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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Concern for health and safety, along with the desire for higher wages and shorter workdays, inspired and shaped the organized labor movement in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The risks of work-related illness and disability were of grave importance to working people and the unions they formed to represent their interests. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the organized labor movement sought to minimize disability by making workplaces safer and working-class people’s living conditions better. Still, the movement understood disability as a common experience in working people’s lives and thus advocated for disability rights and policies to support disabled citizens’ access to health care, financial security, educational and economic opportunities, and public spaces. The organized labor movement was also an important site of disability activism, as unionized disabled workers pushed for disability rights.

Keywords: organized labor, unions, disability, workplace health and safety, accidents, welfare state, United States

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