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From 1993 to 2003, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies published two series of working papers.

The papers make available important works by Labor Studies scholars across the United States in many disciplines.

Published copies of some working papers are still available at the cost of $3.00 a unit.

For more information,
contact the Bridges Center.

WA State Labor Research

In-depth labor policy and industry analysis in Washington State

Labor Studies Research

Important faculty and graduate student research across disciplines

Prize-Winning Papers

The best Labor Studies graduate and undergraduate papers

Working Groups

Original research based in faculty/community partnerships

Web-Based Programs

Educational websites supported by the Bridges Center

Other Projects

Conferences, forums and other special projects


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Comparative Labor History Series (1993-2003)

Papers in the Comparative Labor History Series were produced by faculty teaching in the intensive Summer Program in Comparative Labor History offered jointly through the Departments of History and Political Science at the University of Washington. The summer program was co-sponsored by the Bridges Center. There are nine papers in all.

Working Paper No. 1

July 1992

The Enduring Labor Movement: A Job-Conscious Perspective

David Brody, History, University of California-Davis

The current crisis of organized labor has brought many to seriously contemplate a controversial question: should institutional change be undertaken of the scope needed to promote a shift from adversarial to cooperative workplace relations with employers? As a historian, Brody addresses the question by asking how the American labor movement made itself relevant to earlier industrial environments, and how the movement passed through comparable crises in the past.

Working Paper No. 2

February 1993

The Social Origins of U.S. Imperialism, Or, Linking Labor and LaFeber

Charles Bergquist, History, University of Washington

Labor studies in Latin America and the U.S. have developed largely in isolation from one another. This essay is an effort to link the concerns of Latin American labor historians with those of historians of labor in the United States. In recounting the social origins of U.S. imperialism, Bergquist demonstrates how much US labor historians can learn from the perspectives and methods of Latin Americanists.

Working Paper No. 3

November 1993

On Treacherous Terrain: Labor, Politics and the State in the United States

Melvyn Dubofsky, History and Sociology, State University of New York-Binghamton

Politics, the state, and the law, have always been prominent players in determining the fate of the labor movement in the United States. Contrary to analyses of the rise and decline of labor movements in the US that stress the role of economic cycles, Dubofsky suggests that the most dramatic trade-union success has occurred when political processes invited working-class participation.

Working Paper No. 4

January 1994

'Outfoxing the Frost': Gender, Community-Based Labor Organization, and the Contemporary Labor Movement

Elizabeth Faue, History, Wayne State University

Gender analysis offers clues to organized labor's crisis - and its survival - that more traditional analyses of the labor movement do not. An analysis of gender, Faue contends, offers new insights into political strategy, the labor movement as a vehicle for change, and more.

Working Paper No. 5

November 1994

The Disappearance of the Japanese Working Class Movement

Andrew Gordon, History, Harvard University

In little more than a decade, labor-management relations in Japan transformed from confrontation to cooperation. Andrew Gordon details the various factors that led to profound changes in Japan in the 1950s and 1960s, and the eventual disappearance of the Japanese working class movement.

Working Paper No. 6

February 1995

Most-Favored-Nation Status and the Political Potential of Chinese Labor

Elizabeth J. Perry, Government, Harvard University

Addressing the debate over then-President Bill Clinton's renewal of China's "most-favored-nation" trading status, Perry argues, contrary to the arguments of US oganized labor, that such status "does more to further than to forestall the cause of human rights and democracy in China - a struggle in which the working class will play a crucial role."

Working Paper No. 7

March 1996

Maid in the U.S.A.: Women Domestic Workers, the Service Economy, and Labor

Mary Romero, Chicana/o Studies, Arizona State University

Analyzing the changes in employer-employee relations, Romero's essay details the development of domestic service in the United States. She summarizes recent findings on contemporary working conditions in domestic service, detailing how these conditions represent failures on the part of the US feminist and labor movements.

Working Paper No. 8

April 1996

Perspectives on Black Working-Class History and the Labor Movement Today

Joe W. Trotter, History, Carnegie Mellon University

In this essay, Trotter analyzes a period that holds important lessons for contemporary labor, class' and race relations: the Great Depression and World War II. "Because these were crisis times in American and African American life," he writes, "they demanded serious debate, painful decisions, and an extraordinary resolve to survive hard times."

Working Paper No. 9

February 1997

The Cultural Politics of Global Economic Integration

Craig Calhoun, Sociology, New York University

Few people, Calhoun observes, have responded "to the real material challenges of global capitalist economic integration simply as workers." In fact, workers suffer economic privations "as heads of households, as members of communities, as religious people, as citizens-not just as workers." In this essay, Calhoun discusses the many ways workers have responded to globalization through cultural politics.

Working Papers Series

Published copies of some working papers are still available at the cost of $3.00 a unit.

For more information,
contact the Bridges Center.

Occasional Paper Series (1994-2003)

From 1994 to 2003, the Occasional Paper Series reproduced seventeen important lectures and scholarly papers sponsored by the Bridges Center during the academic year.

Click on a report title to download it.

Working Paper No. 1

October 1994

Harry Bridges, Labor Radicalism, and the State

Robert W. Cherny, History, San Francisco State University

For two generations of Americans, Harry Bridges was the leading voice of the left within organized labor and an important voice of dissent within American society more generally. In his paper, Cherny explores some of the meanings Bridges attached to "left-wing unionism" and the response of the state to those views.

Originally presented at "Harry Bridges and the Tradition of Dissent Among Waterfront Workers" conference, University of Washington, January 28, 1994.

Working Paper No. 2

June 1995

Harry Bridges, the ILWU, and Race Relations
in the CIO Era

Bruce Nelson, History, Dartmouth College

There has been a lively debate among labor historians about the CIO's record on race. How does the history of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the leadership of President Harry Bridges fit within these debates?

A version of this paper was published as "The 'Lords of the Docks' Reconsidered: Race Relations among West Coast Longshoremen, 1933-61" in Waterfront Workers: New Perspectives on Race and Class, Calvin Winslow, ed. Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

Presented at "Harry Bridges and the Tradition of Dissent Among Waterfront Workers" conference, University of Washington, January 28, 1994.

Working Paper No. 3

October 1995

Workers of the World at Century's End

Giovanni Arrighi

World capitalism evolves continually, and so too must working class organizations. What structures and strategies will the world labor movement have to develop entering the 21st century?

Presented at "Workers in the Global Economy: Organizing for a New Century" conference, University of Washington, Seattle, May 5-6, 1995.

Working Paper No. 4

August 1996

West Coast Aircraft Labor and the American Military-Industrial Complex, 1935-1941

Jacob Vander Meulen, History, Dalhousie University, Halifax

Vander Meulen recounts how the labor policies of West Coast aircraft builders, and the experiences of their workers in the years before Pearl Harbor offer a study in the politics and dynamics of industrial unionism in the late New Deal and Defense periods.

Working Paper No. 5

July 1997

'The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend': Labor and Independent Politics

Joel Rogers, Law, Political Science, and Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

To face a political and organizing climate quite different from the past, Rogers argues, labor needs a new organizing strategy and a new mass politics. He discusses the organizing and politics it will take to get there.

Working Paper No. 6

April 1998

Where Have All the Members Gone? Union Density in the Era of Globalization

Peter Lange and Lyle Scruggs, Political Science, Duke University

Lange and Scruggs examine the strength and structure of the domestic labor movement, exploring the impact of globalization on union density and the extent to which and how national configurations of union institutions and collective bargaining mediate this impact.

Working Paper No. 7

May 1998

Wage-Setting Institutions and Pay Inequality in Advanced Industrial Societies

Michael Wallerstein, Political Science, Northwestern University

The distribution of wages and salaries differs significantly across countries and over time among advanced industrial societies. In this paper, Wallerstein studies institutional and political determinants of wage inequality in sixteen countries from 1980 to 1992.

Working Paper No. 8

March 1999

The Lost City of Solidarity: Metropolitan Unionism in Historical Perspective

Colin Gordon, History, University of Iowa

As a form of collective bargaining, "metropolitan unionism" groups workers by region and occupation rather than by worksite and industry. In what ways, Gordon asks, does the idea and practice of "metropolitan unionism" claim important historical precedents? Under what circumstances did metropolitan unions, of one form or another, flourish? And how and why did they founder?

Working Paper No. 9

August 1999

World Crisis and Worker Response

Jeremy Brecher

Strikes seem to have occurred ever since some people were forced to work for others. There are records of strikes on the great pyramids of Egypt thousands of years ago. But strikes as we know them today arose with modern capitalism, when workers began selling their labor power in the market. In this paper, Brecher gives a history of strikes in the United States, and explores their usefulness as a tactic for labor in the future.

Presented at "STRIKES! Past and Future" conference, University of Washington, Seattle, March 5, 1999.

Working Paper No. 10

September 1999

Contesting Globalization on the Waterfront

Peter Turnbull, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Globalization has not only been contested on the waterfront by workers the world over, but these divergent struggles have delayed and in some ports diverted the ambitions of global capital. In this paper, Turnbull discusses globalization in the port transport sector, and the ensuing conflict between capital and labor, in an historical and international context.

Published in Politics & Society, September 1 2000, Volume 28, No. 3, 367-391.

Presented at "STRIKES! Past and Future" conference, University of Washington, Seattle, March 5, 1999.

Working Paper No. 11

September 1999

The Cultural Foundation of Resources, the Resource Foundation of Political Cultures: An Explanation for the Outcomes of Two General Strikes

Victoria Johnson, Sociology, University of Missouri-Columbia

Comparing the 1919 Seattle General Strike, and the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, Johnson argues that political climate and access to economic resources help to explain the divergent outcomes of the two strikes.

Published in Politics & Society, September 1 2000, Volume 28, No. 3, 331-365.

Presented at "STRIKES! Past and Future" conference, University of Washington, Seattle, March 5, 1999.

Working Paper No. 12

September 1999

The 1934 Strike: As Told by Sam Kagel, A Member of the 1934 Joint Marine Strike Committee

Sam Kagel

As a member of the Joint Marine Strike Committee, representing the Marine Engineers Union and the Longshore Union, Sam Kagel experienced the 1934 longshore strike up front, close, and personal. A friend and colleague of Harry Bridges, he worked closely with the labor leader during the 1934 strike, and recounts those memories here.

Presented at "STRIKES! Past and Future" conference, University of Washington, Seattle, March 5, 1999.

Working Paper No. 13

March 2000

Strikes! Past and Present - And the Battles in Seattle

Margaret Levi and David Olson, Political Science, University of Washington

In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Seattle General Strike, of the 65th of the Great Maritime Strikes, and of the rich labor tradition of labor militancy in the region, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies held a conference, STRIKES!, in March 1999.

Levi and Olson provide background to the historical events the March 1999 conference commemorated and consider the role large-scale labor actions may play more generally in regulating the global economy, drawing links to the November 1990 WTO protest events which occurred in Seattle eight months later.

Published in Politics & Society, September 1 2000, Volume 28, No. 3, 309-329.

Working Paper No. 14

October 2000

Globalizing Resistance: The Battle of Seattle and the Future of Social Movements

Jackie Smith, Sociology, State University of New York-Stony Brook

The massive opposition to the expansion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) during its Seattle meeting of Trade Ministers in late 1999 revealed a broad and diverse base of opposition to the expansion over recent decades of the neoliberal policies that have oriented the global economy. Smith traces the origins and mobilizing structures behind the Seattle contention and analyzes the tactics of this protest and their relevance to international institutional contexts.

Working Paper No. 15

December 2000

Institutionalizing Conflict: The Transaction Costs of Ameliorating Labor-Management Distrust

Margaret Levi, Matthew Moe, and Theresa Buckley, University of Washington

Focusing on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), this paper attempts to establish the costs to the public and effects on the players of an institution meant to alleviate distrust and the suboptimal effects of distrust. Additionally, the paper compares the transaction costs expended and saved by the creation of the NLRB.

Working Paper No. 16

February 2003

Inducing Preferences within Organization: The Case of Unions

Margaret Levi, Political Science, University of Washington

Contrasting the International Longshore and Warehouse Union1 (ILWU) under Harry R. Bridges, with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) under James R. Hoffa, Levi addresses issues related to the ordering of preferences within an organization. Analyzing leadership and institutional differences across several labor organizations offers a means to investigate how democratic, bargaining, and workplace institutions play a role in the ordering and inducing preferences and the evolution of social commitments.

Published in Preferences and Situations: Points of Intersection Between Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalism Ira Katznelson and Barry Weingast, eds., pp. 219-46. New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press, 2005.

Working Paper No. 17

October 2003

Labor and Civil Rights Movements at the Crossroads: Martin Luther King, Black Workers, and the Memphis Sanitation Strike

Michael Honey, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma

Although, most people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. died in Memphis, many don't know that he died in a struggle for the right of the working poor to join a union. Recounting the dangerous road King walked in 1968, Honey tells the story of the Memphis Sanitation Strike and explains why the memory of King and the Memphis movement remain so important today.