Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Auclair: Rosie the Riveter

Amanda Auclair
 April 10, 2013

For centuries, women living in the United States were restricted in what actions they could perform in the public sphere, including working.1 Often confined to their roles as wives, daughters, or mothers, women’s political voice in government and American society did not hold as much weight as men’s. With the World War II era, however, gender roles underwent a considerable transformation.1 A defense industry emerged in the United States to meet the demand for military supplies and food production.2As millions of men entered military service, women were left to fill their duties in industrial factories and the U.S. defense industry. The use of posters and many other forms of propaganda were used to recruit women for these previously “masculine” jobs. A very iconic figure at this time was Rosie the Riveter, who was a fictional character in which helped to encourage women into the workforce during this time period.

DePinto: Southern Farmers

Michelle DePinto
 March 29, 2013

Southern Farmers: The Real Gangsters of Prohibition

Schmitt grew up cooking moonshine. His grandfather taught his father, and his father taught his brother. Every August, after the hay was in and before the corn was ready to harvest, Schmitt’s father set up the still.”1

White lightning, hooch, mountain dew- Americans have been drinking moonshine since they figured out how to make it. Recently, moonshine has been entering mainstream entertainment through reality television shows like Discovery Channels “Moonshiners” and top charted movies such as Lawless. Although moonshine was consumed by people all over the United States, it is predominantly a southern commodity. In the 1920s and 1930s moonshine production and consumption was heightened due to Prohibition. While history has glamorized the consumption of this illegal drink through speakeasies and gangsters, it is important to consider the makers of moonshine, the southern farmers who had been, and continue to, produce moonshine for themselves and a nation that has always demanded alcohol. In a time when class and social status meant everything, the illegal use of moonshine was a secret connection working men and women of the north and south shared. Working class men loved to drink, upper class men loved to make money, and southern farmers loved making moonshine. It wasn’t always a smooth operation but southern farmers, who otherwise would never have made history, became heroic during this time when states were going dry and the federal government had decided to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol. The Southern farmers involved in producing, selling, and consuming moonshine, as well as those who were part of the fight against it, formed an alternate working class of the early twentieth century.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mahmud: Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage
Raunak Mahmud
March 29, 2013

Cambridge Dictionary defines minimum wage as “the smallest amount of money that an employer is legally allowed to pay someone who works for them.”[1] The lower minimum wage in the U.S. is a serious problem that affects hundreds of thousands Americans every day. Most of the American has experience to work at low-paying job in certain period of life. The federal minimum wage law established in 1938, and increased every few years to offset inflation. From 1997 to July 24, 2007 the federal minimum wage was constant at $5.15. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour which is still lower wage. Many states have their individual minimum wage. The minimum wage has some exceptions under certain circumstances. Workers with disabilities, full-time students, workers below age 20, tipped workers, and student learners are on that case. They have a different minimum wage rate [2]. The federal wage law is administered by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Beltempo: Rosie the Riveter in World War II


Strong, hard, tough and by all means beautiful; a pure representation of a woman’s body stuck in a man’s role. This image would stand apart from the Second World War era all in its own and this iconic symbol is known as Rosie the Riveter. The height of the war, from 1942 to 1944, marked the turning point for women and their roles in society. The social and economic aspects of life in this duration of women’s defense made great changes in the United States. Women’s roles in unions and relationships not only with men but with society sparked a shift in the gender construction. "We Can Do It!" this is not a complete sentence, just the slogan itself is not enough, you need to add more to it to make it a sentence Early in 1943, a popular song came out called "Rosie the Riveter,"1 shouts from the streets; women were coming out from their kitchens and into the workforce, many women were already working – not every woman was in the home – it was just that more women were moving into traditionally “masculine” jobs like defense factory work, shipbuilding, an experience all in its own. Middle class women shouldn’t work was a view taken by many men and people in society. As a division of class it showed how women always worked, like the lower classes and minorities who had to provide for their families. But now in this industrial war equipment era, women were needed to fulfill the void of men in battle and pursue this new lifestyle. We will explore feminist acts, labor unions and childcare and the many ways women came into their own in an effort to excel with men.

Dimotsis: Great Railroad Strike of 1877

Michael Dimotsis
May 8, 2013
Great Railroad Strike of 1877
When people look back and think of the violence in labor history in the United States some may think back to the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. This strike was our country’s first major railroad strike. The United States needed railroads to function properly in this period and the strike threatened this system. It threatened the system by bringing about much violence and disaster to not only the railroad tracks thus hurting the companies but to the cities that the tracks passed through as well. This strike also negatively affected many lives. Many fires raged in places such as Philadelphia, and many people were killed or injured, not just strikers and militia/troops but also bystanders. Even though the Great Railroad Strike lasted only a couple of weeks, the violence that tore through the nation had effects that lasted much longer.

Carbocci: Postal Strike of 1970

Shannon Carbocci
Postal Strike of 1970
The Postal Strike of 1970 was the first national postal stoppage in the United States and the largest walkout against the U.S. federal government. Once it occurred, it impaired the functions of different industries and entities including the U.S. government, Wall Street, the garment industry, department stores, and many individuals. The strike was short it just lasted two weeks. The workers were peaceful but confident in their demands that needed to be met before they were willing to return to work. In the end, they were successful.

Econs: The Pullman Strike of 1894

Nicholas Econs
The Pullman Strike of 1894
The Pullman strike was one of the most influential labor movements in United States history. It exemplified the strife between working class and owners to a degree that was heightened by the national attention it captured, especially when President Cleveland sent government troops to squash the railroad car workers’ protests. The motivation for the strike and boycott was resistance to Pullman Company owner George M. Pullman and his refusal to arbitrate for higher wages or lower rent in the Pullman town. Pullman employees joined the American Railroad Union (ARU) and declared a boycott on all Pullman cars. This single labor strike quickly grew into a hostile event.

Thompson: Activists, Editors, or Terrorists?

Kurt Thompson
May 1, 2013
Activists, Editors, or Terrorists?
Political expression can be a very dangerous concept. It has been common throughout most of human history for a regime in power to suppress any person or persons in opposition to it. It is a widely held belief in our democracy that suppression does not occur because free speech and expression form the foundation of our government. Sadly, this is not the case. Violent suppression of political opposition occurred with some regularity in industrial America. One example that illustrates this perfectly is the persecution of eight anarchists after the Haymarket Square bombing. Some of these men were not even present at the time of the bombing; yet, they were arrested and executed for a conceived conspiracy surrounding the explosion. Two of these eight in particular were arrested and tried because they were organizers for pro-labor organizations and political parties as well as editors at major pro-labor newspapers. The prosecution’s evidence surrounding these two, Albert Parsons and August Spies, was mostly from their own publications that urged worker solidarity against the capitalists in Marxist terms. In the end, Albert Parsons and August Spies were not executed for conspiracy; they were executed for Anarchism and the Eight Hour Movement.

Masullo: The Haymarket Affair

Chris Masullo

The Haymarket Affair

The Haymarket affair refers to the bombing that occurred after a labor demonstration on May 4th 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago. The reason that this event is so significant in working class history is because it would lead to the creation of “May Day”, a day of celebration for the international labor movement. By examining the history of The Haymarket Affair it can become much more transparent how a simple protest turned in to a riot that left several dead and over 100 injured and resulted in the execution of four labor activists from the Chicago area.

Donato: The Powerful Women of the 1940s

Jacqueline Donato
The Powerful Women of the 1940s
After Germany’s defeat in World War 1 they had to agree to the Treaty of Versailles. The Germans were embarrassed, angry and blamed their government. As the German government’s power decreased, the Nazi party and Hitler’s power grew and grew. Hitler allied with Japan and Italy as the Axis of Powers to try and gain world power. With World War 2 starting, America went in isolation in the hope that the Allies, Britain and France would win and they would not have to be a part of it or involved in any way. When the Japanese attacked and bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Roosevelt declared the United States’ entrance into the war. More than a million American men were drafted into the war leaving millions of jobs and families behind. This was a very powerful time for women in history; they took on jobs such as working in the hospitals, radio operations, factories, and the wartime defense industry while continuing to take care of their families and home. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of American workforce went from 27 percent and increased to about 37 percent. By 1945 approximately one out of every four married women worked outside their home. These very important women are known as “Rosie the Riveters.” Rosie the Riveter was a fictional character that represented the women working class in World War 2. Through movies, posters and photographs the Rosie the Riveter propaganda campaign was used to successfully recruit female workers.1 This paper will focus on Rosie the Riveters, the women of the wartime working class during World War 2 and the contributions and efforts they made to end the war.

Wawryk: The Hollywood Ten

Lucie Wawryk

The 1950s were a very significant time period in the history of the United States working class. An anti-Communist crusade during this decade, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, led to the “red-baiting” or targeting of certain individuals, viewed as “un-American” Communist sympathizers. Among those targeted by McCarthy were the Hollywood Ten. This paper focuses on the individuals who made up the Hollywood Ten, and how the themes and creativity of their films help to illuminate history of the U.S. working class.

Laufer: The 1911 Triangle Factory Fire

Joshua Laufer

The 1911 Triangle Factory Fire’s Effects on The US Working Class
The purpose of this paper is to examine the Triangle Factory Fire in 1911. Primary emphasis will be given toward managerial negligence, hazardous working conditions, economic oppression, and the new demand for safer, fairer labor conditions. The goal is to provide a conceptual overview of these factors, and the relationships therein with regard to the United States working class.

Havel: Effects on Children during the Dust Bowl

Christina Havel
Effects on Children during the Dust Bowl

Most literature about the Dust Bowl focuses on how the Depression era affected the lives of adults. Children, however, were tremendously affected during the Dust Bowl era and migration as well. When the middle of America began suffering from drought, land dispossession, and poverty, families struggled economically, financially, politically, and emotionally. Some children had to witness and experience their families breaking up either before or during their westward migration. The children had no control over this and it affected their lives greatly. Examining the history of the Dust Bowlers through the eyes of children is important to working class history because it shows how younger members of this class had to confront and survive this economic issue.

Magaddino: The Big Three

The Big Three

Brandon Magaddino

Throughout the twentieth century the “Big Thriee” automobile companies based in Detroit Michigan have gone through several revolutionary changes from their humble beginnings in the 1900’s and 1920’s, to the “too big to fail” super-giants that can be observed today.1 By name these three automobile companies are General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford which even in the 1920’s were of the worlds top seven largest automobile companies2. During the mid-twenties the concept that sold cars was luxury, and although the employees assembled high-class vehicles they couldn’t afford themselves; the three companies especially Ford gave high wages in relation to the area, and adequate treatment3. The great success of the 1920’s followed suit through the muscle car era of the 1970’s but sadly all American Auto Industry suffered a major recession in the 1980’s that has still left it in recovery even to this day4.

Blumberg: Rosie the Riveter

Cheyenne Blumberg

Rosie the Riveter

During World War II, when war production was expanding with the creation of a defense industry and men were being shipped out to war, the United States needed a replacement work force. When the number of employed women equaled the national unemployment total in 1939, Norman Cousins suggested we “simply fire the women, who shouldn’t be working anyway, and hire the men. Presto! No unemployment. No relief rolls. No depression”1. This attempt of blaming women for the loss of jobs was around the time of the Great Depression. Beginning in 1942 the U.S. government urged women to work in spite of previous efforts, to exclude them from the labor force. This transformation of the U.S. labor force was aided by the careful, but strategic creation of the most ideal worker-- patriotic, effective, beautiful, loyal, and fictional “Rosie the Riveter”. The federal government used this character’s bandanna and proud attitude as campaign propaganda to sell women the significance of the war effort, and inevitably re-shaped the role for women in the working class by granting them access to jobs that pre-existed solely for men, and enabling them to carry these tasks out with pride.

Germain: Haymarket Square Riot Affair

Dahyanelle Germain
Haymarket Square Riot Affair
On May 4, 1886 a riot took place in the city of Chicago, Illinois at Haymarket Square. As a result, many people died and many more were injured. It was reported that seven policemen and four workers died. This event is remembered in the history books because it is an event that changed the history of Chicago, had an impact on the American labor and the United States overall. It affected the working class of Chicago in many different levels.

Twiggs: The Great Strike of 1877

 The Great Strike of 1877
It was the summer of 1877, the US was amid its fourth year of a depression, and wages were being reduced by another ten percent. It started in Martinsburg, Virginia, and would spread to a number of different cities throughout the US. “It was an explosion of ‘firsts.’” The Great Strike of 1877 was the first national strike, as well as the first strike that had to be broken up by the U.S. military.1 Also known as The Great Upheaval, it was the “most violent labor-management confrontation” up until this point in American history. It was the beginning of an era of controversy between employees and employers.2
“The Great Strike was a creature of one of the periodic economic downturns that have caused misery for working people throughout U.S. history.”3 Following the Civil War, there was shift towards an industrial economy; there was a massive rise in companies and corporations. Railroad companies showed the most growth. “In 1850, barely more than 2,000 miles of track had been laid. By 1877, over 79,000 miles of track were in use, giving the U.S. by far the most extensive rail system in the world.”4 On September 18, 1873, the nation entered a state of panic, a result of financial institutions running out of means of financing due to the distribution of bad loans. The Panic of 1873 sent America into an economic depression. Out of the 364 railroads that existed at the time, 89 went out of business. Other American companies also met the same fate. By 1875, over 18,000 companies were unable to withstand the economic burden and collapsed.5 There was a tremendous number of unemployed. As unemployment and the depression continued, people were desperate for work. People, unable to feed their families, were on the verge of starvation. According to Labor’s Untold Story, written by Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais, “By 1877 there were as many as three million unemployed [roughly 27 percent of the working population]…And the wages of those employed had been cut by as much as 45 percent, often to little more than a dollar a day.”6

McMahon: Industrial Workers of the World

Ryan McMahon

Industrial Workers of The World
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was a radical industrial union group that was a prominent during the early 1900s. The IWW was founded in Chicago in 1905. The group promoted the ideas of the abolishment of capitalism and wage labor, and a movement towards all workers being united under one social class. The group was founded by socialists and anarchists, and radical trade unionists from across the United States. The I.W.W was a very radical right wing organization. It opposed left wing conservative unions mainly as the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Though the radical actions of the IWW were construed has detrimental it created more improvements to the United States working class environment than it did chaos and havoc, starting with these founding members.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Meyers: La Causa

Pat Meyers

La Causa

There were many advances for workers in the Twentieth Century. Labor unions were formed and legislation was enacted to protect workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 insured a minimum wage and abolished child labor. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave workers the legal right to join a union and the right to collective bargaining. The Social Security Act of 1935 insured financial assistance for older and handicapped workers. Many benefitted from these advances, but agricultural workers were left behind, most of who were Mexican American or Filipino. That all changed when Cesar Chavez decided to devote his life to improving and securing the lives of farm workers. It wasn’t only a labor struggle, but a fight for equality and respect for Mexican Americans.

Mbodj: Working Class Women in USA

Awa Daro Mbodj

Working Class Women in USA
Work is very important for every human being in order to survive. People need money to satisfy their needs, and most of the time in order to get money you have to work. However, working is not easy for everybody. Women struggle a lot in this domain. They face a lot of obstacle. Most of the people think that women have to stay home and take care of the family; her job is being a housewife. However, women don’t want to do tha;t they want to go outside their get a job and fight their rights in order to be equal with the working class men. It is not going to be easy because they will face discrimination, race, gender, and inequality. In this essay, I will talk about race, and gender discrimination.