A friend of mine has recently brought this new book (published in September last year) to my attention. To my shame I wasn't aware that it had been published but on reviewing it found it to be one of the most readable and honest books on the development of the labour movement in the US - of which there are hundreds.
To save time (forgive me for this) in doing the book justice I have lifted the book's review from the UCS bookstore - from where all good trade unionists should buy a copy:
This sympathetic, thoughtful and highly readable history of the American labor movement traces unionism from the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1820s to organized labor’s decline in the 1980s and struggle for survival and growth today.
Philip Dray’s ambition is to show us the vital accomplishments of unionism over the past 200 years and illuminate its central role in our social, political, economic, and cultural evolution. There Is Power in a Union is an epic, character-driven narrative that locates this struggle for security and dignity in all its various settings: on picket lines and in union halls, jails, assembly lines, corporate boardrooms, the courts, the halls of Congress, and the White House.
The author demonstrates, viscerally and dramatically, the urgency of the fight for fairness and economic democracy — a struggle that remains especially urgent today, when ordinary Americans are so anxious and beset by economic woes at the hands of employer greed and a new global capitalism that threatens to create a permanent underclass. He notes that security of full-time employees is also threatened in the new 24-hours-a-day workplace dominated by computers and e-mail, which he calls "the electronic collar." Illustrated with dozens of photos, posters and more.
"The unending struggle between unions and big business has never been more vividly told. Philip Dray is a marvelous storyteller who brings history memorably alive, and you will not soon forget the tales of murder and greed, commitment and sacrifice that fill these pages. But this is more than history; the compelling saga of labor as a crucible for social change should prompt some honest and hard debate about what’s happening to workingmen and -women today."
BILL MOYERS, JOURNALIST (HOST OF PBS'S BILL MOYERS JOURNAL)