Co-Sponsored by the History Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois University, and the Labor and Working Class History Association
Friday, April 15, 2005
3:00pm-5:00pm, The Newberry Library
Big Labor's Golden Age?: Labor-Management Conflict and Class Politics in the 1950s Midwestern Heartland
David Anderson, Louisiana Tech University
This paper is part of the author's book in progress on labor-managment conflict in the midwestern heartland from the mid-1940s to the early 1960s, the supposed "Golden Age" of labor-management relations. The paper uses the 1955 Perfect Circle Strike and recent scholarship and memoirs on the post-World War II era to ask whether a labor-managment "social accord" existed during this time, to what extent the labor movement maintained its earlier militancy, and to what extent heartland residents shared the class and political consensus that conservative politicians today invoke when they utter the phrase "heartland values." The paper concludes that while the labor movement, as a whole, made significant gains during this period, it constituted less a "golden age" than the beginning of the right-wing political counteroffensive against unions and Midwestern liberalism.
Thomas Geoghegan, a Chicago lawyer and author of Which Side Are You On?, How to Be for Labor When It's Flat on It's Back, and In America's Court.
Wilson Warren, associate professor of history at Western Michigan University and author of Struggling with "Iowa's Pride": Labor Relations, Unionism, and Politics in the Rural Midwest Since 1877.
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