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A New Labor Movement for a New Century


Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN: 0-85345-937-1
Released: January 1998

“Labor has finally awakened from a long, deep sleep.” So declared one observer after the victory of John J. Sweeney’s “New Voice” slate in the 1995 contest for leadership of the U.S. trade union federation, the AFL-CIO. Sweeney’s team promised to make organizing its top priority, and new stirrings in labor have brought unprecedented media attention. With a surprisingly popular and victorious nationwide strike at United Parcel Service in 1997, hopes have risen for a new labor movement.

But have unions broken sufficiently from the policies and practices of the past to reverse their long decline in membership? How is labor responding to a workforce increasingly made up of women and people of color? What are the best tactics for organizing and mobilizing? What political alliances and international policies should labor pursue?

This collection charts the possibilities for a more vibrant, inclusive, and democratic labor movement. Participants include union leaders and rank-and-file activists, representing a wide variety of industrial, clerical, and service employees; scholars, teachers, and intellectuals; and both labor radicals and labor moderates.

The result is a dialogue of exceptional range and depth. In an afterword, AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney replies to the assembled essays, relating the themes and criticisms found in them to his own vision for a revived labor movement.

This spirited collection is indispensable reading for anyone who wants to know what it will take for unions to inspire and mobilize a mass movement that will transform our nation, deepen our commitment to justice and democracy, and promote the inclusiveness that is key both to the labor movement and sustained economic growth.

—Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., President, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition



Introduction by GREGORY MANTSIOS

Part I: Democracy, Ideology, and Change

  • Creating Democratic Communities in the Workplace by ELAINE BERNARD
  • Whose Democracy? Organized Labor and Member Control by BILL FLETCHER, JR.
  • A “New Labor Movement” or the Shell of the Old? by JEREMY BRECHER and TIM COSTELLO
  • What Does Labor Stand For? by GREGORY MANTSIOS

Part 2: Organizing the Unorganized

  • Taking the Offensive, Turning the Tide by STEPHEN LERNER
  • Membership-Based Organizing by STEVE EARLY
  • Successful Organizing at the Local Level: The Experience of AFSCME District Council 1707 by JOSEPHINE LEBEAU and KEVIN LYNCH
  • Moving Innovation from the Margins to the Center by JANICE FINE

Part 3: Diversity and Inclusion

  • Women Workers: Strategies for Inclusion and Rebuilding Unionism by RUTH NEEDLEMAN
  • Getting Serious About Inclusion by JOSÉ LA LUZ and PAULA FINN
  • The Challenge of Diversity and Inclusion in the AFL-CIO by MAY CHEN and KENT WONG
  • Transforming Unions and Building a Movement by LARRY ADAMS

Part 4: Parties and Politics

  • Blocking Bridges: Class-Based Politics and the Labor Movement by PATRICIA LIPPOLD and BOB KIRKMAN
  • Labor’s Role in the Political Arena by DENNIS RIVERA
  • Building a Party of Our Own by TONY MAZZOCCHI
  • The Politics of Leadership: The Role of Unions in Developing Policy Initiatives by ARTHUR CHELIOTES

Part 5: International Affairs

  • Developing and Enforcing International Labor Standards by BARBARA SHAILOR and GEORGE KOURPIAS
  • New Voice, New Internationalism by ANDY BANKS
  • International Labor Solidarity in an Era of Global Competition by HECTOR J. FIGUEROA
  • Building a Member-Based International Program by RON BLACKWELL

Afterword by John J. Sweeney

Gregory Mantsios is director of worker education at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY).

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Publication Date: January 1998

Number of Pages: 356

Paperback ISBN: 9780853459378