Jacobin’s limited podcast Organize the Unorganized tells the story of the CIO and the 1930s and ’40s labor upsurge with the help of historians and activists. Start listening today.

Sit-down Strikers guarding window entrance to Fisher body plant at General Motors in Flint, Michigan, 1937.(Sheldon Dick / Library of Congress)

There have been many moments of labor upsurge in America: the influx of members into the Knights of Labor in 1886, the dramatic growth of unions during and after World War I, and the great wave of public sector unionism in the 1960s and ’70s. But none matches the period of the 1930s and ’40s, when millions of workers unionized under the aegis of the great labor federation the Congress of Industrial Organizations. If we’re looking to get millions of private sector workers into the labor movement today, there’s no better example than the ascendant period of the CIO.

In Organize the Unorganized, a podcast produced by the Center for Work and Democracy at Arizona State University and Jacobin, author Benjamin Y. Fong tells the story of the CIO with the help of prominent labor historians, including Nelson Lichtenstein, Dorothy Sue Cobble, Steve Fraser, Erik Loomis, Jeremy Brecher, Robert Cherny, Lizabeth Cohen, David Brody, Melvyn Dubofsky, and others. The multipart series begins with a short history of the organization from which the CIO broke off, the American Federation of Labor, and explores the central causes for the CIO’s founding: the broken promises of welfare capitalism, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the mass strikes of 1934.


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Organize the Unorganized will be available weekly on Jacobin Radio starting January 9. Subscribe and join us as we explore the rise, importance, and legacy of this crucial labor federation. In the meantime, check out its trailer today.

Subscribe on Apple and don’t miss an episode. Please rate us five stars there if you enjoy the material, too, so we can reach more people.

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