Founded in 1917 and edited by owner and publisher Jake Cohen (1877-1945), this weekly newspaper served as the official organ of the Memphis Trades and Labor Council, an American Federation of Labor affiliate. Prior to his journalistic efforts, the Russian-born Cohen, a reputed friend and traveling companion of Jack London, worked as a machinist and labor leader. A delegation of Memphis unionists solicited Cohen away from the presidency of the Chattanooga Trades and Labor Council to edit the paper. From 1924 to 1932 Cohen simultaneously served as president of the Memphis Trades and Labor Council and president of the Tennessee Federation of Labor.
In 1945, following the death of Cohen, who had named three members of the council as trustees for the paper in his will, pro- and anti-Crump factions in the Memphis Trades and Labor Council fought for control of the Labor Review. From 1945 to 1948 longtime southern journalist Tom Simmons edited the Labor Review. An anti-Crump typographer, attorney, and sometime judge, Robert A. Tillman succeeded him. Pro-Crump plumber, Lev Loring, replaced Tillman. During Loring’s management, the paper lost its official Trades and Labor Council support and Tennessee Federation of Labor recognition; in 1950 these designations transferred to the West Tennessee Labor Review. In 1957 that paper merged with the Labor Journal (a CIO organ founded in 1950) under the title Memphis Union News, renamed AFL-CIO News in 1970.
The Mississippi Valley Collection in Memphis holds copies of the Memphis Labor Review and successor titles, 1944-77.