Ruth Milkman (born December 18, 1954) is a professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Joseph F. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, where she is also Academic Director.
- 1 Education and career
- 2 Research focus
- 3 Memberships and awards
- 4 Published works
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Education and career
Milkman's grandparents emigrated to the United States around 1910, and the family's last name was bestowed on them by an immigration official at Ellis Island. Milkman obtained a bachelor's degree in 1975 from Brown University. She was awarded a Master of Arts in sociology in 1977 and a Ph.D. in sociology in 1981, both from the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1981, Milkman was appointed an assistant professor, then associate professor, of sociology at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. In 1986, she was a visiting lecturer in American labor history at the University of Warwick in Coventry, United Kingdom, a visiting professor at the University of São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil in 1990, a visiting research scholar at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia in 1991, and a visiting research associate at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris in 1993. She won an appointment as an associate professor at UCLA in 1988, where she is now a full professor of sociology.
She was appointed director of the UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations in 2001. From 2001 to 2004, Milkman also was director of the UC Institute for Labor and Employment prior to its restructuring as a research fund.
Milkman's research focus is on the sociology of work. She has a strong interest in the American labor movement and labor history. She has also published extensively on low-wage workers and the sociology of gender in the U.S. Milkman writes from a "new labor history" perspective.
One of Milkman's earliest published works, Women, Work and Protest: A Century of U.S. Women's Labor History, was widely praised for its cross-disciplinary focus and for highlighting the important role women played in the American labor movement. The book was cited for being "rich in the variety of detailed case material offered in exploring the experiences of women employed in many occupations and industries around the country. Also included are two excellent chapters on the role of on women's auxiliaries in strike initiatives of male unions." It is now considered a "classic work" in the field of labor studies. Her second major work, Farewell to the Factory: Autoworkers in the Late Twentieth Century, questioned the common assumption that technological changes are almost always negative for skilled and unskilled blue-collar workers, and was well-reviewed within the industrial relations and labor history academic communities.
In 2004, Milkman co-edited Rebuilding Labor: Organizing and Organizers in the New Union Movement with Kim Voss. The book was highly influential within the American labor movement for its empirical nature and focus. As one reviewer noted, "Rebuilding Labor breaks new ground in providing rich empirical material and careful analysis for understanding the dynamics of contemporary labor organizing. The book as a whole is a very persuasive demonstration of the crucial value of systematic empirical research for the labor movement." Labor union activists pointed to the chapters by Bronfenbrenner and Hickey, DiNardo and Lee, Sharpe, Penney and Lopez as important in improving organizing practices. The chapter by Daisy Rooks on the nature and culture of organizing work has also generated much discussion.
In 2006, Milkman released L.A. Story, a case study of four organizing campaigns in Los Angeles, California, which drew some remarkable conclusions. First, Milkman argues that emergence of relatively innovative unions such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), UNITE HERE and the United Food and Commercial Workers from the conservative AFL-CIO is as noteworthy as the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1935. Second, Milkman's analysis of four SEIU Los Angeles-area organizing campaigns concludes that the most effective organizing strategy is a top-down one. Milkman doesn't discount extensive worker involvement, but argues that it is less important than other studies have found. Third, Milkman argues that the primary factor in the failure of union organizing campaigns is lack of resources (money and staff) rather than employer opposition, legal factors or the failure to use or improper implementation of good organizing tactics.
L.A. Story elicited debate in the academic community and labor movement for two reasons. First, Milkman's conclusion about the top-down nature of effective union organizing flies in the face of the "new labor history", which argues that workers should not only be the focus of academic research but in fact are the most important facet of the labor movement. In some ways, Milkman's conclusions are reminiscent of the institutionalist and Hegelian historicist perspective of older labor theorists such as Selig Perlman, Philip Taft and John R. Commons. Milkman's findings also contradict to a significant degree the conclusions of other scholars such as Bronfenbrenner and Juravich, who find that greater levels of worker involvement in union organizing can be equated with a higher degree of union success. For labor activists, Milkman's book is controversial because it seems to suggest that union democracy is not an important factor in either union organizing success or in the revitalization of the labor movement.
Milkman co-authored a 2009 study of low-wage workers in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago which found that these laborers are routinely denied overtime pay and often illegally paid less than the minimum wage.
Memberships and awards
Milkman has received a number of honors in her career.
She has served on the editorial board for a number of scholarly journals, including Feminist Studies, Politics and Society, the American Journal of Sociology, Gender and Society, International Labor and Working-Class History, Contemporary Sociology, the British Journal of Industrial Relations, Industrial Relations and Work and Occupations.
Her book, Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II, won the 1987 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in Women's History from the American Historical Association (AHA). The Joan Kelly Memorial Prize draws more submissions than most other AHA competitions, with an estimated 45 to 70 books competing in any given year.
- Farewell to the Factory: Autoworkers in the Late Twentieth Century. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1997. ISBN 0-520-20677-0
- Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex During World War II. Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1987. ISBN 0-252-01352-2
- L.A Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006. ISBN 0-87154-635-3
Solely edited books
- Organizing Immigrants: The Challenge for Unions in Contemporary California. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8014-3697-4
- Women, Work and Protest: A Century of U.S. Women's Labor History. Boston: Taylor and Francis, 1985. ISBN 0-415-06592-5
- Milkman, Ruth and Voss, Kim, eds. Rebuilding Labor: Organizing and Organizers in the New Union Movement. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8014-4265-6
- Milkman, Ruth; Bloom, Joshua and Narro, Victor, eds. Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy. Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, 2010. ISBN 0-8014-7580-5
- "American Women and Industrial Unionism During World War II." In Behind the Lines: Gender and the Two World Wars. Margaret Randolph Higonnet, Jane Jenson, Sonya Michel and Margaret C. Weitz, eds. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-300-03687-6
- "Gender and Trade Unionism in Historical Perspective." In Women, Politics, and Change. Patricia Gurin and Louise Tilly, eds. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1990. ISBN 0-87154-884-4
- "Immigrant Organizing and the New Labor Movement in Los Angeles." In Unions in a Globalized Environment. Bruce Nissen, ed. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2002. ISBN 0-7656-0869-3
- "Labor and Management in Uncertain Times: Renegotiating the Social Contract." In America at Century's End. Alan Wolfe, ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1991. ISBN 0-520-07476-9
- "The New American Workplace: High Road or Low Road." In Workplaces of the Future. Paul Thompson and Chris Warhurst, eds. London: Macmillan, 1998. ISBN 0-333-72800-9
- "The New Deal, the CIO, and Women in Industry." In The New Deal 50 Years After: A Historical Assessment. Wilbur J. Cohen, ed. Austin, Tex.: LBJ School of Public Affairs, 1986. ISBN 0-89940-415-4
- "Organizing Immigrant Women in New York's Chinatown." In Women and Unions: Forging a New Partnership. Dorothy S. Cobble, ed. Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, 1993. ISBN 0-87546-300-2
- "Rosie the Riveter Revisited: Management's Postwar Purge of Women Auto Workers." In On the Line: Essays in the History of Auto Work. Nelson Lichtenstein and Stephen Meyer, eds. Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1989. ISBN 0-252-01539-8
- "Union Responses to Workforce Feminization in the United States." In The Challenge of Restructuring: North American Labor Movements Respond. Jane Jenson and Rianne Mahon, eds. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-87722-981-3
- "Women Workers and the Labor Movement in Hard Times: Comparing the 1930s with the 1970s and 1980s." In Women, Households and the Economy. Lourdes Beneria and Katherine Stimpson, eds. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-8135-1263-8
- "Women Workers, Feminism, and the Labor Movement Since the 1960s." In Women, Work and Protest: A Century of U.S. Women's Labor History. Ruth Milkman, ed. Boston: Taylor and Francis, 1985. ISBN 0-415-06592-5
- Milkman, Ruth and Wong, Kent. "Organizing Immigrant Workers: Case Studies from Southern California." In Rekindling the Movement: Labor’s Quest for 21st Century Relevance. Lowell Turner, Harry Katz and Richard Hurd, eds. Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8014-3874-8
- Milkman, Ruth and Wong, Kent. "Organizing the Wicked City: The 1992 Southern California Drywall Strike." In Organizing Immigrants: The Challenge for Unions in Contemporary California. Ruth Milkman, ed. Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8014-3697-4
- Waldinger, Roger; Erickson, Chris; Milkman, Ruth; Mitchell, Daniel J.B.; Valenzuela, Abel; Wong, Kent; and Zeitlin, Maurice. "Helots No More: A Case Study of the Justice for Janitors Campaign in Los Angeles." In Organizing to Win. Kate Bronfenbrenner, Sheldon Friedman, Richard Hurd, Rudolph A. Oswald and Ronald L. Seeber, eds. Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8014-8446-4
- "The Anti-Concessions Movement in the UAW." Socialist Review. 65 (1982).
- "Divided We Stand." New Labor Forum. 15:1 (2006).
- "Female Factory Labor and Industrial Structure: Control and Conflict over Woman's Place in Auto and Electrical Manufacturing." Politics & Society. 12:2 (1982).
- "Linking Research and Advocacy: The Case of Paid Family Leave." Contexts. 5:1 (2006).
- "The New Labor Movement: Possibilities and Limits." Contemporary Sociology. 27:2 (March 1997).
- "New Research in Women's Labor History." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 18:2 (Winter 1993).
- "Organizing the Sexual Division of Labor: Historical Perspectives on Women's Work and the American Labor Movement." Socialist Review. 49 (1980).
- "Redefining Women's Work: The Sexual Division of Labor in the Auto Industry During World War II." Feminist Studies. 8:2 (Summer 1981).
- "Win or Lose: Lessons from Two Contrasting Union Campaigns." Social Policy. 35:2 (2004/2005).
- "Women's History and the Sears Case." Feminist Studies. 12:2 (1986).
- "Women's Work and Economic Crisis: Some Lessons of the Great Depression." Review of Radical Political Economics. 8:1 (Spring 1976).
- Erickson, Christopher; Fisk, Catherine; Milkman, Ruth; Mitchell, Daniel J.B.; and Wong, Kent. "Justice for Janitors in Los Angeles: Lessons from Three Rounds of Negotiations." British Journal of Industrial Relations. 40:3 (September 2002)
- Milkman, Ruth and Pullman, Cydney. "Technological Change in an Auto Assembly Plant: The Impact on Workers' Tasks and Skills." Work and Occupations. 18:2 (May 1991).
- Milkman, Ruth; Reese, Ellen; and Roth, Benita. "The Macrosociology of Paid Domestic Labor." Work and Occupations. 25:4 (November 1998).
- Milkman, Ruth and Voss, Kim. "New Unity for Labor?" Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. 2:1 (2005).
- Greenhouse, Steven. "Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says." New York Times. September 1, 2009.
- "Illegal Workers: Are They Entitled to Sue?" United Press International. August 31, 2009.
- Morrison, Patt. "Strike Exposes a New and Ugly Wrinkle in Our Values." Los Angeles Times. September 22, 2000.
- Gonzalez, Christine. "Japanese Firms in State Pay Less, Study Asserts." Los Angeles Times. February 21, 1992; "Japan Brings Sweatshop to State." San Jose Mercury News. February 24, 1992; "Japanese Plants in U.S. Pay Far Less Than Average." Reuters. February 24, 1992; "Study Says Sweatshop Conditions at Japanese-Owned Plants in U.S." Associated Press. April 12, 1992; Kearns, Kevin L. "L.A.: You Can't Put a City Back to Work Without Real Jobs." Washington Post. September 6, 1992; Cleeland, Nancy. "L.A. Area Now a Model for Labor Revival." Los Angeles Times. September 6, 1999; Witherall, Graham. "Juggling Act: Plenty of 'Role Strain,' Little Consensus on Easing It." Los Angeles Times. August 12, 1996.
- Ronnie J. Steinberg, "Reviewed Work(s): 'Women, Work and Protest: A Century of U.S. Women's Labor History,' by Ruth Milkman," American Journal of Sociology, 92:5 (March 1987).
- Francine Moccio, " 'Women and Unions: Forging a Partnership.' (book reviews)," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, April 1996.
- Eaton, Adrienne E. "Review: Farewell to theFactory: Auto Workers in the Late Twentieth Century." Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 51:3 (April 1998); Harris, Howard. "Review: Farewell to the Factory: Auto Workers in the Late Twentieth Century." Labor Studies Journal. January 1999.
- Richard Flacks, University of California at Santa Barbara, quoted in "Rebuilding Labor," Cornell University Press, no date. Accessed 2009-09-02.
- Mendels, Pamela. "Help Wanted: Where Have All the Workers Gone?" Newsday. December 12, 1988.
- "York Professor's Book Wins Prestigious History Prize." York University Gazette. 27:20 (February 19, 1997).