“We Had the Right to Remain Silent, but We Ain’t Gonna Stay that Way”: The Rise of North Carolina’s Prisoner Labor Union, 1968-1974
This paper locates the origins of the movement to unionize prisoners in the public sector organizing campaigns of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Similar to individuals who worked for the government beyond the prison gates, many inmates understood themselves as performing labor that kept the state operating. As public sector union membership reached new heights in the early 1970s, prisoners formed their own unions in the hope of attaching their movement to an outside campaign that was winning, even as others faltered.
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