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State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0071488440
ISBN-10: 0071488448
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover


“Phil Dine tells a compelling tale-and he writes beautifully-of the decline, fall, and potential rebirth of a powerful labor movement in the U.S.”-Mike Wallace, CBS News

State of the Unions is an excellent, inspiring, and very readable analysis of the current struggles and past triumphs of the American labor movement. Longtime respected labor reporter Phil Dine makes a compelling case that a much stronger labor movement in the years ahead is indispensable for restoring fairness for working families and reducing the widening income gap that is threatening the American dream for so many millions of our families.”-Senator Edward M. Kennedy

State of the Unions provides a penetrating look at what's happened to American workers-and how labor unions have failed them. It's an important book on a subject that gets far too little attention.”-Michael Isikoff, author of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War

“Phil Dine presents a compelling case for the critical role unions play in preserving the dignity of workers and the American way of life. State of the Unions is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of our country.”-John J. Flynn, President, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers

State of the Unions-with its keen observations and thoughtful conclusions-could be a primer for labor leaders and labor reporters. Except it's so well-written and entertaining that it beckons anyone who works for a living to bring it to the beach.”-Linda Foley, President, Newspaper Guild-CWA, Vice President, Communications Workers of America

“The facts are uncontestable. The conclusions often controversial. The challenges historic. Phil Dine offers a compelling and provocative look at labor's role in the political, social and economic marketplace.”-The Honorable Tom Ridge

“The author enters areas few media professionals have ever even visited...in this astonishing new book.”-Bernard DeLury, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service under President George H.W. Bush

About the Author

Philip M. Dine has covered the labor beat for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for two decades. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his labor reporting, he was also recognized for best Washington correspondence by the National Press Club and named top foreign correspondent by the Overseas Press Club. His op-ed and commentary pieces have been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and Newsday.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (August 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071488448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071488440
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's no surprise that author Philip Dine was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has received numerous journalism awards; as Mike Wallace says on the front cover, "Phil Dine tells a compelling tale -- and he writes beautifully..." The veteran news correspondent couldn't be more correct.

State of the Unions is a deeply reported, beautfully written narrative that captures the struggles and the triumphs of labor unions all around the US who have taken a stand to fight for their future.

Through the author's storytelling, readers will become emotionally invested in those who have struggled to keep the labor movement afloat, and understand why the union's fight is everyone's fight -- why an organized movement that ultimately uses its credibility, resources, and insights on work, community, and economic fairness issues will impact an entire population.

This is a thoroughly inspiring read that is sure to spark a national debate. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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Format: Hardcover
I chanced upon this book at an airport bookstore, and after a long flight and several more hours at home with it, have put it down with an enormous sense of the righteous and epochal importance of this work. I have not trimmed my review to 1000 words because of the importance of this book, and the removal of the 1000 word limit from Amazon's current guidelines. This is IMPORTANT!

In the introduction to the book, Congressman Gephardt laments that union membership is down to 8% from 35%, for two reasons: good employers whose workers do not feel the need to unionize, and intimidation by bad employers who will stop at nothing to squelch any attempt to unionize.

He emphasizes the direct relationship between the health of the unions and the health of America's economy and its linch-pin middle class.

He is most provocative in suggesting that unions can and should displace employers as the providers of life-long benefits.

He concludes the introduction by lamenting the reality that employers pursue micro-profits instead of macro-benefits, and points out that in the absence of rules of law and fair trade, globalization will inevitably push the USA to labor conditions akin to those of the lowest common denominator--a return to sweatshops, no benefits, and despair across the land.

The book itself is phenomenal. The author, a very rare journalist who not only cares about labor issues but has also won the trust of labor leaders, has written what is in my mind the single most important book relevant to how every American should perceive the 2008 election. No candidate is serious about labor at this time.
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Format: Hardcover
I think the book is well researched, but I also think the writer should have spent more time explaining how labor unions have somewhat been responsible for outsourcing. While labor unions (which I support) became strong in the 70's and 80's, they raised wages so high that organizations had to revert to looking for other avenues to curtail the rising wage costs. This culminated to major corporations establishing units across borderlines where manufacturing moved, but not management. Not to wholly blame labor unions for the exodus of manufacturing entities in the United States, but they should bare some blame for it.

Secondly, labor unions involvement in politics was its downfall. While I understand the need to foster and harness political power for survival, intricate subliminal relationships between politicians and labor unions create very strange bed fellows. They create a cycle that is very hard to break: the politician relies on labor money to campaign and win elections, while the labor union will depend on the politician to muzzle their way through corporate America by demanding exorbitant wages and unrealistic benefit demands that exceed any threashold of reasonable common sense.

While machines are not human, in this age of automation, it is pertinent for corporations and labor unions to come to a meaningful consensus in order to serve the needs of their staff and also of their union members. Half of what machines are doing today was done by humans just 30 years ago. At this rate, labor unions could be absolete in just a few decades if a compromise isn't reached.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
philip dine plunges the reader quickly into the largely one sided class war waged in this country over the past generation. While not as critical of union leaders as is Paul Buhle in Taking Care of Business Dine displays the complacency and the warts of labor leaders who made the assault on organized labor by corporate interests all the easier. Dine of course also castigates lazy and biased media persons as well as the anti labor courts and legislatures. But Dine insists correctly that labor leaders must find ways to engage their members and the public in the causes of working people if the middle class and democracy are to survive. In that regard Philip Dine makes a number of important suggestions.
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Format: Hardcover
Seems to me State of the Unions could be renamed, given the importance of the issue, to State of our Country...
The book addresses our country's labor movement problems and the author, a renown Washington journalist, deftly shows how the issue affects every aspect of our political, economic and social life. And he provides labor with in depth fix-its likely to spark debate.
Dine's premise is that labor's tight-lipped tendencies have pushed it to near extinction. Labor doesn't get its message out, so the typical mainstream union news story these days is about picket lines and corruption. "Labor's complicity in the muzzling of the American working class amounts to self-inflicted damage that unions can ill afford, particularly in today's wired world." And Dine doesn't just blame labor, he blames media, too.
Yet -- thankfully for all of us who work for a living -- the book isn't all about blame.
In State of the Unions, Dine shows, sometimes through colorful on-the-job anecdotes, what can happen when unions get their message out. In one chapter in particular, he recounts the Delta Pride strike in the Mississippi Delta, when a group of female, largely uneducated workers win their campaign by getting their stories out, thereby putting a human face on their boycott. In another, using the firefighters union as an example, he reveals how the political clout of a union has the potential to redirect a national election.
The book then looks to the future, giving unions a bounty of advice on how to return to political effectiveness, including simply to "find your voice and make it be heard."
It's clear why so many notables -- Ted Kennedy, Mike Wallace, Stephen Hess, Richard Hurd, Chris Van Hollen, etc. -- doled out praise such as "beautifully written," "masterful" and "an astonishing new book."
Dine's book is a wake-up call and anyone who works for a living -- and who cares about the future of our country -- should read it.
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