Cover for HALPERN: Down on the Killing Floor: Black and White Workers in Chicago's Packinghouses, 1904-54

Down on the Killing Floor

Black and White Workers in Chicago's Packinghouses, 1904-54

Workers' bitter struggle against the meat industry in Chicago

Rick Halpern examines the links between race relations and unionization in Chicago's meatpacking industry. Drawing on oral histories and archival materials, Halpern explores the experiences of and relationship between black and white workers in a fifty-year period that included: labor actions during World War I; Armour's violent reaction to union drives in the late 1930s; and organizations like the Stockyards Labor Council and the United Packinghouse Workers of America.

"An ideal case study to analyze one of the central problems in American labor history--the relationship between racial identity and working class formation and organization."--James R. Barrett, author of Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894-1922

"Meticulously researched, grounded firmly in extensive oral history and archival sources, and carefully argued, Down on the Killing Floor will be indispensable reading for everyone interested in race and labor."--Eric Arnesen, author of Brotherhoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality


Rick Halpern is a professor of history and Bissell-Heyd Chair of American Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He is the coauthor of Meatpackers: An Oral History of Black Packinghouse Workers and Their Struggle for Racial and Economic Equality.

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