John Russo & Sherry Linkon

John Russo is the former co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies and coordinator of the Labor Studies Program at Youngstown State University. Currently, he is a visiting scholar at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and Working Poor at Georgetown University. He is also managing editor of the blog Working-Class Perspectives.

Sherry Linkon is a professor of English at Georgetown University and a faculty affiliate of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. Her book, The Half-Life of Deindustrialization, will be published by the University of Michigan Press in 2018. She is the editor of Working-Class Perspectives.

Recent Articles

He’s Back! Trump Returns to Youngstown

And despite his campaign promises, this onetime powerhouse of industrial America is still beleaguered—and could lose lots of jobs if Obamacare is repealed or replaced.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump visited the Youngstown area three times. On Tuesday, President Trump returned. Officially sponsored by his 2020 campaign, the rally at Youngstown’s Covelli Center provided him an opportunity to be buoyed by the cheers of 7,000 fans. While many of those attending Tuesday’s rally came from outside of the city and the region, Trump has significant support here, rooted in the politics of resentment. Distrust of government—and especially of politicians—developed in the aftermath of plant closings and downsizings that began in the late 1970s, as tens of thousands of workers in Youngstown and the surrounding Mahoning Valley lost jobs in steel mills, auto plants, and related industries. Many blamed environmental regulations, trade agreements, and corporate pursuit of cheap foreign labor, and they vowed to make those who negotiated NAFTA pay a price. Political resentment grew as candidate after candidate used crumbling...

Factory Towns to Trump: Don’t Defend Yourself by Invoking Us!

Pittsburgh and Youngstown push back against the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
To the injuries inflicted on America’s embattled factory towns, insults have long been added as well. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has now become insulter-in-chief. In the 2003 article “Collateral Damage,” the two of us traced how media reports on the impact of deindustrialization on Youngstown had shifted over time, from describing the city as the poster child for deindustrialization to representing the city as a place of loss and failure, then as a site of desperation, and finally as an object of ridicule. We argued that along with losing jobs to deindustrialization, communities like Youngstown could also lose their identities, as outsiders invoked these places and their struggles for their own purposes. Which is precisely what Trump did last week in announcing that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accords. “It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many, many other locations within...