Scope and Content of Collection
Title: California and West Coast labor and industrial relations,
Bulk Dates: 1945-1980
Collection number: IRLE-LB01
University of California, Berkeley--Institute
for Research on Labor and Employment
1,169 digital objects
University of California, Berkeley. Institute for Research on Labor and
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Abstract: During the mid-twentieth century, the American Labor Movement
reached a pinnacle of power and influence within society. The extent of labor's
reach was often seen in its concerted efforts to secure better pay, better working
conditions and reliable pensions for its members. This digital repository enables
scholars to study broad trends in U.S. labor and industrial relations by providing
access to original materials from a variety of authors, organizations and government
agencies, which together provide a multi-disciplinary perspective on the life and
times of the labor movement between 1945 and 1980. The collection includes original
documents, pamphlets, company publications, union reports, student papers and
theses, and is divided into five areas of focus: General Labor; Longshore Workers;
Minority Workers; Older Workers; and Personnel Policies.
Physical location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English
Collection is open for research.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials
must be submitted in writing to the Library.
California and West Coast labor and industrial relations, selected publications,
IRLE-LB01. Institute for Research on Labor and
Employment Collections, University of
The collection represents publications collected by the former Institute for Research on
Labor and Employment Library.
During the mid-twentieth century, the American Labor Movement reached a pinnacle of
power and influence within society. The Second World War required that labor be
managed as a strategic resource; the high productivity of workers during the war
carried over in the peace time economy, which experienced a sustained economic
"boom." Unlike European labor relations, where unions play an "official" role in
government, the American trade union system does not allow for an official "place at
the table" for unions. U.S. labor unions nonetheless wielded extensive political
power and also were in a position to influence social policy in a wide of array of
The extent of labor's reach was often seen in its concerted efforts to secure better
pay, better working conditions and reliable pensions for its members. These
priorities spilled over into the non-unionized workplace, where management actively
sought to stay "union-free" by matching or improving upon union benefits. It could
be argued that workers benefited from this competition. However, even as labor
reached the apex of its power, it was already becoming more bureaucratic, more
institutional and less bold in its actions. At the same time, management
associations remained virulently anti-union, and the Cold War triggered widespread
probes of unions as potential "hot beds" of communist activity. Even as the U.S.
labor movement reached many of its goals with respect to policy and influence, it
found itself beset from all directions with competing and even hostile forces within
the fabric of society.
This multi-disciplinary collection captures some of the flavor of the times. It
provides original documents, pamphlets, company publications, union reports, student
papers and theses that explore the state of American Labor during these heady years.
The collection has five areas of focus:
- General labor
- Longshore Workers
- Minority Workers
- Older Workers
- Personnel Policies
The General Labor category offers a cross-section of materials that breathe life into
the debate about the leading issues of the times. Longshore Workers explores the
tumultuous post-war history of the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association, with
original materials from both organizations as well as related materials. Minority
Workers made important strides in the workplace, both during World War II and in the
years following the war. It could be argued that the workplace of the 1950s was a
front line in the civil rights movement, because work was a forum where all kinds of
people came together for a common purpose. Older Workers and Personnel Policies both
explore societal attitudes toward the work force, which was comparatively "youthful"
at the time, but was certain to "age" as the twentieth century progressed. Personnel
Policies, including pension policies of the era reveal a direct look at how policy
making was formed and implemented.
This digital collection was funded by the University of California Labor and
Employment Research Fund (LERF). The Fund enabled the Institute for Research on
Labor and Employment Library to digitize a large percentage of the Federation's
Scope and Content of Collection
This digital repository enables scholars to study broad trends in U.S. labor and
industrial relations. It provides access to original materials from a variety of
authors, organizations and government agencies, which together provide a
multi-disciplinary perspective on the life and times of the labor movement between
1945 and 1980.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog.
Aging--Economic aspects--United States.
Discrimination in employment
Labor unions and communism
Migrant agricultural laborers
Older people--Economic conditions.
Wages and labor productivity