Labor History
Featured Items
Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work
Hidden America
From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work
Paperback      ISBN: 042526727x
An Oprah.com "Must-Read Book"

Award-winning journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas reveals "enlightening, entertaining, and often poignant"* profiles of America's working class--the forgotten men and women who make our country run.

Take the men of Hopedale Mining company in Cadiz, Ohio. Laskas spent several weeks with them, both below and above ground, and by the end, you will know not only about their work, but about Pap and his dying mom, Smitty and the mail-order bride who stood him up at the airport, and Scotty and his thwarted dreams of becoming a boxing champion.

That is only one hidden world. Others that she explores: an Alaskan oil rig, a migrant labor camp in Maine, the air traffic control center at LaGuardia Airport in New York, a beef ranch in Texas, a landfill in California, a long-haul trucker in Iowa, a gun shop in Arizona, and the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders, mere footnotes in the moneymaking spectacle that is professional football.

"Jeanne Marie Laskas is a reporting and writing powerhouse. She doesn't just interview the people who dig our coal and extract our oil, she goes deep into the mines and tundra with them. With beauty, wit, curiosity, and grace, she finds the hidden soul of America. Hidden America is essential reading."--Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
North for the Harvest: Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry
North for the Harvest
Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry
1st Edition    Paperback      ISBN: 0873516311

Examines the complex and often suprising relationships between the participants in the sugar beet industry.

Throughout most of the twentieth century, thousands of Mexicans traveled north to work the sugar beet fields of the Minnesota-North Dakota Red River Valley. North for the Harvest examines the evolution of the relationships between American Crystal Sugar Company, the sugar beet growers, and the migrant workers. Though popular convention holds that corporations and landowners invariably exploited migrant workers, Norris reveals that these relationships were more complex. The company often clashed with growers, sometimes while advocating for workers. And many growers developed personal ties with their migrant workers, while workers themselves often found ways to leverage better pay and working conditions from the company.

Ultimately, the lot of workers improved as the years went by. As one worker explained, something historic occurred for his family while working in the Red River Valley: "We broke the chain there."

"North for the Harvest is beautifully conceived, very well written, and nuanced and original in its arguments. Norris demonstrates that labor relations in the Red River Valley beet industry was a 'three-corner game' that cannot be fully understood without examining all the players." David Vaught, author of Cultivating California: Growers, Specialty Crops, and Labor, 1875-1920

"This story of the long-established and productive contributions of Latinos to Minnesota and North Dakota needs to be heard. It has never been told in such depth and with such style." Jeffrey Kolnick, Associate Professor of History, Southwest Minnesota State University

American City: A Rank and File History of Minneapolis
American City
A Rank and File History of Minneapolis
Paperback      ISBN: 0816646074

In the spring of 1934, a small group of militant union organizers led Minneapolis truckers on a series of strikes that sought to break the city's antiunion grip. The striking truckers, in protest of scab workers, took to the streets of the city's warehouse district where they faced violent opposition from the police and members of the Citizen's Alliance, a group representing Minneapolis's business community. The conflict exploded when police fired on the unarmed strikers, killing four and injuring countless others. The events surrounding Bloody Friday shifted the balance of power between labor and business in Minneapolis and proved to be a significant victory for the labor movement nationwide, contributing to the ratification of the landmark National Labor Relations Act. When first published in 1937, Charles Rumford Walker's American City was praised as an evenhanded portrayal of the truckers' strike. Focusing on the personal experiences of the participants, Walker recounts the interests, motives, and passions on both sides of the conflict, capturing the heated emotions of those involved. He offers a vivid account of a period that transformed Minneapolis and forged the way for workers' rights nationwide.

Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches 1963-2009
Howard Zinn Speaks
Collected Speeches 1963-2009
Paperback      ISBN: 1608462595

Howard Zinn has illuminated our history like no other US historian. This collection of his speeches on protest movements, racism, war, and US history, many never before published, covers more than four decades of his active engagement with the audiences he inspired with his humor, insight, and clarity.

"Reading Howard's spoken words, I feel that I am almost hearing his voice again--his stunning pitch-perfect ability to capture the moment and the concerns and needs of the audience, whoever they may be, always enlightening, often stirring, an amalgam of insight, critical history, wit, blended with charm and appeal."
--NOAM CHOMSKY

"With ferocious moral clarity and mischievous humor, Howard turned routine antiwar rallies into profound explorations of state violence and staid academic conferences into revival meetings for social change. Collected here for the first time, Howard's speeches--spanning an extraordinary life of passion and principle--come to us at the moment when we need them most: just as a global network of popular uprisings searches for what comes next. We could ask for no wiser a guide than Howard Zinn."
--NAOMI KLEIN

"To hear Howard] speak was like listening to music that you loved--lyrical, uplifting, honest. . . . I know he would love it for each of you to find your voice and to be heard. This book will provide you with some inspiration."
--MICHAEL MOORE

"To read this book is to hear Howard Zinn speak again, inspiring us for the struggles from below that are our only hope for any future at all."
--FRANCES FOX PIVEN

Howard Zinn wrote the classic A People's History of the United States. The book, which has sold more than two million copies, has been featured in the film Good Will Hunting, and has appeared multiple times on The New York Times best-seller list.


Anthony Arnove wrote, directed, and produced The People Speak with Howard Zinn, Chris Moore, Josh Brolin, and Matt Damon, and co-edited, with Howard Zinn, Voices of a People's History of the United States.


The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Worker's Movement
The Death and Life of American Labor
Toward a New Worker's Movement
Hardcover      ISBN: 1781681384
The decline of the American union movement--and how it can revive, by a leading analyst of labor

Union membership in the United States has fallen below 11 percent, the lowest rate since before the New Deal. Labor activist and scholar of the American labor movement Stanley Aronowitz argues that the movement as we have known it for the last 100 years is effectively dead. And he explains how this death has been a long time coming--the organizing and political principles adopted by US unions at mid-century have taken a terrible toll. In the 1950s, Aronowitz was a factory metalworker.

In the '50s and '60s, he directed organizing with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers and the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers. In 1963, he coordinated the labor participation for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Ten years later, the publication of his book False Promises: The Shaping of American Working Class Consciousness was a landmark in the study of the US working-class and workers' movements.

Aronowitz draws on this long personal history, reflecting on his continuing involvement in labor organizing, with groups such as the Professional Staff Congress of the City University. He brings a historian's understanding of American workers' struggles in taking the long view of the labor movement. Then, in a survey of current initiatives, strikes, organizations, and allies, Aronowitz analyzes the possibilities of labor's rebirth, and sets out a program for a new, broad, radical workers' movement.

Clara Zetkin: Selected Writings
Clara Zetkin
Selected Writings
2nd Edition    Paperback      ISBN: 1608463907

Here is an essential collection of essays and speeches from 1889 to 1933, long unavailable in the United States, on women's equality, labor, peace and socialism. Zetkin broke new ground by exploring the intersections of gender and class. In these writings, she describes the political process that ultimately allowed for socialized reproduction-namely the establishment by the Soviet revolutionary government of communal kitchens, laundries and child care facilities.

Janesville: An American Story
Janesville
An American Story
Paperback      ISBN: 1501102265
* Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year * Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize​ * 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year * A New York Times Notable Book * A Washington Post Notable Book * An NPR Best Book of 2017 * A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2017 * An Economist Best Book of 2017 * A Business Insider Best Book of 2017 *

"A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience" (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post)--an intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class.

This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts down--but it's not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation's oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, Goldstein shows the consequences of one of America's biggest political issues. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it's so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.

"Moving and magnificently well-researched...Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis" (Jennifer Senior, The New York Times).

"Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville. The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the story--a stark, heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real consequences--is told with rare sympathy and insight" (Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of a New Machine).
Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties
Part of Our Time
Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties
Paperback      ISBN: 1590170873

Through brilliant portraits of real persons who created the myths and realities of the 1930s, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Murray Kempton brings that turbulent decade to life. Himself a child of the time, Kempton examines with the insight and imagination of a novelist the men and women who embraced, grappled with, and in many cases were destroyed by the myth of revolution. What he calls the "ruins and monuments of the Thirties" include Paul Robeson, Alger Hiss, and Whittaker Chambers, the Hollywood Ten, the rebel women Elizabeth Bentley and Mary Heaton Vorse, and the labor leaders Walter Reuther and Joe Curran.

The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America
The End of Loyalty
The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America
Hardcover      ISBN: 1586489143
Having a good, stable job used to be the bedrock of the American Dream. Not anymore.
In this richly detailed and eye-opening book, Rick Wartzman chronicles the erosion of the relationship between American companies and their workers. Through the stories of four major employers--General Motors, General Electric, Kodak, and Coca-Cola--he shows how big businesses once took responsibility for providing their workers and retirees with an array of social benefits. At the height of the post-World War II economy, these companies also believed that worker pay needed to be kept high in order to preserve morale and keep the economy humming. Productivity boomed.
But the corporate social contract didn't last. By tracing the ups and downs of these four corporate icons over seventy years, Wartzman illustrates just how much has been lost: job security and steadily rising pay, guaranteed pensions, robust health benefits, and much more. Charting the Golden Age of the '50s and '60s; the turbulent years of the '70s and '80s; and the growth of downsizing, outsourcing, and instability in the modern era, Wartzman's narrative is a biography of the American Dream gone sideways.
Deeply researched and compelling, The End of Loyalty will make you rethink how Americans can begin to resurrect the middle class.
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize in current interestA best business book of the year in economics, Strategy+Business
Crossing Hoffa: A Teamster's Story
Crossing Hoffa
A Teamster's Story
Hardcover      ISBN: 0873515803

On a spring day in 1961, over-the-road trucker Jim Harper was en route from Mauston, Wisconsin, to his home in Minneapolis. At 70 miles per hour, with a combined 60,000 pounds of man, machine, and material, he approached a curve along the Great River Road and hit the brakes. The tractor-trailer didn't slow. Harper's brake lines had been cut.

In preceding months, Harper had led an insurgency in his Teamsters' Local 544 to clean up corruption among its leaders. His efforts drew the attention of none other than Jimmy Hoffa, at the time focused on securing his right to lead the national Teamsters organization without government intervention.

Jim Harper had his reasons for confronting his local's leadership--a hardscrabble childhood and a stint in Angola prison had left him seeking redemption, and Jimmy Hoffa had publicly called for union reform. But Hoffa, under federal investigation for questionable financial dealings, had deep, dark secrets; the last thing he needed was a spotlight on Minneapolis. Despite the increasing threats to his life and those of his young family, Harper continued to press his case.

In this fascinating account, Harper's son traces the interwoven paths of these two men--a criminal icon and a determined vigilante--from their formative years through their unbelievable face-off.

Accolades for Crossing Hoffa:

Best Books of 2007, Chicago Tribune

Best Books, 2008 New York Book Festival

"Honorable Mention" in the 2008 Hollywood Book Festival's Biography/Autobiography category.