Labor History Articles

Lewis Hine:

Photographer Honored Workers, Helped End Child Labor

(11/2013) In August, the Postal Service released a series of stamps honoring American workers. Many of the stamps’ images were captured in the 1930s by photographer Lewis Hine, whose pictures celebrate the skills, daring and dignity of the industrial workers who built the nation. But Hine was more than a gifted shutterbug: He was a committed social reformer who dedicated his talent to documenting the struggles of working families and ending the exploitation of children in the workplace.

1934: Southern Workers Spark Massive Textile Strike

(09/2013) In 1934, thousands of workers in Southern textile mills walked off the job seeking better pay and working conditions. The job actions they launched spread to New England and the Mid-Atlantic states and became one of the biggest industrial strikes in U. S. history. Though the strike was unsuccessful, it helped pave the way for stronger laws to protect workers seeking to join unions.

Woodie Guthrie:

‘Dust Bowl Troubadour’ Sang for Unions, Justice

(05/2013) For more than a century, labor musicians have lifted spirits and helped build solidarity on union picket lines. But most Americans seldom heard labor’s voice — until one prolific entertainer helped popularize songs about the plight of everyday workers. Although he is mostly remembered as the man who wrote This Land Is Your Land, Woody Guthrie was a champion of workers, farmers and the unemployed.


Addie L. Wyatt: Labor, Civil Rights Leader

(01/2013) Last year we bid farewell to an important advocate for justice for working families everywhere: The Rev. Addie L. Wyatt.

Though not widely known outside Chicago, the diminutive, African-American woman made important contributions that “helped open the way for redefining women’s roles within the general labor movement,” notes a tribute at the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

From Heroes to Villains?

Union Workers and 9-11

(09/2012) Following the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, the nation paid tribute to the workers who faced unimaginable danger when they responded to the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Three hundred fortythree firefighters and 72 police officers were among those who lost their lives, and many other rescue workers were injured. Although it received little notice at the time, most of the workers who were celebrated in the media and honored by politicians were union members — and many were unionized government employees.