Course Syllabus - School of Labor and Employment Relations

LER 300 “Workers, Unions and Politics”
Spring 2014. Three credit hours.
Online Course. January 21 to May 7
Robert Bruno, Full Professor, School of Labor and Employment Relations,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
[email protected]
Office phone:
(312) 996-2491
Office hours:
My office is not on the UIUC campus but at the LER Labor Education
Program office near the UIC campus. Therefore, I do not have office hours.
Please contact me by email or phone to arrange a phone appointment.
Office address: 815 W. Van Buren #110, Chicago IL 60607
What is the meaning and impact of politics seen from the perspective of those at the bottom of the
pyramid of political power rather than the usual focus on the actions and perceptions of political
elites? In what ways do workers become involved in politics? Under what circumstances are they
likely to be successful in bringing about change? The course explores political power, political
participation, and political change from a broad historical and cross-cultural perspective, but
always focusing on a view of politics from the bottom up. The course analyzes the political
economy of labor and the labor movement’s political influence in politics.
This is an upper-level course designed for juniors and seniors, with a prerequisite that students
have taken one or more political science courses. It will be helpful if you have some knowledge
of the labor movement and/or have taken an introductory level LER online class.
The course is divided into segments. Each segment’s lecture highlights important material from
the assigned reading, adds new information, and introduces the discussion forums.
Segment Days Open
January 27
February 9
Introduction. Labor’s Political Impact
19th Century Worker Voting Rights and Simple
Union Politics
Populist Movements, Early 20th Century Organized
Labor, and the Red Scare
The New Deal, Industrial Unionism, and Working
Class Political Integration
Working Class Conservatism: Richard Nixon and the
“Blue-Collar” Vote
-- Spring Break -Working Class Politics and the Union Vote
The Labor Movement, the White Working Class, and
the Democratic Party
January 21
January 28
February 10 February 23
February 24 March 9
March 10
March 21
March 22
March 31
April 14
March 30
April 13
May 7
There are no texts in this course. Your assigned reading is entirely online. You are assigned to
read about 51 journal articles and book chapters, plus a few web-based articles and websites.
I urge you to print out the chapters and journal articles so you can read them carefully and mark
them up. This is an upper-level course so the assigned reading averages 90-100 pages a week.
There are 555 possible points in this course. Three exams are worth 210 points (70 points each),
the Class Process Test is worth 5 points, the Final Exam Essay Paper is worth 100 points, and
participation in the 16 Discussion Forums is worth 240 points (15 points per forum).
Segments Assignment
Discussion Forums
Class Process Test
Exam 1
Exam 2
Exam 3
Campus labor event
Final Exam Essay Paper
1st day of segment
January 21
February 22
March 18
April 12
May 4
The course grading scale is:
A+ 98% 544-555
B+ 88% 488-498
93% 516-543
B 83% 461-487
A- 90% 499-515
B- 80% 444-460
Last day of segment
January 27
February 25
March 21
April 15
(extra credit) (5)
May 10
C+ 78% 433-443
C 73% 405-432
C- 70% 388-404
D+ 68% 377-387
D 63% 350-376
D- 60% 333-349
Tuesday, January 21 to Monday, January 27 (7 days)
Introduction to the Class. Explaining Labor’s Political Impact
Class Process Reading:
 “Class Process”
 “What is a Threaded Discussion?”
 “Grading Forum Posts for Content”
 “Getting Started in your LER Online Class”
 Chapter: J. David Greenstone, Labor in American Politics, Conclusion
 Chapter: William Form, Segmented Labor, Fractured Politics: Labor Politics in
American Life, Chapter 3
 Journal: Benjamin Radcliff and Patricia Davis, “Labor Organization and Electoral
Participation in Industrial Democracies,” American Journal of Political Science, 44, 1
(January 2000): 132-141.
Journal: Harry Rubenstein, “In Pursuit of the Labor Vote,” Labor’s Heritage, The
George Meany Center for Labor Studies, Summer 1996
Journal: Robert Biggert, “Why Labor Wins, Why Labor Loses: A Test of Two Theories,”
The Sociological Quarterly, 38, 1 (Winter 1997): 205-224
Journal: Barbara Flick, “Not Just Collective Bargaining: The Role of Trade Unions in
Creating and Maintaining a Democratic Society,” WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and
Society, 12 (June 2009): 249-264.
 National Public Radio Interview on Labor Unions’ Role in Modern Politics
 Take the “Class Process Test” by 11:30 p.m. on Monday, January 27
Discussion Forums:
 1A: Introductions
 1B: Unions and American Democracy
Wednesday, January 28 to Sunday, February 9 (13 days)
19th Century Worker Voting Rights and Simple Union Politics
Electronic Reserve Reading:
 Martin Shefter, “Trade Unions and Political Machines: The Organization of the American
Working Class in the Late Nineteenth Century,” in Working-Class Formation: NineteenthCentury Patterns in Western Europe and the United States edited by Ira Katznelson and
Aristide Zolberg, pp. 197-213
 Michael Kazin, The Populist Persuasion, Chapter 3
 Franklin Rosemont, “Workingmen’s Parties,” in Working for Democracy: American
Workers from the Revolution to the Present, edited by Paul Buhle and Alan Dawley
 Gerald N. Grob, “Origins of the Political Philosophy of the A. F. of L., 1886-1896,” The
Review of Politics, 22, 4 (October 1960): 496-518
 Melvyn Dubofsky, The State and Labor in Modern America, Chapter 2.
 Robin Archer, “Unions, Courts and Parties: Judicial Repression and Labor Politics in Late
Nineteenth-Century America, Politics and Society, 26, no. 3 (September 1998): 391-422
Compass Reading:
 President Woodrow Wilson Attack on Organized Labor in New York Times, 1909
 Sara Burnett, Associated Press, “Illinois unions hold strong despite blows to organized
labor and pressing pension crisis,” November 4, 2013
Discussion Forums:
 2A: Labor and Political Partisanship
 2B: Labor and Socialism
Monday, February 10 to Sunday, February 23 (14 days)
Populist Movements, Early 20th Century Organized Labor, and the Red Scare
Electronic Reserve Reading:
 Gary Marks, Unions in Politics, Chapter 6
 Patricia Cayo Sexton, The War on Labor and the Left, Chapter 9
Richard Oestreicher, “Urban Working-Class Political Behavior and Theories of American
Electoral Politics, 1870-1940,” Journal of American History 74 (March 1988): 1285-86
 Murray Seidler, “The Socialist Party and American Unionism,” Midwest Journal of
Political Science, 5, 3 (August 1961): 207-236
 Stanley Coben, “A Study in Nativism: The American Red Scare of 1919-20,” Political
Science Quarterly, 79, 1 (March 1964): 52-75
 Patrick Renshaw, “The IWW and the Red Scare 1917-24,” Journal of Contemporary
History, 3, 4, (October 1968): 63-72
Compass Reading:
 Lawrence R. Jacobs, Op-Ed “Right vs. Left in the Midwest,” New York Times, November
23, 2013
 Exam 1 will be available at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 22 and is due by 11:30 p.m.
on Tuesday, February 25.
Discussion Forums:
 3A: IWW and Radical Labor
 3B: The War on Labor’s Politics
Monday, February 24 to Sunday, March 9 (14 days)
The New Deal, Industrial Unionism, and Working Class Political Integration
Electronic Reserve Reading:
 Stephen Amberg, “The CIO Political Strategy in Historical Perspective: Creating a HighRoad Economy in the Postwar Era,” in Organized Labor and American Politics, 18941994: The Labor Liberal Alliance edited by Kevin Boyle
 David Milton, The Politics of U.S. Labor: From the Great Depression to the New Deal,
Chapter 4
 Michael Goldfield, “Was There a Golden Age of the CIO? Race, Solidarity, and Union
Growth,” in Trade Union Politics, edited by Glen Perusek and Kent Worchester
 Melvyn Dubofsky, The State and Labor in Modern America, Chapter 6
 Thomas Spencer, “Labor’s Non-Partisan League, 1936-1944,” Labor’s Heritage, The
George Meany Center for Labor Studies, Spring/Summer 2004
 Louise Overacker, “Labor’s Political Contributions,” Political Science Quarterly, 54, 1
(March 1939): 56-68.
 Gerald Friedman, “The Political Economy of Early Southern Unionism: Race, Politics, and
Labor in the South, 1880-1953,” The Journal of Economic History, 60, 2 (June 2000): 384413.
 Jennifer Luff, “Labor’s Counter-Reformation: Labor Anticommunism in the1930’s.”
Discussion Forums:
 4A: The Politics of the New Deal
 4B: The Politics of the CIO
Monday, March 10 to Friday, March 21 (12 days)
Working Class Conservatism: Richard Nixon and the “Blue-Collar” Vote
Electronic Reserve Reading:
Bruce Miroff, The Liberals’ Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identify Crisis of
the Democratic Party, Chapter 10.
 Thomas Ferguson and Joel Rogers, Right Turn: The Decline of the Democrats, Chapter 2
 Andrew Battista, “Political Divisions in Organized Labor, 1968-1988,” Polity, 24, 2.
(Winter 1991): 173-197
 Harry Holloway, “Interest Groups in the Postpartisan Era: The Political Machine of the
AFL-CIO,” Political Science Quarterly, 94, 1 (Spring 1979): 117-133.
 Jeff Cowie, “Nixon’s Class Struggle: Romancing the New Right Worker, 1969-1973,”
Labor History, 43, 3 (2000): 257-83.
 Joshua B. Freeman, “Hardhats: Construction Workers, Manliness, and the 1970 Pro War
Demonstrations,” Journal of Social History (Summer 1993): 725-739.
 Edmud F. Wehrle, “Partisan for the Hard Hats”: Charles Colson, George Meany, and the
Failed Blue-Collar Strategy,” Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas
(Fall 2008): 45-66.
Compass Reading:
 CBS News Story: “Tea Party Supporters: Who They Are and What They Believe,”
December 14, 2012
 Read from newspaper selections and check out photos (i.e., Nixon in hardhat) in The Hard
Hat Riots: An Online History Project
Web Videos:
 President Nixon intervenes in the 1970 postal strike (8 minute NBC news segment)
 Nixon Rallies Silent Majority
 George McGovern Political Advertisement
 The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Commercials 1952-2008
 The Choice (campaign commercial done in 1964 by Barry Goldwater)
 Exam 2 will be available at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 18 and is due by 11:30 p.m. on
Friday, March 21.
Discussion Forums:
 5A: Conservative Workers, Conservative Politics
 5B: Labor and Liberal Politics
-- Spring Break: Saturday, March 22 to Sunday, March 30 -SEGMENT SIX
Monday, March 31 to Sunday, April 13 (14 days)
Working Class Politics and the Union Vote
 Chapter: Larry Bartels, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded
Age, Chapter 3.
 Chapter: Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win
the Working Class and Save the American Dream, Introduction.
 Journal: Taylor E. Dark, “Organized Labor and Party Reform: A Reassessment,” Polity,
28, 4 (Summer 1996): 497-520.
 Journal: David J. Sousa, “Organized Labor in the Electorate, 1960-1988,” Political
Research Quarterly, 46, 4 (December 1993): 741-758.
Journal: Michael LeRoy, “The 1988 Elections: Re-emergence of the Labor Bloc Vote?”
Labor Studies Journal (Spring 1990): 5-32.
 Journal: Charles M. Rehmus, “Labor and Politics in the 1980s,” Annals of the American
Academy of Political and Social Science, 473 (May 1984): 40-51.
 Journal: Paul Clark, “Conservative Interest Group Impacts on Union Voters: The Link
Between Social and Economic Issues,” Labor Studies Journal, 22 (1998): 47-61.
 Journal: Robert Bruno, “Illinois Labor and the Return to Class Politics,” Working USA:
The Journal of Labor and Society, 4, 1 (Summer 2000): 92-126.
 Journal: Monica Bielski Boris and Robert Bruno, “Not Ready to Make Nice”: The Politics
of Identity and Why Union Voters Wanted a Class Champion in 2008,” Labor Studies
Journal, 35, 1 (March 2010): 94-115.
 Journal: Donald Beachler, “Race, God and Guns: Union Voting in the 2004 Presidential
Election,” Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, 10 (September 2007): 311325.
Compass Reading:
 “Labor Woos Whites for Obama,” Wall Street Journal 10/7/08
 Nate Silver, “The Effects of Union Membership on Democratic Voting,” New York
Times, February 26, 2011.
 Exam 3 will be available at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 12 and is due by 11:30 p.m. on
Tuesday, April 15.
Discussion Forums:
 6A: Labor’s Class Politics
 6B: Special Interest or Political Organization?
Monday, April 14 to Wednesday, May 7 (24 days)
The Labor Movement, the White Working Class, and the Democratic Party
 Chapter: Taylor Dark, Unions and the Democrats: An Enduring Alliance, Chapter 8
 Chapter: Ruy Teixira and Joel Rogers, Why the White Working Class Still Matters,
Chapter 1
 Chapter: Robin Archer, Why is there no Labor Party in the United States? Conclusion
 Journal: Taylor Dark, “Organized Labor and the Congressional Democrats:
Reconsidering the 1980s,” Political Science, 1 (Spring 1996): 83-104
 Journal: Michael Goldfield, “Labor in American Politics--Its Current Weakness,” The
Journal of Politics, 48, 1 (February 1986): 2-29.
 Journal: Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, “Does the Electoral Path Work for
Labor,” WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, 4, 1 (Summer 2000): 8-18.
 Journal: David Reynolds, “Labor and the Third-Party Route,” WorkingUSA: The Journal
of Labor and Society, 4, 1 (Summer 2000): 49-72.
 Journal: Robert Bruno, “From Union Identity to Union Voting: An Assessment of the
1996 Election,” Labor Studies Journal, 25, 3 (Fall 2000): 3-28
 Journal: Donald Beachler, “Victory and the Promise of Reform: Labor and the 2008
Election,” WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, 12 (June 2009): 265-277.
 Bill Fletcher “Organized Labor and Obama,” Labor and Working-Class History
Association Newsletter, Spring 2009
 Michael Kazin, “But He Needs a Movement,” Labor and Working-Class History
Association Newsletter, Spring 2009
Compass Reading:
 Robert Kuttner, “Champions of the Middle Class: Can organized labor lead a movement to
restore broad economic security? It’s hard to imagine who else will. The American
Prospect, March 1, 2011
 Nelson Lictenstein, “Labor’s Role in the Obama Era: A Troublesome and Unreliable
 Melvyn Dubofsky, “Labor’s Role in the Obama Era: A Comment”
 David Moberg, “Unions Played Major Unsung Role in Obama Victory,” In These Times,
November 13, 2012.
Web Video:
 “Mouseland,” 8 minutes, Canadian New Democratic Party
 The Campus Labor Event is _____, 6:30 - 8:00 pm in the Noyes 100 auditorium. Extra
credit papers are due in Assignments by _____ 11:30 p.m.
 The Take-home Final Exam will be available at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 4 and is due by
11:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 10.
Discussion Forums:
 7A: The Clinton-Labor Way
 7B: Labor’s Working-Class Agenda
 7C: The Politics of Money or Membership?
 7D: Labor’s Politics Post-2008