Labor in America: A History

Labor in America: A History

Labor in America: A History

Labor in America: A History

Synopsis

Even since the last edition of this milestone text was released, union membership in the private sector of the economy has fallen to levels not seen since the 19th century; the forces of economic liberalism (neo-liberalism), capital mobility, and globalisation have affected measurably the material standard of living enjoyed by US workers; and mass immigration from the southern hemisphere and Asia has continued to restructure the domestic labour force -- all of which has been exacerbated by national security policy formed in the shadow of the tragic events of 9/11. Yet even in the face of anti-union legislation and a continuing decline in the number of organised workers, the purpose of this latest book edition -- the powerful and appealing story of the American worker from the colonial workshop to the modern mass-assembly line -- remains the same as that of the 1st edition written more than 50years ago: to enlighten present and future generations of students about the history of work, workers and worker movements in the US, and to encourage them to learn and think about those who built America and those who will shape its future.

Excerpt

Only five years have passed since I wrote the preface to the previous edition of this book. Much of what I wrote then about workers in the United States, the larger world in which they existed, and the purposes of this book remains the same. Yet even in that short period, unions have continued to shed members; union membership in the private sector of the economy has fallen to levels not seen since the nineteenth century; the forces of economic liberalization (neo-liberalism), capital mobility, and globalization have affected measurably the material standards enjoyed by workers in the United States; and mass immigration from the Southern Hemisphere and Asia has continued to restructure the domestic labor force. In 1998 I alluded to four “small” wars overseas, including one in Iraq; as I write these lines, we are again at war with Iraq and the Republican administration in national power speaks openly of “preemptive war” as an aspect of U.S. security policy. Yet, added to the traditional aspects of national security once largely perceived as a response to threats from other hostile national states, we now live in the shadow of September 11, 2001, and a fear of stateless, if not faceless, terrorism. All this has affected the story of workers in the United States and their institutions. In presenting this seventh edition, I hew to the lines laid out in the previous six editions in seeking to encourage today's college students “to learn about those who built the United States and who will shape its development.” In preparing it, I have added substantially to the material in the final chapter of the book, dividing it into two new chapters that carry the narrative of labor in America to the year 2003. However grim . . .

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