In a new book, The Long Deep Grudge, historian Toni Gilpin recounts the history of the Farm Equipment Workers union (FE). Like UE and the ILWU, the FE practiced a militant and democratic form of unionism that contested the boss’s power on the shop floor as much as in contract negotiations. Throughout the book, Gilpin makes a compelling case that the aggressive shop-floor struggle conducted by rank-and-file FE members, and the majority-white FE’s deep commitment to racial equality, was inextricably connected to the left-wing views of the union's leadership.
In Can the Working Class Change the World? economist and labor educator Michael Yates makes the case that the working class — and only the working class — can indeed overcome economic inequality, eliminate racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination, and meet the challenge of environmental degradation and climate change. Historian Erik Loomis’s A History of America in Ten Strikes is an original and engaging way to re-learn U.S. history through the lens of working-class struggle.
The legendary Ernest Thompson was a rank and file UE leader in New Jersey, the first African-American on UE’s national staff, and the national secretary of UE’s Fair Practices Committee (FPC). A new edition of Thompson’s autobiography Homeboy Came to Orange: A Story of People’s Power, co-written with his daughter Mindy Thompson Fullilove, was published this year by New Village Press.
Homeboy Came to Orange tells the story of time in UE, but also his organizing for “people’s power” in the segregated northern city of Orange, NJ, where Thompson became active in community organizing after leaving UE. Beginning with a fight to desegregate the schools his daughter attended, Thompson built organizations which increased the political power of working-class African Americans in their city, based on a program called “A New Day for Orange” that addressed urban redevelopment, unemployment, improving the school system, civil rights, recreation and representative government.
As the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) eagerly anticipated the June 1947 enactment of the anti-union Taft-Hartley law, they were also celebrating another, less well-remembered victory over labor. In May, the Office of Price Administration (OPA), which had regulated prices of consumer goods during and after World War II, had closed its doors.
A Freedom Budget for All Americans:
Recapturing the Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Struggle for Economic Justice Today
Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates
Monthly Review Press, 2013
303 pages, paperback, $16.95
The People’s Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan
Published by AK Press, 2012, 818 pages, $27
Many young people have doubts about whether Social Security will be there when they need it. Their fears or misunderstanding are not surprising, because there’s been a relentless propaganda campaign against Social Security over the past 30 years, by corporations, politicians, pro-corporate “think tanks” and the media. The misinformation campaign has been especially aimed at young people, and is intensifying.
On Wednesday, September 12, UE's Political Action Director Chris Townsend debated Mallory Factor, author of a new anti-union book that's being heavily promoted in right-wing media and by big business groups. The debate took place, as Townsend likes to say, "deep behind enemy lines" - at the Washington headquarters of the ultra-conservative Cato Institute.
Click "read more" to read Chris Townsend's review of Factor's book Shaddowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind. We present this for your information; neither Townsend nor UE encourage anyone to buy this malicious book.
For the past three decades, the conventional wisdom in much of the labor movement has been that all of our present troubles started when Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers in 1981 and broke their union.