Talking about Unions

Dr. Janis Thiessen, photo supplied

Dr. Janis Thiessen, photo supplied

UWinnipeg’s Janis Thiessen, Associate Professor of History, launches her book Not Talking Union: An Oral History of North American Mennonites and Labour at McNally Robinson on Wednesday May 18 2016 7:00 pm, Winnipeg, Grant Park in the Atrium.

Her book examines why the majority of Mennonites rejected labour unions in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Drawing on over a hundred interviews, Thiessen explores Mennonite responses to labour movements such as Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, as well as Mennonite involvement in conscientious objection to unions. This innovative study of the Mennonites – a people at once united by an ethnic and religious identity, yet also shaped by differences in geography, immigration histories, denomination, and class position – provides insights into how and why they have resisted involvement in organized labour. Not Talking Union adds a unique perspective to the history of labour, exploring how people negotiate tensions between their commitments to faith and conscience and the demands of their employment.

 

 

Not Talking Union: An Oral History of North American Mennonites and Labour, book cover

Not Talking Union: An Oral History of North American Mennonites and Labour, book cover

NOT TALKING UNION breaks new methodological ground in its close analysis of the oral narratives of North American Mennonites. Reflecting on both oral and archival sources, Thiessen shows why Mennonite labour history matters, and reveals the role of power and inequality in that history.

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