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Save Our Unions: Dispatches From A Movement in Distress

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-58367-427-7
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-428-4
Price: $19.95
Order at: http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb4277/

Praise for Save Our Unions:

Save Our Unions“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

“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

“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, editor, Capital and Its Discontents and host, Against the Grain, KPFA Radio

 

 

The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor:
Birth of a New Workers’ Movement of Death Throes of the Old?

ISBN: 9781608460991
Price: $17.00
Order at: http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/the-civil-wars-in-us-labor

The Civil Wars in U.S. LaborBetween 2008 and 2010, the progressive wing of the U.S. labor movement tore itself apart in a series of internecine struggles. More than $140 million was expended, by all sides, on organizing conflicts that tarnished union reputations and undermined the campaign for real health care and labor law reform. Campus and community allies, along with many rank-and-file union members, were left angered and dismayed.

In this incisive new book, labor journalist Steve Early draws on scores of interviews and on his own union organizing experience to explain why and how these labor civil wars occurred. He examines the bitter disputes about union structure, membership rights, organizing strategy, and contract standards that enveloped SEIU, UNITE HERE, the California Nurses Association, and independent organizations like the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico and the new National Union of Healthcare Workers in California. Along the way, we meet rank-and-file activists, local union officers, national leaders, and concerned friends of labor who were drawn into the fray.

Praise for Civil Wars:

“Steve Early’s book describes the kind of anti-union campaigning by management that makes passage of the Employee Free Choice Act so necessary. Early’s account of how and why labor law reform has been stalled for the third time in the last 32 years should be required reading for all workers’ rights advocates. As the author notes, collective bargaining faces private sector extinction. To protect the right to organize, we still need changes in the Wagner Act itself—not just better appointments to the NLRB.”
- U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

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 both partisan and thoroughly researched, which makes Early’s book and excellent guide to contemporary labor history, even if you don’t agree with all his conclusions.’”
- Nelson Lichtenstein, professor of history, UC Santa Barbara and author, State of The Union

Civil Wars in U.S. Labor critiques a union culture that privileges control over the practice of democracy. With an honest eye, the author adds an essential chapter to the long history of rank-and-file efforts to keep unionism vibrant and engaged... compelling reading.”
- Vanessa Tait, author, Poor Workers’ Unions

“Steve Early takes us inside one of the most important struggles for union democracy in recent years. His book is a reflective, self-critical look at how radical reformers have shaped today’s union movement and how some have contributed to the problems we set out to correct.”
- Fernando Gapasin, Labor educator, activist, and co-author of Solidarity Divided

"Civil Wars is as lively as it is detailed... [providing] insights into just what the labor movement can become when democracy takes hold and members get active. It will infuriate some, but inspire many more to build and transform their unions."
- Kim Moody, author, U.S. Labor in Trouble and Transition

“Although some union leaders may take issue with Steve Early’s blunt and forthright criticism of organized labor, no one can deny the clear and convincing case he makes for labor unity. As Early’s reporting on the fate of Employee Free Choice demonstrates, a union movement that can’t stay united behind basic principles and rights for its members eventually may find itself bereft of any principles, rights … or members.”
- Linda K. Foley, former president, The Newspaper Guild/CWA, and former member of AFL-CIO Executive Council

“Early's journalism is powerful because he has been in the trenches himself fighting to organize workers and make unions more democratic. This book is a must read, particularly for young organizers trying to make sense of contemporary American trade unionism."
- Peter Olney, Director of Organizing, International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)

"Steve Early is not just another scholar situated outside the labor movement. For more than thirty-five years, he helped do the hard work of organizing and collective bargaining. His latest book confirms that there is no one with a better understanding of contemporary union problems. When he warns about the dangers of undemocratic practices, sweetheart deals with employers, and over reliance on the Democratic Party, we had better listen."
- Michael Yates, author, Why Unions Matter

“Steve Early’s account of recent troubles within and between progressive unions is an engaging and original work. Early is the most tenacious, free-thinking journalist covering labor today, respected by friend and foe alike. Civil Wars is essential to understanding how union centralization and top-down control have failed as a strategy for revitalizing the labor movement.”
- Immanuel Ness, professor, Brooklyn College, CUNY, editor, WorkingUSA and author, Immigrants, Unions and The New U.S. Labor Movement.

“This is Steve Early at his finest, committed, principled and practical. In Civil Wars, the true SEIU is revealed- no holds barred - its incarnation of corporate unionism is laid bare for all to see. Then, the author follows the remarkable rise of the National Union of Healthcare Workers. His book is a passionate appeal for clean, decent, democratic trade unionism and much more –it makes the case, urgently, honestly, for workers’ power.”
- Cal Winslow, labor historian and author, Labor’s Civil War In California

“Steve Early shows how leading unions are grappling with the trade-offs between contract standards and growth in the private sector. If the quid pro quo for organizing rights includes limiting workers' ability to build a real union and fight for better conditions in the future, that's a serious problem in any labor organization, including my own.”
- Sandy Pope, President of Teamsters Local 805 and candidate for IBT President

“Civil Wars in U.S. Labor is a passionate, thoroughly researched indictment of recent misdeeds by America's second largest labor organization, the Service Employees International Union. It’s also a cri de coeur for union democracy, not just in principle or as a fine sentiment, but in highly practical ways that are illustrated throughout this rigorously-argued book. Anyone who cares about the future of American labor should read (and study) this 21st Century ‘J’accuse!’”
- Jack Metzgar, professor emeritus, Roosevelt University and author, Striking Steel

Civil Wars penetrates the purple haze of confusion about a major union’s painful and destructive estrangement from its own members, other labor organizations, and longtime campus and community allies.”
- Randy Shaw, founder, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, co-editor of BeyondChron, and author, Beyond The Fields

“Democracy means having a choice and we, the rank-and-file members of NUHW, have been in a great struggle to insure that we do have a choice of unions in California hospitals and nursing homes. Steve Early's book shows that, when workers are faced with dictatorship, they will do what it takes to safeguard their rights and liberties.”
- Brenda Washington, LVN and NUHW Executive Board Member

“Many who join the labor movement and participate in its critical struggles discover, sooner or later, that we are a movement with some major shortcomings. Invariably, if you speak out about these internal problems, you will be asked — or told — to keep them under wraps. Not Steve Early. In Civil Wars, he takes a hard look at recent union conflicts that became outright fiascos and a source of widespread political outrage.”
- Chris Townsend, Political Action Director, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)

“Steve Early was one of the few North American journalists to report on the struggle of Puerto Rican teachers, when they came under attack by a tainted governor and his political ally, SEIU. As Early demonstrates, unions that combine participatory democracy, member engagement and aggressive action in the workplace provide a much-needed model for the rest of the labor movement.”
- Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, Puerto Rico Solidarity Network and Labor Notes Policy Committee

“This is a much needed piece of journalism. The author’s perspective on how ‘60s activists shaped the labor movement, for better or worse, adds both historical depth and personal flavor to the larger story. Civil Wars deserves a wide audience.”
- Kate Titus, former Change To Win organizer

“Civil Wars doesn’t just make a principled argument for union democracy and rank-and-file militancy, it demonstrates that they are the key to organizing the unorganized and revitalizing working class resistance in an age of global capitalism. Labor activists and scholars, in both the United States and Canada, will find this book invaluable.”
- Peter Brogan, Department of Geography, York University and founding member, Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly

“Civil Wars shows how tens of thousands of low-wage women - who care for the young, the aged, and the infirm—have waged successful organizing campaigns, only to find that they lacked a sufficient voice in their own union. This is a story that only Steve Early could have told, with his insider’s access and rank-and-file orientation. There is no better guide to American labor’s continuing infirmities than this often-controversial but always insightful commentator.”
- Jane LaTour, Former Director, Association for Union Democracy Women’s Project and author, Sisters in the Brotherhoods

“My own labor council has seen raids on affiliates, driven by forces far from the lives of the workers who meet in our union hall each month. Union civil warfare is often viewed as mere personality conflicts or disputes over ‘jurisdiction.’ Early looks deeper, at the tough debates about how to rebuild the labor movement and the nature of the movement we are trying to build.”
- Jeff Crosby, President, IUE-CWA Local 201, and North Shore Central Labor Council

“If the American labor movement were succeeding, by any measure, its leaders might be justified in dismissing Steve Early's vivid reports from the front lines . But we're not succeeding so it's beneficial to have a perspective - from inside labor - that is very different from that of other labor commentators, in journalism and academia, who have pandered to the top too much and overlooked what's happening at the bottom of leading unions. Civil Wars reminds us what grassroots democracy looks and sounds like.”
- Suzan Erem, author, Labor Pains: Inside America's New Union Movement

“This account of one of the largest trusteeships in U.S. labor history, and related intra-union conflict, forces us to examine hard questions about workers’ ability to run their own unions and, at the same time, beat the boss.”
- Stephanie Luce, The Murphy Institute, City University of New York

“If our goal is to build a more vibrant, democratic labor movement, we need to think about what kind of unions we want and how to get them. Early accurately describes the pitfalls and possibilities of union reform, drawing on more than 35 years of personal experience in several different unions. Readers may disagree with his conclusions—-and may be infuriated by some of his observations. But his reporting makes an effective case for union democracy, while pointing out the shortcomings of centralization and top-down control as strategy for union revitalization.”
- Judith Schneider, attorney and president, Association for Union Democracy

 

 

Embedded With Organized Labor:
Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home

Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-58367-188-7
Released: July 2009
Price: $17.95
Order at: http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb1887/

Embedded with Organized LaborEmbedded With Organized Labor describes how union members have organized successfully, on the job and in the community, in the face of employer opposition now and in the past. The author has produced a provocative series of essays—an unusual exercise in “participatory labor journalism” useful to any reader concerned about social and economic justice. As workers struggle to survive and the labor movement tries to revive during the current economic crisis, this book provides ideas and inspiration for union activists and friends of labor alike.

Praise for Embedded With Organized Labor:

“Steve Early has long been a voice of distinctive clarity, honesty and intellectual seriousness in and about the labor movement. This collection performs a valuable service in bringing together a broad sample of his writing on class, politics, the trade union movement, its status and prospects. As always with Early’s work, these essays are grounded in concrete history and problems. To that extent, they also provide a unique window onto the last several decades of evolving American political history. 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

“Steve Early says things other people in the labor movement would like to say but don’t, because of protocol, fear of firing, or, if truth be told, fear of afflicting the comfortable.”
- Jane Slaughter, Labor Notes

“This is an exciting collection that respects workers enough to engage them in desperately needed discussions about union strategy. It presents a radical defense of the working class and an uncompromising critique of the labor movement as it exists today.”
- Sam Gindin, York University, Former Research Director, Canadian Auto Workers

“For those of us who continue to believe that a revitalized labor movement remains the last best hope for social change in America, Early’s reporting is simply irreplaceable.”
- Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director, California Nurses Association/NNOC

“For three decades, Steve Early has been in the forefront of the fight for worker power and union democracy. His experience as an organizer gives him rare insight into the problems that unions face.” —Sal Rosselli, President, National Union of Healthcare Workers

“Steve Early’s collected works is a real treasure trove. The author’s astute analysis of labor’s historic struggles, its achievements and shortcomings, is spiced by a lively writing style and enriched by years of personal involvement in unions. This is a book that every labor activist should read and think about.”
- Harry Kelber, Editor, The Labor Educator

“There aren’t many people who could pull off Early’s hat trick. Here’s a full–time union representative with an academician’s smarts and education—and he can write. The result is a volume that will have long–time labor activists nodding their heads in recognition, union observers scribbling footnotes, and working people gaining a better appreciation of why unions are the way they are, for better and worse.”
- Andy Zipser, Editor, The Guild Reporter, The Newspaper Guild/CWA

Embedded With Organized Labor contains some very timely reflections on labor law reform and enforcement. As American unions try once again to seek changes in the National Labor Relations Act, they’d be well advised to consult this author’s account of how and why similar campaigns have failed in the past.”
- Lee Adler
Attorney and Labor Law Instructor, Cornell ILR School and Labor Extension Program

“If organized labor is ever going to regain its clout in the era of globalization, it must, as this collection argues, embrace real cross–border solidarity and bottom–up organizing.”
- Ellen David-Friedman, Research Associate, Harvard Labor & Worklife Program

“Steve Early has never left the front lines of labor. He challenges unions to trust in the members and their right to be heard. He’s relentless about the importance of workers’ power on the job and in the community.”
- Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey Area Director, Communications Workers of America

“This collection demonstrates Steve Early’s status as one of the leading organic intellectuals in labor. Early’s attention to what workers read, think, say, and do places them at the center of his work as the active agents of their own lives and futures.” —Peter Rachleff, Professor of History, Macalester College “Early combines a realistic understanding of union functioning with the passionate outrage of a union reformer.”
- Mike Parker, coauthor, Democracy is Power: Rebuilding Unions from the Bottom

“Steve Early aided organizing drives, contract campaigns, bargaining sessions, and strikes involving CWA members for more than 25 years. His book gives us the benefit of his own experience and that of the many other authors and activists whose work is vividly described in this collection.”
- Peter Kellman, President of the Southern Maine Labor Council, AFL–CIO

“Steve Early is more than just a keen observer of labor and grassroots movements to revitalize it. He’s been an activist deeply engaged at the rank–and–file level, which gives his journalism special urgency and relevance.”
- Ken Paff, 
National Organizer, Teamsters for a Democratic Union

“Telling truth to power is seldom easy. Embedded With Organized Labor describes unionism as it should be, not as it sometimes is. The author’s insistence on union democracy is a singular feature of his work.”
- Jerry Tucker, former United Auto Workers Regional Director and IEB Member

“Steve Early’s own background in the labor movement makes this collection particularly insightful and worthwhile. He argues that unions must have a profoundly democratic vision if they want to be more effective as a force for progressive change.”
- Frank Emspak, Executive Producer, Workers Independent News, Emeritus Professor, University of Wisconsin School for Workers

“Steve Early’s book displays a balanced, clear–thinking approach to a wide range of working class issues, reflecting the author’s knowledge of labor history, his writing skill, and his unusual ability to connect with a broad audience of labor activists and intellectuals.”
- Marty Fishgold, Past President, International Labor Communications Association

“I’m always eager to read Steve Early’s latest article, and now this book brings together many fine pieces about key issues facing the workers’ movement as well as past struggles that have lessons for us today. Highly recommended for activists and anyone who wants to understand U.S. labor.”
David Camfield, Labour Studies, University of Manitoba

“I shudder to think what the labor movement would be like without Steve Early around to help us seek some accountability from those currently in charge.”
Tom Leedham, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 206, former IBT Warehouse Division, Director

Steve Early • 747 Lobos Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801 • Cell: (617) 930-7327 / Landline: (510) 260-0636 • lsupport@aol.com
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