Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-l48q4 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-25T05:33:15.650Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

9 - Labor’s Welfare State: Defining Workers, Constructing Citizens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Michael Grossberg
Affiliation:
Indiana University
Christopher Tomlins
Affiliation:
American Bar Foundation, Chicago
Get access

Summary

This chapter analyzes the emergence of labor law as a distinct field. It examines the discursive and political struggles that gave birth to state regulation of collective bargaining, the passage of employment standards legislation, and the growth of social provision during the first half of the twentieth century. Definitions of work and worker, embedded in legislation and upheld by courts, proved crucial not only for civil rights on the job but also for citizenship rights in the developing welfare state. These rights, whether to old age insurance and unemployment or to minimum wages and union representation, depended on an individual’s social as well as occupational position and, for those programs subject to discretionary implementation in the states, even geographical location. By equating work with wage labor, excluding motherwork and other forms of caregiving, law and social policy privileged the adult man in his prime as the ideal worker. The needs and experiences of the industrial worker, predominantly white men, constituted the norm; the woman, pregnant, immigrant, disabled, older, child, and African American worker was considered a special type, requiring protection when not prohibited from the workforce or relegated to lower paid and intermittent labor.

The standard story told by generations of historians since the 1940s celebrates the New Deal and the labor law regime that nourished and was made possible by the rise of industrial unionism, especially the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). But this veneration of collective bargaining and mass organization of basic industry obscures the larger contours of welfare state development for which constructions of work and worker were fundamental.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Byerley, Victoria, “Corine Lytle Cannon,” oral history in Hard Times Cotton Mill Girls: Personal Histories of Womanhood and Poverty in the South (Ithaca, NY, 1986).Google Scholar
Casebeer, Kenneth M., “Unemployment Insurance: American Social Wage, Labor Organization and Legal Ideology,” Boston College Law Review, 35 (March 1994).Google Scholar
Caux, Len, “A Right That Had To Be Won,” Union News Service (April 17, 1937).Google Scholar
Davis, John P., “Blue Eagles and Black Workers,” The New Republic 81 (November 14, 1934)Google Scholar
Douglas, Paul H., Standards of Unemployment Insurance (Chicago, 1933).Google Scholar
,House Ways and Means Committee, Hearings on the Economic Security Act, H.R. 4120, 74th Cong., 1st Sess., February 6, 1935.
Kleeck, Mary, “An Outline of Principles,” Unemployment Insurance Review 4 (1935)Google Scholar
Lynd, Staughton, “The Right to Engage in Concerted Activity After Union Recognition: A Study of Legislative History,” Indiana Law Journal 50 (1974–75).Google Scholar
Marconnier, Emily S., to Borchardt, Selma M., July 21, 1953, Borchardt Collection, Box 99, folder 11, Wayne State University Archives.Google Scholar
,National Labor Relations Board, Legislative History of the National Labor Relations Act, 1935, 2 vols. (Washington, DC, 1949).
Perkins, Frances, “The Reminiscences of Frances Perkins: Book IV, US Department of Labor and the First Year of the New Deal,” Interview with Dean, Albertson, December 3, 1955, Oral History Research Office, Columbia University, n.p.Google Scholar
Roosevelt, Franklin D., “April 8, 1938,” The Complete Presidential Press Conferences of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 9 (New York, 1972).Google Scholar
Rosenman, Samuel I., ed., Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 2 (New York, 1938).Google Scholar
Townsend, Willard S., “One American Problem and a Possible Solution,” in Rayford, Logan, ed., What the Negro Wants (Chapel Hill, NC, 1944).Google Scholar
,U.S. Congress, Senate, Economic Security Act, 74th Cong., 1st Sess., 1935.
,U.S. Congress, Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Banking and Currency on Full Employment Act of 1945, S.380, 79th Cong., 1st Sess., July 30-September 1 (Washington, DC, 1945).
Weber, Devra, Dark Sweat, White Gold: California Farm Workers, Cotton, and the New Deal (Berkeley, 1994).Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×