Dr. Lane Windham Wins the 2018 David Montgomery Award
Dr. Lane Windham ('15, History) has won this year's prestigious Organization of American Historians' David Montgomery Award with cosponsorship by the Labor and Working-Class History Association, for the best book on a topic in American labor and working-class history. Her recent book entitled Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide, counters the argument that the power of the labor movement declined in the 1970s as unions stopped organizing and workers turned away from unions.
Through her focus on women, people of color, and southerners, Windham contends that workers combined traditional working-class tools with new legislative gains and organizing strategies from the civil rights and women’s rights movements. Case studies of shipbuilding, textile, retail, service, and clerical employees reveal how labor organizing did not weaken or cease. Instead, labor’s ability to win union elections steeply declined, tracking the increase in employer resistance to union organizing. Windham’s book explores union organizing in both the industrial and service sectors, showing the vibrancy in union organizing in each, despite different constraints and obstacles. Windham also plumbs the national scene, looking at the push for new unionization and how corporations fought successfully to weaken labor law and its enforcement. Well organized and researched, utilizing an impressive range of sources, Windham’s Knocking on Labor’s Door showcases the voices of local working-class activists, even as it reveals a national story. It is an apt example of the legacy of labor and working-class history that David Montgomery championed and an important study of labor’s most misunderstood decade.
Windham is the Associate Director of Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. She also co-directs WILL Empower, an ambitious collaborative project with Rutgers University to promote women’s leadership in the labor movement, and the struggle for economic justice. She has published widely on issues of class, race, gender, and the future of work, including in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and the American Prospect.
"David Montgomery was a true working-class activist and scholar, and he's an inspiration to me. I'm deeply honored and humbled to receive this award in his name, especially because my brilliant advisor, Dr. Julie Greene of the University of Maryland, was a Montgomery student. Her insights and support shaped Knocking on Labor's Door, all the way through," says Windham.