Paired Texts > Workers' Rights and the History of Labor Unions
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
This is a short biography of Ida B. Wells and the personal tragedy she experienced that pushed her to raise national awareness about violence and discrimination against African Americans.Ida B. Wells practiced some of the same strategies as labor unions (working toward the creation of laws and staging boycotts, as well as the power of the press) to create change and fight for the rights of Black Americans. How are the histories of Black civil rights and workers’ rights similar and different? Compare and contrast the kinds of rights people were seeking in each movement, and the strategies they used to create change.
"Song of the Shirt" (1843) by Thomas Hood is a lyrical, repetitive poem narrated from the perspective of someone in the working class.Pair “Song of the Shirt” with “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” to provide students with two angles on workers’ rights. How does the imagery in “Song of the Shirt” reflect the conditions described in “Workers’ Rights”? Does the poem depict the struggle of laborers accurately, as described in the informational text?
In this informational text on the Tiananmen Square massacre, students will learn about how peaceful protests for social, economic, and government change in China build until the ruling regime of the 1980s silences the voices of the people and ends the protests in a violent manner.Have students compare these two texts – one about an activist movement that was met with much success, and the other that was met with violence and further oppression – and ask them to discuss the differences between the two approaches. Why did one movement succeed, while the other failed? What can we learn from these two cases in history?
This informational text is an introduction to the United States Supreme Court -- who is on it, how cases are brought to the Supreme Court, and why it matters.Pair this informational text on the Supreme Court with “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” to discuss different ways Americans resolve disagreements. How does the Supreme Court relate to or compare with labor unions’ strategies, like collective bargaining or working with the government to create laws?
This informational text describes the hard lives of Mexican-Americans and immigrants who became migrant workers throughout the 20th century in the United States.Pair “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “Mexican Migrant Workers” and discuss the history of labor rights in the context of migrant workers, Mexican immigrants, and Mexican-American citizens. How do factors like immigration and race make collective bargaining for better treatment of workers more difficult? Why might Mexican migrant workers still face bad conditions today?
In "The Life of a U.S. Industrial Worker," the text walks the reader through a typical day in the life of a U.S. industrial worker and the poor, unsafe conditions they faced.Pair “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “The Life of a U.S. Industrial Worker” and ask students to discuss what they learned from both informational texts. How does the former inform their understanding of the latter? How does each text frame the subjects of labor and working class lives?
In "The Coeur d'Alene Miner's Uprising," two newspaper articles detail the 1892 Idaho miner's strike over unfair labor practices that left five people dead.Pair “The Coeur d’Alene Miner’s Uprising” with “Worker’s Rights and the History of Labor Unions” and ask students to discuss whether the historical background on labor unions helps them better understand and approve or disprove of the Coeur D’Alene miners’ actions.
In "Why Does No One Ever Thank Me for the Magna Carta?" King John reflects on why everyone should thank him for signing the Magna Carta.Pair “Worker’s Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “Why Does No One Ever Thank Me for the Magna Carta?” and ask students to discuss how people in both texts worked to gain their rights.
In the informational text "Dolores Huerta, Leader and Activist," Diane L. Brooks discusses the accomplishments of the labor and civil rights activist, Dolores Huerta.Pair “Workers’ Rights and History of Labor Unions” with “Dolores Huerta, Leader and Activist” to provide students with additional information about workers’ rights and unions. How do both texts explore the poor treatment of workers? How did organizing people to come together help improve the lives of workers in both texts?
In Ruth Spencer Johnson's short story, "Bound for a New Life," two children work in an English colony in America known as Jamestown.Pair “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “Bound for a New Life” to provide students with information about workers’ rights. Ask students to discuss how workers’ rights have changed over time in America. What basic rights did Sarah and Robert not have as workers in America? How might Sarah and Robert have gone about fighting for these rights?
In the informational text "Chocolate from Children," Deb Dunn discusses how child laborers pick cocoa beans for chocolate.Pair “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “Chocolate from Children” to provide students with information about labor unions. Ask students to discuss how labor unions changed labor laws in the United States. How did they improve working conditions for people? Do students think that labor unions could help cocoa farmers and prevent child labor? Why or why not?
In "Bayard Rustin," Britannica Kids explains how activist Bayard Rustin (1912-1987) served as an important civil rights adviser and organizer.Pair “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “Bayard Rustin” and have students discuss the similarities between the workers’ protest and peaceful protest. What strategies were used in both texts to bring awareness to their issues? Why is working in a group often more impactful than working alone? How are labor unions similar to civil rights organizations?
In "Rock the Boat," the speaker encourages readers to speak up if something feels wrong.Pair “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions” with “Rock the Boat” to give students a real-life example of people who “rocked the boat.” Why did workers come together to demand change according to “Workers’ Rights and the History of Labor Unions”? What are some reasons the speaker says people should “rock the boat” according to “Rock the Boat”? How did “rocking the boat” help workers create change?