Monday, May 17, 2010

History of the unemployed

The always interesting Economic Principals reflects on a recent historical transformation: the great wave of involuntarily retired workers dropped from the workforce in the economic crisis. It goes on to reflect on Studs Terkel's oral history Working, other works of journalism that pay homage to working life and its difficulties, and various groups of workers who have refused to let their experience go undocumented.

Canadian working class history, I think, has done well in this regard. I'm thinking of books like Sobel and Meurer's Working at Inglis (pictured), about the Toronto appliance (and sometimes armaments) factory now replaced by condos. And all the work of the Hamilton labour historians, some of it noted here. And the remarkable Workers' Arts and Culture Centre in that city. And probably a hundred other local working-class history projects that I've never heard of.

But much of the history of labour in Canada has been sustained directly or indirectly by organized labour. Who will remember the clerical and administrative workers that EP identifies as the principal victims of this wave of cutbacks?
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