Solidarity and Survival: An Oral History of Iowa Labor in the Twentieth Century

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9780877454311: Solidarity and Survival: An Oral History of Iowa Labor in the Twentieth Century

In Solidarity and Survival, three generations of Iowa workers tell of their unrelenting efforts to create a labor movement in the coal mines and on the rails, in packinghouses and farm equipment plants, on construction sites and in hospital wards. Drawing on nearly one thousand interviews collected over more than a decade by oral historians working for the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Shelton Stromquist presents the resonant voices of the men and women who defined a new, prominent place for themselves in the lives of their communities and in the politics of their state.
Told largely in their own restrained yet powerful words, this is a story direct from daily experiences in shop and mine, home and neighborhood. The locus of the story is Iowa, but in a larger sense the experiences of Iowa's workers offer a window on the national changes that American workers brought to their towns and workplaces. Their sit-downs to win recognition, their shopfloor struggles to give meaning to contracts with employers, their day-to-day fights for racial and gender equality are part of a larger story of American workers as agents of their own lives in this century. Their diversity - as women, African Americans, and other minorities, as immigrants and the children of immigrants farmers who left the land, and finally as heirs of a strong union tradition - mirrors the diversity of the American working class.
The collective impact of these voices is as deep and rich as Iowa soil. These workers' cumulative experiences give a human face to the changes that swept across the economic landscape of Iowa and the nation in the twentieth century.

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Shelton Stromquist is professor of history at the University of Iowa.

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