Posted on March 10, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Labor Notes Staff
Our new book, How to Jump-Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers, shows how activists transformed their union and gave members hope. This excerpt tells how the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE) campaigned for top offices, and won.
It’s one of the universals of organizing—first you make a list.
Elementary teacher Alix Gonzalez Guevara remembers staying up late transferring data about each school from a district-published book into an Excel spreadsheet: region, address, how many teachers, how many students.
This became a Google document, an online spreadsheet available to everyone working on the campaign. The schools were grouped by regions. Within each, a couple of lead activists took responsibility to find people to do outreach at each school. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Organizing, Union Reform | Tagged: Chicago Teachers Union, CORE, CTA, How to Jump-Start Your Union, Labor Notes | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 27, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Michael Hirsch
Review of Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City By Robin Nagle (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013).
Rationally, we know garbage isn’t picked up by the faeries, but to much of the public, it might as well be. We “take out” the garbage, but who removes it?
To write Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City, NYU anthropologist Robin Nagle took a job with the city’s Department of Sanitation and followed, as a participant observer, those she calls “the city’s own municipal housekeepers.” A city can’t survive without regular and dependable trash removal, and her ethnography presents a detailed portrait of the 7,200 men and women willing to do it expeditiously. It’s a tough, dirty, and dangerous job.
Nagle notes that injury rates for “san workers” outstrip harm done even to cops and firefighters. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks refuse and recyclable materials collection as the nation’s fourth most dangerous job, exceeded only by commercial fishing, logging and plane piloting. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews | Tagged: New York City, New York City sanitation workers, Picking Up, Robin Nagle, sanitation workers | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 26, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Randy Shaw
It may surprise some local progressives who believe corporate interests always call the shots in San Francisco, but the city has the most progressive worker benefits in the United States. It has a $10.74 local minimum wage, paid sick leave, a living wage law for those doing business with the city, a local health care law, domestic partner benefits and much more. Conservatives claim these benefits hurt rather than help workers. A new book edited by Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs and Miranda Dietz, When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards At the Local Level, conclusively refutes such arguments.
As local and state governments plan on moving forward to address rising inequality, San Francisco has long been the model for such action. But the combination of east coast media bias and the framing of San Francisco as “quirky” rather than substantive have left many unaware of the city’s path breaking leadership in raising labor standards. That’s why When Mandates Work should prove so helpful. Cities seeking to adopt similar measures need to know San Francisco’s experience, and that such laws have proved effective. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Low wage workers, Organizing, Politics | Tagged: Ken Jacobs, Michael Reich, Miranda Dietz, When Mandates Work | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 14, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Gregory N. Heires
The housing crisis has led to the foreclosure of the homes of 10 million people–equivalent to the population of Michigan. The foreclosures have particularly devastated the African-American community, which has lost over half its wealth because of the housing and jobs crisis that followed the 2008 financial crash.
A powerful book, “A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Right for a Place to Call Home” by Laura Gottesdiener (Zuccotti Park Press, 2013, 208 pages), details the human wreckage of this crisis while also chronicling how the victims of predatory lending, misguided public policies, and callous profit-seeking banks are fighting back. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: foreclosures, housing | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 17, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Last year’s multi-city protests by fast food workers focused long overdue attention on the job problems of ten million Americans employed in restaurants. Saru Jayaraman, the charismatic co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), has been assisting workers in finer dining establishments for more than a decade, an organizing career impressively chronicled in her new book, Behind The Kitchen Door, from Cornell University Press.
As Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser says in his introduction, ROC “doesn’t just represent workers. It seeks to empower them, gain them respect, and give them a voice at work.”
Jayaraman is a Yale-educated lawyer who directs the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. She got her start, with much help from UNITE-HERE Local 100, after the 9/11 attacks destroyed Windows on the World, a swank New York City restaurant that sat atop one of the Trade Center towers. Seventy-three workers died and 250 lost their jobs. Windows workers became the nucleus of the original ROC, which provided support services for families of the deceased.
Fekkak Mamdouh, a Moroccan immigrant and former headwaiter at Windows, became a co-founder of the organization. Jayaraman and Mamdouh launched a successful campaign for re-employment of displaced workers when the owner of Windows tried to open a new restaurant elsewhere in Manhattan but initially refused to hire former union members. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Low wage workers, Organizing, Worker Centers | Tagged: Behind The Kitchen Door, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, ROC, Saru Jayaraman, UniteHere | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 16, 2013 by paulgarver
by Paul Garver
Jobs with Justice: 25 Years, 25 Voices. Edited by Eric Larsen (PM Press, 2013)
As an occasional historian, I cannot do justice to the richness contained in these interviews and essays that reflect upon the experiences over 25 years of diverse community, labor, immigrant and student activists that have built the local Jobs with Justice coalitions at grassroots levels. Read the book!
As a reviewer, I will call particular attention to the introduction by IUE-CWA President Larry Cohen and the concluding essay by Sarita Gupta, the current Executive Director of Jobs with Justice (JwJ).
No one in the national labor movement can match the perseverance of Larry Cohen, whose vision founded Jobs with Justice, and whose commitment to building that organization never faltered when other union leaders wavered. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Organizing, Solidarity, Uncategorized | Tagged: Eric Larsen, Jobs with Justice, JwJ, Larry Cohen | Comments Off
Posted on December 4, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Stuart Elliott
As the year nears an end, it’s a good time for summing up and making lists. We thought our readers might interested in a wrap=-up of books that we reviewed in Talking Union over the last year. We stretched things a bit by including books discussed in the last half of 2012. As we looked over the list, we felt that there were a few 2013 books that also deserved to be mentioned in this post although the haven’t ‘been reviewed on Talking Union yet. We’ll start with these and follow, after the break, with the labor books reviewed on Talking Union.
If you order through the links to the unionized Powell’s books, a portion of your purchase will benefit DSA and Talking Union.
If we have missed a book feel free to add it in the comments section.
Not Yet Reviewed
Andrew Levison, The White Working Class Today
William P. Jones, The March on Washington
David Cogswell, Illustrated by C.M. Butzer Unions for Beginners
Steve Early, Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress
Kari Lydersen, Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99% Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 4, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Steve Early
Randy Shaw’s Activist Handbook
is a book with legs. First published in the early 1990s, it has now been updated as a guide to “winning social change” in the new millennium. If you’re a long distance runner in any U.S. social movement–or trying to figure out how to become one–this is the training manual for you and your team.
The appearance of a second edition from University of California Press has given the Bay Area author and community organizer a chance to expand upon the case studies he utilized in the initial edition, adding sections about protest activity not yet stirring two decades ago. The eclectic mix of older and new material makes the information and advice that Shaw dispenses even more useful to organizers of all types. His latest Handbook examines “new strategies, tactics, issues, and grassroots campaigns, and revisits whether activists have learned from past mistakes.”
The ground covered includes fights for better housing and tenant rights, neighborhood preservation and safer cities, affordable higher education, fair treatment of immigrants and AIDS victims, “sweat-free” manufacturing, gay and lesbian rights. The author also analyzes, in very ecumenical fashion, many different arenas for political work, including state and local ballot initiatives, legislative lobbying, running for office, direct action, litigation, and media campaigns.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Organizing | Tagged: Activist's Handbook, Randy Shaw | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 29, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession, by Barbara Garson. Random House, 2013. $26.95
Hundreds of “put a human face on the economic toll” stories appeared during the Great Recession. Many reporters chose middle-class protagonists—by which I mean, not working-class. They wrote about managers, professionals shocked by the notion that they could ever be let go, disoriented by their descent, stunned that no one wanted them.
That was the news: that not just working stiffs could get laid off. People like you, middle-class magazine reader, were not safe.
Some of Barbara Garson’s subjects are middle-class, too; a few are even rich; others are workers. They all had something before the 2008 recession—a job, a house, or savings—and they all lost that something. Down the Up Escalator is the story of how they coped—with their human faces, yes, and loss of face, and loss of nerve and unwarranted optimism.
But Garson also explains the whole securitized, derivatized implosion of the economy in a way that’s easy to follow and puts the blame where it belongs.
To publish in 2013 is a little late—others have done this explanation already—but if you were too shell-shocked to pay attention at the time, and if you want your economics leavened with an entertaining dose of humanity, Garson is your guide. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Economy | Tagged: 99 percent, Down the Up Escalator, Great Recession, How the 99% Live in the Great Recession | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 26, 2013 by dcampbell1
A review by Duane Campbell
The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration by David Bacon is a well written, well informed book that explains political and economic currents shaping the US immigration experience.
The U.S. public is engaged in a sustained and divisive debate over immigration. Unfortunately, at the same time , most U.S. do not recognize that U.S. economic policy, particularly NAFTA created many of the conditions that produce the very immigration of some 8 million people that many on the Right and the Tea Party so oppose.
The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 accelerated a neo-liberal form of economic growth in Mexico that drove poor farmers, particularly in the indigenous south to lose their farms and their livelihood. In response young men, and increasingly the young women, made the dangerous trek to the U.S. in search of work and an income to feed their families and keep their families from losing their farms. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Fair Trade, Global organizing, Immigrant Workers, Solidarity | Tagged: Cananea, David Bacon, Mexican migration, Mexico, NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, Smithfield Foods, United States | 1 Comment »