Our own time: a history of American labor and the working day

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Greenwood Press, 1989 - Business & Economics - 380 pages
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Our Own Time provides the first full account of the movement to shorten the working day in the United States. Combining the narrative and trade union emphasis of traditional labor history with the focus on culture and the labor process characteristic of contemporary labor history, the book offers an illuminating reinterpretation of the history of the U.S. labor movement from the colonial period onward. The authors argue that the length of the working day or week historically has been the central issue raised by the American labor movement during its most vigorous periods of organization. Beginning with a picture of working hours in colonial America and the early republic, Roediger and Foner then analyze the ideology of the movement for a ten-hour workday in the early nineteenth century. They demonstrate that the ten-hour issue was a key to the dynamism of the Jacksonian labor movement as well as to the unity of male artisans and female factory workers in the 1840s. The authors proceed to examine the subsequent demands for an eight-hour day, which helped to produce the mass labor struggles of the late nineteenth century and established the American Federation of Labor as the dominant force in American trade unionism. Chapters on labor movement defeats following World War I, on the depression years, and on the lack of progress over the last half-century complete the study. Our Own Time will be an ideal supplemental text for courses in U.S. labor and economic history.

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Contents

Shorter Hours and the Transformation of American Labor
19
The Working Day
177
Trade Unionism Hours and WorkersControl in the
209
Copyright

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About the author (1989)

David R. Roediger is Kendrick C. Babcock Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of, among other books, The Wages of Whiteness, Working Towards Whiteness, and How Race Survived US History.

PHILIP S. FONER is Professor Emeritus of History at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania.

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