Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The American Right and U.S. Labor at UC Santa Barbara

Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California Santa Barbara, and Chris Tilly, UCLA, have just circulated a call for the conference "The American Right and U.S. Labor: Politics, Ideology, and Imagination," to be held January 16-17, 2009 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The conference will be hosted by the UCSB Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Other information is here. Lichtenstein and Till explain:
On the national scene and at the local level, the next few months promise to generate an intense debate on key issues facing the U.S. labor movement, as well as working Americans more generally. The effort to pass, or defeat, the Employee Free Choice Act will be central to this fight, but so too are questions arising over the role labor will play in the bailout of the financial, housing, and automobile sectors of the economy and in the character of the economic stimulus and recovery package now being crafted by the Obama Administration. Of course, an intense and systematic hostility to trade unionism on the part of American conservatism is hardly news. It has been a notable feature of the nation's political landscape for decades. But an understanding and deconstruction of this phenomenon requires something more than mere condemnation, especially during the next few years when an effort to reform American labor law, along with the rise of labor's influence within the Democratic Party, is almost certain to generate a furious and determined counter attack from those who seek to limit the power and marginalize the legitimacy of U.S. trade unionism.

Our conference, "The American Right and U.S. Labor," will explore the character of the political institutions, ideological impulses, and journalistic/rhetorical tropes deployed by those who oppose working-class self-organization and seek to delegitimize it in the larger world of culture, politics, and economic life. We have invited more than 30 historians, economists, sociologists, and legal scholars, among them Michael Honey, Sanford Jacoby, David Brody, Jefferson Cowie, Joe McCartin, David Witwer, Gordon Lafer, Catherine Fisk, John Logan, Reuel Schiller, Judith Stein, and Mel Dubofsky. The keynote speaker is Fred Feinstein, former General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board.

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