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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.
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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: #202,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 2, 2002
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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