In the heyday of American labor, the influence of local unions extended far beyond the workplace. Unions were embedded in tight-knit communities, touching nearly every aspect of the lives of members—mostly men—and their families and neighbors. They conveyed fundamental worldviews, making blue-collar unionists into loyal Democrats who saw the party as on the side of the working man.
Today, unions play a much less significant role in American life. In industrial and formerly industrial Rust Belt towns, Republican-leaning groups and outlooks have burgeoned among the kinds of voters who once would have been part of union communities. This episode explores why that’s happened and whether new unions coming online at places like Starbucks may change the picture moving forward.
Our guest is Lainey Newman, a J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School and co-author with Theda Skocpol of Rust Belt Union Blues: Why Working Class Voters are Turning Away from the Democratic Party. Newman is a graduate of Harvard College and a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
See the podcast here.