Recovering Our Lives: A Tutorial

Summertime, when the living’s no longer easy, retains its tradition of book lists and reading. The following come highly recommended:

Reviving the Strike: How Working People Can Regain Power and transform America by Joe Burns (2011).

Picket Line

Workers’ only real bargaining power is their ability to stop production and, to do this, workers must fight as a class. By abandoning these tactics, unions have lost their ability to defend the working class. Explains what it will take to revive the strike and regain lost ground.

Professional Poison: How Professionals Sabotage Social Movements,
and Why Workers Should Lead Our Fight
 by Susan Rosenthal (2009).

Middle-class professionals dominate most unions and social movements. How can working people organize to challenge them?

Autoworkers Under the Gun: A Shop-Floor View of the End of the American Dream by Gregg Shotwell (2011).

Autoworker Gregg Shotwell shows how General Motors and its junior partner, the United Auto Workers (UAW) bureaucracy, stole workers’ pensions, slashed wages and shed jobs to help expand GM’s global empire.

The Civil Wars in US Labor by Steve Early (2011).

Chronicles the corruption, back-stabbing, power-grabbing, and opportunistic alliances that have characterized recent turf wars among American unions. Why did a generation of activists fail to democratize the unions, and what must we do differently to avoid repeating that failure?

Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin (2008)

Argues that unions must undergo a fundamental transformation to champion the interests of the entire working class. Is this possible?

The Lessons of Chile: 1970-1973 by Susan Rosenthal (2010).

Chile showed that a challenge to class inequality in the medical system is a challenge to the capitalist system as a whole. Consequently, any serious movement for reform must prepare to fight a class war.

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