Cartoon depiction of a labor strike

“Labor Day” Isn’t Labor Day

The annual worker’s holiday in the rest of the world is May Day. Why not here?
Engraving of the 1886 Haymarket protest

When Labor Day Meant Something

Remembering the radical past of a day now devoted to picnics and back-to-school sales.
A collage graphic featuring the couple from "American Gothic" at a cookout.

Labor Day in America: Or, the Day That is Not in May

America’s ambivalence about labor is nothing new. In the colonial era the ruling class had nothing but contempt for anything that could be justly called "work."
Phil Wiggins performs at the Blair Mountain Centennial. | Rafael Barker, collection of the WV Mine Wars Museum.

The Singing Left

At a recent commemoration of the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia, songs of struggle took center stage.
Autoworkers in Janesville's GM plant

Labor Day Used to Be a Grand Celebration in This Storied Factory Town

Then the factory closed and the union crumbled.
A Yale University student labeling and sorting Army recruitment posters on campus during World War I.

This Forgotten American Orwell Had a Lot to Tell Us

Malcolm Ross is unknown today. That’s too bad. This son of privilege has much to teach us about labor and civic leadership.
FDR signing bill

That Time America Almost Had a 30-Hour Workweek

A six-hour workday could have become the national standard during the Great Depression. Here's the story of why that didn't happen.
Workers atop the 70-story RCA building in New York's Rockefeller Center having lunch on a steel beam.

One of the Most Iconic Photos of American Workers is Not What it Seems

But “Lunch atop a Skyscraper,” which was taken during the Great Depression, has come to represent the country's resilience, especially on Labor Day.
Railway strike of 1886.

Why Strikes Matter

On the history (and future) of class struggle in America.

How (or How Not) to Build a Labor Movement

Looking at the Pullman Strike and the political forces it stirred.
Teachers and their supporters picketing.

The Media Still Gets the Working Class Wrong — But Not in the Way You Think.

The U.S. working class is tremendously diverse — and growing in strength.