Introducing... Organize the Unorganized

There have been many moments of labor upsurge in America: the influx of members into the Knights of Labor in 1886, the dramatic growth of unions during and after World War I, and the great wave of public sector unionism in the 1960s and ‘70s. But none matches the period of the 1930s and ‘40s, when millions of workers unionized under the aegis of the great labor federation, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO. If we’re looking to get millions of private-sector workers into the labor movement today, there’s no better example than the ascendant period of the CIO.

In Organize the Unorganized, a podcast produced by the Center for Work & Democracy at Arizona State University and Jacobin, author Benjamin Y. Fong tells the story of the CIO with the help of prominent labor historians, including Nelson Lichtenstein, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Steve Fraser, Erik Loomis, Jeremy Brecher, Robert Cherny, Lizabeth Cohen, David Brody, Melvyn Dubofsky, and others. The multi-part series begins with a short history of the organization from which the CIO broke off, the American Federation of Labor, and explores central causes for the CIO’s founding: the broken promises of welfare capitalism, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the mass strikes of 1934.

Organize the Unorganized will be available weekly here on Jacobin Radio starting January 9. Subscribe and join us as we explore the rise, importance, and legacy of this crucial labor federation.

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