In 2008, GM closed its manufacturing plant in Dayton, Ohio, sending the community into a tailspin. Workers who had been unionized at GM struggled to find jobs that paid close to the wages the plant had paid.
In There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America, journalist Philip Dray follows the labor movement as it grew out of 19th century uprisings in textile mills. There are several parallels between those historical battles and what is currently going on in Wisconsin, he says.
As president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Andy Stern led his union -- along with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and several others -- out of the AFL-CIO to start the Change to Win Federation, the first new labor movement in 50 years.
We remember Anthony Mazzocchi, who died Saturday at the age of 76. He was a lifelong labor activist and a longtime union official who led the drive for the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In 1996, he founded the Labor Party in the United States. This interview first aired July 26, 1995.
Political Economist Barry Bluestone and former United Auto Workers (UAW) Vice President and Barry's father, Irving Bluestone. Irving retired from his position at the UAW and as director of its General Motors department in 1980. Barry teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts. Together, they have written "Negotiating The Future," which offers suggestions for greater collaboration between labor and management.
Documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Her documentary, "American Dream," chronicles one of the most bitter strikes in recent labor history, the 1984 strike against the Hormel meat packing plant in Austin Minnesota. The film won the 1991 Oscar for best documentary feature. Kopple also won an Oscar in 1977 for "Harlan County, UsA," her documentary of a coal mine strike in Kentucky.
Author and labor attorney Thomas Geoghegan (GAY-GUN). He was an observer for the dissident faction in a United Mine Workers election in the 1970s and he defended steelworkers stripped of their pension rights in the 1980s. He's written a new book, "Which Side Are You On?: Trying to be for Labor When it's Flat on its Back," which looks at the decline of the labor unions in the 1980s from the view of someone who came to join the union staff as a young idealistic lawyer hoping to use the law as an instrument for social change. (published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
Democratic senator Paul Tsonga argues that political liberalism has become untenable, particularly with regard to domestic economic policies. He argues for what he dubs "compassionate realism" as a guiding principle for the United States. Fresh Air listeners call in with their questions.
The historian and prolific writer talks about the influence of communist organizations and movements in the United States and abroad. He is careful to point out the positive influence of communists in American labor movements, and cautions against viewing communism in different countries as a monolithic force.
Philip Foner is the foremost historian on the labor movement in the U. S. He is the author of over eighty works, including a four volume history of the American labor movement, "Organized Labor and the Black Worker," and "Women and the American Labor Movement," the second volume of which was recently published. He is currently a visiting professor at Rutgers University.