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Articles on Labor rights

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Massive gains in productivity haven’t led to more time free from work. J Studios/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Why is free time still so elusive?

In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that within a century, the normal workweek would decrease to 15 hours. Why was he wrong?
SAG-AFTRA captain Mary M. Flynn rallies fellow striking actors on a picket line outside Netflix studios in November 2023. AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

2023’s historic Hollywood and UAW strikes aren’t labor’s whole story – the total number of Americans walking off the job remained relatively low

Two labor scholars argue that the balance of power between workers and employers, which has been tilted toward employers for nearly a half-century, is beginning to shift.
Victims’ names engraved in a metal overhang, part of the Triangle Shirtwaist Memorial, are reflected in mirroring panels along the sidewalk. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

A memorial in Yiddish, Italian and English tells the stories of Triangle Shirtwaist fire victims − testament not only to tragedy but to immigrant women’s fight to remake labor laws

On Oct. 11, 2023, a new memorial was unveiled at the site of the 1911 fire. A cadre of young Jewish women helped push for change in the wake of the tragedy.
Striking members of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in New York City in 1958. AP Photo

Waves of strikes rippling across the US seem big, but the total number of Americans walking off the job remains historically low

Many of the reasons for strikes now – low compensation, technological change, job insecurity and safety concerns – mirror the motives that workers had for walking off the job in decades past.
UAW President Shawn Fain speaks with General Motors workers on July 12, 2023, in Detroit. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

US autoworkers may wage a historic strike against Detroit’s 3 biggest automakers − with wages at EV battery plants a key roadblock to agreement

A strike would shake up the auto industry, even though both the union’s ranks and the share of the US automotive market controlled by GM, Ford and Stellantis have been shrinking for decades.
Lewis Wickes Hine, ‘A little spinner in a Georgia Cotton Mill, 1909.’ Gelatin silver print, 5 x 7 in. The Photography Collections, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (P545)

The US has a child labor problem – recalling an embarrassing past that Americans may think they’ve left behind

While Lewis Hine’s early-20th century photographs of working children compelled Congress to limit or ban child labor, the US Department of Labor is now under fire for failing to enforce these laws.

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