If you didn’t know already, July is Disability Pride month. The celebration of Disability Pride began in 1990 and has held on strong ever since. “This annual observance is used to promote visibility and mainstream awareness of the positive pride felt by people with disabilities.” Below are a few titles that align with that point… Continue Reading Happy Disability Pride Month! A Recommended Reading List
Hosted by Seattle-based community Red May (“Your one month vacation from capitalism”), Dr. Heather Berg, author of Porn Work: Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism, spoke on a panel recently about anti-work politics, sex work and some other great topics. Next Tuesday, catch Heather at Politics and Prose’ P&P Live! Work, Inequality, Gender, and Capitalism in… Continue Reading UNC Press Author Dr. Heather Berg in Conversation with femi babylon, Cassandra Troy, Kathi Weeks and Connor Habib
Guest blog post by Jonathan E. Robins, author of Oil Palm: A Global History The modern palm oil industry has a masculine face. Visitors to plantations can see men wielding wobbly cutting tools as they slice fruit from palm trees, and heave the spiky bunches of fruit into trucks. Men drive the bulldozers and excavators… Continue Reading Gender and the Past and Future of Palm Oil
Guest post by Allyson P. Brantley, author of Justice, Power and Politics series book Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism Boycotts seem to be everywhere these days. Most recently, the April 2021 passage of Georgia’s new, restrictive voting law sparked significant backlash and boycotts – ranging from Major League… Continue Reading Do Boycotts Work?
Happy Earth Day and Earth Week from the UNC Press Staff! In celebration of the times, we’ve created a recommended reading list of some of our latest environmental justice books. DEFENDING THE ARCTIC REFUGE: A PHOTOGRAPHER, AN INDIGENOUS NATION, AND A FIGHT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE BY FINIS DUNAWAY Tucked away in the northeastern corner of… Continue Reading Earth Day 2021 Recommended Reading List
The University of North Carolina Press stands in solidarity with workers fighting for dignity and workplace democracy in the book industry—especially the more than 5,000 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, who are in the midst of the historic first attempt to unionize one of the e-commerce giant’s warehouses. This is of particular interest to us… Continue Reading UNC Press stands in solidarity with workers fighting for dignity and workplace democracy
Today we welcome a guest post from Brian P. Luskey, author of Men is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America, out now from UNC Press. When a Civil War substitute broker told business associates that “Men is cheep here to Day,” he exposed an unsettling contradiction at the heart of… Continue Reading Brian P. Luskey: Mary Lincoln, Labor Broker
Today we welcome a guest post from Allison Margaret Bigelow, author of Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World, out now from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and UNC Press. Mineral wealth from the Americas underwrote and undergirded European colonization of the New… Continue Reading Allison Margaret Bigelow: Mining Language and Political Discourse
Today we welcome a guest post from Brian P. Luskey, author of Men is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America, out now from UNC Press. When a Civil War substitute broker told business associates that “Men is cheep here to Day,” he exposed an unsettling contradiction at the heart of… Continue Reading Brian P. Luskey: The Civil War’s Free Labor Crisis
Today we welcome a guest post from Philip F. Rubio, author of Undelivered: From the Great Postal Strike of 1970 to the Manufactured Crisis of the U.S. Postal Service, forthcoming in May 2020 from UNC Press. For eight days in March 1970, over 200,000 postal workers staged an illegal “wildcat” strike—the largest in United States… Continue Reading Philip F. Rubio: The Great Postal Wildcat Strike Jubilee
Today we welcome a guest post from Anne Balay, author of Semi Queer: Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers, originally published in 2018 by UNC Press. Long-haul trucking is linked to almost every industry in America, yet somehow the working-class drivers behind big rigs remain largely hidden from public view. Gritty, inspiring, and… Continue Reading Anne Balay: Trucking Gets Queerer
Today we welcome a guest post from Ronny Regev, author of Working in Hollywood: How the Studio System Turned Creativity into Labor, just published by UNC Press. A history of the Hollywood film industry as a modern system of labor, this book reveals an important untold story of an influential twentieth-century workplace. Ronny Regev argues… Continue Reading Ronny Regev: On Film History and Labor Contracts
On August 4, 2017, workers at Nissan’s assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi, voted to reject representation by the United Auto Workers union. The loss stung, to be sure, but the once-powerful UAW has become accustomed to failure in its efforts to organize auto production facilities operated by foreign companies. Twice previously, in 1989 and 2001, workers rejected the union at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee,—the company’s first North American plant, and only the second Japanese-owned plant in the United States. Continue Reading Andrew C. McKevitt: UAW’s Defeat at Nissan and the Path Forward
Union activists advanced a far-reaching, class-based vision that saw labor as a means to advance the rights of all working people. It was a vision of a new, socialist world and young members made it their own, combining Jazz Age rebelliousness with the left-wing traditions of the union. Women unionists used the brashness and irreverence that were hallmarks of the “flapper” in a surprisingly left-wing labor culture, merging constructions of “worker” with those of “modern woman.” They became “street-fighting women” supporting labor as a cause for human rights. They picketed and went to jail in droves for refusing to “move to the other side of the street” when ordered to by police, or participating in “lie-downs” to block driveways in front of mills, or calling strikebreakers “scabs” and threatening to beat them up. Women became such stalwarts on the picket lines that when they demanded a greater role in the union leadership, many of their male co-workers rushed to support them, insisting that “the women did do the fighting and you better give them their rights soon.” Continue Reading Sharon McConnell-Sidorick: How Flappers Helped Radicalize the Labor Movement and the New Deal
While education might be the key to success, it doesn’t provide the boost it once provided to American workers. Continue Reading Katrinell M. Davis: Hoodwinked, Bamboozled, and Led Astray: Adjunct Professors’ Struggle for Job Security in the United States
Poverty may have won in the end, but this outcome was not inevitable. Innovative projects sponsored by the federal government in the 1960s put poor people to work providing needed services in their communities and helped to lift many participants into the middle class. Continue Reading Greta de Jong: Who Lost the War on Poverty?
Trump voters are not likely to look to African American history for help in making sense of their situation or forging solutions, but if they did they might find that they have more in common with black Americans than they thought. In the mid-twentieth century, rural communities in the South—and their predominantly black labor force—experienced processes of displacement and decline that foreshadowed those that afflicted white workers in later decades. Continue Reading Greta de Jong: A Lesson from Black History for Angry White Men
This enthusiasm for guest workers—temporary laborers stripped of the right to choose employers, bargain for higher wages, or remain within the United States past the expiration date of their labor contract—ignores a few basic problems. McGurn’s oversimplified history of the Bracero Program bears no resemblance to the growing scholarship on the binational contract labor scheme and its many problems. Continue Reading John Weber: Immigration Reform, Guest Workers, and Poorly Understood History
On March 12, a rank-and-file caucus of Branch 36 (Manhattan-Bronx) of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) spearheaded the demand for a branch strike vote. Striking the federal government has been illegal since 1912. But that is exactly what Branch 36 voted to do on March 17. Picket lines went up at midnight all over New York City. Other NALC branches voted to strike, spreading upstate and into New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania; then west to Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Colorado, and California. Together they shut down 671 post offices in dozens of cities and towns across the United States. Clerks, mail handlers, maintenance workers, motor vehicle operators, and other crafts from other postal unions joined what became the largest “wildcat strike ” (one not authorized by a national union) in American labor history. Over 200,000 postal workers struck for eight days. Despite the inconvenience of a total mail stoppage, strikers enjoyed the support of the majority of Americans. Continue Reading Philip F. Rubio: Who Remembers the Nationwide Postal Wildcat Strike of 1970 (and Why Does That Matter)?
Contemporary documentary projects such as StoryCorps and Humans of New York thrive today in a spirit similar to that which led the vision of the Federal Writers’ Project and These Are Our Lives. They remind us that every life has a story, and every story matters. Continue Reading Video: Celebrating 75 Years of ‘These Are Our Lives’