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History of Labor Unions Books

Roy Rozenweig and Steve Brier, Who Built America (1992)

This is a good place to start. The two long books cover a lot of territory, but they succeed in putting labor history in context. Not a book to read straight through as much as a reference to investigate eras and concepts. Well-written, accessible, and it has pictures.

Rick Fantasia, Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement (2004)

This account deals with the decline of unions. Starting with a chapter on "why labor matters," Fantasia takes a thoughtful look at labor's current dilemma with a glance back at history. Not easy reading, but worth the effort.

Philip M. Dine, State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence (2007)

Dine, who brings a clear pro-union agenda to his work, uses vivid contemporary examples to provide an overview of the labor movement and suggest ways for unions to regain influence.

Jim Haskins, The Long Struggle: The Story of American Labor (1976)

A thorough, easy-to-read overview, particularly of the early labor movement.

Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (2002)

This is a fine examination of labor history beginning in the 1930s. The author gives a balanced view of the shifting influence of labor and management.

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