Skip to Main Content

Labor and Employment: The American Worker

This database contains thousands of titles on the American workplace, covering the labor rights movement in the 19th century to the workplace of today.

Topic Overview

This database is dedicated to all the ways America works: the history of organized labor in the United States, its influence on labor law, and the many ways people work for a living.

In Britain, Norway, Australia, and many other industrial nations, the labor movement created a labor political party. This did not happen in the United States. The work of unions—for an eight-hour workday and a standardized 40-hour work week—influenced federal legislation that shaped the workplace of the 20th century.

Attempts in recent years to unionize Amazon warehouses and Starbucks locations have brought renewed attention to the importance of unions and conditions in modern workplaces. Issues of concern range from what is an adequate minimum wage, to what a 21st century workweek should look like. Broader issues, such as widening wage inequality, have even spawned massive social protests, such as Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

In December 2022, the Senate approved a bill that averted a major railroad strike. Using its power to block strikes involving transportation, the bill made the impending strike illegal and forced unions to accept a tentative agreement that had been reached earlier in the year. While the deal includes a compounded pay increase over the next five years, it did not give rail workers one of their key demands: paid sick time.


Visit Database


Database landing page, with introductory text displayed