These 60+r books range in gene from biography, history, investigative reporting, textbooks and anthologies, to mysteries, young adult, novels, poetry, oral history, and memoir. To add a title, email Barbara Beckwith (National Executive Committee/Boston Chapter co-chair) at BeckwithB@aol.com.
Rodolfo F. Acuna, Corridors of Migration: The Odyssey of Mexican Laborers, 1600-1933 (U. of Arizona Press, 2007) In the San Joaquin Valley cotton strike of 1933, frenzied cotton farmers murdered three strikers, starved nine infants, wounded dozens, and arrested more. Acuna follows the steps of one of the murdered strikers, reconstructing the times and places in which he lived, showing the influences of racism, transborder dynamics, the Mexican Revolution and World War I, and uncovering the origins of 20th-century Mexican American labor activism from its roots through its first major manifestation in the San Joaquin strike. Acuna was the founding chair of the Chicano studies program at San Fernando Valley State College and is a professor of Chicano/a studies at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, now in its sixth edition.
Aife Murray, Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson's Life and Labor (University of New Hampshire Press, 2010). An intimate story of joined lives between Emily Dickinson and her domestic servants. Part scholarly study, part detective story, part personal journey, Murray's book reveals how Margaret Maher and the other servants influenced the cultural outlook, fashion, artistic subject, and even poetic style of Emily Dickinson The "invisible" kitchen was headquarters for people mostly lost from the public record--and it was her interactions with them that changed and helped define who Emily Dickinson was as a person and a poet.
Stanley Aronowitz (co-author William Defazio), The Jobless Future, 2nd edition (U. Minnesota, 2010). High technology will destroy more jobs than it creates: this grim prediction was first published in the 1994 edition whose eerily accurate title could have been written for today's dismal economic climate. Fully updated and with a new introduction.
Ellie Belew, Fully Involved (Washington State Council, 2004), introduction by Barbara Ehrenreich, tells the stories of the professional fire fighters of Washington State and their role in the union movement. Weaving together personal accounts, legislative and regional histories, and jammed with illustrations, this book brings to life the successes and failures of a group that has become one of the most powerful political entities in the state.
Joe Berry, Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education (Monthly Review Press, 2005). Labor educator examines the situation of adjunct professors in U.S. higher education today and proposes an agenda around which they can mobilize to transform their jobs and their institutions.
Peter Bollen, Great Labor Quotations: Sourcebook and Reader (Red Eye Reference, 2000). More than 1,300 quotations are arranged under 17 subject categories with an author and keyword index aid access, plus bibliography and a resource list. This volume collects the voices of the critics, the defenders, the revolutionaries, and especially the workers who have testified to the value of work and the organization of labor throughout history. The book addresses a wide range of labor themes and includes brief profiles of prominent labor leaders, archival photographs, drawings, and contemporary cartoons.
Jeremy Brecher, Strike, Revised and Updated Edition (South End Press Classics Series, 1999). Narrates the dramatic story of repeated, massive, and often violent revolts by ordinary working people in America. The updated edition reveals the little-known labor dimension of the Vietnam-era revolt. And a new concluding chapter interprets the rank-and-file labor struggles of the past 25 year, including the path-breaking 1197 Teamsters strike against UPS. Coming in Spring 2011: Banded Together: Economic Democratization in the Brass Valley, about a labor-community coalition formed in response to plant closings in western Connecticut.
David Brody, Labor Embattled: History, Power, Rights (University of Illinois, 2005). Brody explores recent developments affecting American workers in light of labor's past: how laws designed to undergird workers' rights now essentially hamstring them, and how the ideals of free labor, free speech, freedom of association, and freedom of contract have been interpreted in ways that reduce the capacity for workers' collective action while silently removing impediments to employers coercion of workers. This is just one of Brody's many work and union-related books
Bernice Buresh (co-author: Suzanne Gordon), From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know And Must Communicate to the Public (ILR Press, 2006). Nurses' silence about their vital role in patient care leads to invisibility, lack of recognition and job satisfaction. The authors give nurses information they need about history, culture and gender that affect the image of the nurse and therefore the care of the patient, and offer practical steps nurses can take to break through the silence.
Sue Doro, Blue Collar Goodbyes (Papier-Mache Press, 1992). Poems and prose pieces based on the author's experience as the only female machinist at a tractor plant during a period of closings and cutbacks. Also: Heart Home and HardHats and Of Birds and Factories.
Steve Early, Embedded with Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home (Monthly Review). Essays about how union members have organized successful, on the job and in the community, in the face of employer opposition now and in the past. Early has been an organizer, strike strategist, labor educator, and lawyer, and Communications Workers of America staff member. He tackles hot issues facing unions today: immigrant worker organizing, internal schisms, obstacles to labor law reform. Also The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor: Birth of a New Workers’ Movement or Death Throes of the Old? (Haymarket Books, pub date Feb 1, 2011). From 2008-10, the progressive wing of U.S. labor tore itself apart in a series of internecine struggles. More than $140 million was expended, by all sides, on ill-timed organizing conflicts that tarnished union reputations and undermined the campaign for real health care and labor law reform. Campus and community allies, and many rank-and-file union members, were left angered and dismayed. Early shows why and how these labor civil wars occurred, examining the bitter disputes about union structure, membership rights, organizing strategy, and contract standards that enveloped SEIU, UNITE HERE, the California Nurses Association, and independent organizations like the Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico and the new National Union of Healthcare Workers in California. We meet rank-and-file activists - both dissidents and loyalists - local union officers, national leaders from Change To Win and AFLCIO affiliates, and concerned friends of labor.
Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America (Holt, 2002) With some 12 million women being pushed into the labor market by welfare reform, she decided to do some good old-fashioned journalism and find out just how they were going to survive on the wages of the unskilled--at $6 to $7 an hour, only half of what is considered a living wage. So she did what millions of Americans do, she looked for a job and a place to live, worked that job, and tried to make ends meet.
Susan Eisenberg, We'll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction (Cornell/ILR Press 1999). Tells the story of 30 women: carpenters, ironworkers, painters, plumbers, and electricians, the first feminist pioneers who ventured onto building sites, braving hatred, abuse, physical suffering, and even mortal danger. Eisenberg is also a poet and author of Pioneering: Poems from the Construction Site (Cornell/ILR Press, 1998).
Suzan Erem, On the Global Waterfront: The Fight to Free the Charleston Five (Monthly Review Press, 2008). Longshoremen in South Carolina confronted attempts to wipe out the state's most powerful black organization after a Danish shipping company began to shift their transportation to a nonunion firm in 1999. Local 1422 mobilized to protect their hard-won rights, culminating in a protest in which 660 riot police were deployed against 50 dockworkers, a group that grew to 150 before the night was over. Four black and one white longshoreman - the Charleston 5 - were under house arrest for 20 months on trumped-up felony charges of inciting a riot. Within the politically conservative, racially charged, and intensely religious climate of the South, the local union president, Ken Riley — supported behind the scenes by a militant AFL-CIO staffer — crafted an international, grassroots campaign in defense of the arrested longshoremen. From Australia to Europe to Korea to the west coast of the U. S., longshoremen threatened to shut down ports jeopardizing billions of dollars in trade per day. Their ultimate success vaulted Riley, and his reform-minded coworkers, to higher leadership in a notoriously corrupt union, and laid the foundation for successful rebuffs in ports around the world. Also: Labor Pains: Inside America's New Union Movement (Monthly Review Press, 2001). An insider's account of the struggle to rebuilt a vibrant and powerful trade union movement in the U.S. Erem writes about her daily experiences a union organizer for SEIU Local 73, and enables us to grasp how the conflicting demands of race, class and gender are lived in the new union movement. The author writes as a woman in a movement that is dominated by men, as the children of immigrants in a movement whose member are increasingly immigrant themselves, as one who finds herself in the racial no man's land between black and white.
Kim Fellner, Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, and Cappucino (Rutgers U, 2008). You can find a Starbucks coffeehouse almost anywhere, from Paris, France to Paducah, Kentucky, from the crowded streets of Thailand to shopping malls in Qatar. With nearly 200 of them in New York City alone, this coffee retail giant with humble beginnings has become an actor and icon in the global economy. As we sip our cappuccinos, many of us wonder if Starbucks is a haven of civilization or a cultural predator, a good or bad employer, a fair trader or a global menace. Through the voices of Central American coffee farmers, officers at corporate headquarters, independent café owners, unionists, baristas, traders, global justice activists, and consumers, Fellner explores the forces that affect Starbucks's worth and worthiness. Along the way, she subjects her own unabashedly progressive perspective to scrutiny and emerges with a compelling and unexpected look at Starbucks, the global economy, our economic convictions, and the values behind our morning cup of joe.
Bill Fletcher Jr. and Fernando Gapasin, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press, 2009). Two long-time union insiders and activists of color offer a probing analysis of the split in the AFL-CIO, ideological and structural underpinnings of today’s labor movement, the problems now facing U.S. labor, and what true class struggle unionism would look like.
Dana Frank, Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America (South End Press, 2008). Over the past 20 years, women banana workers have organized themselves and gained increasing control over their unions, their workplaces, and their lives. Honduran women workers and their male allies, crossed borders to ally with workers in five other banana-exporting countries, arguing that empowering women at every level of their organization makes for stronger unions, better able to confront the every-encroaching multinational corporations Their successes disrupt the popular image of the Latin American woman worker as a passive bystander and broadly re-imagines the possibilities of international labor solidarity.
Kate Genovese: Thirty Years in September: a Nurse's Memoir (Four Seasons Publishers, 2001). The author describes her trialsome novice day as an LPN, her loss of her nursing license because of a drug addiction, her recovery and return to school for her RN, her experiences in the nursing profession over 30 years, in Denver, Seattle and Boston.
Suzanne Gordon, Life Support: Three Nurses on the Front Lines (ILR Press 2007). Gordon trails three outspoken nurses on their rounds. One works with cancer patients, another with homebound elderly, while a third mediates between patients and families, doctors and nurses. Between glimpses of large and small life dramas, Gordon considers questions such as why is nurses' care denigrated, while doctors are elevated? How will sweeping changes in health care affect them and, ultimately, us? Her responses are provocative and far-ranging. Also Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses And Patient Care (ILR Press, 2006) on the culture and politics of health care work.
Catherine Hiller, 17 Morton Street (St. Martin's Press, 1990). This novel features a fashion model turned documentary film-maker who wants to make a documentary film about the National Writers Union. Interesting dialogue about the problems writers face, about whether unions can do anything about them, and about whether internal union struggles should be part of the story, or not.
Patricia Hilliard, Making Changes (IUniverse, 2005). This novel tells the story of the women of the American Empire Insurance Company get tired of low pay and boring work and decide to take control of their lives. It isn't long until the management finds out their intentions and the confrontation begins. However, the women workers are ready to make changes. Ellen Anderson, a white factory worker from a small town, meets Karen Davis, a college-educated African-American professional and Pia Li, from New York's Chinatown to form a union and win better pay and benefits. The clash of cultures and the struggle against sexism intensifies their conflict, while an ever-worsening economy drives them to do what they must do to earn better pay and respect on the job.
John Hoerr, We Can't Eat Prestige: The Women Who Organized Harvard (Temple U. Press, 1997). The story of how the women workers (secretaries, library and lab assistants, dental hygienists, accounting clerks etc.) decided not to put up with the university's exploitative management policies that denied them respect and decent wages, and how they created a powerful and unique union -- one that emphasizes their own values and priorities as working women and rejects unwanted aspects of traditional unionism. Also: Harry, Tom, and Father Rice: Accusation and Betrayal in America's Cold War (U. of Pittsburgh Press, 2007): recreates the events of the 1949 HUAC hearings, where rigged testimony by a few workers cast suspicion on their union brothers, leading to the loss of jobs, marriages, and self-respect. Relates individual experiences to the great conflict between anti-Communist and Communist forces in the American Labor movement, leading to the eventual demise of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Also a novel: Monongahela Dusk (Autumn House, 2009). In 1937, as labor turmoil sweeps across western Pennsylvania, a traveling beer salesman picks up a hitchhiker: a blacklisted coal miner running from the law. They overhear a plot to kill a national union leader and warn the intended victim only to become targets of the man who ordered the assassination, an industrialist who conspires with racketeers to control mill-town politics. As the industrial region moves from Depression to postwar prosperity, the businessman and union militant form an unlikely alliance to defend themselves. A violent showdown reveals the exploitative nature of the economic and political powers that would, forty years later, turn the mill towns of the Monongahela Valley into blighted relics of the industrial era.
Peter Kellman, Divided We Fall: The Story of the Paperworker's Union and the Future of Labor (Apex Press, 2004). "An unflinching picture of workers fighting against overwhelming odds for justice in the workplace, where workers even have to fight to keep the knowledge of their own struggles alive. The story of the Paperworkers' Union with all of its ups and downs set forth in this book provides the backdrop for Peter Kellman to pose the question: 'What is it about organized labor that keeps workers from building a working class movement?' His answer is uncompromisingly honest and will not please many pro-labor people, but tells us what we must do if we are ever to build a truly democratic society." - Ray Rogers, founder of Corporate Campaign, Inc. "This book is a milestone in preserving and sharing that knowledge." Also: Pain On Their Faces - Testimonies on the Paper Mill Strike Jay, Maine, 1987-88 (Apex Press, 1998) and Building Unions - Past, Present and Future (Apex Press, 2001), illustrated by Matt Wuerker, which sold over 8,000 copies.
Floyd Kemske, Labor Day (Catbird Press, 2000). Novel about a young, unconventional union organizer decides to unionize the staff of a large national union. A union-busting firm is brought in to stop him. Fourth in a series featuring union rep Gregg Harsh; others include Lifetime Employment, The Virtual Boss, and Human Resources.
Barbara Kingsolver, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 (ILR Press, 1989). When the Phelps Dodger Copper Corporation demanded unprecedented pay and benefits, a union consortium of mostly Hispanic women held a strike in four small mining towns. Their culture had confined themselves to limit roles: their lives were now transformed. The 18-month strike is told through first-person narratives of these women.
Dan La Botz, Cesar Chavez and La Causa (Library of American Biography series) (Longman, 2005). Brief biography of one of the greatest American labor leaders, an inspirational man whose trials and tribulations echoed the struggles of modern America and whose courage, simplicity and faith changed agriculture in America forever. Focuses on Chavez, but also provides background on the farm workers movement, the formation of the UFW and the history of migrant workers in the U.S. Incorporates the latest scholarship on Chavez’s life and times, but makes the story accessible to students in both survey and upper division courses in American history. Also: Made in Indonesia: Indonesian Workers Since Suharto (South End Press, 2001). Through rare personal interviews with the activists who are leading the rebirth of struggle for democratic rights in the world's fourth-largest country, La Botz draws valuable lessons for workers in the United States seeking to build international labor solidarity. Also: Mask of Democracy: Labor Suppression in Mexico Today (International Labor Rights and Research Fund) (South End Press, 1999), and Rank and File Rebellion (Verso, 1990), which is about Teamsters for a Democratic Union, the national reform caucus in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters: from its formation in the 70s to the historic one-person, one-vote election of top union officials in 1991. TDU represents the best in the labor movement, where unionism represents a social movement of working people, unlike many in the labor movement who utilize union power as a vehicle for personal enrichment. [Amazon review]
Walli F. Leff and Marilyn G. Haft, Time Without Work (South End Press, 1999). Seventy-three men and women describe how they feel about not working, and tell how they survive. "It's an eloquent plea for time that saves the spirit as well as the body--working time." --Studs Terkel
Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack, A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter (Walker & Company, 1995, Young Adult). Recounts the saga of Sleeping Car Porters, the first major black labor union to be admitted to the AFL. Also: Hard Labor: The First African Americans, 1619 (Alladin, 2003) Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers (Scholastic 1999), on the important role of the whalers in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad with descriptions of significant African Americans in this industry; seafaring women are not ignored; and life aboard a whaling ship is thoroughly documented. Also: Red-Tail Angels: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II (Walker Books for Young Readers 1995). Describes the training and the triumphs of the 99th Fighter Squadron, and the ugly treatment accorded them in the South of the 1940s.
Barbara Neely, Blanche on the Lam (Viking/Penguin, 1993). Mystery (series includes Blanche Cleans Up, 1999, Blanche Passes Go, 2000) featuring a very black, middle-aged woman who cleans white people's houses for a living. Tart-tongued and shrewd, with a keen nose for trouble, Blanche White is also a queen-sized snoop - who sees at a glance what people are really up to - especially if it's criminal. She becomes an unlikely and reluctant, yet ingenious sleuth when murder disrupts her employers' wealthy household.
Brigid O'Farrell, She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker (Cornell University Press, 2010). Explores Eleanor Roosevelt's enduring commitment to workers and their unions. Roosevelt was a proud union member for over 25 years, and led the way to secure workers' rights as human rights. O'Farrell is coauthor of Rocking the Boat: Union Women's Voices 1915-1975 ad co-editor of Work and Family: Policies for a Changing Work Force.
Jeff Schmidt, Disciplined Lives: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System that Shapes Their Lives (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).On the politics of professional work and professional training, emphasizing the need for students and professionals to organize. Career dissatisfaction evolves as workers lose control over the political component of their creative work. Examples from the world of work reveal the workplace as a battleground for the very identity of the individual.
Harvey Schwartz, Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU (U. of Washington Press, 2009). The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, born out of the 1934 West Coast maritime and San Francisco general strikes under the charismatic leadership of Harry Bridges, has been known from the start for its strong commitment to democracy, solidarity, and social justice. In this collection of firsthand narratives, union leaders and rank-and-file workers - from the docks of Pacific Coast ports to the fields of Hawaii to bookstores in Portland, Oregon - talk about their lives at work, on the picket line, and in the union. Workers recall the back-breaking, humiliating conditions on the waterfront before they organized, the tense days of the 1934 strike, the challenges posed by mechanization, the struggle against racism and sexism on the job, and their activism in other social and political causes. Taken together, these voices provide a portrait of a militant, corruption-free, democratic union that can be a model and an inspiration for what a resurgent American labor movement might look like.
Kim Scipes, AFL-CIO's Secret War Against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?(Lexington Books, 2010). The history of AFL-CIO leadership's support, in secret and without consent of the rank and file, of the U.S. government policy of empire that supported elite top-down democracy and thwarted bottom-up democracy in the developing world.
Timothy Sheard, Slim to None: A Lenny Moss Mystery (Hard Ball Press, 2010). A midnight call pulls hospital custodian-shop steward into a murder investigation. Others in the Lenny Moss series: This Won't Hurt a Bit, Some Cuts Never Heal, and A Race Against Death.
Holly Sklar, co-author, Raise the Floor; Wages and Policies that Work for All of Us (South End Press, 2008). A job should keep you out of poverty, not keep you in it. But a growing number of Americans are working hard and staying poor. The minimum wage has become a poverty wage instead of an anti-poverty wage. Rooted in powerful new research and personal narratives, Raise the Floor shows what it costs to afford basic necessities, makes the case for a livable minimum wage, and shows how good wages are good business. The authors recommend improved Earned Income Tax Credit, healthcare, housing, child care and other policies to supplement wages in assuring people can meet their basic needs.
Fred L. Solowey (and Sam Pizzigati), co-editors The New Labor Press: Journalism for a Changing Union Movement (Cornell/ILR Press, 1992). Includes Solowey's roundtable interview with presidents of the United Mine Workers, Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, plus articles on issues such as Why We Need a Labor Press, Resuscitating the Local Union Press, Women and Labor Press, Beyond English: Labor Press in Multicultural.
Marjorie A. Stockford, The Bellwomen: The Story of the Landmark AT&T Sex Discrimination Case (Rutgers University Press, 2004). Recounts the history of the 1970s case in a novelistic style, illuminating the motivations, strengths, and weaknesses of all the players - corporate, lawyers, female activists fighting for what they believed.
Jonathan Tasini, The Audacity of Greed: Free Markets, Corporate Thieves, and the Looting of America (Ig, 2009). Examines the reasons and people responsible for the looting of America, arguing that we need a cultural and philosophical revolution that punctures the fable of market fundamentalism and, by doing so, values the contributions made by ordinary Americans throughout the economy. Tasini is executive director of the Labor Research Association, former longtime president of the National Writers Union, the lead plaintiff in Tasini vs. The New York Times, the landmark electronic rights case that took on the corporate media's assault on the rights of freelance authors.
Luz-Maria Umpierre, For Christine: Poems and One Letter (Professional Press, 1995). Deals with the issue of survival in a hostile and abusive work environment in academia.
James Waller, NWU Freelance Writers Guide, 2nd edition (National Writers Union, 2000). Comprehensive overview of the business side of freelance writing, including essential information on rights, contracts, negotiating, work for hire, temp agencies, self-incorporation, ergonomics, taxes, and self-promotion. In addition, working writers share tips on how to succeed in writing for the Web, ghostwriting, book reviewing, and sportswriting. Chapters on the politics of writing examine current issues in censorship and the challenges faced by minority writers.
Al Weinrub (co-author: William Bollinger), The AFL-CIO in Central America (Labor Network on Central America, 1987). A look at the AFL-CIO's American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) and its activities in Central America. It charts the roots of AFL-CIO Central America policy, and how it undermined democracy in the region, particularly in El Salvador and Nicaragua during the 1980s. Also (co-author: William Bollinger) Nicaragua: Labor, Democracy, and the Struggle for Peace (Labor Network on Central America, 1984). A report of the West-Coast Trade Union Delegation to Nicaragua in 1984, which investigated the state of trade unionism in Nicaragua and the gains made by Nicaraguan workers in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. With photographs and testimony of workers in many unions throughout the country.
Paul Werner, The Red Museum: Art, Economics and the Ends of Capital. (The Orange Press, 2010). A rare (and noted) application of Marxist theory to the political economy of Art: artistic creativity is analyzed as a specific form of labor at a particular historical conjuncture. The book is illustrated and hand-bound, at once a work of art and a work about art.
Michael D. Yates, Why Unions Matter (Monthly Review Press, 2009) Personal and anecdotal yet well documented, Yates describes how labor unions work, victories they have won on the battlefields of sexism and racism, and an argument for unions as the sole means by which working people can obtain dignity, equity, and power. Includes chapters that focus on the nuts and bolts of union activities (collective bargaining, structures, organizing). Also: In and Out of the Working Class (Arbeiter Ring, 2009), autobiographical essays that bring the complexity and ambiguity of class, racial, and gender identity into focus through his own life.
Howard Zinn (co-authors Dana Frank and Robin D.G. Kelley), Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century (Beacon Press, 2001). Three vivid narratives describing workers' struggles for justice: the great Colorado coal mine strike that led to the Ludlow Massacre, the Great Depression sit-in strike in Detroit by women at Woolworths, and the movie theater musicians strike in New York.