Jennifer Standish studies the social, legal, and political history of labor unions in the 20th century U.S. South. Her dissertation focuses on the history of “Right-to-Work” laws and union security agreements. Union organizers argue that these laws create a “free rider” problem, disincentivizing union participation and draining unions of their members, finances, and potential to strike. She is currently exploring how early iterations of these laws were rooted in agricultural industries and WWII labor coordination and management.
Jennifer’s master’s research focused on how Jim Crow laws—and their formal dissolution in the 1960s—shaped labor solidarities. Witnessing workplace surveillance, racism within and outside of labor organizing, and legal restrictions on worker activism in her own workplace cemented her interest in studying legal constraints to worker organizing on and off the job.
Jennifer received her B.A. from the University of Chicago in 2015. As a graduate student, she has enjoyed teaching undergraduate students in the history department and through the Southern Oral History Program. Her pedagogical interests extend beyond the college level, and she has been lucky to also work with North Carolina educators and teachers on K-12 curriculum development for U.S. history.