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Featured Articles

The Teaching Assistants' Association
is the oldest graduate student union in the world, representing over 3000 graduate 
employees at UW-Madison. Photo credit to Cullen Vens, 
TAA Stewards' Council Co-Chair and Graduate student in Botany at UW-Madison.

“We’ll just live within our means then!”: A Reaction to UW-Madison Graduate School Administration’s Proposal to “Restructure” Graduate Employee Pay

After briefly skimming over the potential effects of the proposed restructuring of pay for graduate assistants, I found myself jadedly stunned by the UW-Madison administration’s most recent attack on the quality of higher education, specifically with regard to the Humanities, at Wisconsin’s prized flagship and world-renowned institution. The plan, set to launch in May 2017, would radically alter the method of compensation for university graduate employees, like teaching assistants, who also happen to be students. Read more →

December 7th, 2015

Issues of Labor Official Website | More

Labor 12.3 (September, 2015) Cover
Labor 12.1-2 Cover
Labor 11.4 Cover
Labor 11.3 Cover (Fall, 2014)
Labor 11.2 Cover (Summer, 2014)
Labor 11.1 Cover (Spring, 2014)
Labor 10.4 Cover
Labor, 10.3, Fall 2013
LABOR 10.2 Cover


Rosemary Feurer
Clarence Lang
Randi Storch
Erik Loomis
Mark Lause
Elizabeth Shermer
Chad Pearson
Leon Fink
The Walter P. Reuther Library
Peter Cole
Jefferson Cowie
Paul Buhle
Bill Barry
Conor Casey
Tom Alter
James Green
Tula Connell
Bryan Palmer
Wesley Bishop
Aaron Goings
Eileen Boris
Cindy Hahamovitch
Anthony DeStefanis
Adam Goodman

Recent Posts Archives

Eyes off the Prize: Liberals in the Postwar Era

by Tula Connell on February 8th, 2016
Thomas Edsall’s recent New York Times op-ed on the failure of Democrats to engage as effectively as Republicans in state-level politics parenthetically surfaces a deeper historical debate that is ripe for revisiting: Why have postwar liberals been so ineffective in sustaining economic and political achievements? Edsall’s piece journalistically reprises an article in Democracy by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez and Theda Skopol, “How the Right Trounced Liberals in the States.” All three authors detail the decades-long focus of conservative-backed organizations to elect Republican state lawmakers and enact state laws in line with an agenda that prioritizes business interests over that of workers, consumers and the environment. Despite initial setbacks and years which saw little or no progress, organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) doggedly pursued their goals, testing and re-testing strategies, re-grouping after failures, and pivoting to adapt to shifting political environments. In contrast, similar efforts by Democrats have resulted in a line of short-lived organizations, leaving in their wake a jumbled alphabet of abandoned efforts—CASLP, CPA and PSN—with the result that there are now Republican majorities in 70 percent—68 of 98—of the nation’s partisan state houses and senates, the highest number in the GOP history. Seven years ago, Democrats controlled both legislative chambers in 27 states, nearly double the 14 controlled by Republicans. State legislation in recent years that has rolled back voting rights, eliminated public employee bargaining, established “right-to-work” and excised many more liberal achievements is a daunting list. Hertel-Fernandez and Skopol offer a telling example. While conservatives have battled the Affordable Care Act of 2010 in state after state, “the broad cross-state Health Care for America Now coalition stood down in favor of more limited campaigns to sign people up for benefits and advocate for health-care consumers.” In fact, the authors note, “the left in general has not recognized that pressing for full health reform implementation in all states presents a huge political opportunity to strengthen citizen faith in government and to further economic and racial equality.” Mid-century housing expert Catherine Bauer would find this a familiar scenario. Following passage of the 1949 Housing Act, Bauer lamented that a lack of interest by local housing groups to press for more affordable housing was behind the stagnation of the federal housing acts. At the same time, the real estate industry’s aggressive opposition to affordable housing had a chilling effect on liberal support of the program. As Bauer wrote in the May 1957 issue of Architectural Forum: “Everybody tends to sit tight, clinging to the beleaguered formula, instead of trying to improve it in the light of experience and public attitudes. Sporadic efforts to broaden or modify the program have usually met with as much opposition from professional public housers [as] from opponents of public housing.” As pundits and progressives increasingly muse about the factors behind the nation’s ongoing retrenchment from laws, policies and programs that bolster middle- and low-income families and ensure justice at the ballot box, labor historians have an opportunity to examine anew liberals’ role on the road from the Housing Act to the Affordable Care Act and provide the deeper analysis missing from the dialogue. Quoting Rob Stein, a founder of the Democracy Alliance, Edsall’s article offers a tantalizing question: “How does a communitarian world view lose its communitarian sense of self?” Edsall’s answer (in part), one explored at length by historians of postwar America, is ripe for reconsideration: “Economic liberalism—despite progress on the minimum wage ¬has lost salience.” Read more →
Love and Solidarity: A Film by Michael Honey and Errol Webber

Join us at the OAH: Love & Solidarity, James Lawson and Nonviolence in the Search for Workers’ Rights

by Ryan Poe on February 7th, 2016
Join LAWCHA for a film showing (of Love & Solidarity) and discussion at the Organization of American Historians in Providence, Rhode Island, 9am (#oah 16_63)… Read more →
"The Mine Wars," based on Jim Green's book, The Devil is Here in These Hills, airs on January 26, 2016.

Jim Green’s book on PBS, “The American Experience,” January 26

by Ryan Poe on January 3rd, 2016
On January 26 from 9-11 pm more than 200 PBS stations will broadcast “The Mine Wars” in the premier show of The American Experience series… Read more →

Working History: Black Women Convict Laborers in the New South

by Ryan Poe on September 16th, 2015
In this episode of the SLSA’s Working History podcast, Professor Talitha LeFlouria, a current fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia, discusses her book, Chained in Silence, and the lives, labors and legacies of incarcerated black women and the convict lease system in the early 20th century South. Read more →
Freight Handlers parade to a union meeting in 1882 in New York. Railroad workers were among the first groups of laborers to organize. (AP)

Solidarity Forever! When Labor Had Its Day, And Why Its Time Has Come Again

by James Green on September 10th, 2015
For the last century, Labor Day events have served primarily as occasions for politicians to make their pitches. But at the height of the Gilded… Read more →

Journey into an Undocumented Past Why I Became a Historian

Eladio Bobadilla, June 11th, 2015

I became interested in history when I was deployed in the Middle East in 2008. I was troubled by boredom and the simplistic (and nationalistic) ways in which both my subordinates and superiors spoke and thought about American history and politics. I began reading history books that complicated the past… Read more →

Society of American Archivists Labor Archives Roundtable at the 2015 LAWCHA Conference

Conor Casey, April 29th, 2015

May 28-29, 2015. As part of the Society of American Archivists Labor Archives Roundtable’s ongoing efforts to coordinate with LAWCHA, two conference sessions and several archival repository open houses will be on the LAWCHA 2015 conference program this year… Read more →


Want to contribute to LaborOnline? All LAWCHA members are invited to contribute. Graduate students, non-academics, and teachers are especially invited to share their stories, their ideas, interesting links, or anything else you think LAWCHA members and the general public might find interesting. To submit something, email Rosemary Feurer, LaborOnline editor.

SLSA Symposium and Labor Archives

Jennifer Eidson, March 2nd, 2015

NOTE: This event has been cancelled as a result of weather. On March 5, 2015, the Center for the History of the New America at the University of Maryland will host a symposium exploring workers and organizing in the twenty-first century… Read more →

LAWCHA Session at the 2015 AHA “From the Frontlines with New York Labor: What Is Working?”

Lara Vapnek, January 13th, 2015

Historians and activists gathered at the Murphy Institute on Friday, January 2nd for a LAWCHA event: “From the Frontlines with New York Labor: What Is Working?” CUNY professor Josh Freeman chaired a lively discussion featuring three organizers who suggested creative solutions to some of the serious challenges labor faces… Read more →

Long Time LAWCHA Activist Undertakes Building a New Institution Devoted to Working Class History

Peter Rachleff, December 15th, 2014

A year and a half ago, I left Macalester College after a three decades-long career. I decided that it’s time to devote myself more fully and directly to the kind of work I have educated many students to do… Read more →