Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast — Episode 47: Jeremy Milloy on the Political Economy of Workplace Violence

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Who Makes Cents is a monthly program, sponsored by Verso Books, devoted to producing engaging stories that explain how capitalism has changed over time. In interviews with historians and social and cultural critics primarily, though not exclusively, focused on U.S. history, the show highlights the political and economic changes that have created the present. Each episode gives voice to the people who have shaped capitalism — by making the rules or by breaking them, by creating economic structures or by resisting them.

Just last week in the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the court undermined the power of organized labor in the public sector by making it, for all intents and purposes “right to work.” As our former guest, Sarah Jaffe wrote in the New York Times about the decision: “the corporate class … and its allies on the Supreme Court have dealt labor another body blow.”

On this episode, we speak about the literal violence that can manifest on the job if oppressive workplace conditions are left unaddressed. Jeremy Milloy argues that workplace violence from the 1960s-1980s needs to be considered not only as a private matter, but as a matter of politics and economics.

Jeremy Milloy is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Frost Centre for Canadian and Indigenous Studies at Trent University. He is author of Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Violence at Work in the North American Auto Industry, 1960-80.

Listen below or click here to download. 

Betsy A. Beasley is a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. She specializes in urban history, transnational labor, and international business in the twentieth century. Her current book project, Service Capital: Houston and the Making of a Postcolonial Oil Economy, traces Houston-based oilfield services executives who promoted a new ideology of American internationalism that envisioned the U.S. not as a center of manufacturing and production but as a white-collar headquarters serving the world through its provision of expertise. She cohosts and produces Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast with David Stein.

David P. Stein is a Lecturer in the Departments of History and African American Studies at UCLA. He specializes in the interconnections between social movements, public policy, and political economy. His first book, Fearing Inflation, Inflating Fears: The Civil Rights Struggle for Full Employment and the Rise of the Carceral State, 1929–1986, will be published by the University of North Carolina Press. He co-hosts and produces Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast with Betsy Beasley.