While the labor uprising in Madison, Wisconsin, in the winter and spring of 2011, was precipitated by a proposal from the Republican governor and senators to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, the movement itself transcended the ideologies, structures, and practices of collective bargaining. The composition, dynamics, and internal life of this uprising provides a model for the revival of the US labor movement, which revolves around economic, political, and cultural democracy more than collective bargaining per se. As the labor movement struggles to shape a new future, it will find more substance in its eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century past than it will in the mid-twentieth-century heyday of the New Deal and institutionalized collective bargaining.

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