Law And The Shaping Of The American Labor Movement / Edition 1

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Why did American workers, unlike their European counterparts, fail to forge a class-based movement to pursue broad social reform? Was it simply that they lacked class consciousness and were more interested in personal mobility? In a richly detailed survey of labor law and labor history, William Forbath challenges this notion of American "individualism." In fact, he argues, the nineteenth-century American labor movement was much like Europe's labor movements in its social and political outlook, but in the decades around the turn of the century, the prevailing attitude of American trade unionists changed. Forbath shows that, over time, struggles with the courts and the legal order were crucial to reshaping labor's outlook, driving the labor movement to temper its radical goals.
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Editorial Reviews

Lance Liebman
A very distinguished work...Forbath derives bold and original conclusions...and is sensitive to the political and social context in which law functions...His book is right and relevant today.
David Brody
This work is nothing less than a full-scale reinterpretation of the making of American pure-and-simple unionism. Forbath's book is certain to provoke lively and health-giving debate; it will be required reading for all students of American labor history.
Robert W. Gordon
In this admirable synthesis of legal and social history, Forbath reconstructs in brilliant detail the bitter drama of the most violent years of U.S. labor relations, the era of the labor injunction...It effectively replaces Frankfurter and Greene's classic of 1930 on labor injunctions as the standard work on the subject.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674517820
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1991
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 0.48 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

William E. Forbath is Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair at the University of Texas School of Law.
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Table of Contents




1. Broad Contexts Recasting American "Exceptionalism" The State of Courts and Parties

2. Judicial Review in Labor's Political Culture

Samuel Gompers and in Jacobs

Hours Laws in Illinois

Hours Laws in Colorado

Pressed toward a Minimalist Politics

3. Government by Injunction

The Origins and Dimensions of Government by Injunction

The Origins of Governmentby Injunction in Railway Strikes

The Rise and Repression of City-Wide Boycotts

4. Semi-Outlawry

The Usurpation of Local Polities Courts and the Uses of Police, Guards and Troops

Labor's Resort to Injunctions

5. The Language of the Law and the Remaking of Labor's

Rights Consciousness

"Labor's Whole Gospel Is Liberty of Contract"

Labor's Constitution

A Great Popular Defiance

Anti-Injunction Laws before Norris-LaGuardia

The Norris-LaGuardia Act


Appendix A: Labor Legislation in the Courts, 1885-1930

Appendix B: Approximating the Numbers of Labor Injunctions and Their Relation to Other Strike Statistics, 1880-1930

Appendix C: Judicial Treatment of Statutes Seeking to Protect Union Organizing and Action by Revising Equity and Common Law Doctrine


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