewe v. Lawlor (1908), …





The Breakdown of Labor’s Social Contract  

In 1950 John L. Lewis, head of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), and leading operators representing the entire softcoal industry negotiated the first National Bituminous Wage Agreement. It was a triumphant moment for Lewis, culminating an entire career …



Barriers of Individualism  

Consider the teachers’ strikes which have become a familiar part of the opening of the school year around the United States every September. Negotiations stall. The union sets a strike date. The school superintendent places a notice in the local …