Black Women, Work, and Resistance in the Age of (Un)Freedom

This panel draws together disparate research in order to question existing narratives of black working-class women’s lives. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most black women workers were farm laborers and/or domestic workers; however, describing working-class black women only in terms of how they made a living (or not) misses the dynamism of […]

Leisure and Working-Class Masculinity

It Takes Class to Tango: The Working Class Origins of the Tango — Fred Gardaphe
The Body of the Working Man: Walter Wyckoff and Working-Class Masculinity — Beau Driver
Poker, Masculinity, and Economic Inequality: How the Popularity of ‘America’s Favorite Card Game’ Discourages Systemic Change — Andrew Manno

Struggles Over Stories: Work and Cultural Representation in Recent US History

This session, chaired by retired UNITE HERE president John Wilhelm, highlights the cultural representation of workers as a key terrain of struggle in recent U.S. history. Daniel Gilbert’s presentation (“Organizing the Public and the Popular: TWU Local 100 in the Era of ‘The Honeymooners’”) examines the innovative approach to television adopted by members of Local […]

Activism in Higher Ed: Defending Shared Governance and Academic Freedom

There has been an international drive in higher education to move our universities to the corporate model and much of this has already been accomplished. The corporatization undermines many of the traditional qualities of our colleges and universities as administrative bloat, sports management, and real estate development take priority over instruction. Meanwhile, academic freedom and […]

The 1978 Strike by ATU Local 689 against WMATA

The 1970’s was a tumultuous time for public transportation in the metropolitan Washington DC area. The transit system was changed from private companies to a public transit agency, the workforce changed from a mostly white one to a majority African-American one and the Metrorail system began to operate. The period was marked by two major […]

Workers and the State in the Progressive Era

One of the key themes of the Progressive Era was the growth of the state. The state increasingly intervened in ever more areas of society, from labor protective regulation to liquor control, from mother’s pensions and workers’ compensation to conscription. Some of these interventions—women’s suffrage, the nascent welfare state—appeared to increase democracy, while others—conscription, Jim […]

Productivity, Prices, and Politics

For 116 days in 1959 over half a million steelworkers walked picket lines across the country, silencing the works of the most vivid symbol of twentieth-century American industrial might. But with only an outdated industrial relations scholarship and fleeting mentions in more recent studies of postwar labor, the single biggest strike in U.S. history is […]

Historicizing the Channels and Landscapes of Power and Struggle in the Neoliberal City

Scholars from a variety of fields identify a late twentieth century “Neoliberal turn” that secured increasing power and wealth for a narrowing elite and marginalized democratic institutions. Yet, historians struggle to explain what exactly separates neoliberalism’s brand of inequality from its predecessors, and whether it fully contextualizes everyday struggles of people “on the ground.” The […]