As historian Michael Kazin argued in highlighting the scarcity of historical studies about the building trades, labor historians' concentration on centralized, mass production industries such as auto, steel, and electrical manufacturing has left out "one of humankind's oldest pursuits . . . essential to urban life and the single largest element of the AFL in its heyday. Until we know more about their history," he wrote, "that of American workers as a whole will suffer." The observation partially explains why, although literature on organized labor is vast, scholars have conducted few studies of unionism in the building trades, and none for Miami's labor history in the first half of the twentieth century. To understand unionism in this emerging New South city, discussion of the building trades-the American Federation of Labor's largest constituency-is essential. The growth of the city depended on construction of buildings and other structures. Behind the city-building rhetoric of boosterism existed the actual hard labor of white and black workers. Unionized labor capitalized on the vital role that skilled workers played in construction and used this position to gain a strong foothold in the labor market. Miami's fast growth, combined with effective union organizing, established the city's unions as partners in building the New South city.1
Castillo, Thomas A.
"Miami's Hidden Labor History,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 82:
4, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol82/iss4/4