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Books & Authors

Labor Day 2023

Labor Day honors the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers. The titles in this list tell the stories of the labor movement's past, present, and future.

A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy by Jane McAlevey
From longtime labor organizer Jane McAlevey, a call-to-arms in favor of unions.

A History of America in Ten Strikes by Erik Loomis
Labor historian Erik Loomis recounts ten critical strikes, from the Lowell Mill Girls strike in the 1830s to Justice for Janitors in 1990, in chapters that are self-contained enough to be used on their own in union trainings or reading groups, and adds an appendix detailing the 150 most important strikes in American history.

Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor by Steven Greenhouse
From the longtime New York Times labor correspondent, an in-depth look at working men and women in America, the challenges they face, and how they can be re-empowered.

Essential: How the Pandemic Transformed the Long Fight for Worker Justice by Jamie K. McCallum
The coronavirus pandemic threw life into a tumult for American workers, igniting new class struggles and further stoking those already under way. The explosion in worker anger and the resurgence of organized labor's popularity may seem like short-term consequence of the coronavirus crisis, but both trends were long in the making and are likely to last far beyond the pandemic. Through in-depth research conducted as the pandemic unfolded, McCallum traces the evolution of workers' class consciousness and militancy, showing how essential workers fought to improve not only their collective working conditions but also the living conditions of all of us.

Fight Like Hell: The Untold Story of American Labor by Kim Kelly
This history of the labor movement examines the workers and organizers who risked their livelihoods to fight for fair wages, better working conditions and an eight-hour workday.

Getting Me Cheap: How Low-Wage Work Traps Women and Girls in Poverty by Amanda Freeman
Sociologists Lisa Dodson and Amanda Freeman follow women in the food, health care, home care, and other low-wage industries as they struggle to balance mothering with bad jobs and without public aid. While these women tend to the needs of well-off families, their own children frequently step into premature adult roles, providing care for siblings and aging family members. Based on years of in-depth field work and hundreds of eye-opening interviews, Getting Me Cheap explores how America traps millions of women and their children into lives of stunted opportunity and poverty in service of giving others of us the lives we seek and offers a way forward with both policy solutions and a keen moral vision for organizing women across class lines.

On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women's Epic Fight to Build a Union by Daisy Pitkin
The story of two dedicated women, a labor organizer and an immigrant laundry worker, coming together to spearhead an audacious campaign to unionize one of the most dangerous industries in one of the most anti-union states--Arizona--and offering a nuanced look at the modern-day labor movement and the future of workers' rights.

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography by Miriam Pawel
Pawel draws on thousands of documents and interviews to examine the myths and achievements marking the life of the iconic Latino labor leader and civil rights activist, portraying him as a flawed but brilliant strategist who was often at odds with himself.

The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age by Jake S Friedman
Soon after the birth of Mickey Mouse, one animator raised the Disney Studio far beyond Walt's expectations. That animator also led a union war that almost destroyed it. Soon, angry Disney cartoon characters graced picket signs as hundreds of animation artists went out on strike. Using never-before-seen research from previously lost records, including conversation transcriptions from within the studio walls, author and historian Jake S. Friedman reveals the details behind the labor dispute that changed animation and Hollywood forever.


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