On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women’s Epic Fight To Build a Union

Algonquin. Mar. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781643750712. $27.95. POL SCI
Community and union organizer Pitkin weaves a poetic narrative with a century of intertwining histories of union organization in the United States and its often-unsung leaders. The bulk of the story rests on her experiences navigating the fight of laundry workers in Phoenix in the early 2000s, with the help of her coworker, co-organizer, and friend, Alma. The choice to tell the story as conversations pointed toward and with Alma, successfully folds readers into the collective experience of the tumultuous journey of their struggle. Alongside the fraught emotional minutiae of organizing (a complicated process that will expand many readers’ conceptions of unions themselves), this book explores the history of women’s involvement in unions throughout the labor history of the 19th and 20th centuries. The substantial parallels Pikin draws among her experiences, famous labor events, and the seemingly odd focus on the history and science of moths, create an elegant chronicle out of the often-brutal realities of workers. Pitkin’s literary innovation lends itself to a powerful message dissecting solidarity and the power of the collective.
VERDICT A necessary addition to academic collections, and also a great choice to round out any biography collection.
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