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Working Hard for the American Dream examines the various economic, social, and political developments that shaped labor history in the United States from World War I until the present day. Presents an overview of labor history that also considers women workers, ethnic America, and post-World War II workers Incorporates the most recent scholarship in labor history Takes the story of labor up to the present day in a readable and accessible manner
Randi Storch is Professor of History at the State University of New York, College at Cortland. She is author of Red Chicago: American Communism at Its Grassroots, 1928-1935 (2007).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vii Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Back to the Future 1
1 “Everyone was ready for unionism”: The Precursors, Promises, and Pitfalls of Industrial Unions in the 1930s 10 Political Prelude: Industrial Democracy Betrayed, from Wilson to Hoover 12 Corporate Prelude: The Unintended Consequences of 1920s Corporate Policies 25 Working-Class Prelude: Activism 32 A New Deal for Workers: A Failed and Flawed Start 41 Fighting for Unionism in the 1930s – Without Federal Protection 44 The Wagner Act and Industrial Unionism 48 Corporate Resistance and Workers’ Unity 58 Extending the New Deal for Workers 61 Assessing Workers’ New Deal and Industrial Unionism 65 Conclusion 68
2 Big Wars, Big Labor, Big Costs 70 Wartime Mobilization, 1939–1941 73 Government Intervention: War Industries and Labor Policies, 1941–1945 87 Wartime Demographic Developments 93 Crisis in Industrial Relations, 1945–1946 103 Postwar Politics and Taft-Hartley, 1946–1948 108 Political (Mis)calculations: Operation Dixie, CIO Purges, and International Alliances, 1946–1950s 114 Big Labor, Big Costs, 1955–1960s 120 Conclusion 127
3 Civil Rights versus Labor Rights, 1960s–1970s 128 Expanding Public and Service Sectors 131 Public Sector Workers and Union Rights 133 New Laws and Workplace Challenges 141 Women and Workplace Rights 151 The Push and Pull of Changing Times: New Unionists, Rank-and-File Movements, AFL-CIO Leaders, and Nixon 157 Unionists Divided and Under Siege 169 Conclusion 172
4 Working More for Less and Other Troubles for Workers in the Late Twentieth Century 174 Profit Making in a Global World 176 The Human Price of Modern Capitalism 182 The Political Shaping of the Economy 189 The AFL-CIO Leadership’s Resistance to Change 199 Innovation and Possibilities 205 Change from the Bottom-Up 216 Conclusion 222
Epilogue: The Illusive American Dream: A Personal Journey 224 Bibliographical Essay 253 Index 278