The State and Labor in Modern America

By Melvyn Dubofsky

342 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4436-6
    Published: April 1994
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6115-8
    Published: November 2000
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6514-4
    Published: November 2000

Buy this Book

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit
In this important new book, Melvyn Dubofsky traces the relationship between the American labor movement and the federal government from the 1870s until the present. His is the only book to focus specifically on the 'labor question' as a lens through which to view more clearly the basic political, economic, and social forces that have divided citizens throughout the industrial era. Many scholars contend that the state has acted to suppress trade union autonomy and democracy, as well as rank-and-file militancy, in the interest of social stability and conclude that the law has rendered unions the servants of capital and the state. In contrast, Dubofsky argues that the relationship between the state and labor is far more complex and that workers and their unions have gained from positive state intervention at particular junctures in American history. He focuses on six such periods when, in varying combinations, popular politics, administrative policy formation, and union influence on the legislative and executive branches operated to promote stability by furthering the interests of workers and their organizations.

About the Author

Melvyn Dubofsky, Distinguished Professor of History and Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, is author of several books, including John L. Lewis: A Biography and We Shall Be All: A History of the IWW.
For more information about Melvyn Dubofsky, visit the Author Page.


"[Dubofsky] likes the historical imaginations of social scientists, and his method is to blend their insights within a traditional framework focused on the Presidency in order to 'bring the state back in' to labor history."--New York Times Book Review

"The State and Labor in Modern America is an excellent book with many powerful and well-substantiated points."--Industrial and Labor Relations Review

"An expert guide to the half-century of political and legal turmoil that preceded Taft-Hartley and a persuasive reaffirmation of the significance of organized labor in twentieth-century history."--American Historical Review

"Dubofsky's analysis is bracing and should generate much debate."--Journal of American History

"A masterful history of the federal law of industrial disputes and collective bargaining in the century after 1873. . . . The State and Labor in Modern America is also first-rate history, the best synthesis yet published of the public policy of labor relations in industrial America."--Reviews in American History

"This expert historical essay should be read by all political scientists."--Political Science Quarterly