Synopses & Reviews
"Timely and smart, this book should be read by everyone interested in a possible revival of the American labor movement. The working week has gotten longer, more workers hold multiple jobs, gaps between the pay of workers and of CEOs have widened, and employers and their allies in government have attacked both unions and regulations to promote occupational health and safety. Fantasia and Voss demonstrate not only this bad news, but that new thinking and creative responses have made some headway too."and#151;Craig Calhoun, President, Social Science Research Council
"Fantasia and Voss make an important and persuasive argument for how and why U.S. employment and labor policies set the standard for pushing down wages, labor rights, and working conditions throughout the world. They put forward an enormous challenge to the U.S. labor movement, but one that needs to be met, not just for workers and unions in the U.S., but for their labor and community allies around the globe."and#151;Kate Bronfenbrenner, Director of Labor Education Research, Cornell University
"Fantasia and Vossand#8217;s long-awaited book offers a fresh and provocative perspective on the possibilities and limits of labor union revitalization in the U.S. They persuasively argue that the ascent of neoliberalism is both cause and consequence of organized laborand#8217;s decline, and contribute as well to the long-standing debate over American exceptionalism in the context of the new century. Hard Work is an exceptionally thoughtful overview of laborand#8217;s historical development and current dilemmas."and#151;Ruth Milkman, Director, UC Institute for Labor and Employment
This concise overview of the labor movement in the United States focuses on why American workers have failed to develop the powerful unions that exist in other industrialized countries. Packed with valuable analysis and information, Hard Work
explores historical perspectives, examines social and political policies, and brings us inside today's unions, providing an excellent introduction to labor in America.
Hard Work begins with a comparison of the very different conditions that prevail for labor in the United States and in Europe. What emerges is a picture of an American labor movement forced to operate on terrain shaped by powerful corporations, a weak state, and an inhospitable judicial system. What also emerges is a picture of an American worker that has virtually disappeared from the American social imagination. Recently, however, the authors find that a new kind of unionismand#151;one that more closely resembles a social movementand#151;has begun to develop from the shell of the old labor movement. Looking at the cities of Los Angeles and Las Vegas they point to new practices that are being developed by innovative unions to fight corporate domination, practices that may well signal a revival of unionism and the emergence of a new social imagination in the United States.
This book provides an overview of unions and labor in America.
About the Author
Rick Fantasia, Professor of Sociology at Smith College, is author of Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers (California, 1988). Kim Voss, Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, is author of The Making of American Exceptionalism: The Knights of Labor and Class Formation in the Nineteenth Century (1993) and coauthor of Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth (1996).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Why Labor Matters: The Underside of the "American Model"
2. An Exceptionally Hostile Terrain
3. Bureaucrats, "Strongmen," Militants, and Intellectuals
4. Practices and Possibilities of a Social Movement Unionism
5. Two Futures