A Collective Bargain: Unions, Organizing, and the Fight for Democracy

Ecco. Jan. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780062908599. $26.99. POL SCI
Labor activist McAlevey (No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age) pairs her urgent, impassioned account of the current state of labor unions with her optimistic recipe for their future success. She bluntly contrasts the sad state of unions at the end of the 20th century with two earlier periods of growth when they gained support from not only workers but also government acting to foster union membership. Focusing on both public and private sector unions, McAlevey identifies factors that caused the decline of unions. While she places much blame on the changing economic and political climate that allowed the rise of fierce employer resistance, she also faults unions for failing to recognize the need for a new militancy and organizational tactics. The author’s remedies take the form of several case studies of successful labor organization in recent decades, which she attributes to willingness to merge the cause of labor organization with efforts to address gender and racial harassment and inequality, wealth disparity, and other current challenges facing society.
VERDICT This book will appeal to readers seeking inspiration to address problems facing both organized labor and individual workers.

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