Cover for Caldemeyer: Union Renegades: Miners, Capitalism, and Organizing in the Gilded Age. Click for larger image

Union Renegades

Miners, Capitalism, and Organizing in the Gilded Age

The self-interest behind joining, or not joining, a union

In the late nineteenth century, Midwestern miners often had to decide if joining a union was in their interest. Arguing that these workers were neither pro-union nor anti-union, Dana M. Caldemeyer shows that they acted according to what they believed would benefit them and their families. As corporations moved to control coal markets and unions sought to centralize their organizations to check corporate control, workers were often caught between these institutions and sided with whichever one offered the best advantage in the moment. Workers chased profits while paying union dues, rejected national unions while forming local orders, and broke strikes while claiming to be union members. This pragmatic form of unionism differed from what union leaders expected of rank-and-file members, but for many workers the choice to follow or reject union orders was a path to better pay, stability, and independence in an otherwise unstable age.

Nuanced and eye-opening, Union Renegades challenges popular notions of workers attitudes during the Gilded Age.

"For anyone who assumes that joining a union in the late-nineteenth-century coalfields reflected a simple choice, Union Renegades is a stunning catalog of the various factors that shaped the complex calculation that workers had to make. Caldemeyer’s deeply researched study joins a growing list of scholarship exploring attitudes about unions, capitalism, and power in the rural-industrial heartland. Its lessons are important for our time."--Kenneth Fones-Wolf, coauthor of Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: White Evangelical Protestants and Operation Dixie


Dana M. Caldemeyer is an assistant professor of history at South Georgia State College.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/39dem6cr9780252043505.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Making the World Safe for Workers - Cover
Making the World Safe for Workers

Labor, the Left, and Wilsonian Internationalism

Elizabeth McKillen

Fostering on the Farm - Cover
Fostering on the Farm

Child Placement in the Rural Midwest

Megan Birk

The World in a City - Cover
The World in a City

Multiethnic Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century Los Angeles

David M. Struthers

Hamlin Garland, Prairie Radical - Cover
Hamlin Garland, Prairie Radical

Writings from the 1890s

Hamlin Garland

Labor’s Mind - Cover
Labor’s Mind

A History of Working-Class Intellectual Life

Tobias Higbie

Labor Justice across the Americas - Cover
Labor Justice across the Americas

Edited by Leon Fink and Juan Manuel Palacio

Breadwinners - Cover
Breadwinners

Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920

Lara Vapnek

Black Flag Boricuas - Cover
Black Flag Boricuas

Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897-1921

Kirwin R. Shaffer

Beer and Revolution - Cover
Beer and Revolution

The German Anarchist Movement in New York City, 1880-1914

Tom Goyens

Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland - Cover
Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland

Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America

Edited by Linda Allegro and Andrew Grant Wood

Upon the Altar of Work - Cover
Upon the Altar of Work

Child Labor and the Rise of a New American Sectionalism

Betsy Wood

Disruption in Detroit - Cover
Disruption in Detroit

Autoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom

Daniel J. Clark

Good, Reliable, White Men - Cover
Good, Reliable, White Men

Railroad Brotherhoods, 1877-1917

Paul Michel Taillon

Workers in Hard Times - Cover
Workers in Hard Times

A Long View of Economic Crises

Edited by Leon Fink, Joseph A. McCartin, and Joan Sangster

American Unemployment - Cover
American Unemployment

Past, Present, and Future

Frank Stricker