Seattle shipyard workers in 1919 as they walk off the job.
Museum of History & Industry
On Feb. 6, 1919, half of Seattle’s workforce went on strike over a demand for higher wages. A labor historian explains why it matters 100 years later.
Plaintiff Mark Janus, right, speaks outside the Supreme Court
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
The Janus decision by the Supreme Court is a serious legal and financial blow to unions and their hundreds of thousands of members. But it will not kill public-employee unions or teachers’ unions.
The first Labor Day was hardly a national holiday. Workers had to strike to celebrate it.
Frank Leslie's Weekly Illustrated Newspaper's September 16, 1882
The holiday began as a strike against excessive workweeks but now bears little resemblance to its worker-centric origins, even as the founders’ gains are slowly lost.
Yale University graduate students have sought to form a union for more than a decade.
AP Photo/Bob Child
Thwarted efforts to organize at Yale and a New York nursing home show how a changing of the guard at the National Labor Relations Board could potentially end the labor movement.
Trump’s victory may accelerate the ‘attack on the middle class.’
Labor’s decline has steadily eroded the prospects of working-class Americans, fueling the backlash that propelled Trump. His election, however, will likely deliver unions a knockout punch, hurting his supporters most.
Lego workers via www.shutterstock.com
Whether you’re spending the holiday shopping for bargains, barbecuing with friends or striking for better pay, here are a few Labor Day highlights from our labor experts.
Strikes don’t work as well as they used to.
Striking workers via www.shutterstock.com
The link between labor’s decline and stagnating worker pay has convinced some politicians that we need to rebuild unions. What we need are new labor policies for tomorrow’s workforce.
How did Trump become the working class’ hero?
Donald Trump has emerged as a self-proclaimed hero of the working class, yet his policies and pedigree suggest he’s anything but.
Angry rhetoric won’t get us anywhere.
Presidential candidates are using voter anger to fuel more divisions and discord rather than to start a conversation about the collapse of collective bargaining.
FDR’s New Deal helped end Depression-era lines like this one.
FDR monument via www.shutterstock.com
A case before the Supreme Court could deal a major blow to unions, highlighting the need for leaders of business and labor to negotiate a new New Deal.
The future of work is an issue on many people’s minds.
Talk about the future of work is in the air these days, but will all the chatter lead to action and better living standards for tomorrow’s workers?
UAW workers are fighting back.
Labor leaders sometimes seem to concede defeat too easily, yet workers are still fighting for their place in the middle class.
How can workers fight for higher wages in today’s economy?
The Library of Congress/Flickr
The chorus chanting ‘America needs a raise!’ will undoubtedly grow as Labor Day approaches. They’re not wrong, but America needs more than that.
Technology’s improving, but pay isn’t.
The technological transformation of China’s many factories has failed to bring with it an upgrade in working conditions.
A child with an abacus does better math than the proponents of right-to-work laws.
Child abacus via www.shutterstock.com
The arguments behind right-to-work legislation rely on a lot of flawed math that any statistician would frown upon.
Union City Blues. Activists join anti-Thatcher protests in 2013.
British orgainsed labour has remained relevant despite the onslaught suffered during the 1980s, but it lacks the institutional structure that would make the future secure.
Occupy Wall Street targeted rising inequality, as many did in the Progressive Era.
Labor unions face assaults at every turn, yet growing concerns over income equality and Progressivism’s rebirth may help turn the tide.
Chinese workers are often aided by NGOs and usually receive little to no help from the main Chinese trade union.
The growing labour movement in China, as fragmented and repressed as it is, offers hope for workers everywhere as an example of organising against incredible odds.
Businesses do better when management and labor are partners, and unions are the key.
Handshake via www.shutterstock.com
Labor can prove its continued relevance by highlighting its unique ability to ensure worker knowhow flows up to the executive suite.
Too many free riders, and the system of organized labor collapses.
Turtle and hamster from www.shutterstock.com
Labor unions dub the laws allowing unionized workers to avoid paying dues “right-to-freeload.”