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Immigrants, Unions, and the New U.S. Labor Market 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1592130412
ISBN-10: 1592130410
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Editorial Reviews


"This is an original, major contribution to the power of solidarity among new migrant workers of color in the U.S. The case studies of worker collective action in the informal economy eloquently show that migrants in the global economy share common bonds and will organize against all odds. The organizing by Francophone Africans, Mexicans, and South Asians call attention to the exclusion of migrant workers of color in established unions. The book impressively demonstrates that a strong labor movement can only be established through the inclusion of those struggling outside the margins of traditional institutions."-Bill Fletcher, Jr., President, TransAfrica Forum "Worker self organization accounts for a huge percentage of formal and informal labor history in the U.S. and throughout the world. Manny Ness has chronicled some inspiring and recent accounts of great organizing by immigrant workers in the U.S. This type of organizing and mobilizing existing members provides our best hope for the future."-Larry Cohen, Communications Workers of the World "Manny Ness tells the compelling stories of the workplace organizing efforts of immigrants in New York City. The odds are against them. Many are undocumented, they have to contend with a restructured labor market that disadvantages low wage workers, and the unions are not much help. Nevertheless, these workers forged the solidarities and found the courage that made militant struggle possible. Read this fine book and hope!"-Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Graduate School of the City University of New York "As government policies grow more repressive and corporate imperatives more malevolent, Ness offers hope that a new path is possible for organizing the workplace."-Elaine Bernard, Executive Director, Labor & Worklife Program, Harvard Law School

From the Publisher

Examining the lives of immigrant workers, both on the job and off

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press; 1st edition (June 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592130410
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592130412
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Fitch on September 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Professor Immanuel Ness brings a lot to the lectern in this story of spirited, but impoverished immigrant workers organizing in New York City. Ness is a professor of political science. He's written widely on cities. And his years as a union organizer give him instant street credibility.

All this experience and knowledge is effectively woven into his book, Immigrants, Unions and the New U.S. Labor market The title is accurate although Ness rarely strays far from the battles in New York's five boroughs. New York is a kind of testing ground. Immigrant workers in New York City make up more a than half the labor force. The low wages of these immigrants explain why New York County has the biggest spread between rich and poor in America -- It's in these organizing campaigns that the struggle to keep America from sliding back to the pay and conditions of the Gilded Age are being determined.

Ness focuses on three campaigns: Mexicans who work in Korean deli's, Pakistani limo drivers; and west African grocery store workers. With dozens of candid interviews, he takes us inside these immigrant communities, to hear the voices of New York's most silent workers.

Everyone knows that immigrants have it hard. But Ness forces us to see just what it means to be delivery man from Mali and be forced to live on $1.00 an hour - plus tips of course - while working for A&P's Food Emporium.

These workers are so exploited they aren't even permitted the status of workers. They're "independent contractors" "a fiction that allows employers the right to ignore the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) regulating minimum wage, maximum hours and safety conditions. The upshot is that the grocery baggers from Mali wind up making that $1.
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Format: Paperback
This book is far and away the most important book on labor in many years. While it covers immigrant laborers in the U.S. the book can be applied to U.S. workers as well. The book counters the intuitive notion that migrant workers are too afraid to organize. In fact they are the most likely to organize! Then the book provides a road map for all labor organizing, both immigrant and U.S.-born workers. Of all the books I have read, this book provides the most theoretically sound approach to labor organizing and mobilization in a clear and concise manner. The book is accessible to any reader and, without hubris or jargon, explains in a clear way that it is workers who organize first. Power is consolidated for the workers by unions. But even without unions, the book shows us that workers are more willing to take risks and are much more militant than their unions. Written clearly, the book is the best book on immigrants for university students. In my class, I found that students were so enthusiastic that the book in fact sparked discussion without my intervention. Bravo to Ness.
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Format: Paperback
Immigrants, Unions, and the New US Labor Market is the most timely and intelligent examination of the implicatoins of the expansion of global capitalism on international migration. The book provides real life evidence of the human spirit of solidarity among migrant workers. This stirring book offers a roadmap for unions and employers of the eternal struggle for dignity among an outcast population that now forms an important component of American labor. This penetrating book is indispensable to understand the plight of migrants and how social conditions and human experience shapes the actions of working people. I commend the author.
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