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Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America's Promise Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 23, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
With this passionate but meandering call for reform, union member and journalist Fitch attempts to expose the systemic corruption—the "private use of public office"—that he deems central to the history of American labor and its current ineffectuality. After two scattered and polemical introductory chapters that put the corruption of American labor unions in a global context, the book traces a century's worth of labor history, from the 1881 founding of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters to the mob-backed looting of the Mason Tenders pension fund in the 1990s. Fitch likens labor unions to fiefdoms and union leaders to warlords while comparing their level of corruption to that of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church. He implicates historical figures from early 20th-century AFL president Samuel Gompers and mid-century Teamster Jimmy Hoffa to Bill Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani, whom he censures for their coziness with unscrupulous union leaders. This sweeping condemnation, though provocative, suffers from the breadth of material and its diffuse thematic rather than chronological presentation. The book's structural flaws make for reading that often proves as frustrating as it is fascinating. (Feb.)
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"Nobody has written of trade unionism's fatal embrace with the underworld, and its own demons, more eloquently." -- Carl F. Horowitz, National Review, February 13, 2006
AAA slew of keen insights An important read for anyone who cares about the future of organized labor in America. -- Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2006
Top customer reviews
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Fitch begins his work by tracing corrupt practices in the beginning of the 20th century, particularly in New York and Chicago. He then provides a number of anecdotes about how the mob or corrupt leadership has controlled or destroyed various locals in the Teamsters, UNITE-HERE (garment workers), LIUNA (laborers) and AFSCME-in New York City. However, Fitch's sensational examples fail to tie in to anything close to a theory. Moreover, Fitch doesn't balance his work by demonstrating what is working or showing how his argument stands against his grudging admission that the overwhelming majority of International Unions and Locals are free from corruption (he admits as much when he discusses the Teamsters). Moreover, Fitch offers nothing new with respect to solutions, except that his suggestion that the closed shop should be abolished and all members should pay dues voluntarily, in the matter of the French system-collection of stamps. He fails to explain why this form of volunteerism hasn't taken hold among members in open shop states who are happy to receive the benefits of collective bargaining without paying for them. Ultimately, while Fitch's sensational stories are easy to read and it is easy for those with no union experience to extrapolate these experiences to an entire movement, the end result is misleading, shrill and anti-union.
Whether union officials would have had sufficient spare time to fatally devote to financial corruption, or just simple daydreaming had they been busily engaged in organizing us enchanted Taft-Hartley inmates to clamor for better rules like Universal Health care or maybe even a shorter work- week we are better able to guess at after reading Robert Fitch's stark report on our modern day employment-for-hire arrangements .
- John A. Joslin ( construction- IBEW Local # 58 , Detroit, Michigan USA )
The book can make you think, and it could potentially serve as a tool to get more workers OUT of unions.
Most recent customer reviews
Mr. Fitch has provided us with a great body of work, research and insights into the history and troubles of the labor...Read more