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Working Hard for the American Dream : Workers and Their Unions, World War I to the Present



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Questions About This Book?

What version or edition is this?
This is the 1st edition with a publication date of 4/29/2013.
What is included with this book?
  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any CDs, lab manuals, study guides, etc.


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

Author Biography

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

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