Organized Labor and American Politics, 1894-1994

The Labor-Liberal Alliance

Edited by Kevin Boyle

Subjects: Political Parties
Series: SUNY series in American Labor History
Paperback : 9780791439524, 284 pages, October 1998
Hardcover : 9780791439517, 284 pages, November 1998

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Table of contents



Kevin Boyle

Part One: Building the Labor-Liberal Alliance

1. The Rules of the Game: Class Politics in Twentieth-Century America

Richard Oestreicher

2. Producerism is Consciousness of Class: Ironworkers' and Steelworkers' Views on Political Economy, 1894–1920

Robert Asher

3. Negotiating the State: Frank Walsh and the Transformation of Labor's Political Culture in Progressive America

Julie Greene

4. The Failure of Minnesota Farmer-Laborism

Peter Rachleff

5. Autoworkers, Electoral Politics, and the Convergence of Class and Race: Detroit, 1937–1945

Bruce Nelson

Part Two: The Labor-Liberal Alliance at Work

6. The CIO Political Strategy in Historical Perspective: Creating a High-Road Economy in the Postwar Era

Stephen Amberg

7. Thoughts on Defeating Right-to-Work: Reflections on Two Referendum Campaigns

Gilbert J. Gall

8. Little More than Ashes: The UAW and American Reform in the 1960s

Kevin Boyle

9. Labor Law Revision and the End of the Postwar Labor Accord

Gary M. Fink



Traces the rise and fall of organized labor's political power over the course of the twentieth century.


Organized Labor and American Politics, 1894-1994 traces the rise and fall of labor's power over the course of the twentieth century. It does so through provocative and engaging essays written by distinguished scholars of the modern labor movement. The essays focus on different times and places, from turn-of-the-century steel mills to the streets of 1930s Detroit to the halls of Congress in the 1990s. Drawing on a broad range of primary sources, the authors adopt a variety of approaches, from broad syntheses to careful case studies. Altogether, the essays tell a single story, of workers struggling to find a voice for themselves and their unions within the nation they helped to build. It is a story of victories won and of defeats endured.

Kevin Boyle is Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His previous books include The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945-1968 and (with Victoria Getis) Muddy Boots and Ragged Aprons: Images of Working Class Detroit, 1900-1930.


"Boyle has assembled an excellent collection of essays. Organized Labor and American Politics is a timely subject, the methodology is sophisticated, and the research is impressive. The editor has written an insightful and synthetic introduction which ties it all together quite well. " — Nelson Lichtenstein, University of Virginia

"This book arrives at a moment of transition and considerable contemporary speculation about the future of labor politics in America. The contributors highlight and diagnose two dramatically different periods of political history: first the rise of labor influence within the Labor-Liberal Alliance (a situation forecast by Progressive Era coalitions and consummated in the New Deal Era); second the post-war operation of the 'alliance' and particularly its inherent limits and decline. Uncommonly concise and well written. " — Leon Fink, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill