Labor's Home Front: The American Federation of Labor During World War II (Google eBook)

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NYU Press, 2006 - History - 274 pages
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One of the oldest, strongest, and largest labor organizations in the U.S., the American Federation of Labor (AFL) had 4 million members in over 20,000 union locals during World War II. The AFL played a key role in wartime production and was a major actor in the contentious relationship between the state, organized labor, and the working class in the 1940s. The war years are pivotal in the history of American labor, but books on the AFLís experiences are scant, with far more on the radical Congress of Industrial Unions (CIO).

Andrew E. Kersten closes this gap with Laborís Home Front, challenging us to reconsider the AFL and its influence on twentieth-century history. Kersten details the union's contributions to wartime labor relations, its opposition to the open shop movement, divided support for fair employment and equity for women and African American workers, its constant battles with the CIO, and its significant efforts to reshape American society, economics, and politics after the war. Throughout, Kersten frames his narrative with an original, central theme: that despite its conservative nature, the AFL was dramatically transformed during World War II, becoming a more powerful progressive force that pushed for liberal change.


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The AFL andWartime Labor Relations
The AFL and theFight Against the Open Shop
The AFL theBoilermakers and Wartime Racial Justice inPortland and Providence
Women and the AFL
The AFL and CIO Rivalry
Worker Safety and the AFL
The AFL andPostwar Planning
Labors Moment
A Note on Sources
About the Author

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Page 11 - An American Federation of all National and International Trade Unions, to aid and assist each other; to aid and encourage the sale of union label goods, and to secure legislation in the interest of the working people, and influence public opinion, by peaceful and legal methods, in favor of organized labor.
Page 15 - There is no reason why all the opportunities for the development of the best that woman can do should be denied her, either in the home or elsewhere. I entertain no doubt but that from the constant better opportunity resultant from the larger earning power of the husband the wife will, apart from performing her natural household duties, perform that work which is most pleasurable for her, contributing to the beautifying of her home and surroundings. In our time, and at least in our country, generally...

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About the author (2006)

Andrew E. Kersten is Associate Professor of American History and Cochair of Social Change & Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

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