From the Trade Paperback edition.
It's no secret that hundreds of companies have been slashing pensions and health coverage earned by millions of retirees. Employers blame an aging workforce, stock market losses, and spiraling costs- what they call "a perfect storm" of external forces that has forced them to take drastic measures.
But this so-called retirement crisis is no accident. Ellen E. Schultz, award-winning investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals how large companies and the retirement industry-benefits consultants, insurance companies, and banks-have all played a huge and hidden role in the death spiral of American pensions and benefits.
A little over a decade ago, most companies had more than enough set aside to pay the benefits earned by two generations of workers, no matter how long they lived. But by exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations, and new accounting rules, companies essentially turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters, and profit centers.
Drawing on original analysis of company data, government filings, internal corporate documents, and confidential memos, Schultz uncovers decades of widespread deception during which employers have exaggerated their retiree burdens while lobbying for government handouts, secretly cutting pensions, tricking employees, and misleading shareholders. She reveals how companies:Siphon billions of dollars from their pension plans to finance downsizings and sell the assets in merger deals Overstate the burden of rank-and-file retiree obligations to justify benefits cuts while simultaneously using the savings to inflate executive pay and pensions Hide their growing executive pension liabilities, which at some companies now exceed the liabilities for the regular pension plans Purchase billions of dollars of life insurance on workers and use the policies as informal executive pension funds. When the insured workers and retirees die, the company collects tax-free death benefits Preemptively sue retirees after cutting retiree health benefits and use other legal strategies to erode their legal protections.
Though the focus is on large companies-which drive the legislative agenda-the same games are being played at smaller companies, non-profits, public pensions plans and retirement systems overseas. Nor is this a partisan issue: employees of all political persuasions and income levels-from managers to miners, pro- football players to pilots-have been slammed.
Retirement Heist is a scathing and urgent expose of one of the most critical and least understood crises of our time.
As David K. Shipler makes clear in this powerful, humane study, the invisible poor are engaged in the activity most respected in American ideology—hard, honest work. But their version of the American Dream is a nightmare: low-paying, dead-end jobs; the profound failure of government to improve upon decaying housing, health care, and education; the failure of families to break the patterns of child abuse and substance abuse. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems by taking us into the sorrowful, infuriating, courageous lives of the poor—white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for they do jobs essential to the American economy.
This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.
Perhaps Studs Terkel's best-known book, Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, from a policeman to a piano tuner, this book provides an enduring portrait of people's feelings about their working lives.
"A powerful, original, indescribable and incredible book... Only an interviewer of genius, exploiting the tape recorder as hardly anyone else has done, could possibly have brought it forth." —Lewis Mumford
"A magnificent book... a work of art. To read it is to hear America talking." —Boston Globe
"Splendid... Important... Rich and fascinating... The people we meet are not digits in a poll but real people with real names who share their ancedotes, adventures, and aspirations with us." —Business Week
"The talk in Working is good talk--earthy, passionate, honest, sometimes tender, sometimes crisp, juicy as reality, seasoned with experience." —Washington Post
"Nothing could tell our children's children who and how and what we were the way Studs Terkel will. Is it possible the great American novelist is Terkel?" —Murray Kempton
On September 1, 1912, the largest, most protracted, and deadliest working class uprising in American history was waged in West Virginia. On one side were powerful corporations whose millions bought armed guards and political influence. On the other side were fifty thousand mine workers, the nation’s largest labor union, and the legendary “miners’ angel,” Mother Jones. The fight for unionization and civil rights sparked a political crisis that verged on civil war, stretching from the creeks and hollows of the Appalachians to the US Senate. Attempts to unionize were met with stiff resistance. Fundamental rights were bent then broken, and the violence evolved from bloody skirmishes to open armed conflict, as an army of more than fifty thousand miners finally marched to an explosive showdown.
Extensively researched and vividly told, this definitive book about an essential chapter in the history of American freedom, “gives this backwoods struggle between capital and labor the due it deserves. [Green] tells a dark, often despairing story from a century ago that rings true today” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
A compelling look at the movements and developments that propelled America to world dominance
In this landmark work, acclaimed historian Joshua Freeman has created an epic portrait of a nation both galvanized by change and driven by conflict. Beginning in 1945, the economic juggernaut awakened by World War II transformed a country once defined by its regional character into a uniform and cohesive power and set the stage for the United States’ rise to global dominance. Meanwhile, Freeman locates the profound tragedy that has shaped the path of American civic life, unfolding how the civil rights and labor movements worked for decades to enlarge the rights of millions of Americans, only to watch power ultimately slip from individual citizens to private corporations. Moving through McCarthyism and Vietnam, from the Great Society to Morning in America, Joshua Freeman’s sweeping story of a nation’s rise reveals forces at play that will continue to affect the future role of American influence and might in the greater world.
Combining personal memoir and historical narrative, Striking Steel argues for reassessment of unionism in American life during the second half of the twentieth century and a recasting of "official memory." As he traces the history of union steelworkers after World War II, Metzgar draws on his father's powerful stories about the publishing work in the mills, stories in which time is divided between "before the union" and since. His father, Johnny Metzgar, fought ardently for workplace rules as a means of giving "the men" some control over their working conditions and protection from venal foremen. He pursued grievances until he eroded management's authority, and he badgered foremen until he established shop-floor practices that would become part of the next negotiated contract. As a passionate advocate of solidarity, he urged coworkers to stick together so that the rules were upheld and everyone could earn a decent wage.
Striking Steel's pivotal event is the four-month nationwide steel strike of 1959, a landmark union victory that has been all but erased from public memory. With remarkable tenacity, union members held out for the shop-floor rules that gave them dignity in the workplace and raised their standard of living. Their victory underscored the value of sticking together and reinforced their sense that they were contributing to a general improvement in American working and living conditions.
The Metzgar family's story vividly illustrates the larger narrative of how unionism lifted the fortunes and prospects of working-class families. It also offers an account of how the broad social changes of the period helped to shift the balance of power in a conflict-ridden, patriarchal household. Even if the optimism of his generation faded in the upheavals of the 1960s, Johnny Metzgar's commitment to his union and the strike itself stands as an honorable example of what a collective action can and did achieve. Jack Metzgar's Striking Steel is a stirring call to remember and renew the struggle.
From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend also "thoroughly includes the contributions of women, Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants, and minorities, and considers events often ignored in other histories," writes Booklist, which adds that "thirty pages of stirring drawings by ‘comic journalist’ Joe Sacco add an unusual dimension to the book."
In this stirring new history, Philip Dray shows us the vital accomplishments of organized labor and illuminates its central role in our social, political, economic, and cultural evolution. His epic, character-driven narrative not only restores to our collective memory the indelible story of American labor, it also demonstrates the importance of the fight for fairness and economic democracy, and why that effort remains so urgent today.
Fascinated by this, Paul M. Angle, the well-known historian, set out to discover what really had happened. Through enormous research he has been able to reconstruct the whole story in all its horrible, scarifying detail. Using the best techniques of reportage, without editorializing, without subjective coloration, he has produced a narrative beyond imagination. It begins with the "Bloody Vendetta," a feud that rampaged in the 1870s. It deals with labor's success in organizing coal mines in southern Illinois, an affair that twice blew up in violence. It covers the Herrin Massacre of 1922—perhaps the most shocking episode in the history of organized labor in this country—and the subsequent trials. The Ku Klux Klan provides material for four chapters that come to a climax in a fatal duel between the Klan and its opponents. And it ends with the story of the gang war between Charlie Birger and the Shelton brothers. It is a tale to shake the most phlegmatic reader.
Winner of the California Book Award
A searching portrait of an iconic figure long shrouded in myth by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of an acclaimed history of Chavez's movement.
Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography-until now.
In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions-an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest. Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavez's most salient qualities: his profound humanity.
Pawel traces Chavez's remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished California's powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.
After losing her job as a journalist and the security of a good salary, Caitlin Kelly was hard up for cash. When she saw that The North Face-an upscale outdoor clothing company-was hiring at her local mall, she went for an interview almost on a whim.
Suddenly she found herself, middle-aged and mid-career, thrown headfirst into the bizarre alternate reality of the American mall: a world of low-wage workers selling overpriced goods to well-to-do customers. At first, Kelly found her part-time job fun and reaffirming, a way to maintain her sanity and sense of self-worth. But she describes how the unexpected physical pressures, the unreasonable dictates of a remote corporate bureaucracy, and the dead-end career path eventually took their toll. As she struggled through more than two years at the mall, despite surgeries, customer abuse, and corporate inanity, Kelly gained a deeper understanding of the plight of the retail worker.
In the tradition of Nickel and Dimed, Malled challenges our assumptions about the world of retail, documenting one woman's struggle to find meaningful work in a broken system.
Aides experience material hardships--most work for minimum wage, and the services they provide are denigrated as unskilled labor--and find themselves negotiating social norms and affective rules associated with both family and work. This has negative implications for workers who struggle to establish clear limits on their emotional labor in the intimate space of the home. Aides often find themselves giving more, staying longer, even paying out of pocket for patient medications or incidentals; in other words, they feel emotional obligations expected more often of family members than of employees. However, there are also positive outcomes: some aides form meaningful ties to elderly and disabled patients. This sense of connection allows them to establish a sense of dignity and social worth in a socially devalued job. The case of home care allows us to see the ways in which emotional labor can simultaneously have deleterious and empowering consequences for workers.
Virtue and capital have always been twins in the capitalist, industrialized West. Our ideas of what the “virtues” of pursuing success in capitalism have changed dramatically over time. In the past, we believed that work undertaken with an ethos of industriousness promised financial stability and basic comfort and security for our families. Now, our working life is conflated with the pursuit of pleasure. Fantastically successful—and popular—entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey command us. “You’ve got to love what you do,” Jobs tells an audience of college grads about to enter the workforce, while Winfrey exhorts her audience to “live your best life.” The promises made to today’s workers seem so much larger and nobler than those of previous generations. Why settle for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and a perfectly functional eight-year-old car when you can get rich becoming your “best” self and have a blast along the way?
But workers today are doing more and more for less and less. This reality is frighteningly palpable in eroding paychecks and benefits, the rapid concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny few, and workers’ loss of control over their labor conditions. But where is the protest and anger from workers against a system that tells them to love their work and asks them to do it for less? While winner-take-all capitalism grows ever more ruthless, the rhetoric of passion for labor proliferates.
In Do What You Love, Tokumitsu articulates and examines the sacrifices people make for a chance at loveable, self-actualizing, and, of course, wealth-generating work and the conditions facilitated by this pursuit. This book continues the conversation sparked by the author’s earlier Slate article and provides a devastating look at the state of modern America’s labor and workforce.
The inequality reshaping the country goes beyond money and income: the workplace is more authoritarian than ever, and we have even less of a say over our conditions at work. He tells us stories, sometimes humorous but more often chilling, about problems working people like his own clients—cabdrivers, cashiers, even Chicago public school teachers—now face in our largely union-free economy. He then explains why a new kind of labor movement (and not just more higher education) will be crucial for saving what is left of the middle class; pushing Keynes’s original, sometimes forgotten ideas for getting the rich to invest and reduce our balance of trade; and promoting John Dewey’s "democratic way of life"—one that would start in the schools and continue in our places of work.
A "public policy" book that is compulsively readable, Only One Thing Can Save Us is vintage Geoghegan, blending acerbic and witty commentary with unparalleled insight into the real dynamics (and human experience) of working in America today.
In Brain Gain, Darrell West asserts that perception or "vision" is one reason reform in immigration policy is so politically difficult. Public discourse tends to emphasize the perceived negatives. Fear too often trumps optimism and reason. And democracy is messy, with policy principles that are often difficult to reconcile.
The seeming irrationality of U.S. immigration policy arises from a variety of thorny and interrelated factors: particularistic politics and fragmented institutions, public concern regarding education and employment, anger over taxes and social services, and ambivalence about national identity, culture, and language. Add to that stew a myopic (or worse) press, persistent fears of terrorism, and the difficulties of implementing border enforcement and legal justice.
West prescribes a series of reforms that will put America on a better course and enhance its long-term social and economic prosperity. Reconceptualizing immigration as a way to enhance innovation and competitiveness, the author notes, will help us find the next Sergey Brin, the next Andrew Grove, or even the next Albert Einstein.
Anner finds that four labor strategies have dominated labor campaigns in recent years: transnational activist campaigns; transnational labor networks; radical flank mechanisms; and microcorporatist worker-employer pacts. The choice of which strategy to pursue is shaped by the structure of global supply chains, access to the domestic political process, and labor identities. Anner's multifaceted approach is both rich in anecdote and supported by quantitative research. The result is a book in which labor activists find new and creative ways to support their members and protect their organizations in the midst of political change, global restructuring, and economic crises.
The study on which "Marienthal" is based was conducted in 1930 in Austria, at the time of a depression that was worse than anything experienced in the United States. But the substantive problem is still very much with us, although our focus is now poverty rather than unemployment. In Austria, the institutional response to mass unemployment was the dole. Unlike the work relief programs of the New Deal, the dole system left workers destitute and idle. The essential finding of this research is that when people are deprived of work, there is a breakdown in the personality structure of a group.
"Marienthal" represents a colossal breakthrough in social research. It provides a combination of quantification and interpretive analysis of qualitative material-an approach that remains in the forefront of present-day research design. The work combines statistical data at hand, case studies, information on historical background of those being studied, and questionnaires combined with solicited reports that enhances a sense of daily life without intrusion by investigators. The work provides a unique insight into how creative innovations can assist in overcoming collective deprivations.
The work of Marie Jahoda, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, and Hans Zeisel was sponsored by the then newly created Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna. Each of the authors went on to extraordinary professional careers. Jahoda held positions at New York University, Brunel University, and the University of Sussex. Lazarsfeld spent the better part of his career from 1933 to his death at Columbia University in New York City. Zeisel came to the University of Chicago after the rise of Nazism.
One of the most important civil rights leaders in American history, Cesar Chavez was a firm believer in the principles of nonviolence, and he effectively employed peaceful tactics to further his cause. Through his efforts, he helped achieve dignity, fair wages, benefits, and humane working conditions for hundreds of thousands of farm workers. This extensive collection of Chavez's speeches and writings chronicles his progression and development as a leader, and includes previously unpublished material. From speeches to spread the word of the Delano Grape Strike to testimony before the House of Representatives about the hazards of pesticides, Chavez communicated in clear, direct language and motivated people everywhere with an unflagging commitment to his ideals.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Widowed at the age of 30 when her husband and four young children died during a yellow fever epidemic, Mother Jones spoke out tirelessly and effectively for the rights of workers and unionists. She played a significant role in organizing mining strikes in West Virginia and Colorado, as well as the Pittsburgh steel strike of 1919. She was instrumental in the formation of the United Mine Workers union (UMW) in 1890 and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1905.
An important addition to feminist literature, the Autobiography of Mother Jones is also "a great piece of working-class literature…probably the most readable book in the whole field of American labor history." — Clarence Darrow.
Guy Standing argues that this class is producing instabilities in society. Although it would be wrong to characterise members of the Precariat as victims, many are frustrated and angry. The Precariat is dangerous because it is internally divided, leading to the villainisation of migrants and other vulnerable groups. Lacking agency, its members may be susceptible to the siren calls of political extremism.
To prevent a 'politics of inferno', Guy Standing argues for a 'politics of paradise', in which redistribution and income security are reconfi gured in a new kind of Good Society, and in which the fears and aspirations of the Precariat are made central to a progressive strategy.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Dionicio Nodín Valdés examines critical links between the earlier conquests and the later organizing campaigns while he corrects a number of popular misconceptions about agriculture, farmworkers, and organized labor. He shows that agricultural workers have engaged in continuous efforts to gain a place in the institutional life of the nation, that unions succeeded before the United Farm Workers and César Chávez, and that the labor movement played a major role in those efforts. He also offers a window into understanding crucial limitations of institutional democracy in the United States, and demonstrates that the widespread lack of participation in the nation's institutions by agricultural workers has not been due to a lack of volition, but rather to employers' continuous efforts to prevent worker empowerment.
Organized Agriculture and the Labor Movement before the UFW demonstrates how employers benefitted not only from power and wealth, but also from imperialism in both its domestic and international manifestations. It also demonstrates how workers at times successfully overcame growers' advantages, although they were ultimately unable to sustain movements and gain a permanent institutional presence in Puerto Rico and California.
After decades of off-shoring and downsizing that have left blue collar workers obsolete and stranded, the United States is now on the verge of an industrial renaissance. Companies like Apple, BMW, Bosch, and Volkswagen are all opening plants and committing millions of dollars to build products right here on American soil.
The only problem: we don't have a skilled enough labor pool to fill these positions, which are in many cases technically demanding and require specialized skills. A decades-long series of idealistic educational policies with the expressed goal of getting every student to go to college has left a generation of potential workers out of the system. Touted as a progressive, egalitarian institution providing opportunity even to those with the greatest need, the American secondary school system has in fact deepened existing inequalities, leaving behind millions of youth, especially those who live in the de-industrialized Northeast and Midwest, without much of a future at all.
We can do better, argue acclaimed sociologists Katherine Newman and Hella Winston. Taking a page from the successful experience of countries like Germany and Austria, where youth unemployment is a mere 7%, they call for a radical reevaluation of the idea of vocational training, long discredited as an instrument of tracking. The United States can prepare a new, high-performance labor force if we revamp our school system to value industry apprenticeship and rigorous technical education. By doing so, we will not only be able to meet the growing demand for skilled employees in dozens of sectors where employers decry the absence of well trained workers -- we will make the American Dream accessible to all.
As Hill explains, labor defense activists first drew on populist logic, opposing the masses to the state in their campaigns, while anti-lynching activists went in the opposite direction, castigating “the mob” and appealing to the law. Showing that this difference stems from the different positions of whites and Blacks in the American legal system, Hill’s comparison of anti-lynching organizing and radical labor defenses reveals the conflicts and intersections between antiracist struggle and socialism in the United States.
School administrators, teachers, human resources professionals, and managers and supervisors in any workplace will greatly benefit from the insights in this volume. It is a unique compilation of findings from the social science, business, and legal fields. One of the truly unique features of this work is its emphasis on multicultural perspectives. It also reviews legal cases and presents actual tools for sexual harassment policies, procedures, and training programs in educational institutions and workplaces alike.
Recognizing the black exodus to the American West as an overlooked but integral chapter in American history, Geta LeSeur fills the void by extending her research beyond the Mississippi River and the Mason-Dixon line, examining close-up the personal lives of third- and fourth-generation descendants of pre-Emancipation blacks. In this first full-length study to explore the migrant life of any nonwhite group within the United States and the first to focus specifically on a primarily black town in the Southwest, LeSeur deftly uncovers the stepping-stone pattern of black movement west of the Mississippi into Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and consequent migrations to Arizona and California imposed by economic and social conditions.
Not All Okies Are White recaptures the ways of life for black migrant workers, as well as Hispanics and Native Americans, in the first half of the century through richly detailed interviews of the families of Randolph's founders. Through the words of each narrator, these personal stories recount work experiences and survival strategies, offering new insights into the people's relationship to the land. The narratives reveal a creative tension between place and identity, movement and migration. LeSeur provides a historical, cultural, and literary context for the oral histories by incorporating news articles, information culled from historical society archives, analyses of films and novels, advertisements, and photographs.
An innovative blend of history telling and literary analysis, Not All Okies Are White describes LeSeur's acquaintance with and growing involvement in the lives of the residents of Randolph and surrounding farm communities. The result is a highly accessible cross-disciplinary study that will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in oral history, African American history, multicultural studies, and women's studies.
Gerald Horne draws on Smith’s life to make insightful connections between labor radicalism and the Civil Rights Movement—demonstrating that the gains of the latter were propelled by the former and undermined by anticommunism. Moreover, Red Seas uncovers the little-known experiences of black sailors and their contribution to the struggle for labor and civil rights, the history of the Communist Party and its black members, and the significant dimensions of Jamaican labor and political radicalism.
In the early morning hours of February 19, 2006, a sudden blast shook a coal mine in northern Mexico, trapping sixty-five workers in a subterranean tunnel. Napoleón Gómez, head of the fiercely independent union that represented the workers, was appalled by what he found at the scene: labor department inspectors and the company operating the mine had ignored the egregiously hazardous state of the work site and were failing miserably at a rescue effort. Rather than focusing on saving lives, they were busy downplaying the company’s role in the collapse and selling false hope to the families camped out at the mouth of the mine. Less than a week after the explosion, Mexico’s labor secretary called off the rescue, leaving the lost men to their fates.
The senseless tragedy—stemming directly from an insatiable hunger for profits—set off a massive confrontation between the National Miners’ Union and the transnational corporations wielding great power in the country’s government. Over seven tumultuous years, Gómez waged a battle against Mexico’s corrupt politicians and voraciously greedy businessmen, insisting that the mine blast was an “industrial homicide” and that those responsible must be held accountable for it.
Told with candor and passion, Collapse of Dignity is Gómez’s account of the union’s fight, mounted in the face of traitors, armed aggression, death threats, and a political alliance extending all the way up to the presidential residence at Los Pinos. As he fends off absurdly complex legal charges, organizes the resistance from exile in Canada, and uncovers an anti-union conspiracy stretching back to years before the explosion, he only becomes more committed to fighting for the rights of Los Mineros—and by extension the workers of every country.
Hamilton challenges the popular notion of "red state" conservatism as a devil's bargain between culturally conservative rural workers and economically conservative demagogues in the Republican Party. The roots of rural conservatism, Hamilton demonstrates, took hold long before the culture wars and free-market fanaticism of the 1990s. As Hamilton shows, truckers helped build an economic order that brought low-priced consumer goods to a greater number of Americans. They piloted the big rigs that linked America's factory farms and agribusiness food processors to suburban supermarkets across the country.
Trucking Country is the gripping account of truckers whose support of post-New Deal free enterprise was so virulent that it sparked violent highway blockades in the 1970s. It's the story of "bandit" drivers who inspired country songwriters and Hollywood filmmakers to celebrate the "last American cowboy," and of ordinary blue-collar workers who helped make possible the deregulatory policies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and set the stage for Wal-Mart to become America's most powerful corporation in today's low-price, low-wage economy.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.
This Princeton Classics edition includes a new preface by Sugrue, discussing the lasting impact of the postwar transformation on urban America and the chronic issues leading to Detroit’s bankruptcy.
Mexican-American civil rights and labor activist Cesar Chavez (1927–1993), comes to life in this vivid portrait of the charismatic and influential fighter who boycotted supermarkets and took on corporations, the government, and the powerful Teamsters Union. Jacques E. Levy gained unprecedented access to Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union in writing this account of one of the most successful labor movements in history which can also serve as a guidebook for social and political change.
“[The] definitive work. The book's major contribution lies in its portrait of the man himself—deeply religious in an almost mystical fashion; a dedicated battler, but not a dedicated hater; a leader who not only will not ask, but will not allow his followers to make the sacrifices he has made.” —Publishers Weekly
“One of the heroic figures of our time.” —Senator Robert F. Kennedy
Jacques E. Levy (1927–2004), a prize-winning journalist, spent six years with Cesar Chavez researching and writing this book.
Fred Ross Jr. is a spokesperson for the Service Employees' International Union and the son of Fred Ross, Chavez's mentor.
Jacqueline Levy is the daughter of Jacques E. Levy and a high school science teacher in Sonoma County, California.
Lan demonstrates how economic disparities, immigration policies, race, ethnicity, and gender intersect in the relationship between the migrant workers and their Taiwanese employers. The employers are eager to flex their recently acquired financial muscle; many are first-generation career women as well as first-generation employers. The domestics are recruited from abroad as contract and “guest” workers; restrictive immigration policies prohibit them from seeking permanent residence or transferring from one employer to another. They care for Taiwanese families’ children, often having left their own behind. Throughout Global Cinderellas, Lan pays particular attention to how the women she studied identify themselves in relation to “others”—whether they be of different classes, nationalities, ethnicities, or education levels. In so doing, she offers a framework for thinking about how migrant workers and their employers understand themselves in the midst of dynamic transnational labor flows.
When Americans hear the words “Chamber of Commerce,” many still think of the local business associations that spruce up Main Streets and sponsor Little League teams around the country. But the United States Chamber of Commerce is a different animal altogether. The Chamber was originally founded to give big business a voice during the long—and now almost inconceivable—period in American history that saw the rise of workers’ rights, consumer protections, and environmental awareness as national priorities. But over time, driven by an antigovernment ideology and its desire for financial and political power, the Chamber metastasized into a fighting force designed to protect the worst excesses of American industry.
The Chamber, through its veiled corporate sponsors, can take credit for some of the most disturbing trends in American life: the reversal of environmental protections, the destruction of unions and worker protections, the rise of virulent antigovernment ideology, the enlarged role of money in campaigns, and the creation of “astroturf” movements as cover for a corporate agenda. Through its propaganda, lobbying, and campaign cash, the Chamber has created a right-wing monster that even it struggles to control, a conservative movement that is destabilizing American democracy as never before.
The Influence Machine tells this history as a series of gripping narratives that take us into the backrooms of Washington, where the battles over how our country is run and regulated are fought, and then out into the world, where we see how the Chamber’s campaigns play out in real lives. In the end, Alyssa Katz reveals the hidden weaknesses of this seeming juggernaut and shows how its antidemocratic agenda can be reversed.
Praise for The Influence Machine
“Important and probing . . . a valuable and a sobering contribution to the study of power in American society . . . Katz has assembled a work of synthesis and insight. . . . The chamber has, she argues, effectively countered the influence of labor unions and contributed to the widening economic divide in American society. Those points are made forcefully and backed up impressively.”—Los Angeles Times
“An urgent look at the ‘political assault weapon’ that is transforming the country . . . [Katz] does invaluable work in tracing how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been a relentless engine for pressing a ‘business of enterprise unfettered by government.’ . . . An eye-opening, maddening read.”—Kirkus Reviews
“With clarity and verve, but without polemic, investigative journalist Katz describes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s evolution into a many-armed behemoth. . . . [She] illustrates with several examples of how the organization has managed to influence courts, strong-arm Congress, cripple federal agencies, and sway the public with ‘voter education’ ads—and, more recently, it has exported cutthroat American business practices abroad.”—Publishers Weekly
From the Hardcover edition.
From Frederick Douglass to César Chavez, from the Haymarket Riots in 1886 to the Change to Win federation formed in 2005, this classic labor lexicon provides concise, enlightening sketches of over five hundred key places, people, and events in American labor history. A practical resource for students and journalists, The Lexicon of Labor is as entertaining for longtime union members seeking to get reacquainted with the traditions of the movement as it is for newcomers wishing to discover the unique language and history of unionism.
The Lexicon of Labor also includes explanations of major legislative acts, definitions of key legal terminology, and complete listings of all the member unions of the AFL-CIO and independent unions in the United States. It is the perfect introduction to the history of labor in America.
Drawing on a rich trove of original documents, tapes, and interviews, Miriam Pawel chronicles the rise of the UFW during the heady days of civil rights struggles, the antiwar movement, and student activism in the 1960s and '70s. From the fields, the churches, and the classrooms, hundreds were drawn to la causa by the charismatic Chavez, a brilliant risk-taker who mobilized popular support for a noble cause. But as Miriam Pawel shows, the UFW was ripped apart by the same man who built it, as Chavez proved unable to make the transition from movement icon to union leader. Pawel traces the lives of several key members of the crusade, using their stories to weave together a powerful portrait of a movement and the people who made it.
A tour de force of reporting and a spellbinding narrative, The Union of Their Dreams explores an important and untold chapter in the history of labor, civil rights, and immigration in modern America.
Edward T. O'Donnell's exploration of George's life and times merges labor, ethnic, intellectual, and political history to illuminate the early militant labor movement in New York during the Gilded Age. He locates in George's rise to prominence the beginning of a larger effort by American workers to regain control of the workplace and obtain economic security and opportunity. The Gilded Age was the first but by no means the last era in which Americans confronted the mixed outcomes of modern capitalism. George's accessible, forward-thinking ideas on democracy, equality, and freedom have tremendous value for contemporary debates over the future of unions, corporate power, Wall Street recklessness, government regulation, and political polarization.