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Dishing It Out: Waitresses and Their Unions in the Twentieth Century (Working Class in American History) Paperback – September 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Series: Working Class in American History
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (September 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252061861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252061868
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A distinguished professor of history and labor studies at Rutgers University, Dorothy Sue Cobble writes about the changing nature of work, social movements, and social policy in the United States and globally. For additional biographical information, http://smlr.rutgers.edu/DorothySueCobble.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Cobble has written an invaluable history book about a large segment of the twentieth century workforce that would have otherwise been overlooked and forgotten. Waitresses have been ubiquitious and invisible at the same time. This book speaks to gender, class, ethnic, and work issues. It is written in a style that is informative AND interesting throughout. The historical research and organization of the book is superb. If you didn't know you were interested in this topic, the minute you start reading Cobble's book you will find out otherwise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dishing It Out captures the organizing achievements of waitresses throughout the twentieth century. It traces how their union work mirrored the larger labor movement in the nation over time. Cobble's book addresses the commercial food service and its transformation into a female occupation. The book describes the strategies waitresses in San Francisco and Chicago used for collective action and what equality and advancement meant to them. It also explores how waitress unionism changed over time and how this unique story reshaped the historical narrative of labor movements. Cobble argues that craft-style organizations were fundamental to the survival of waitress unions. Waitress's achievements and high level of confidence within their "skill" helped them gain a level of respectability unmatched in the 1930's. The feminist principles at the heart of waitress unionism were so strong they were capable of sustaining unions for over seventy years.
By 1941 San Francisco waitresses achieved almost complete organization of all locals within their trade and its union. Local fifty-eight was the largest waitress group in the country. San Francisco unionists represented the heightened power and creativity of labor unionists from the late 1930's into the 1950's. Cobble's work proved that during the war waitresses witnessed progressive changes in the labor force. Advancements included the six-day, eight-hour work week in the 1940`s. Aside from economic reforms, waitresses gained respect and elevated the status of servers. Though smaller cities and local towns often collaborated with larger city locals and unions out of necessity, they also made improvements and achieved success.
Waitress unions remained intact for nearly seventy years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Siciliano VINE VOICE on February 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Caution to flirts, cads, and ladies' men: "Dishing It Out," will change the way you look at waitresses for forever.

And if you think a book about waitressing falls into the hum-drum category, "Dishing It Out" demonstrates how a well-researched idea, presented with passion, can bring seemingly less-enticing topics to colorful life.

Sometimes, subjects can appear devoid of interest because of their very neglect and let us note how Microsoft Works Word Processor spell-check doesn't recognize the expression "waitressing."

But Dorothy Sue Cobble's book suggests that, to a certain degree, the rise and fall of waitress unionism traces our evolution (devolution?) as a country.

highwayscribery first came across Cobble through "Lost Ways of Unionism: Historical Perspective on Reinventing the Labor Movement," one in a larger collection of essays entitled "Rekindling the Movement: Labor's Quest for Relevance in the Twenty-First Century,", wherein she challenged the widely held view that skilled craft unions of the American Federation of Labor were less progressive than the Congress of Industrial Organizations' mass unions.

In her, "The Other Women's Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America," Cobble posits that dominant feminist analysis passes over a generation of mid-century "labor women."

Picking up on a theme developed in that book, Cobble writes that, in contrast to the later wave of feminists, waitresses did not want to be treated the same as the boys, rather, "They wanted equality and special treatment and did not see the two as incompatible."

"Dishing it Out," kicks the can a little further down the path, by focusing on the specific craft.
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