CfP: North American Labor History Conference, "Labor & Democracy"

Call for papers, deadline 30 April 2020

The North American Labor History Conference, held annually since 1979, is holding its first biennial meeting October 15-17, 2020 on the theme of Labor and Democracy.


The year 2020 will see a presidential election in the United States. As labor scholars, historians, activists, archivists, and union members, we meet to consider the relationship of the labor movement and of working people to democratic governance and the contribution of workers and their institutions to the constitution of a democratic society. Across the globe, other states and societies are asking the same question.

The year 2020 is also the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which expanded suffrage to women in the United States. Part of a global movement toward the empowerment of women, women's suffrage as a right and a cause embraced by many working-class radicals and labor organizers, both men and women. Women's suffrage and women's political organization, especially through labor, is a subtheme of this conference. In other ways, 20/20 represents the point at which the right to vote had to be confronted as it was practiced, sometimes struggling against restrictions and sometimes against indifference, apathy, and fear.

In 2020, NALHC issues a call inviting panels, workshops, roundtable sessions, and papers discussing the experience of workers in democracies and the impact on democracies of organized labor and social movements of working people. Lawrence Glickman, author of Free Enterprise: A History, will offer a keynote speech. We will have a plenary panel discussing the connections between labor reform (as envisioned by John Commons) and political activism throughout labor history, a panel on labor and emerging democracies, a panel on the connection between woman suffrage (globally) and labor and/or class struggle, and a panel on labor and current political activism. Other topics are welcome.

Proposals for complete sessions should include a one-page session description and a one-page cv for each participant. Proposals for individual presentations should include a one-paragraph abstract and a one-page cv.

Submissions should be sent as a single PDF file by April 30, 2020 to conference coordinators Thomas Klug and Professor Elizabeth Faue, History Department, Wayne State University, at