Category Archives: Labor

Iconography of Workers Education

One of my writing tasks this year is to draft a chapter on the iconography of the workers education movement. The basic questions are these: if everyone agreed with the aphorism that “Knowledge is Power,” what did powerful knowledge look … Continue reading

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Working Paper: UC Workers Education, 1921-62

At the end of World War II California created a new academic institution devoted to the study and influence of industrial relations. Along with similar initiatives in at least five other industrial states, the University of California’s Institute of Industrial … Continue reading

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From the Archive: “a spirit of hostility toward organized labor”

I spent the last week doing research in the University of Illinois archives. Kind of what you’d expect: memos, reports in triplicate, lots of form letters. I’m looking into the ways faculty and administrators reacted to demands by organized workers … Continue reading

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Janitors in the Archive

Last week we welcomed about 25 off-duty janitors and their children to the UCLA Special Collections Department to look at the Justice for Janitors archive. Union members got to look at newsletters, organizing flyers, photographs and letters of support from … Continue reading

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Archiving is not a spectator sport

Today we are celebrating the donation of the Justice for Janitors Papers to the UCLA Library.  The papers document the history of a remarkable union local, mostly recent immigrants, who took on some of the biggest corporations in the city–and … Continue reading

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UCLA Rally

About 300 students, faculty and staff gathered on the UCLA campus Wednesday, November 9th for a rally and march sponsored by the anti-austerity groups ReFund California and Make Banks Pay. The noontime rally on Bruin Plaza featured speakers the academic … Continue reading

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The Demand for Demands Misses the Point

Now that the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon has achieved a level of respect from the mainstream media (by which I mean it’s no longer an object of knee-jerk ridicule), all the smart people are demanding that it shape up, identify … Continue reading

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Traction, Torque, Leverage: #OWS Mission Accomplished

Political and economic systems have a lot of inertia.  Once they are up and running, once people come to see them as “normal” they move along with apparent stability, even when in retrospect we see that they were in crisis.  … Continue reading

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Wisconsin: Is this the movement we’ve been waiting for?

Although you frequently hear comparisons between the Great Depression of the 1930s and our own Great Recession–and between FDR and Obama–there is at least one important distinction. During the early years of the Great Depression, working people in the U.S. … Continue reading

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Document: The Specter of the Robot

H. Dubreuil, Robots or Men?  A French Workman’s Experience in American Industry, translated by Frances and Mason Merrill (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930), pp. 182-184.  The author worked in several U.S. factories during 1927 and 1928, including the … Continue reading

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Joe Worker Arrives Online

In the last days of my tenure at the University of Illinois, I spent several hours digging through vertical files in the library of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations.  Because of changes in professors’ interests–generally away from collective … Continue reading

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May Day: Stakeholders vs. Shareholders

In 1885 the group of labor unions that would later become the American Federation of Labor boldly declared that as of May 1st 1886, eight hours would constitute a day’s labor. This was at a time when 12 and 14 … Continue reading

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