Current Newsletter

President’s Letter

Greetings WCSA members!

The steering committee has been busy and productive.  It is a pleasure to be president with such a thoughtful, hard-working, and committed steering committee.

We remain committed to encouraging young people to come to our conferences and to building the youth constituency in the WCSA.  Toward this end:

1)  We passed and executed our Young Scholars and Activists Initiative (YSAI), whereby we will give seven young scholars or activists a stipend to defray conference costs if they come and present at our conference.  This is intended to be an ongoing initiative, to be offered at future conferences as well.  2)  We have initiated programming for the conference aimed specifically at newcomers and graduate students.  We have planned a pre-conference meet and greet on Wednesday from 5-6 pm, which all are welcome to attend.  By offering this event early in the conference program, we hope to begin a conversation about our work and commitment to working-class studies that will continue throughout the weekend. We also still have travel grants and conference scholarships available based on need.

We are looking forward to the 2014 conference at SUNY Stony Brook, as well as our 2015 collaboration with the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  Both conferences promise to be very exciting, and also to further our goals of increasing membership of not only young people but of scholars and activists of color, and GLBT scholars as well.

We are delighted that this spring’s conference will include a plenary of scholars of color, led by Aldon Morris of Northwestern University (with scholars Kris Marsh, Rashawn Ray, and Fredrick Harris).  Next year at Georgetown, we will give a posthumous lifetime achievement award to GLBT and working class activist Felice Yeskel, once a lively and inspiring WCSA member until she contracted liver cancer and died a few years ago.  Felice Yeskel was co-author of Economic Apartheid In America: A Primer on Economic Inequality (2000,revised 2005) with Chuck Collins.  Felice founded (and ran) the Stonewall center at U Mass, Amherst, as well as the non-profit Class Action, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of class.  She was given an award by the American Psychological Association for raising awareness of class and classism in America.  The WCSA is much poorer without her presence.

There is still much work to be done.  Our memberships are down and we urge all to renew your memberships and encourage others to join.  Remember, your membership dues allow us to give financial aid that enables people to come to conferences who might not otherwise be able to attend.  If we really want to grow our organization we need to help those who may not have funds provided by their schools (if they have academic work), or activists and independent scholars who may not work at schools.  We also urge you to consider a three-year, institutional or lifetime membership (respectively $60 to $125—based on employment status, $100 per year, or $1000) if possible.

Class in all its forms—economic inequality, income disparity, sociological and psychological disadvantage and disrespect—have reached epic proportions in our larger world.  Working class studies, making working class lives visible and advocating for the rights and respect that working class people deserve, is more important than ever (in our brief history as a field).  Our organization needs to expand and to reach out to many more people.  It is my hope the our collaboration with LAWCHA is just a beginning of collaborations with other organizations that care about class and the damage it inflicts on human beings and societies.

It has been my pleasure to be a small part of that effort. Finally, I want to thank the membership for the opportunity to be president of the WCSA and the steering committee for their hard work.  Working with our excellent steering committee is a joy.  Fighting to expand and build our field is very meaningful and rewarding for me personally and I hope I have given the WCSA even just a fraction of what working class studies has given to me over the years.


In solidarity, with inspiration and love,

Barbara Jensen

P.S. Let’s be in touch!

Centers and Programs

How Class Works 2014

The Center for Study of Working Class Life at SUNY Stony Brook will host the How Class Works – 2014 conference at Stony Brook June 5-7, 2014.  There will be a special pre-conference program for graduate …

Book Notes

Down_the_Up_Escalator_Barbara_Garson Down the Up Escalator: How the 99 Percent Live in the Great Recession (Doubleday), Barbara Garson

Barbara Garson’s classic All the Livelong Day documented the work and lives of a wide cross-section of workers in the late 1970s by travelling …

Book Reviews

Berry A Bitter Pill picTimothy Sheard, A Bitter Pill (Hard Ball Press, 2013)

By Courtney Maloney, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design

A Bitter Pill is the sixth book in Timothy Sheard’s Lenny Moss mystery series.  The amateur detective at the center of the …


Secretary’s Report

Michele Fazio

Along with the creation of an online archive of WCSA-related documents and information, the Steering Committee established travel scholarships for emerging scholars and activists in the field of working-class studies to be awarded this June at the SUNY Stony Brook conference.   Pre-conference events such as a meet and greet for graduate students and those new to the organization will be offered as well. Support was also given to fund the newly formed Pittsburg Collaborative for Working-Class Studies (PCWCS).

 Treasurer’s Report

Cherie Rankin 

The organization has a balance, between checking and Paypal accounts, of $28,505.15.

Donations to the travel grant fund, which helps participants in need attend the annual conference, are down significantly from last year.  You are encouraged, if you are interested, to send donations earmarked for the travel grant fund, to the Treasurer for this year’s conference.  My address is:

Cherie Rankin, PO Box 264, Emden, IL 62635

We are still dealing with wrinkles in the payment process for subscriptions for New Labor Forum.  The last couple checks I sent to NLF, accompanied by subscription information, have not been cashed by the publisher.  I/we are working on this, and a new process is in place with a new contact—so subscriptions will be submitted quarterly, beginning at the end of March.  In the meantime, I apologize for any confusion or miscommunication.  If you think you are subscribed to NLF but haven’t been receiving your journal, please contact me via email:  Again, I apologize for your trouble.


Member News

Steve Early’s book Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress has been published by Monthly Review Press. Find details about his current book tour here:

Michele Fazio and Sara Appel co-chaired a roundtable, “Class Vulnerabilities in the Academy,” at the Modern Language Association annual conference held January 2014 in Chicago.  Fred Gardaphé served as the respondent.

Michele Fazio appeared on 91.5 WUNC-Radio’s “The State of Things” with Frank Stasio in November 2013 to discuss the documentary, Voices of the Lumbee, which explores the economic conditions of rural Southeastern North Carolina and its impact on the Lumbee Tribe.  The film, produced by Fazio and Jason Hutchens, will be released in April 2014.  For more information, see

Lita Kurth has been working with Sacred Heart Community Service on affordable housing, namely a Housing Impact Fee to be imposed on developers that do not include any affordable housing. She would love to hear from others about work on affordable housing being done in other cities.  She can be reached at

 Gerald McCarthy’s new poetry appears or is forthcoming In North Dakota Quarterly, Italian Americana, Third Wednesday, The Chaffin Journal and House Organ.  In 2013 he was selected to participate in an NEH Summer Institute on African American History & Culture in the Georgia Lowcountry at the Georgia Historical Society in Savanna, Georgia.

 Elizabeth Seton Mignacca, Ph.D. has joined Holy Family University in Philadelphia, PA as the Assistant Director of Institutional Research and Assessment.  Prior to joining HFU, Dr. Mignacca was Program Administrator for the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration at Syracuse University.  Dr. Mignacca is a Sociologist and specializes in inequality studies, social stratification and class analysis.

 Sonali Perera published No Country: Working-Class Writing in the Age of Globalization (Columbia UP, 2014).

 Chris Rhomberg‘s book, The Broken Table: The Detroit Newspaper Strike and the State of American Labor (Russell Sage, 2012), received the 2013 Distinguished Scholarly Monograph Award from the American Sociological Association’s section on Labor and Labor Movements, and it was named one of the ten “Noteworthy Books in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics” for 2012 by the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University. His article, “Class and Collective Action: Writing Stories about Actors and Events,” appeared in Sociología Histórica (No. 2, 2013) in December 2013 in a special issue on the 50th anniversary of the publication of E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class.

Richard Roman (co) edited (with Edur Velasco Arregui) a special issue on the Mexican working class of  NACLA Report on the Americas (Spring 2014).  More information can be found here:

Larry Smith’s Bottom Dog Press has announced the release of two new books in their long running Working Lives Series.  First, award winning fiction writer Robert Flanagan’s Story Hour & Other Stories contains 10 stories of working-class Midwest. Flanagan is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and taught at Ohio Wesleyan University. This is his fifth book of fiction. Rebecca Schumejda has been writing about the world of the waitress and has just released Waiting at the Dead End Diner: Poems set in a local diner in upstate New York. It is truly a working-class book of poems that reads like a novel.
For more details see the website

A number of WCSA members recently edited and contributed pieces for a special issue of the journal International Labor and Working Class History which came out at the end of 2013.  Crumbling Cultures, edited by Tim Strangleman, Sherry Linkon & James Rhodes, brought together a range of scholars interested in the political, social and cultural impact and legacy of deindustrialisation and especially the impact of these features on working class families and communities. The articles featured writing on working class community in the USA, UK, Europe and Canada and included a focus on the literature of deindustrialisation, the visual response to industrial change as well as the material and political legacy of change. The issue and most of the articles developed from a series of panels run at the WCSA Chicago conference in 2011. More details of Crumbling Cultures can be found at:

Michael Zweig is pleased to announce release of the video “The Iraqi Marshes: Beauty and Civilization in Danger,” in time for viewing as part of the United Nations World Water Day events in Iraq and around the world on March 21.

English language version:

This 9-minute video introduces the natural beauty, people, culture, and historic significance of the Iraqi marshes in the Iraqi southeast, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – a civilization of marsh Arabs dating back continuously over 5,000 years to the Sumerian people.  Saddam Hussein’s regime drained the marshes in 1993, but they were restored by local people after 2003, only to be threatened again by a large dam now under construction in violation of many regulations on the Tigris River in Turkey.  UNESCO has accepted an application to declare the Iraqi marshes a World Heritage Site.

Please take this opportunity to enter an incredible part of the world, meet some of its people, and appreciate the threat now looming over this unique treasure of nature and civilization.

English language version:

Arabic version:

shot and edited by Jonathan Levin

directed by Jonathan Levin and Michael Zweig

produced by the Center for Study of Working Class Life

with support of the SUNY Stony Brook College of Arts and Sciences, Nancy Squires, Dean


The Murphy Institute part of CUNY School of Professional Studies has launched a new Scholarship in Labor Studies, designed to promote diversity of leadership in the labor movement and in the academic field of Labor Studies. The Institute is now …

The Working-Class Studies Association aims to develop and promote multiple forms of scholarship, teaching, and activism related to working-class life and cultures.