Monday, November 30, 2020

"Heartland Blues"

New from Oxford University Press: Heartland Blues: Labor Rights in the Industrial Midwest by Marc Dixon.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Midwest experienced an upheaval over labor rights beginning in the winter of 2011. For most commentators, the fallout in the Midwest and unions' weak showing in the 2016 presidential election a few years later was just more evidence of labor's emaciated state.

In Heartland Blues, Marc Dixon provides a new perspective on union decline by revisiting the labor movement at its historical peak in the late 1950s. Drawing on social movement theories and archival materials, he analyzes campaigns over key labor policies as they were waged in the heavily unionized states of Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin-the very same states at the center of more recent battles over labor rights. He shows how many of the key ingredients necessary for less powerful groups to succeed, including effective organization and influential political allies, were not a given for labor at the time, but instead varied in important ways across the industrial heartland. Thus, the labor movement's social and political isolation and their limited responses to employer mobilization became a death knell in the ensuing decades, as unions sought organizational and legislative remedies to industrial decline and the rising anti-union tide.

Showing how labor rights have been challenged in significant ways in the industrial Midwest in the 1950s, Heartland Blues both identifies enduring problems for labor and forces scholars to look beyond size when seeking clues to labor's failures and successes.
--Marshal Zeringue