May Day and International Workers’ Day commemorate the 1886 Chicago Haymarket affair and the fight for representation and rights for laborers worldwide — as well as the continuing efforts and struggle of the labor movement. This May Day, UC Press is highlighting titles that shed light on labor that is often invisible and overlooked.
Hidden Work in the Contemporary World
by Marion Crain, Winifred Poster, and Miriam Cherry
Across the world, workers labor without pay for the benefit of profitable businesses—and it’s legal. Labor trends like outsourcing and technology hide some workers, and branding and employer mandates erase others. Invisible workers who remain under-protected by wage laws include retail workers who function as walking billboards and take payment in clothing discounts or prestige; waitstaff at “breastaurants” who conform their bodies to a business model; and inventory stockers at grocery stores who go hungry to complete their shifts. Invisible Labor gathers essays by prominent sociologists and legal scholars to illuminate how and why such labor has been hidden from view.
California has held an exceptional place in the imagination of Americans and immigrants since the Gold Rush, which saw the first of many waves of working people moving to the state to find work. From Mission to Microchip unearths the hidden stories of these people throughout California’s history. The difficult task of the state’s labor movement has been to overcome perceived barriers such as race, national origin, and language to unite newcomers and natives in their shared interest. As chronicled in this comprehensive history, workers have creatively used collective bargaining, politics, strikes, and varied organizing strategies to find common ground among California’s diverse communities and achieve a measure of economic fairness and social justice. This is an indispensible book for students and scholars of labor history and history of the West, as well as labor activists and organizers.
Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire
Puerto Rican Workers on U.S. Farms
by Ismael García-Colón
Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire is the first in-depth look at the experiences of Puerto Rican migrant workers in continental U.S. agriculture in the twentieth century. The Farm Labor Program, established by the government of Puerto Rico in 1947, placed hundreds of thousands of migrant workers on U.S. farms and fostered the emergence of many stateside Puerto Rican communities. Ismael García-Colón investigates the origins and development of this program and uncovers the unique challenges faced by its participants. A labor history and an ethnography, Colonial Migrants evokes the violence, fieldwork, food, lodging, surveillance, and coercion that these workers experienced on farms and conveys their hopes and struggles to overcome poverty.
Two women, virtual strangers, sit hand-in-hand across a narrow table, both intent on the same thing-achieving the perfect manicure. Encounters like this occur thousands of times across the United States in nail salons increasingly owned and operated by Asian immigrants. This study looks closely for the first time at these intimate encounters, focusing on New York City, where such nail salons have become ubiquitous. Drawing from rich and compelling interviews, Miliann Kang takes us inside the nail industry, asking such questions as: Why have nail salons become so popular? Why do so many Asian women, and Korean women in particular, provide these services? Kang discovers multiple motivations for the manicure-from the pampering of white middle class women to the artistic self-expression of working class African American women to the mass consumption of body-related services. Contrary to notions of beauty service establishments as spaces for building community among women, The Managed Hand finds that while tentative and fragile solidarities can emerge across the manicure table, they generally give way to even more powerful divisions of race, class, and immigration.
The Labor of Lunch
Why We Need Real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools
by Jennifer E. Gaddis
The Labor of Lunch aims to spark a progressive movement that will transform food in American schools, and with it the lives of thousands of low-paid cafeteria workers and the millions of children they feed. By providing a feminist history of the US National School Lunch Program, Jennifer E. Gaddis recasts the humble school lunch as an important and often overlooked form of public care. Through vivid narration and moral heft, The Labor of Lunch offers a stirring call to action and a blueprint for school lunch reforms capable of delivering a healthier, more equitable, caring, and sustainable future.