Organizing the Unemployed: Community and Union Activists in the Industrial Heartland

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State University of New York Press, 1996 - 407 pages
Focusing on Michigan during the Great Depression, this book highlights the efforts of community organizers and activists in the United Automobile Workers (UAW) to mobilize the jobless for mass action. In doing so, it demonstrates the relationship between unemployed activism and the rise of industrial unionism. Moreover, by discussing Communist and Socialist initiatives on behalf of displaced workers, the book illuminates the impact of radicalism on social change and shows how political claims influenced the cultural discourse of the 1930s.

The book not only helps fill a void in our knowledge of community activism, worker culture, and labor history in the 1930s but also sheds light on the New Deal's domestication of American labor and the channeling of mass protest toward politically and socially acceptable goals. The UAW acceptance of responsibility for the underclass of the 1930s raises pertinent questions for labor in the 1990s.

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About the author (1996)

James J. Lorence is Professor of History at University of Wisconsin Center--Marathon County. His other books include Gerald J. Boileau and the Progressive-Farmer-Labor Alliance and Organized Business and the Myth of the China Market: The American Asiatic Association, 1898-1937.

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