American Labor Unions: A Historical Perspective

American labor unions, a major force in the American economy for several decades after World War II, today represent only about the same percentage of workers as they did in the 1920s.  This talk will try to explain how/why this decline has occurred and its impact.

Before his retirement in early 2012, for 25 years Jim Cavanaugh was president of the South Central Federation of Labor, an umbrella organization for all labor unions in a dozen counties in the greater Madison area.  Prior to that he earned a masters degree in history from the University of Wisconsin and worked for a dozen years at the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Since retiring he has co-produced a six part history of the American labor movement available to everyone on YouTube; links can be found on the Wisconsin Labor History Society website.  Currently he remains a delegate to the South Central Federation of Labor, a board member of the Madison Community Foundation, and vice president of Worker Justice Wisconsin.