A Short History of American Labor
This brief history of more than 100 years of the modem trade union movement in the United States can only touch the high spots of activity and identify the principal trends of a “century of achievement.” In such a condensation of history, episodes of importance and of great human drama must necessarily be discussed far too briefly, or in some cases relegated to a mere mention.
AFL-CIO American Labor Culture and History
Striking mill workers in Lawrence, Mass., carried placards in 1912 saying, “We Want Bread and Roses Too.” It’s not
enough for working people to feed our bodies with bread—we also have to nourish our hearts and spirits with art.
America’s union movement has a rich culture all its own, telling the story of working families in art, photography,
theater, fiction, films and more.
AFSCME Council 5 of Minnesota has created this new website that features short videos on “Mother” Jones, Sojourner Truth, Pauline Newman, Eugene V. Debs, Bayard Rustin and Jerry Wurf.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is a voluntary federation of 65
national and international labor unions. Today’s unions represent 13 million working women and men of every race and
ethnicity and from every walk of life. We are teachers and teamsters, musicians and miners, firefighters and farm
workers, bakers and bottlers, engineers and editors, pilots and public employees, doctors and nurses, painters and
Behind The Label
BehindTheLabel.org is a multimedia news magazine and on-line community covering the stories and people of the global
clothing industry – the hidden stories of the millions of workers around the world who make our clothes, the people
who care how their clothes are made and the multinational corporations behind the labels.
Center for Labor Research and Education
The Center for Labor Research and Education uses its skills in labor education, labor research, and facilitation to
bring together labor leaders, union members, students, and faculty and examine issues such as organizing, public
policy, and leadership development.
Institute of Industrial Relations – University of California, Berkeley
The Institute of Industrial Relations (IIR) is an Organized Research Unit (ORU) on the Berkeley Campus of the University
of California. It was created by an act of the California Legislature in 1945 to promote labor and workplace research,
education, and community service relating to labor, industrial relations, and the workplace.
CFT Resource Guide for Teachers
The CFT Labor in the Schools Committee was formed to assist teachers in reaching students with information about
the history and current role of the labor movement in American society. The members of the committee are K-12 classroom
teachers as well as faculty from community college and university labor studies programs.
Child Labor Coalition (CLC)
The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) exists to serve as a national network for the exchange of information about child
labor; provide a forum and a unified voice on protecting working minors and ending child labor exploitation; and
develop informational and educational outreach to the public and private sectors to combat child labor abuses and
promote progressive initiatives and legislation.
Collective Bargaining Education Project – United Teachers Los Angeles
Collective Bargaining Education Project will continue its work through the 2001 – 2002 academic year. Our
curriculum, “ Workplace Issues and Collective Bargaining in the Classroom,” assists social studies teachers to
incorporate labor relations education into their units of study. All of our lessons are aligned with the California
History-Social Science Framework and meet new District Standards. Further, these lessons are specifically designed
for Economics and U.S. Government, U.S. History, World History, and Education and Career Planning classes.
Wirtz Labor Library
The Department of Labor Library, established in 1917, is one of the oldest Cabinet-level libraries. Large segments
of its collection – which document the history of labor, labor unions and the growth and development of the labor
movement in a national and world context — are unique either in their nature and content or in the length and
completeness of their coverage.
Economic Policy Institute
The Economic Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to broaden the public debate about
strategies to achieve a prosperous and fair economy.
The Fiscal Policy Institute
The Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) is a nonpartisan research and education organization that focuses on the broad
range of tax, budget, economic and related public policy issues that affect the quality of life and the economic
well-being of New York State residents.
Global Unions is a website which is jointly owned and managed by a number of international trade union organisations.
The website gives its members the ability to draw the attention of their partners, their members, and the press to the
news they produce and the campaigns they run.
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and
internationally recognized human and labour rights. It was founded in 1919 and is the only surviving major creation
of the Treaty of Versailles which brought the League of Nations into being and it became the first specialized agency
of the UN in 1946.
Jobs with Justice
Founded in 1987, JwJ’s mission is to improve working people’s standard of living, fight for job security, and protect
workers’ right to organize. JwJ’s core belief is that in order to be successful, workers’ rights struggles have to be
part of a larger campaign for economic and social justice. To that end, JwJ has created a network of local coalitions
that connect labor, faith-based, community, and student organizations to work together on workplace and community social justice campaigns.
Jewish Labor History
Readings on the American
Jewish Labor Movement
George Meany Memorial Archives:
The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) established the George Meany Memorial Archives in 1980 to honor the memory of George Meany, its first president, and to provide a program to preserve its historical records and make them available for research. In 1987 the archives moved from the AFL-CIO headquarters to the forty-seven acre campus of the George Meany Center for Labor Studies (now the National Labor College) in Silver Spring, Maryland, an educational institution for labor officers, representatives, and staff of AFL-CIO affiliates.
Labor Heritage Foundation
works to strengthen the labor movement through the use of music and the arts.
Samuel Gompers Papers
Samuel Gompers was the nation’s leading trade unionist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and president of the American Federation of Labor from 1886 until his death in 1924. “Our movement is of the working people, for the working people, by the working people,” he said. “There is not a right too long denied to which we do not aspire . . . . there is not a wrong too long endured that we are not determined to abolish.”
Triangle Factory Fire
This web exhibit presents original documents and secondary sources on the Triangle Fire, held by the Cornell University Library.
Labor Arts is a work in progress — a virtual museum designed to gather, identify and display examples of the cultural
and artistic history of working people and to celebrate the trade union movement’s contributions to that history.
LABOR ARTS is building a collection of these items for the viewer’s enjoyment, education and research.
A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers
The United States has the bloodiest history of labor of any industrialized nation on Earth. It is a story rich in
human drama and tragedy. It is also one of progress and hope. This is a resource that teachers of United States history
can use to incorporate our rich social and labor history into their courses. Using the ideas employed here teachers will
increase student understanding of the American economic system and the important issues we all face as workers today.
Labor Studies in the Curriculum. ERIC Digest
The field of labor studies is often overlooked or underemphasized in the curricula of elementary and secondary schools.
Coverage tends to be spotty and disjointed, isolated information in a curriculum that stresses “more important” topics.
Most students, however, will spend much of their lives as workers. They need to know the contributions of labor in the
building of the nation and its economic system.
Wisconsin Labor History Society
Resource for teachers on the history and activities of workers and unions in Wisconsin.
Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS)
Resources and useful information about Illinois labor history.