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Save Our Unions: Dispatches from A Movement in Distress


Save Our Unions: Dispatches From A Movement in Distress brings together recent essays and reporting by labor journalist Steve Early. The author illuminates the challenges facing U.S. workers, whether they’re trying to democratize their union, win a strike, defend past contract gains, or bargain with management for the first time. Drawing on forty years of personal experience, Early writes about cross-border union campaigning, labor strategies for organizing and health care reform, and political initiatives that might lessen worker dependence on the Democratic Party.

Save Our Unions contains vivid portraits of rank-and-file heroes and heroines, both well-known and unsung. It takes readers to union conventions and funerals, strikes and picket-lines, celebrations of labor’s past and struggles to insure that unions still have a future in the 21st century. The book’s insight, analysis and advocacy make this an important contribution to the project of labor revitalization and reform.

Very important work!

—Noam Chomsky

‘Save Our Unions’ is a plea we hear from workers seeking a better life throughout our country these days. This book shows what it takes to defend democracy, workers rights, and social justice unionism when all are under attack by big business.

—Dolores Huerta, co-founder, United Farm Workers and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Once upon a time, in the golden age of labor and the golden age of labor reporting, America had plenty of bold and independent writers who reported on the issues that were vital to working people and the unions that represent them. Today, labor reporting has taken even harder hits than labor. Most American media outlets neglect not just working-class issues but the working class itself. Against the odds, Steve Early has kept the faith, creating a body of work rooted in the very best traditions of radical labor and political reporting going all the way back to the days of Tom Paine.

—John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and co-author, The Death and Life of American Journalism

Never one to mince words or bow to authority, Steve Early’s latest work is hard hitting and thought provoking. Early is an activist/writer who sees unions, including his own, facing massive challenges but still searching for successful strategies. In Save Our Unions, Early chronicles recent workplace struggles with great sympathy and insight, showing the road taken by workers trying to reignite labor as a movement.

—Elaine Bernard, Executive Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School

With labor now searching for new directions, this book should be at the top of activists’ reading lists. In his latest collection of essays, Steve Early hits on the key themes necessary for reviving the labor movement: union democracy, workplace activism, and a willingness to confront corporate power.

—Joe Burns, AFA/CWA negotiator and author of Reviving The Strike

It’s no secret that organized labor is on the ropes. Steve Early has a keen eye for where and how labor can revitalize itself by exerting its strength in strategic ways. Save Our Unions is both analytical and a battle cry. A must read for activists.

—Clancy Sigal, author, Weekend in Dinlock, Going Away, and Hemingway Lives!

Save Our Unions is a much-needed discussion of problems arising from the corporate-type structure of many U.S. unions. It is hard to fight this war on workers when unions behave like businesses and act like it’s all about the money. This book shows why we need a labor movement that represents all working people, not just a few.

—Nichele Fulmore, Teamsters Local 391 and member, Labor Notes Policy Committee

No observer of the current labor scene writes with the cutting edge lucidity of Steve Early. His many years of experience as a national union representative makes his work essential reading for anyone trying to build a new type of labor movement.

—Robert M. Schwartz, labor attorney and author, The Legal Rights of Union Stewards

Unions once had high hopes that the Obama administration would help them resist health care cost shifting. Instead, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is actually increasing bargaining table pressure for more medical benefit givebacks. As Steve Early documents, labor needs real health care reform—and greater independence from the Democrats—now more than ever before.

—Dr. Jill Stein, 2012 Green Party presidential candidate

As a past president of my local union and then leader of our state and local labor councils, I know what a challenge it is to sustain grassroots movement-building. Readers of Save Our Unions can draw inspiration and ideas from the many labor struggles described by the author. Steve Early draws on a wealth of national and local union examples, highlighting the role played by rank-and-file organizers in strikes, contract campaigns, cross-border solidarity, and new forms of political action.

—David Newby, president emeritus, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

Steve Early has served as an inspiration to many in the younger generation of reporters now covering the labor beat for alternative media and, where it’s still possible, in the mainstream press. Early’s writing is not only insightful, but often witty as well, which makes for fun and informative reading.

—Mike Elk, In These Times

Steve Early is one of organized labor’s most astute and constructive critics, who knows which side of the class struggle he’s on. Anyone wishing to better understand the troubles, often self-inflicted, of the U.S. union movement would be foolish not to read him.

—Sasha Lilley, author, Capital and Its Discontents and host, Against the Grain, KPFA Radio

Praise for previous books by the author:

Steve Early has long been a voice of distinctive clarity, honesty and intellectual seriousness in and about the labor movement … At a time like this it is all the more important to have the benefit of a voice like his.

—Adolph Reed Jr., Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Civil Wars in U.S. Labor is based on thorough reportage, a lifetime of labor activism, and a deep commitment to union democracy and militancy … It is an excellent guide to contemporary labor history.

—Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Steve Early has been an organizer, strike strategist, labor educator, and lawyer. He recently retired from his job as national staff member of the Communications Workers of America. Early is the author of Civil Wars in U.S. Labor and Embedded with Organized Labor; his writing on the labor movement has appeared in many publications, like The Nation, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Progressive.

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SKU: mrp4277 Categories: , , , Tag:

Publication Date: November 2013

Number of Pages: 304

Paperback ISBN: 9781583674277

Cloth ISBN: 9781583674284

eBook ISBN: 9781583674291