This course presents a narrative of the last 200 years of American History through the lens of the telecommunications worker. As such, it is also a social history, referencing the life of the worker in the context of his/her times and examining shift work patterns and attitudes about work as a function of those times. The tensions between the two major initiatives for the formation of unions, personal/familial gain, and the desire for wholesale social change will be explored as the course moves from the experiences of the earliest linemen and telephone operators to today's sophisticated electronic specialists. Students will be asked to not only study the texts and readings assigned, but to utilize the workplace as "text" for their evaluation of the relevance and contribution of labor unions to the contemporary workplace.
One short research paper and one oral history, each consisting of no more than 7 pages or less than 5 full pages, will be assigned to facilitate the students' synthesis and analysis of the material covered.
Goals and Objectives
To answer the question, "What is work?" in the context of his/her own life and work as influenced by this study of 20th Century Labor History.
To analyze historical writings for point of view, objectives, and historical/social theory.
To articulate the major gains and shortfalls of the U.S. labor movement as experienced by the average citizen over the last century.
To evaluate the contributions of three major figures in the telecommunications labor movement in light of today's employment environment.