Insurgent Labor: Rank-and-File Teachers Organizing in California After World War II

Sara Smith
UC Santa Cruz

This dissertation examined the history of rank-and-file teachers’ organizing in California in the post-World War II period. Rather than writing a narrative history, it explored case studies that highlighted teachers’ efforts to promote union democracy, workers’ rights, and social and economic justice on a broad scale. The project highlighted organizing against discrimination, examining gay and lesbian teachers’ organizing against the homophobic Briggs initiative in 1977-1978. While labor historians have examined gender, race, and labor, there has been very little published about queer work or the influence of queer rights organizing on labor unions. This dissertation, overall, helped to enhance historiography on the still understudied relationship between the new social movements of the 1960s-1970s and the trade union movement.