Study Group -- Attacks on Organized Labor Past and Present


Wednesday, April 1, 2020, 12:00pm to 1:15pm


124 Mt Auburn Street, South Lobby, Suite 160S, Room 105

Join Ash Center Democracy Fellows Johnnie Lotesta and Gali Racabi for the third session of their spring semester 2020 study group on the struggles and successes of the U.S. labor movement. During the mid-20th century, America’s unions constituted one of the most well organized and politically influential groups in the nation. By the 1990s, however, labor was in a rapid decline. Much of this decline has been attributed to systematic attacks on the organized labor movement through legal suits, employer hostility, and the passage of restrictive labor reforms. This session will examine the history of business attacks against organized labor and place them in conversations with recent struggles today.

Guest speakers include: Johnnie Lotesta, Postdoctoral Fellow, Ash Center of the Harvard Kennedy School and Jessica Tang, President, Boston Teachers Union

Lunch will be served. Seating preference will be given to students. No preregistration or RSVP is necessary. 

Students are encouraged to sign up to the study group listserv to receive important updates and reading materials.

Throughout the course of the semester, the study group will examine unions’ past efforts to represent and give voice to marginalized groups within the workplace and without. The study group will also look at the role of the labor movement in important social transformations – such as the advancement of civil rights – as well as the organized attacks that have contributed to labor’s decline in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The study group will conclude with an eye towards the future, debating the prospects for aspirational labor law reform at the federal level. In these ways, the study group aims to shine light on labor organizing innovations past and present in order to deepen scholarly and practitioner insight into the possibilities for cross-sectional, worker-driven institutional change in the American context.