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The legislative attack on public sector unionism that gave rise to the uproar in Wisconsin and other union strongholds in 2011 was not just a reaction to the contemporary economic difficulties faced by the government. Rather, it was the result of a longstanding political and ideological hostility to the very idea of trade unionism put forward by a conservative movement whose roots go as far back as the Haymarket Riot of 1886. The controversy in Madison and other state capitals reveals that labor's status and power has always been at the core of American conservatism, today as well as a century ago.The Right and Labor in America explores the multifaceted history and range of conservative hostility toward unionism, opening the door to a fascinating set of individuals, movements, and institutions that help explain why, in much of the popular imagination, union leaders are always "bosses" and trade union organizers are nothing short of "thugs." The contributors to this volume explore conservative thought about unions, in particular the ideological impulses, rhetorical strategies, and political efforts that conservatives have deployed to challenge unions as a force in U.S. economic and political life over the century. Among the many contemporary books on American parties, personalities, and elections that try to explain why political disputes are so divisive, this collection of original and innovative essays is essential reading.
In a fresh and timely reinterpretation, Nelson Lichtenstein examines how trade unionism has waxed and waned in the nation's political and moral imagination, among both devoted partisans and intransigent foes. From the steel foundry to the burger-grill, from Woodrow Wilson to John Sweeney, from Homestead to Pittston, Lichtenstein weaves together a compelling matrix of ideas, stories, strikes, laws, and people in a streamlined narrative of work and labor in the twentieth century. The "labor question" became a burning issue during the Progressive Era because its solution seemed essential to the survival of American democracy itself. Beginning there, Lichtenstein takes us all the way to the organizing fever of contemporary Los Angeles, where the labor movement stands at the center of the effort to transform millions of new immigrants into alert citizen unionists. He offers an expansive survey of labor's upsurge during the 1930s, when the New Deal put a white, male version of industrial democracy at the heart of U.S. political culture. He debunks the myth of a postwar "management-labor accord" by showing that there was (at most) a limited, unstable truce. Lichtenstein argues that the ideas that had once sustained solidarity and citizenship in the world of work underwent a radical transformation when the rights-centered social movements of the 1960s and 1970s captured the nation's moral imagination. The labor movement was therefore tragically unprepared for the years of Reagan and Clinton: although technological change and a new era of global economics battered the unions, their real failure was one of ideas and political will. Throughout, Lichtenstein argues that labor's most important function, in theory if not always in practice, has been the vitalization of a democratic ethos, at work and in the larger society. To the extent that the unions fuse their purpose with that impulse, they can once again become central to the fate of the republic. State of the Union is an incisive history that tells the story of one of America's defining aspirations.
Edited by one of the nation's preeminent labor historians, this book marks an ambitious effort to dissect the full extent of Wal-Mart's business operations, its social effects, and its role in the U.S. and world economy. Wal-Mart is based on a spring 2004 conference of leading historians, business analysts, sociologists, and labor leaders that immediately attracted the attention of the national media, drawing profiles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Review of Books. Their contributions are adapted here for a general audience.At the end of the nineteenth century the Pennsylvania Railroad declared itself "the standard of the world." In more recent years, IBM and then Microsoft seemed the template for a new, global information economy. But at the dawn of the twenty-first century, Wal-Mart has overtaken all rivals as the world-transforming economic institution of our time.Presented in an accessible format and extensively illustrated with charts and graphs, Wal-Mart examines such topics as the giant retailer's managerial culture, revolutionary use of technological innovation, and controversial pay and promotional practices to provide the most complete guide yet available to America's largest company.
Who Built America explores fundamental conflicts in United States history by placing working peoples' struggle for social and economic justice at center stage. Unique among U.S. history survey textbooks for its clear point of view, Who Built America is a joint effort of Bedford/St. Martin's and the American Social History Project, based at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and renowned for its print, visual, and multimedia productions such as the "History Matters" website. With vivid prose, penetrating analysis, an acclaimed visual program, and rich documentary evidence, Who Built America gives students a thought-provoking book they'll want to read and instructors an irreplaceable anchor for their course.
The book explores fundamental conflicts in United States history by placing working peoples' struggle for social and economic justice at center stage. With vivid prose, penetrating analysis, an acclaimed visual program, and rich documentary evidence, Who Built America? gives students a thought-provoking book they'll want to read and instructors an irreplaceable anchor for their course.