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Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 (ILR Press Books)

3.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801483899
ISBN-10: 0801483891
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Several mining towns have grown up around the rich Morenci copper pit in southern Arizona, each ruled to a certain extent by the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. In 1983, the company tried to freeze wages and deny the miners cost-of-living protection. The resulting strike lasted a long and miserable 18 months; management ultimately won its bid to have the union decertified but its business was damaged in the process, and the strikers took some comfort in a series of legal victories that, suggesting a discriminatory pattern of law enforcement, kept the labor activists out of jail. Journalist and novelist Kingsolver (The Bean Trees) has written a stirring partisan account of the role the area’s women played in holding the strike and in keeping families and communities together, despite the strike’s failure. The women tell remarkable stories of their lives and actions, displaying the strength that led one corporate official to remark, "If we could just get rid of these broads, we’d have it made." This book pays powerful tribute to their resolve and passion for economic justice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

In 1983, after the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation demanded an unprecedented amount of pay and benefits cuts, a union consortium, consisting of mostly Hispanic women, held a strike in four small Arizona mining towns. The women's lives were transformed. Their culture had confined them to limited roles; they now became leaders, strategists, spokespersons, and morale-boosters. The first-person narratives of these women dominate this account of the 18-month strike, written by novelist Kingsolver, author of The Bean Trees (LJ 2/1/88) and Homeland and Other Stories ( LJ 5/15/89). While this format is interesting, fewer quotations and additional industry and strike background would have made the account more effective. Despite these reservations, the book will interest readers of labor studies, women's studies, and community/ethnic studies.
- Frieda Shoenberg Rozen, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: ILR Press Books
  • Paperback: 213 pages
  • Publisher: ILR Press (November 26, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801483891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801483899
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955 in Annapolis, Maryland, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She counts among her most important early influences: the Bookmobile, a large family vegetable garden, the surrounding fields and woods, and parents who were tolerant of nature study but intolerant of TV.
Beginning around the age of nine, Barbara kept a journal, wrote poems and stories, and entered every essay contest she ever heard about. Her first published work, "Why We Need a New Elementary School," included an account of how the school's ceiling fell and injured her teacher. The essay was printed in the local newspaper prior to a school-bond election; the school bond passed. For her efforts Barbara won a $25 savings bond, on which she expected to live comfortably in adulthood.
After high school graduation she left Kentucky to enter DePauw University on a piano scholarship. She transferred from the music school to the college of liberal arts because of her desire to study practically everything, and graduated with a degree in biology. She spent the late 1970's in Greece, France and England seeking her fortune, but had not found it by the time her work visa expired in 1979. She then moved to Tucson, Arizona, out of curiosity to see the American southwest, and eventually pursued graduate studies in evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. After graduate school she worked as a scientific writer for the University of Arizona before becoming a freelance journalist.
Kingsolver's short fiction and poetry began to be published during the mid-1980's, along with the articles she wrote regularly for regional and national periodicals. She wrote her first novel, The Bean Trees, entirely at night, in the abundant free time made available by chronic insomnia during pregnancy. Completed just before the birth of her first child, in March 1987, the novel was published by HarperCollins the following year with a modest first printing. Widespread critical acclaim and word-of-mouth support have kept the book continuously in print since then. The Bean Trees has now been adopted into the core curriculum of high school and college literature classes across the U.S., and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
She has written eleven more books since then, including the novels Animal Dreams , Pigs in Heaven, The Poisonwood Bible, and Prodigal Summer ; a collection of short stories (Homeland ); poetry (Another America ); an oral history (Holding the Line ); two essay collections (High Tide in Tucson, Small Wonder ); a prose-poetry text accompanying the photography of Annie Griffiths Belt (Last Stand ); and most recently, her first full-length narrative non-fiction, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She has contributed to dozens of literary anthologies, and her reviews and articles have appeared in most major U.S. newspapers and magazines. Her books have earned major literary awards at home and abroad, and in 2000 she received the National Humanities Medal, our nation's highest honor for service through the arts.
In 1997 Barbara established the Bellwether Prize, awarded in even-numbered years to a first novel that exemplifies outstanding literary quality and a commitment to literature as a tool for social change.
Barbara is the mother of two daughters, Camille and Lily, and is married to Steven Hopp, a professor of environmental sciences. In 2004, after more than 25 years in Tucson, Arizona, Barbara left the southwest to return to her native terrain. She now lives with her family on a farm in southwestern Virginia where they raise free-range chickens, turkeys, Icelandic sheep, and an enormous vegetable garden.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Barbara Kingsolver was a young reporter in Arizona when she was assigned to write a story about this strike. Little did she know then that the strike would last for eighteen months, and that this book would be a natural outgrowth of her interest. The book is filled with facts and figures as well as the stories of people who bravely "held the line" each day, picketing against the "scab" workers that were brought in by the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. It's also the story of a town, where the only work was in the mine. And it's also about the generations of Mexican American citizens of that town who had to fight prejudice as well as the everyday dangers inherent in mining.
Most of all though, it is the story of the women and how this strike broadened their understanding of the world beyond their families, and let them develop new strengths. For it was mostly the women who stood on that picket line - the wives, sisters and mothers of the men who would have been arrested. Families were threatened with eviction. There was even a catastrophic flood during this time, which brought its own kind of devastation. And some of the women were arrested too. But despite intimidation, tear gas and harassment, the community stood firm.
I was particularly interested in the stories of the handful of women who actually worked in the mine. One of them had 11 children but needed the work to be able to help her husband support the family. Eight dollars an hour doesn't seem like much, but it was considered a good wage compared with $3.00 an hour for being a secretary. Several of them described the actual work, including the heavy lifting all day long and sometimes working as many as 28 days in a row. Their male co-workers verbally harassed them. And there was no special restroom for women.
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Format: Paperback
Barbara Kingsolver is one of the, if not the, greatest writers ever produced by America, maybe, the world. With care and compassion, she writes a thorough account of the mine strike of 1983 in Southern Arizona. During the height of the Cold War, while Reagan was calling the Soviet Union and Communism, the "evil empire," things which Americans thought went on "only over there" were happening in Southern Arizona. Hard-working people who did no more than stand up for there rights, were denied their right to assemble, to speak, to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Judges, Governor Bruce Babbitt, Department of Public Safety, the National Guard, and the local authorities, all in the pocket and payroll of Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation who was trying to break up the Unions, so they could re-institute racist, sexist, classist, policies.
They all failed. The Morenci Mine Women's Auxiliary led the way to community solidarity against all odds. More than any strike victory, they gained, life, confidence, and a purpose in life. Read this book, it's told in the form of interviews and narrative. You'll get to know and have affection for Anna O'Leary, Flossie Navarro, Berta Chavez, and many other women of Clifton, Arizona. You'll root for them, be inspired by them, and, be moved by them. What a wake up call! Working people of the world, UNITE!
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Format: Paperback
In "Holding the Line", author Barbara Kingsolver ("The Poisonwood Bible", "Animal Dreams") offers us an account of the strike at the 1983 Morenci Copper Mine in Arizona. Kingsolver was working as a reporter at the time and spent quite a bit of time with the women involved in the strike. She gives the reader a different perspective on the strike; and on strikes in general. "Holding the Line" focuses on the women involved in the strike and how the strike affected them, and also just how much influence they held during the strike. Kingsolver admits her bias early on in the preface, so the reader knows from the start that the author personally sides with the strikers against the company, Phelps Dodge.

After spending decades slowing winning better pay, better working conditions and opportunities for women and minorities, the union works are the Morenci Copper Mine are dealt a new blow and a new challenge: At the end of their current contract, Phelps Dodge claims that they are losing money and the new contract the offer is with reduced wages and the elimination of a Cost of Living Expense for its workers. The way the workers have traditionally won concessions and what should be considered "human rights" (here I show my bias) is through a strike. The union workers walked off the job at the end of their contract and thus began an 18 month standoff between the workers and the giant Phelps Dodge, which almost immediately began bringing in scab labor to try to break the strike and break the union.

In a culture where women have traditionally been at home, "barefoot in the kitchen", the women in Morenci and the other nearby mining towns began to get involved.
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By A Customer on April 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I will never view law enforcement or the judicial system the same way again. A real eye-opener for those with no experience with unions. The story of heros persuing the American dream...
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