International Labor History Association (ILHA) Award

Caroline Waldron (she/they) Discussion

ILHA Book of the Year Award for 2015.

The International Labor History Association (ILHA) is pleased to announce the ILHA Book of the Year Award for 2015. Canadian labor historian Craig Heron is author of Lunch-Bucket Lives, Remaking the Workers’ City (Between the Lines Press, Toronto, 2015) – a remarkably thorough study of workers and their city of Hamilton, Ontario, over a fifty-year period, 1890-1940.

Since 1988 the ILHA has periodically recognized authors with a “Book of the Year” award for outstanding labor history contributions. Past award-winning authors include Mildred Beik, Joel Beinin, Carolyn Brown, Leon Fink, Dana Frank, James Green, Darryl Holter, Tera Hunter, Peter Linebaugh, Zachery Lockman, Elizabeth Perry, and Marcus Rediker.

Heron’s award-winning book illuminates the history of workers through the lens of race, class, gender, politics, ethnicity, economics, and social organizations. Labor struggles, ethnic histories, community interactions, familial intersections, employer repression of labor, and complex ethnographic details of a city’s labor landscape coherently become related and closely examined. The highly engaging narrative represents many years of careful research and reflection, convincingly revealing the inner dynamics of labor situated in an environment of deep anti-labor hostility, political struggles, community cross-pressures, societal and economic upheavals that, taken together, drove changes in the labor sphere. The limits of labor power are explored and close attention to the political actors given, including conservative, liberal, socialist, communist, and independent progressive tendencies, yet without a worn, cold-war ideological framework. Thus the book is a tour de force of social and labor history, bringing an ultra-comprehensive analysis of labor, management, youth and families, gender tensions, ethnic and community contributions, within the economic dynamics of a Canadian city and its labor movement. Craig Heron offers no happy tale, but a realistic and sobering elucidation of labor as it struggled to “hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope” [Martin Luther King, Jr.].

International Labor History Association
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