Labor Studies

Trade unions are the main focus of this inter-disciplinary page, although not entirely. Other forms of worker organization and the strategies, tactics and  skills required to advance it, both current and historical, are also relevant here.

Bill Fletcher, Jr and Stephen Lerner on Bill Moyers
Current Unionism in Crisis

Can unions rebound and once again act strongly in the interest of ordinary workers? Bill Moyers talks to two people who can best answer the question: Stephen Lerner and Bill Fletcher, Jr. The architect of the SEIU’s Justice for Janitors movement, Lerner directed SEIU’s private equity project, which worked to expose a Wall Street feeding frenzy that left the working class in a state of catastrophe. Fletcher took his Harvard degree to the Massachusetts shipyards, and worked as a welder before becoming a labor activist. He served as Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO, and is author of the upcoming book “They’re Bankrupting Us!”: And 20 Other Myths about Unions.

The Wobblies - A Full Documentary
America's Home-Grown Anarcho-Syndicalism

The Wobblies provides an overview of the rise and fall of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), complete with archival footage, loads of interviews, Wobbly art and songs. The film was made in 1979. This 1979 documentary established a new, primary-research modus for historical nonfiction—no narrator, no authorial perspective, just original documents and witnesses—but its subject matter was, and still is, its most radical characteristic. By the ’70s American culture had been made to forget that the Industrial Workers of the World had ever existed, just as in the century’s first decades the segregated union utopia was condemned, brutalized, legislated against, campaigned against, and demonized. Today, things haven’t changed much—Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird’s film stands among a scant handful of books detailing the labor movement’s astonishing power and growth, its newspapers and songs and sheer membership, as well as the sickening history of suppression, murder, and criminal injustice that was brought to bear upon it..

How to Form or Join a Union
Resource Blog of the AFL-CIO

Working people from all walks of life join together in unions to obtain a voice at work. Union members have a say about pay, benefits, working conditions and how their jobs get done. If you do not have a union at your job, find out more about how to form one. Today, more people are taking the step to form unions on the job than at any time in recent history. You can be one of them! Includes steps to get you started and how to contact a union organizer. .

Labor Union History Series: 6 videos
From the Early Guilds to PATCO, and the Present Day

This is a video series documenting the history of labor unions in the United States.

Salt of the Earth
The blacklisted classic film of labor history, and much more

Salt of the Earth (1954) is an American drama film written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico. All had been blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their alleged involvement in communist politics. The film is one of the first pictures to advance the feminist social and political point of view. Its plot centers on a long and difficult strike, based on the 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico. In the film, the company is identified as "Delaware Zinc," and the setting is "Zinctown, New Mexico." The film shows how the miners, the company, and the police react during the strike. In neorealist style, the producers and director used actual miners and their families as actors in the film....Note by Matt Berkelhammer, 1.5 hours.

Building On-The-Job Organizing Networks

45-minute video of a workshop conducted by CCDS's Paul Krehbiel at the 2012 Labor Notes Conference in Detroit.  Krehbiel draws heavily from his own experience as a union organizer.

The Great Sit-Down Strike

. A 52-minute 1976 BBC documentary. The United Auto Workers' struggle for recognition is the focus of this program recalling the sit-down strikes against General Motors that were settled by the union in February 1937. Included: women's roles in settling the strikes.