Friday, May 4, 2006, 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Labor, Transportation Politics, and Political Culture in Two North American Cities: Mexico City and Chicago, 1900–1940s
Georg Leidenberger, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana–Azcapotzalco, Mexico City
Commentators: Tobias Higbie, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and Shelton Stromquist, University of Iowa
This paper compares the role of metropolitan trade unions in the political debate over the regulation of mass transit in Mexico City and Chicago during the first half of the twentieth century. Situated during the U.S. progressive era and the Mexican Revolution, this case study contrasts the mechanisms by which organized labor engaged in broader public affairs and assesses how it, in turn, shaped its respective countries’ political cultures. In both cities, trade unions emerged as leading public voices in defense of the interests of streetcar passengers as well as those of workers, and they became major forces behind demands for the public ownership of the privately-run service. Whereas organized workers in Mexico City allied closely with governmental powers, their Chicago counterparts based their influence on an alliance with other associations based within civil society.
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Co-sponsored by the History Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University and the Labor and Working Class History Association
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