Advancing the Ivory-Collar/Blue-Collar Partnership

Source: James N. Gregory, Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 11 no 3, Fall 2014
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In recent years, labor scholars in Washington have developed close relationships with the state labor council, the M. L. King County (Seattle) Labor Council, and key unions, in part through efforts such as the living-wage campaigns. LAWCHA president Nancy MacLean challenged us to develop “campus-labor-community partnerships” in her recent essay in Labor Rising, citing examples of creative organizing by Chicago-area faculty members affiliated with the Center for Working-Class Studies. I want to share some additional observations based on experiences in the Seattle area.

The ivory-collar/blue-collar relationship in Washington State rests primarily on two institutions, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, founded in 1992, and the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association (PNLHA), which has held annual labor history conferences and other events in this region since the 1960s. Over the years, the Bridges Center and PNLHA have encouraged faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to interact on many levels with unions and social-justice organizations both off and on campus. Here are three techniques used in Washington that labor academics at other institutions might find useful….
• Invitations …
• Press work …
• Labor Archives …