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Georgia State University

Presentation: The Origins of Labor-Union Democracy: A US-British Comparison

Presentation: The Origins of Labor-Union Democracy: A US-British Comparison

Matthew Dimick, winner of the 2009 Merl E. Reed Fellowship in Southern Labor History, will present on his topic on Friday, November 20, 2009. The presentation will be held at noon in the Colloquium Room at the Georgia State University Library (Library South, 8th Floor). The presentation is free and open to the public.

“The Origins of Labor-Union Democracy: A US-British Comparison” will focus on the internal democratic governance of labor unions and its potential, according to scholars and activists, to revitalize the labor movement in the US. This presentation examines the origins of union democracy by comparing the historical trajectories of the British Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) and the American International Association of Machinists (IAM). Despite a large amount of research on union democracy, very little of it has addressed the topic in a historical-comparative context. Thus, while it is known that levels of democracy differ significantly between US and British unions, no one has asked when these differences arose or what caused them.

Matthew Dimick is currently a Law Research Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. He holds a JD from Cornell Law School and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Between law school and graduate studies he worked in the General Counsel’s office of the Service Employees International Union in Washington, DC. His research centers on the relationships between law, labor unions, the labor market, and the economy, using historical and comparative methods to study questions arising from these topics.

Created in 2000, the Merl E. Reed Fellowship in Southern Labor History was named, at the urging of Dr. Gary Fink, to honor Dr. Reed’s career and role in the founding of the Southern Labor Archives. The award has recently been re-named to honor both Dr. Gary Fink and Dr. Reed, and beginning in 2010, the awards will carry the new name.

One or more awards of $250-$500 are given annually to individuals whose research in the Southern Labor Archives will lead to a book, article, dissertation, or other substantive product. In return, recipients agree to make a presentation about their research to the Georgia State University community within one academic year after receiving the award. Faculty members, graduate students, upper-level undergraduates, and recognized independent scholars and artists are encouraged to apply.

The deadline for the 2010 Reed Fink Award is November 30, 2009. For more information about the award, the presentation, or the Southern Labor Archives, please contact Traci Drummond at 404.413.2880 or at