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Labor's Giant Step: The First Twenty Years of the CIO: 1936-55 Paperback – January 1, 1972

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Labor's Giant Step: The First Twenty Years of the CIO: 1936-55 + The Color of Politics: Race and the Mainsprings of American Politics + The Decline of Organized Labor in the United States
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Pathfinder Press (NY); 2nd edition (January 1, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873482638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873482639
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tony Thomas on May 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
An explosion of working class militancy that created the CIO and other industrial unions, won whatever decent conditions working people have, medical benefits, social security, welfare, and other rights. Art Preis, a trade union militant and writer for the socialist newspaper The Militant wrote this book because he believed that the workers of his future, that is us today, would need this history to learn how to fight harder, better and more successfully than the workers of the 1930s. That's why he also explains how the trade union bureaucrats' policy of supporting government war polices and supporting the Democratic and Republican parties helped throttle these labor upsurges. This book tracks the story of the rise of the CIO and other industrial unions and the big strike battles they wages in the 1930s and 1940s. Here we see how millions of workers and their families and allies like farmers, African Americans, and women fought the big business class and won. We need this book because every day the government and the employers try to cut back our benefits, take away rights, and try to break the unions, just as every day we see rising resistance by working people. We need to use the lessons and example of the struggles explained here to launch bigger ones that can win not only union power, but political for working people.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Carl Weinberg on June 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I really love this book because it shows what workers are capable of. It's a long book, but that's because there are so many great stories to tell of what working people accomplished in the 1930s and 40s. If you go by what you learn in school, you would think that anything workers ever got in this country is due to the generosity of Franklin Roosevelt. But this book shows how workers had to overcome the resistance of the "liberal" Roosevelt on many fronts, from the fraud of the NRA to the Minneapolis Teamster trials to FDR's open strikebreaking before and during World War II. Another amazing thing about this story is that, as the author explains, most people thought the labor movement was dead in the water right before this huge upsurge happened that created the CIO. It is a good lesson for today to remind us that big battles are coming and that workers can win.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ohioan on November 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
In school I was taught and sometimes made to memorize great accomplishments, such as the building of the Transcontinental Railway or the Brooklyn Bridge, for example. Invariably, history books gave the name of an individual, such as John Roebling. Invariably, history books used the word "built" instead of "conceived of" or "designed" or some other appropriate word. John Roebling did not build the Brooklyn Bridge: thousands of individual workers, most of them Irish immigrants, built the bridge. Grade-school and high-school history books invert the credit. In short, they do not give credit to the working class.

Labor's Giant Step reverses that inverse and gives credit where it is due: to the millions of workers who labored on American assembly lines from the 1920s through the 1950s. This is the story of their horrible working conditions and poor pay, and their struggle for better living conditions. The author explores craft vs. industrial unionism, the CIO's bargains with Roosevelt, and the sit-down strikes that won workers control of the factories until their demands were met. He traces the role of industrial unions through World War II and then examines the huge upsurge of strikes at the end of the war, concluding with the McCarthy witch hunt and what it did to labor unions. The book is indexed.

This book not only depicts incidents from America's untold history, with names and dates and facts, it provides inspiration to everyone who realizes that in order to create a better life, it's necessary to organize and fight for what is right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Recently I reviewed in this space a book by 1930s labor organizer, Farrell Dobbs, Teamster Rebellion. In that book Dobbs, one of the central union organizers of the Minneapolis truckers and later the over the road drivers, recounts the details of the 1934 events that led up to the hard fought battle for union recognition in that town. Those actions, along with those in San Francisco and Toledo were the precursors of the later tremendous wave of union struggles in American basic industries. Those events are also essentially the starting point for 1930s labor organizer Art Pres' look at the overall labor struggles and especially the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) that was the central organizing body of the time. The rise and fall, as it were, of the CIO which eventually merged with the old-time craft-centered American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955 is what drives the narrative of this book.

Under ordinary conditions most labor militants are in favor of two things. First, following the old principle established by the Industrial Workers of The World (IWW) and early Socialist Party that all workers who work in the same industry combine their strength into one industry- wide union. (As opposed to individual crafts within an industry.) Secondly, that all of organized labor unite their strength in one giant labor federation. (As opposed to one federation for crafts and another for basic industries, or some such combination.) That first idea is what drove the early days of the CIO, the struggle to get previously ignored (by the AFL) industries whose workers were clamoring for unions organized. The second idea had to be discarded when the AFL essentially refused to organize basic industry and the CIO broke off (led by mine workers leader John L.
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Labor's Giant Step: The First Twenty Years of the CIO: 1936-55
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