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There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of…
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There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America

by Philip Dray

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Last month, the legislature of the state of Michigan forced through a 'Right to Work' legislation, severely limiting the power and influence of labor unions in the United States. After Wisconsin's enforcement of RtW laws, the Michigan symbolic importance, as Michigan's automotive industry has been a center of labor for the past 80 years, and after the assaults of the Tea Party and corporate media, the future of unions was in doubt.

This volume is a broad survey of the history of unions in the United States. It starts with the very beginnings of industrialization in the 1830s and continues to almost the present day. The first recorded strike in the United States was that of women workers for textile corporations in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Labor demands and strikes became more intense during the post-Civil War period. A swarm of strikes in the 1870s, the 'vertical organization' of unions across industries, tough court battles against corruption, counterattacks, bombings, scab labor, and the foundation of the IWW in 1905.

There is a broad organizational survey of national unions, as well as biographical sketches of major agitators, union leaders, and intellectual supporters.

The FDR administration was a period of the greatest government support for labor. Although strikes did not stop against poor working conditions (see The Battle of the Overpass), government was instead much more accommodating to their demands.

In the 1950s, they were largely investigated for corruption and misuse of funds.

In the 1960s and later, some more unions became more closely tied to social justice and civil rights movements. This was one of the greater flaws in union history, that they had not taken advantage of this possibility earlier. In these past two decades, we see the kaleidoscope of labor's potential and its pitfalls - Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King on one hand, Teamster thugs on the other.

After a political schism over the Vietnam War, the unions were largely shunned by the Reagan administration, and following neoliberal policies have proven to be extremely damaging not only to them, but the livelihoods of lower classes as a whole over the next 30 years. The future of organized labor must be more global, intersectional, in order to have any chance of combating the reach and power of MNCs. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385526296, Hardcover)

From an award-winning historian, a stirring (and timely) narrative history of American labor from the dawn of the industrial age to the present day.

From the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, the first real factories in America, to the triumph of unions in the twentieth century and their waning influence today, the con­test between labor and capital for their share of American bounty has shaped our national experience. Philip Dray’s ambition is to show us the vital accomplishments of organized labor in that time and illuminate its central role in our social, political, economic, and cultural evolution. There Is Power in a Union is an epic, character-driven narrative that locates this struggle for security and dignity in all its various settings: on picket lines and in union halls, jails, assembly lines, corporate boardrooms, the courts, the halls of Congress, and the White House. The author demonstrates, viscerally and dramatically, the urgency of the fight for fairness and economic democracy—a struggle that remains especially urgent today, when ordinary Americans are so anxious and beset by eco­nomic woes.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From an award-winning historian, a stirring (and timely) narrative history of American labor from the dawn of the industrial age to the present day.

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