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A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement (A Century Foundation Book) Paperback – July 8, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds offer a compelling vision of a new kind of labor movement. At a time when America desperately needs stronger unions, A New New Deal sends a clear message that nostalgia for organized labor's past is no strategy for our future."―Richard L. Trumka, President, AFL-CIO



"Using case studies of successful partnerships, Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds paint a compelling picture of regional movements for a just and sustainable society. A New New Deal reinspires social activism and offers a modern road map to the labor movement."―Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism



"A New New Deal is a step-by-step guide to creating progressive change in your own backyard. Labor movement insiders Amy B. Dean and David Reynolds understand the importance of the economic empowerment of women and people of color. The authors draw on their real-world experience as activists in this contemporary look at grassroots organizing."―Sara K. Gould, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women



"Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds understand that union workers don't check their other identities at the shop floor door; they are people of color, women, immigrants. A New New Deal helps union organizers make the most of the multiple identities of workers in the fight against the overlapping injustices they face."―Dorian T. Warren, Columbia University



"This book is a must-read for new progressive leaders and those interested in the evolution of the labor movement in America."―Mike Honda, Congressman, 15th District, California

"It is practical to ask how the relationship of workers to their employers and to one another may change. If there is constructive development as a result of the current turmoil, it seems likely that one blueprint for a revived unionism will be that described and proposed in the pages of this book. It is a model that is simply too good to ignore."―Richard Leone, President, The Century Foundation

From the Back Cover

"Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds offer a compelling vision of a new kind of labor movement. At a time when America desperately needs stronger unions, A New New Deal sends a clear message that nostalgia for organized labor's past is no strategy for our future."--Richard L. Trumka, AFL-CIO

"Using case studies of successful partnerships, Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds paint a compelling picture of regional movements for a just and sustainable society. A New New Deal reinspires social activism and offers a modern road map to the labor movement."--Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

"A New New Deal is a step-by-step guide to creating progressive change in your own backyard. Labor movement insiders Amy B. Dean and David Reynolds understand the importance of the economic empowerment of women and people of color. The authors draw on their real-world experience as activists in this contemporary look at grassroots organizing."--Sara K. Gould, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women

"Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds understand that union workers don't check their other identities at the shop floor door; they are people of color, women, immigrants. A New New Deal helps union organizers make the most of the multiple identities of workers in the fight against the overlapping injustices they face."--Dorian T. Warren, Columbia University

"This book is a must-read for new progressive leaders and those interested in the evolution of the labor movement in America."--Mike Honda, Congressman, 15th District, California

"It is practical to ask how the relationship of workers to their employers and to one another may change. If there is constructive development as a result of the current turmoil, it seems likely that one blueprint for a revived unionism will be that described and proposed in the pages that follow. It is a model that is simply too good to ignore."--Richard Leone, President, The Century Foundation

"I have been a civil rights, community, and labor organizer for almost fifty years, but A New New Deal gave me important new ideas and insights into how effective grassroots movements can be built from the ground up. Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds show how everyday people can build powerful institutions that transform the ways in which we not only see the world but also remake it to meet our needs. Rooted in the experiences of its authors, A New New Deal helps lay the groundwork for the next great set of social movements."--Si Kahn, Executive Director, Grassroots Leadership; author, Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders; songwriter and playwright

"In a book worth teaching, Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds demonstrate how central labor councils are critical not only to reviving the labor movement but also to building a broad, progressive agenda. The reinvigoration of Central Labor Councils provides real impetus for unions to reaffiliate with regional bodies, planting the seeds of a new New Deal. Dean and Reynolds capture the renewed excitement about Central Labor Councils as a communal space for social justice, a clearinghouse to organize and advocate. A much-needed wake-up call, A New New Deal once again proves that politics is local."--Robert Bruno, University of Illinois

"After thirty years on the front lines of labor and community organizing, I am a firm believer that our biggest victories only come when labor and community organizations understand that they need each other and work together as partners to bring about change. A New New Deal demonstrates the power of bringing such organizations together to win real fights for working families. It is a welcome addition to the scholarship on this growing movement."--Keith Kelleher, President, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana; International VP, SEIU

"Local unions are the embodiment of democracy in action and an essential component of real social change. A New New Deal is a good read for those who are interested in a real grassroots labor movement and in how to build a model that is the bedrock of a national movement."--Ed McElroy, President Emeritus, American Federation of Teachers

"A New New Deal is a blueprint for strengthening the labor movement to fight for change on behalf of working men and women. This groundbreaking book is a must-read for those are passionate about improving the lives of America's working people."--Terry O'Sullivan, General President, Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA)

"A crucial issue facing the labor movement and community-based organizations is how to ensure that regional political and economic institutions function on behalf of working families. This task involves building real political power and learning how to govern those very institutions. Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds provide an invaluable service by documenting the regional power-building efforts that have occurred around the country and suggesting steps to bring this work to scale on a national level. I highly recommend this book to all labor and community leaders who want to forge a more just country."--Steven C. Pitts, University of California, Berkeley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Century Foundation Book
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: ILR Press; 1 edition (July 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801476658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801476655
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,367,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John Metzgar on December 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In their Introduction to A New New Deal, Amy Dean and David Reynolds make a clear statement of what is becoming conventional wisdom among both union and community organizers: "Labor is unlikely to revive without becoming part of a larger social awakening that aims to put the nation on a different course." (p. 14) They waste little time assessing the prospects for such an awakening because they are eager to explain their recipe for nurturing it. But as they illustrate and trace the history of their "regional power-building model," they actually provide lots of evidence that we are likely in the midst of such an awakening process.

I'm not referring to awakening moments -- like the amazing resurgence of young people and minorities during last year's Presidential election campaign - but rather to a longer-term politicization of both unions and community groups, often in concert with each other, over the last decade or so. This process involves a redefinition of "politics" as a year-round, mostly local, activity focused on achieving influence and then power over governing - not a cyclical process where temporary electoral mobilizations interrupt the "real work" of labor and community activists and then leave governing to the politicians. Focused on public policy changes that can make real differences in working people's lives while shifting power relations, this involves grassroots policy and political education, leadership development, careful institution-building, all in the service of what Dean and Reynolds call "deep coalitions" among a wide range of locally-based progressive organizations.

The very powerful model Dean and Reynolds advocate is based on this broader redirection toward a more expansive practice of both politics and organizing.
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Format: Hardcover
Having worked in the labor movement for years, I must say that Dean
and Reynolds make a convincing case that the labor movement must organize in
the community as well as the workplace. In California we have seen
some very dynamic labor councils bring together broad coalitions of
community groups, faith leaders, unions, environmentalists, and
others to fight for social justice and an economy that works for
everyone. A New New Deal not only tells our California story but
also uses examples from around the country to show how people can
build these coalitions in their own regions.

Jack McGlinn
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Format: Hardcover
This book isn't about presenting something like the New Deal 2.0 as much as it is a recipe for rejuvenating the labor movement, which the authors as having degenerated into industry-specific internationals trying unsuccessfully to increase `union density' while ignoring the larger context. The approach recommended is to shift to a high-level activism at a metropolitan scale, working not only with unions across different industries but reaching out to build long-term coalitions with local communities as well. As such, the praise in the other reviews is mostly deserved.

I would, however, add several caveats. First, while it provides a sharp critique of unions doing the same old same old, it doesn't squarely address the challenge of corporations exiting to other states or countries when confronted with the possibility of having to share power with their workers. The case studies that work seem to rely heavily on fields in which the cost of leaving an area is prohibitively high for corporations or isn't feasible (e.g., janitors in Shanghai can't scrub floors in San Jose). The basic approach the book advocates for, deep coalition building at the local level, armed with good research, has legs, as they say, and is probably now more necessary than when the book was written because a solid on-the-ground campaign may be one of the few ways to defeat the waves of corporate money pouring into elections. But it should expect serious resistance as it gathers momentum. (On that note, the demise of ACORN, which they praise repeatedly throughout the book, is telling.)

Second, the quality of the writing is uneven. Parts seem rather academic, like the review of regime theory.
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Format: Hardcover
Amy Dean and co-author David Reynolds have a daunting task: publicizing labor's victories. In the mind of the public -- to the extent they think about it at all -- labor is about rusting steel mills, and the shrinking and aging of America's industrial unions. In other words, lament and nostalgia. While this is true in many areas, there's another, equally compelling, story that never seems to make it into the national news. That's because good labor news seems to go nowhere.

As A New New Deal makes very clear, though, in many areas labor is changing and chalking up some astonishing victories along the way. The transformation of Los Angeles from a bastion of conservatism to one of the most progressive and labor-friendly cities in the country is a story that needs even more space than Dean and Reynolds give it here. But they do a good job in telling about the rise of labor under Miguel Contreras and the formation of community-wide coalitions with deep roots in LA's many, and varied, communities.

And Amy Dean herself, as the youngest leader of the South Bay Labor Council, fought for similarly sweeping changes in the San Jose-Silicon Valley area. On her watch, the South Bay moved from domination by real estate interests into one where labor-backed candidates won elections and implemented things like living wage statutes and health and safety rules.

For the general reading public, the book is a bit dense and could use more of an over-arching narrative. But it's filled with fascinating details about real, honest organizing, and how the working class -- if it's lucky enough to generate some good leadership -- can sometimes win over money and venality. And, if you're a labor or community activist in an area that needs changing, A New New Deal is a great place to start.

But you have to read it here. It won't be on the network news.
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