The editors maintain the United States is reverting back to an earlier age of history when workers were disposable and offered little in the way of salary and protection. (p. xi.) Historians trace the loss of union power to the 1970s and more specifically the air traffic controllers' strike of 1981. (p.4) And it is not just the fault of the perpetrators but of a society that spends more time discussing reality TV than social issues and politicians who get nervous when stock markets and unemployment decline. There follows a collection of essays that argue for a transformation of the labor movement. Essays examine the history, the present, and the probable future of the labor movement and the actual milieu in which the ninety-nine percent and our offspring have been condemned. Outsourcing and insourcing of a temp nature are exposed and most "new jobs" are shown as low pay, no benefit dead ends. The gig jobs are a highly frightening disenfranchising device engineered to devoid employees of the American dream. Contractual work, 89 day and out temps and independent contractors are totally disposable. The history of labor contains multitudinous examples of how Those Who Rule Over Us use government, courts and police to stymie the unions and the rights of workers. In Washington, one essayist asserts that money can buy anything...not an original thought but one difficult to argue against. Another essayist maintains the Reagan era was not a return to less government but a return to the norm of the gilded age, a beginning of the end of a few generations of prosperity for the worker. Part five: Beyond borders is particularly interesting. In the summary, the authors state: "So there may be a future in labor in the United States. We should hope so, for all of us." Amen, brother. One more book that should be read by us all but which will end up gathering dust on the shelf. The very fact that I am the first to review this book is not a good sign.
This is a great collection of essays. My personal favorite is the first essay by Shelton Stromquist. Stromquist writes of rebuilding the labor movement from the ground up, recasting existing infrastructure to address specific problems at the community level and building further from this new civic engagment.
The rest of the authors provide a kind of collage-portrait of where we as a labor movement are today and identify several interesting avenues by which organized labor can address some of this nation's most pressing problems. This is a measured, thoughtful discussion wich is not limited soley to organized labor but also the broad middle class it forged and its centrality to our national health.
Yes there is truth to the statements that these are essays from academia and not union finks. Great arguments here though. Glad to see it stated so boldly true at some points. The next move is tactics. We need a real resurgence of Unions as a Speakerphone to voice grievances.
This book is written by a bunch of educators, who probably have never had to own up to the output of their efforts. It is really an "Ain't it awful what they are doing to the unions in this country!" book. One bright spot is the "author" whose article seems to have made a fresh observation about the current state of the work force. His statement about the "gig" mentality is right on. This book is not worth the price.