Worker's Unite!: The American Labor Movement


Omnigraphies' Defining Moments series was created for the express purpose of meeting the growing appetite for authoritative, useful resources on the nation's history. This series, which focuses on pivotal events that transformed the United States' political, cultural, and social landscape, will be of enduring value to anyone interested in learning more about America's past-and in understanding how these events continue to reverberate today.

Workers Unite! The American Labor ...

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Omnigraphies' Defining Moments series was created for the express purpose of meeting the growing appetite for authoritative, useful resources on the nation's history. This series, which focuses on pivotal events that transformed the United States' political, cultural, and social landscape, will be of enduring value to anyone interested in learning more about America's past-and in understanding how these events continue to reverberate today.

Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement-like all volumes in the Defining Moments series-is arranged in three distinct sections. The Narrative Overview section provides a detailed, factual account of this "defining moment" in American history, from its earliest inception to its legacy today. The Biographies section includes valuable biographical background on leading figures involved in the era, concluding with a list of sources for further information on the individual. The Primary Sources section collects a broad range of essential and enlightening documents on the topic, from official documents to letters, memoirs, and more.

Other valuable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a chronology of events; a bibliography; an annotated list of sources; and a subject index.

Students using Defining Moments: Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement will find information on a wide range of topics suitable for historical research and writing reports:

Work arrangements from apprenticeships to slavery in the British colonies and early America

The impact of wider social and economic trends like immigration, industrialization, and urbanization on American work

Union organizing and union-busting activities in mining, railroads, and other leading 19th-century industries

Landmark clashes in U.S. labor history, ranging from the Homestead and Pullman Strikes of the late 19th century to the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-37

Factors that have contributed to the labor movement's decline in power and influence from the mid-20th century to the opening years of the 21st century

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Part of Omnigraphics' "Defining Moments" series on American history, this title covers the labor movement in the United States. In the short space provided, Hillstrom (The Dream of America: Immigration, 1870–1920) gives the broad history of labor without being superficial. This, along with the clear writing style, makes the book excellent for basic, introductory research on the subject. The book has three major parts: the first is a narrative of the labor movement up to 2010 and the conditions—starting with early European settlers—that led to it. While Hillstrom's narrative, and the book as a whole, is very pro-labor, he doesn't avoid discussing negatives, like corruption and connections to organized crime. The second part contains biographies of major labor leaders in the movement's history. (Students can learn what Jimmy Hoffa was known for, beyond his mysterious disappearance.) The third part is made of primary sources such as speeches, published statements, and personal recollections by workers and participants in strikes. Additionally, the book has a chronology, a short glossary, and suggested topics for research papers, essays, and projects. BOTTOM LINE Though basic and brief, this title is highly recommended for middle school and high school students researching the history of the labor movement. It's both a good place to begin research and a useful reference when reading other works.—Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. P.L., Columbus, IN
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—A well-written and concise history of the country's labor movement. Beginning with colonial America, Hillstrom traces labor history through indentured servitude, slavery, and apprenticeships. After the Civil War, America's industrialism gave rise to huge factories and the growth of labor unions such as the Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor, and the Industrial Workers of the World. The Progressive Era and the presidencies of two Roosevelts gave new hope to unions and their goals of eight-hour days, safe working conditions, and better wages. The final chapters trace the current decline in union membership and the ever-changing American economy and political leadership. Biographies of eight labor leaders, including Eugene V. Debs, Jimmy Hoffa, and "Mother" Jones, comprise the middle section of the book. The volume concludes with 14 primary sources, including speeches and reminiscences from a textile mill worker in the mid-19th century, labor leaders, and President Reagan's comments on the Air Traffic Controller Strike in 1981. Suggested research topics, sidebars, and numerous black-and-white illustrations enhance the book's usefulness for research.—Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780780811300
  • Publisher: Omnigraphics, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Series: Defining Moments Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 236
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

How to Use This Book xiii

Research Topics for Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement xv

Narrative Overview

Prologue 3

Chapter 1 American Workers in an Industrializing World 7

Chapter 2 Sweat and Blood 23

Chapter 3 Radicals, Progressives, and the Working Man 43

Chapter 4 The New Deal Lifts Unions 63

Chapter 5 Banner Days for American Unions 81

Chapter 6 Down a Path of Permanent Decline? 99


Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) 115

Labor Organizer and Five-Time Presidential Nominee of the Socialist Party of America

Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) 120

Founder and Longtime President of the American Federation of Labor (AFL)

William "Big Bill" Haywood (1869-1928) 124

Leader of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and co-founder of the International Workers of the World (IWW)

Jimmy Hoffa (1913-1975) 129

President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones (1837-1930) 133

Labor Organizer and Activist

John L. Lewis (1880-1969) 138

President of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and Founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)

George Meany (1894-1980) 142

President of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

Walter P. Reuther (1907-1970) 145

President of the United Auto Workers (UAW)

Primary Sources

A Textile Mill Worker Mourns the Hardships of the Factory System, 1845 153

The Knights of Labor Explain Their Cause and Issue Demands, 1878 158

Eugene Debs Asks "What Can We Do for Working People?" 1890 160

Samuel Gompers Answers the Question, "What Does Labor Want?" 1893 164

Clarence Darrow Defends Unions in the "Trial of the Century," 1907 170

Investigating the Ludlow Massacre, 1915 173

Laying the Groundwork for the National Labor Relations Act, 1935 180

Remembering the Flint Sit-Down Strike, 1937 184

Walter Reuther Discusses Labor's Role in Building a Better Society, 1952 188

The AFL and CIO Reunite, 1955 193

Confronting Union Corruption, 1957 194

President Ronald Reagan Comments on the Air Traffic Controller Strike, 1981 197

Debating the Future of Unions, 2009 199

One Labor Leader's Perspective on the Future of American Unions, 2010 206

Important People, Places, and Terms 213

Chronology 217

Sources for Further Study 221

Bibliography 223

Photo and Illustration Credits 227

Index 229

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