Historians, step up!

Union busting. Maine’s proposal to bring back child labor. People so desperate to get a foot in their door they’ll work for free.  State after state cutting healthcare for the poor and education to balance their budgets.  Cuts to the FDA, NOAA, the Geological Survey, and other agencies designed to keep us safe.  Thousands of people thrown out of their homes.  Meanwhile, not one Wall Street figure has gone to jail, despite clear evidence that they were involved up to their eyeballs in shady money deals.  The Copper Barons are dead, long live the Banking Barons.

The people of Wisconsin are regretting Scott Walker, and the people of Ohio are rethinking John Kasisch.  In Arizona, there’s a petition to recall Jan Brewer (although not, surprisingly enough, one to recall Senator Pearce, he of the ‘anchor babies’ bill, SB1070, and other anti-brown people bills).  Universities in Wisconsin that never thought much of unions before are unionizing.

Where are the historians?  Where are labor historians pointing out that we are reverting to early 20th century labor model? Where are the historians of public health decrying a return to disease and death? Where are the union historians making the case to the American people, union members or not, that unions gave them the 8 hour work day and those weekends they love so much?  Where are the experts in Jefferson and the Constitution who are making the case that no, the Founding Fathers didn’t have all the answers, and were well aware of it?  The AHA has decried the Wisconsin GOP’s attempt to sift through William Cronon’s emails looking for damning evidence (or, more likely, an offhanded remark that makes him look bad out of context), but why not take the next step? Why not start speaking on street corners, in classes, on legislative floors, in rallies in front of capitals?  Why not find a space for a public talk about union history, and its relevance today, and invite community members?

hell, I’m a medievalist, and I’m trying to do the last.

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Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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