Labor and Working-Class History Association

Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) is a non-profit association of academics, educators, students, and labor movement and other activists that promotes research into and publication of materials on the history of the labor movement in North and South America. Its current president is Michael Honey, a professor at the University of Washington Tacoma.

LAWCHA also works to create and sustain relationships with labor unions, workers' groups and community activist organizations, and to make labor history more accessible to union members and other workers.

LAWCHA also works to promote the teaching of workers' history in public elementary and secondary schools, and seeks to foster the preservation of historic sites important to the labor movement.


LAWCHA was founded in 1998. At the time, various labor scholars felt that existing professional organizations, while effective and worthwhile in their own way, did not focus on labor history and lacked an emphasis on workers and local worker organizations. Conversations about forming a new organization occurred on various listservs, especially, H-Labor, part of H-Net.

At a caucus of interested historians at the 1997 North American Labor History Conference in Detroit, Michigan, participants decided to form a new association. An organizing committee, chaired by Elizabeth Faue and Julie Greene, and a constitution and by-laws committee, led by John Bukowczyk and Roger Horowitz, were formed. A constitution was drafted in late 1997 and early 1998, and the organizing committee debated the constitution in mid-1998.

The organizing committee presented the draft constitution to the founding members of LAWCHA at the 1998 North American Labor History Conference. The constitution was approved, and LAWCHA officially founded. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) was elected LAWCHA's first president and Joe W. Trotter, Jr. (Carnegie Mellon University) its first vice-president.

LAWCHA grew steadily throughout 1999, and held its first public meetings as part of a panel at the 1999 North American Labor History Conference. LAWCHA quickly began hosting an extensive program of activities at various history conferences in the U.S. and Canada.

LAWCHA's other past presidents have included former James Green and Alice Kessler-Harris.

Organizational structure

Membership in LAWCHA is essentially open to the public, although as of late 2006 most members were academics or labor union members.

LAWCHA is governed by the membership, which meets annually at the North American Labor History Conference.

LAWCHA's members elect four officers: A president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary. Officers serve two-year terms, and the president and vice-president are term-limited to one term only. Ordinarily, the vice-president succeeds the president, who then stays on the executive committee as immediate past president. LAWCHA's executive offices at Duke University; the executive secretary and sole staff person of the organization is a history department graduate student.

LAWCHA members also elect a board of directors of eighteen individuals. One-third of the board is up for re-election each year. The four officers, executive secretary, and the immediate past-president of LAWCHA also serve on the board. The officers and executive secretary constitute an executive committee, which governs the organization between meetings of the membership and the board of directors.


LAWCHA publishes a scholarly journal and a newsletter. The membership newsletter began publication in 2005 and appears twice a year.

LAWCHA's second publication is "", which began publication in 2005 as well. In February 2004, the entire editorial board and much of the staff of the journal "Labor History" left that publication after a disagreement with publisher Taylor and Francis over the direction of the journal. According to Leon Fink, the former editor of "Labor History", the principal issue was maintaining the journal's editorial independence. LAWCHA's then-president, James Green negotiated an agreement which led to the founding of "Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas". "Labor" is co-published by LAWCHA and Duke University Press.

"Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas" received the 2005 award for "Best New Journal" from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. The award was given to the best new academic journal to start publication in the previous three years.

LAWCHA is bound by its by-laws to produce an electronic newsletter. Currently, this takes the form of a list serve on H-Net's H-Labor forum.


LAWCHA co-sponsors conferences around the country. In 2005 and 2006, it cosponsored Wayne State University's North American Labor History Convention in Detroit; in May 2007 it co-sponsored Southern Labor History Conference at Duke, [] ; and in June 2008 it will co-sponsor the 40th annual convention of the Pacific Northwest Labour History Association.

Awards given

Each year, LAWCHA awards a Graduate Research Essay Prize to the best paper by a graduate student presented at the North American Labor History Conference. In 2007 it inaugurated the Herbert Gutman Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in U.S. Labor and Working-Class History. Also starting in 2007 it began a collaboration with Cornell University, and the Philip Taft Labor History Book Award is now given by Cornell in cooperation with LAWCHA. Finally, LAWCHA occasionally gives a prize for "distinguished service to labor and working-class history." The first was given in 2007 to David Montgomery; another will be given at the 2008 conference to David Brody.


*Smallwood, Scott and Glenn, David. "Editor of 'Labor History' Quits, and Dozens Join Him." "Chronicle of Higher Education." July 4, 2003.
*Zieger, Robert. "Origins and Development of the Labor and Working-Class History Association." No date. [] Accessed Dec. 11, 2006.

External links

* [ Labor and Working-Class History Association]
* [ "Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas" Web site]

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