Organizing on Campuses and the UNITE HERE Experience

Since 2011, subcontracted college food service workers have won union recognition with UNITE HERE on fifty campuses from California to Massachusetts. The first of those victories, with dining hall workers here at Georgetown, began based in deep personal relationships between workers, students, and faculty and created a model for campus union building around the country. […]

Class, Work, and Food

“Fiery” Foods and Restaurants as Institutions: Mexican and Central American Foodways in New Orleans from 1920-1950s — Sarah Fouts
Eating in the Margins: How Marginalization of Cultural Foods Impacts Self-Identification of Working-Class Immigrant Children — Samantha Reid
Cold War Agriculture, California, and the Filipino and Japanese Workers Programs –Dorothy Fujita Rony

Culture, Class, and Identity in a Century of Novels, Comics, and Film

On this panel we are interested in the relationship between culture, class and identity. One of our overarching questions is: is culture an ideologically repressive force in workers’ lives, or can it be a tool for fighting inequality? In “Intersectionality in Working-Class Literature and Culture,” Sara Appel will explain how working-class culture speaks through, to, […]

British Working-Class Hauntings: 30 Years of Deindustrialization and Consequences of a Moral Economy

To be working class in Britain today is a difficult space to occupy, after thirty years of de-industrialisation, and then the de-canting of the term working-class from a place of pride, and stability where class identities were attached to local communities, kinship, and places of work. Successive Governments since the late 1970’s have followed often […]

Unwieldy Acronym, Ambitious Vision: UCAPAWA’s Farm to Factory Organizing in 1930s-1940s America

In 1937 a group of radical labor activists and workers formed the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA-CIO). Their vision, influenced by the nascent industrial union and Popular Front movements of the 1930s, was unprecedented in breadth: they sought to organize the entire agricultural commodity industry, from the fields to the […]

Telling Labor’s Stories: Diverse Experiences/Diverse Formats

Three labor scholar/activists who have taken different approaches to collecting, processing, and representing the stories of working people will discuss their projects, leading to a conversation with the audience. One, Peter Rachleff, is in the process of creating a new institution, the East Side Freedom Library, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The second, John McKerley, is […]

The Politics of Progress: Addressing Inequality in the Past and Present

This panel brings together historians and activists to explore attempts to address inequality in the past and present. All three papers show that narratives of progress can have the effect of deepening inequality, and that political work is needed to resist this tendency. David Huyssen’s paper shows how the ideological and material practices adopted by […]

The Road Not Taken in the War on Poverty: Recovering the Postwar Movement for a Full Employment Policy

After the Great Depression, industrialized democracies embraced fiscal, trade, and industrial policies that “guaranteed” a certain level of employment, often bracketed with training, education, and income maintenance programs for youth, elderly, and other vulnerable labor groups. This international movement came to the United States as well, beginning in earnest with the 1945-46 Murray-Wagner bill, the “last […]

The Challenges and Opportunities of “New” Labor Archives: Founding Sustainable Labor Archives Programs in an Era of Austerity

The American labor movement is in crisis and the economy has been in a downturn for much of the recent past. Yet recently, academic institutions, labor unionists, and scholars have chosen to make significant investments in time and money to preserve labor history by founding new labor collections and repositories. This panel discussion employs case […]

Left-Leaning Slavic Immigrants and the Critiques of Capitalism during the Popular Front and Early Cold War

During World War II, left-wing immigrants sought to transform the nature of capitalism. Collaborating in a Popular Front, they expected a genuine commitment to Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms would lead to fuller democracy and economic security. Critiques of capitalism came from members of the American Slav Congress, founded in 1942. Leaders focused on the predations of […]