Past Event

Café Society: The Struggle of Labor

This week’s topic will build primarily from The Public Square at the IHC & the Neighborhood Writing Alliances’ panel discussion”Representing Invisible Labor: How Art Speaks the Language of Labor”, which took place on Thursday, June 2nd.

The development of U.S. culture in the 20th century and that of the labor movement are inextricably connected. In the past election, however, just the second of the new millennium, behind the heated rhetoric regarding the war in Iraq, lurked a host of worries related to the decline of labor in the global economy.

Stable employment, employer-provided health care and other benefits that were the subject of bitter fights between labor and management decades before, and which the “greatest generation” used as their ticket to the middle class, have now eroded to the point that many of our nation’s workers feel they have been abandoned by both their political and union leaders. However, as the membership and influence of traditional unions have eroded, society’s view of what constitutes labor has evolved.

Unions traditionally represent and are comprised of workers in smokestack industries dominated by men. How does this affect other types of labor carried out by marginalized populations? Where in this environment does the increasing recognition of the importance of “women’s work” as a fundamental factor in the stability of families and society fit in? Why is it that artists labor is not valued as real “work” in our society?

What is responsible for this drastic shift in the geography of the American workplace? Are Benedict Arnold CEOs the culprit, or is there more to the issue than U.S. corporations’ race to the bottom competition with foreign adversaries? What role does labor have to play in the “Wal-Mart Economy”? Does an increasingly globalized economy demand a global labor movement as well?

Join us at the next Café Society to discuss these pressing questions concerning labor in the current political and economic climate.

This Week’s Articles

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.