Labor history bleg

C.R., a loyal MR reader, writes to me:

I'm writing with a small favor, I was wondering if you could recommend (or ask for recommendations on MR) for a good history of labor unions in the US. I know a lot has  been written especially from the left labor economists, but I don't have the knowledge to sort out the good from the bad. I'm interested in it from a historical perspective (origins and accomplishments) and a current political analysis perspective (what are reasonable claims about the costs&benefits of modern union membership).  The case in Wisconsin has really grabbed my attention and I'm curious about unions as a case study of the creation, growth and changes of institutions.

I know where to go for the standard economics of labor unions, if you wish start with the surveys in Journal of Economic Perspectives (on-line and free) and then go to the Handbook of Labor Economics.  But what about labor history?  What is the best way to approach this often controversial topic?


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