We’ve Got People: From Jesse Jackson to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement, by Ryan Grim. Also US History in 10 Movements.

Loc: 650 Democrats, even as they became the party of “acid, abortion and amnesty,”31 still nearly won the 1968 presidential election, such was the support for the party’s creation of a robust welfare state. Loc: 680

As we look across history for examples of Democrats losing elections as the result of an unwillingness to stand behind a set of values, Loc: 767

One of the peculiarities of racism is the way in which it blinds the racist. Democrats saw support for the party fading, but because white men are the most visible political figures in the imagination of white politicians, as well as the media, the establishment class could only see its way out of the problem it was in by focusing narrowly on those white men. The rhetoric, policy and big money needed to win over those white men had collateral damage on the rest of the coalition, but white Democratic leaders couldn’t see that, either. Loc: 771

pumping big money into some races managed to save, for the time being, politicians like Mississippi’s Stennis, the losses suffered in the 1980s and again in 1994 were in many ways inevitable once Democrats settled on appeasement of white grievance as the strategy. A moderate racist could never satisfy those grievances as well as an extreme one, and boll weevils were replaced by arch conservative Republicans, either through elections, retirement or, in some cases, party switching. Loc: 930

For the first time since the Gilded Age, greed was rewarded. Greed, with a 90 percent marginal tax rate, is pointless. Central to the policy goal of discouraging extreme incomes is the belief that making that much money that fast is almost always antisocial and destructive behavior. In other words, there’s no genuine value a person can add to the world that is worth a million dollars a week, every week. The only way to make that kind of income is to take it from other people, leaving wreckage behind. That’s why the 1980s saw the birth of corporate raiders — now renamed private equity investors Loc: 934

used leveraged debt to take a controlling stake in a company, liquidate its assets and pension fund, then file for bankruptcy protection and lay off the workers. The idea of a high marginal tax rate is not to seize money from the rich, it’s to discourage private equity investors from even thinking about, say, taking over Sears and syphoning the value from it before killing it. Sure, they could do it, but with a 90 percent marginal rate on extreme incomes, what’s the point? The new policy of the 1980s was to encourage extreme incomes and rapid wealth accumulation. Loc: 1,092

The party by then had drifted firmly into the hands of big corporations, and would remain in that grip for the next three decades. Coelho claimed it was unfair to say that individual members of Congress had become corrupt, but was quick to admit that the new system itself was corrupting the legislative process. “If you are spending all of your time calling up different people [to raise money], you all of a sudden, in your mind, you’re in effect saying, ‘I’m not going to go out and develop this new housing bill that may get the realtors or may get the builders or may get the unions upset,’” he told author Brooks Jackson for the Coelho biography Honest Graft. “That isn’t a sellout. It’s basically that you’re not permitted to go out and do your creativity….I think that the process buys you out.

A History of America in Ten Strikes

Erik Loomis

Last accessed on Saturday July 6, 2019

67 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)Loc: 93

work is as much a central experience to human society as eating and family. For the unemployed, the absence of work not only impoverishes but shames and isolates. Work fills the hours of our lives, it provides us with sustenance, and it can give us satisfaction with a job well done. Work is so central to human existence that we hardly know what to do without it. Loc: 97

The workplace is a site where people struggle for power. Under a capitalist economy such as that of the United States, employers profit by working their employees as hard as they can for as many hours as possible and for as little pay as they can get away with. Their goal is to exploit us. Our lives reflect that reality. Many of us don’t enjoy our work. We don’t get paid enough. We have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet if we have a job at all. Our bosses treat us like garbage and we don’t feel like there is anything we can do about it. We face the threat that machines will replace us. Our jobs have moved overseas, where employers can generate even higher profits. Loc: 107

we don’t teach class conflict in our public schools. Textbooks have little material about workers. As colleges and universities have devalued the study of the past in favor of emphasizing majors in business and engineering, fewer students take any history courses, including in labor history. Labor unions and stories of work are a footnote at best in most of our public discussions about American history. Most history documentaries on television focus on wars, politicians, and famous leaders, not workers. Labor Day was created as a conservative holiday so that American workers would not celebrate the radical international workers’ holiday May Day. Loc: 114

erasure of workers from our collective sense of ourselves as Americans is a political act. Americans’ shared memory—shaped by teachers, textbook writers, the media, public monuments, and the stories about the past we tell in our own families, churches, and workplaces—too often erases or downplays critical stories of workplace struggle. Instead, our shared history tells myths about our economy meant to undermine class conflict. We are told that we are all middle class, that class conflict is something only scary socialists talk about and has no relevance to the United States today. Our culture deifies the rich and blames the poor for their own suffering. Loc: 233

Outside of the very rich, everyone is a worker. When Christopher Columbus stumbled across the Americas in 1492, he had specific ideas about work, who would do it, and who would benefit. So did the European nations that followed him: Spain and Portugal, France and England. Europeans colonized the Americas to get rich, and that would happen through other people doing work for them. In most colonies, they would enslave Native Americans and then Africans. Conquest, slavery, dispossession, and racism have defined much of American history, creating the inequalities we face today. Loc: 239

New England, a different type of colonist arrived with a different type of labor system. Puritans, a Protestant separatist group seeking to reform the Church of England, settled in relatively close-knit communities revolving around their churches. The land of New England was rocky and soil poor. This led to a work culture centered around small farming and artisanship. The Puritans had little objection to slavery, and some New England colonists did own African slaves, but the economic system did not produce the wealth required for large-scale slavery such as in Virginia or Jamaica. New England was an economic backwater; logging and fishing were its important economic contributions Loc: 263

The cotton gin went far to create the nineteenth-century American economy and sharpened the divides between work and labor in different regions of the United States, problems that would eventually lead to the Civil War. Its impact still shapes the global cotton and textile industries today.4 For New England, mass production meant child labor in the mills. Children worked during the eighteenth century, usually on their parents’ farms, but sometimes as apprentices to craftsmen in cities. Benjamin Franklin, for instance, worked as his brother’s apprentice in a print shop in Boston starting at the age of twelve, before he ran away to Philadelphia, Loc: 268

Slater had started working in a British mill as a child and hired children in his own mills. Child labor scaled up with the factory system. It placed thousands of people in cities with no care to their living or working conditions. Americans’ feared importing the filth, dire poverty, and crime of the British industrial city along with its factory system. Those fears quickly became justified. The entire labor system of the American economy soon revolved around an ever more exploitable labor force, both in the North and in the South, Loc: 273

By 1815, 140 mills had opened within 30 miles of Providence, employing 26,000 people. The mill owners demanded incredible levels of work from their new, young laborers. Farmers labored hard, but they controlled their own time. Factory owners demanded punctuality and submission to the clock. Samuel Slater enforced his seventy-two-hour workweek by firing laborers who resisted. And resist they did. As early as 1817, mill workers possibly invented the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.Loc: 280

By the late 1830s, factory overseers faced criminal charges for the brutal beatings of child workers. It became the American version of the British factory-town nightmare. These children could not attend school; as Seth Luther, a former carpenter turned educational reformer said of his tour of Rhode Island mill towns in the 1830s: “In Pawtucket there are at least five hundred children who scarcely know what a school is . . . and to add to the darkness of the picture . . . in all the mills… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.Loc: 288

canal was an engineering marvel that connected the Great Lakes to the Hudson River using an ingenious system of locks that allowed boats to travel up- and downstream, connecting two great waterways and what was then the American West with the East. The sheer size of this project awed people around the world. It lowered consumer costs and allowed farmers in places such as Ohio to send their goods cheaply by boat to New York instead of all the way downriver to New Orleans and then to New York, which itself was far less expensive than dragging the goods across the barely passable roads of early America. The canal had enormous impacts on the future of American work, including spurring… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.Loc: 304

Employers quickly learned they could import cheap, exploitable labor rather than improve working conditions for native-born laborers. When early nineteenth-century immigrants arrived from Ireland or Wales and found the conditions terrible, their American Dream was shattered. Welsh immigrant William Thomas found work on the Erie Canal, but when he wrote back home, he despaired of the horrible conditions he faced and urged his friends not to repeat his mistakes: “I beg all my old neighbors not to think of coming here as they would spend more coming here than they think. Loc: 309

The Irish took the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the pre–Civil War North. Conflict arose between native-born workers and immigrant workers, foreshadowing how race and immigration would block worker solidarity throughout American history. Anti-Irish agitation later led to the Know-Nothing Party, a major political movement of the early 1850s dedicated to ending Irish immigration.11 Loc: 314

European travelers constantly noted the intense dangers of American trains versus those in their home nations. Most early trains even lacked effective brakes. Loc: 326

The Farwell case was part of a larger transformation in the American legal code to facilitate employer rights at the expense of everyone else. Citizens sued textile mills for damming rivers that ended age-old fish runs people upstream relied upon for food. The courts consistently found in favor of the new corporations, claiming these businesses promoted “progress” in the justification for the courts’ decisions. This led to corporations with the right to pollute at will and timber companies with the right to destroy the stream banks that farmers owned, Loc: 338

During the 1830s, perhaps 44,000 Americans were union members, around 2.5 percent of the nonagricultural free labor force. The center of American unionism was New York City, with perhaps 11,500 union members out of an overall population of 218,000.16 However, those unions could do little to battle a poorly regulated economy that impoverished them. During the Panic of 1837, up to one out of three workers in New York lost their job.17 Loc: 349

In 1831, Providence workers started a movement for a ten-hour day that caught fire across the factory towns of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Factory owners responded with mass firings and considered demanding the state militia protect them from this supposedly radical threat. Yet throughout early 1832, machinists, mule spinners in the textile factories, and carpenters struck, refusing to work more than ten hours. Loc: 352

poverty, the fact that many of them were children supporting their families, and intimidation largely killed this early workers’ movement by the middle of 1832. Such movements continued well into the 1840s, with a big push in 1844 by the building trades in Fall River, Massachusetts, that led to the creation of the New England Workingmen’s Association later that year. The association combined working-class organizing with the reform movements of the era to stress both individual morality and mutual aid in promoting workers’ rights. Loc: 356

1835, coal heavers in Philadelphia walked off the job and twenty thousand other workers in the city’s General Trades Union joined them. This early “general strike” included everyone from those coal heavers to people who worked for the city government. The strikers won a ten-hour day, which still meant that the workers were on the job from six a.m. to six p.m., with two hour-long meal breaks. Even early union victories meant hard labor and long days.21 Loc: 433

Employers refused to negotiate and did bust the strike, but only after giving in to several of the workers’ demands, including reducing the workday to twelve hours Monday through Friday and nine hours on Saturday, a sixty-nine-hour workweek. That’s still a very long week, but it also meant about twelve hours returned to workers each week, a significant improvement in their lives. Loc: 441

One worker had the speed of her two looms increased by 70 percent over a two-year period, with her wages only increasing 16 percent.34 Stopping the speedup was much harder than limiting the number of hours workers toiled, a concrete demand that compensated workers rather than limiting production. Huldah Stone wrote, “Is it necessary that men and women should toil and labor twelve, sixteen and even eighteen hours, to obtain mere sustenance of their physical natures?” Loc: 446

conditions of work continued to decline. Between 1840 and 1854, the workload of spinners at the Hamilton Corporation in Lowell more than doubled, while wages declined.36 Some of the Mill Girls developed into long-term fighters for economic justice. In 1835, Sarah Bagley, age twenty-eight, began working in the mills. She quickly became politically aware and started working to reform the conditions. She asked the Workingmen’s Convention in 1844, “When our rights are trampled upon Loc: 457

Bagley helped found the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association in 1844. Other mill towns such as Manchester, New Hampshire, formed their own branches of the Female Labor Reform Association. Bagley led a campaign to demand that the Massachusetts government hold hearings about conditions in the mills. By 1845, 1,150 Lowell workers had signed petitions to demand the hearings, about three-fourths of them women. Loc: 473

The response of the factory owners to the Mill Girls agitating was to find more easily exploitable workers. The Great Famine meant 780,000 new immigrants to the United States from Ireland in the 1840s alone, with another 914,000 following in the 1850s. These workers were in no condition to turn down hard industrial labor; any work was better than starvation at home. During the 1850s, Lowell employers shifted decisively toward immigrant labor. Loc: 512

Abraham Lincoln’s opposition to slavery was similarly based upon the opportunities it denied to white men. He stated, “Men, with their families . . . work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other.” Loc: 615

South Carolina cracked down by banning slaves from reading and limiting the rights of slaves to assemble in groups, raise food, or earn money; the state also allowed slave owners to kill their slaves.6 The ideas of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment convinced some white Americans that slavery was wrong. If people had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, did that also include slaves? After the American Revolution, northern states moved toward freeing slaves, sometimes immediately but usually after a period of gradual emancipation. Vermont abolished slavery in 1777, before it became a state, Loc: 633

Slave owners in states such as Maryland and Virginia who had considered freeing their slaves after the Revolution suddenly found themselves buying up land on the western frontier as fast as wars of genocide pushed the Native Americans off it. This had a brutal effect on slaves, as planters split up slave families, sending some west to work in the cotton fields and keeping others on the original plantation.9 Loc: 819

By the 1890s, African Americans filled 90 percent of the unskilled positions in Birmingham’s rapidly growing steel industry, but whites forced them into the most dangerous, toxic workplaces with high death rates.44 That fact sums up much of postwar southern labor history. On the plantations, ex-slaves resisted white attempts to force women and children to work in the fields, preferring that women avoid that hard labor and children go to school. They sought full autonomy over their labor, Loc: 867

Black Virginians acquired up to one hundred thousand acres of land by the early 1870s and perhaps 1 million acres by 1900.51 But only about one hundred thousand of the 4 million former slaves managed to buy their own land. Many ended up sharecropping. White landowners rented land and supplies such as farm animals, plows, and seed to black workers in return for between 25 and 50 percent of the crop. Landowners routinely cheated often illiterate sharecroppers out of their crop, forced them into debt, Loc: 910

Even after the conquering of their land, whites used the Dawes Act of 1887 to dispossess them of their reservation land. Granting individual people only 160 acres of land and then selling the rest to white settlers undermined what was left of their traditional economies. They still labored—making baskets for tourists, working as agricultural laborers, or serving the needs of local white residents—but within a racial caste system that doomed them to endemic poverty, Loc: 930

The Civil War also radically transformed the American economy, setting in motion the Gilded Age, the name Mark Twain gave to a society plagued by rampant corruption, enormous income inequality, and monopoly capitalism. Gilded Age profits came on the backs of working Americans, many of whom were Civil War veterans who believed strongly in free labor. Loc: 1,034

The strikers of 1877 did not want a revolution. They wanted a return to a free labor society that respected the nobility of toil—a nation of smallholders and entrepreneurs. Many of these workers were Civil War veterans. They saw low wages, brutal working conditions, and employer violence and compared themselves to the slaves the Union had recently freed. The state and employers had placed chains around these white men who believed they were the legitimate Loc: 1,037

The comparison between wage labor and slavery went back to the radical writer Thomas Skidmore, whose 1829 pamphlet The Rights of Man to Property! called for the confiscation of all property and its redistribution to the people. Skidmore died in 1832, but after the Civil War, growing numbers of workers came around to believing that something was wrong with capitalism. They believed it was fundamentally a good system, but something had gone wrong and a few men had too much money and power.16 Loc: 1,042

Joseph Ray Buchanan, Denver’s most prominent labor activist, would later write that in the early 1880s he “had been reading everything dealing with social conditions that I could get hold of. I had devoured the writings of the leading political economists and had formed opinions of a just and equitable social and industrial system.”17 Buchanan and other activists and publishers would disperse these ideas to thousands of readers, creating a national debate about how to fix the problems of workers. Loc: 1,046

Henry George’s 1879 book Progress and Poverty, in which he argued for a “single tax” upon property as the surest way to bring corporations under control. He believed people earned the value of their own labor, but land was a common resource for all and thus large landowners should have to pay very high taxes to reduce the era’s inequality. George ran for mayor of New York City on a single tax platform in 1886. He came in second in a three-man race. The Republican candidate, Theodore Roosevelt, came in third. The simplicity of George’s idea appealed to Americans who still believed that they could avoid class conflict. Loc: 1,051

Edward Bellamy, who in 1888 published Looking Backward: 2000–1887, a novel detailing how a visitor from 1887 wakes up in 2000 and finds all the problems of the Gilded Age solved through a peaceful revolution that replaced competitive capitalism with a cooperative society. Reading and discussion groups known as Bellamy societies popped up around the country to implement his ideas. By 1891, the book had sold nearly half a million copies, making it the biggest bestseller of its era. Loc: 1,123

In 1872, nearly one hundred thousand workers in New York City struck for nearly two months to demand that the state enforce its recently passed eight-hour law.34 An 1880 survey of New England textile and paper mill workers demonstrated that most workers wanted to use their leisure time, often quite a bit less than eight hours, to just live—visit family, take a walk, go outside, do whatever they wanted.35 Eight-Hour Leagues sprung up across the nation, and workers joined the Knights of Labor and other labor organizations in the 1880s to fight for the eight-hour day. Loc: 1,172

May 1, 1886, protests. But on that date, between 300,000 and 500,000 workers walked off the job around the nation to fight for the eight-hour day. At least 30,000 of those workers were in Chicago, where strikes had increased from an average of thirty-five per year between 1881 and 1885 to 307 in 1886. Loc: 1,225

Gompers called “pure and simple unionism,” focusing on skilled white male workers who organized to promote better wages, shorter hours, and more control over working conditions, without trying to transform society or get involved in politics. Negotiating a union contract was the goal, not challenging capitalism. Gompers eschewed federal involvement in labor issues, such as laws to protect workers, because the courts could overturn the laws or the government would not enforce them. Only a union contract would ensure worker power. The AFL was a collection of independent craft unions, mostly of skilled Anglo-Saxon workers Loc: 3,610

Private sector union density is only 6.4 percent, the lowest number in at least a century. More than half of all private sector union members live in five northern states. A much higher number of government workers are unionized—34.4 percent.2 They are the latest victims of Republican attacks. Loc: 3,648

The United States once had high immigration rates, but white workers often responded through racism. By 1924, anti-immigrant sentiment from the labor movement helped close most of America’s borders to southern and eastern European immigrants, as well as Asian immigrants. From that time until 1965, the only large groups of immigrants that came to the United States originated in Mexico. The Immigration Act of 1924 had an exception for Latin Americans because southwestern farmers demanded them for cheap migrant labor.9 California, Texas, and Arizona farmers had long sought the most exploitable labor possible, and that usually meant people of color, with the exception of during the Great Depression Loc: 3,660

During World War II, to replace white laborers who had gone to work in defense industries or joined the military, farmers lobbied the government to help them acquire cheap Mexican labor. The Bracero Program began in 1942, bringing workers to the United States on short-term contracts that would end with their return to Mexico after the growing season. These workers faced heavy exploitation, terrible living conditions, life-threatening heat, and rampant discrimination. By 1945, 125,000 Mexicans had come to the United States as part of the program, but they faced such discrimination in Texas that the Mexican government refused to allow them into that state.12 That program ended in 1965 Loc: 3,665

the Immigration and Nationality Act. This transformed the nation’s legal system, once again opening the borders to immigrants from across the world. It also capped legal immigration by nation of origin. As the American economy grew in the 1980s, low-wage jobs opened in agriculture, construction, landscaping, and restaurants. At the same time, the Mexican economy collapsed in 1982, and the ensuing economic chaos drove millions of Mexicans across the U.S. border to work in the United States without documentation, creating an underclass of easily exploited workers without legal immigration status. Refugees fleeing U.S.-supported right-wing dictatorships in Guatemala and El Salvador added to their ranks. Loc: 3,678

Tapping into the idealism of the era, he presented himself as a martyr for his members through his famed hunger strikes. Ministers, students, journalists, and organizers descended on Delano, California, to help, to learn, to take the struggle back to their communities. The UFW won the grape boycott in 1970, with growers signing their first union contract. The UFW did not have long-term success as a labor movement, partly because of Chavez’s own failings and discomfort with letting workers set the union’s agenda, partly because of continued hostility from growers, and partly because Chavez himself demonized the undocumented immigrants competing with his members for jobs, even though they were often UFW members’ relatives. Loc: 3,690

Even today, these workers face pesticide poisoning, heat stroke, thirst, dilapidated housing, and wages that are near slavery in places. Farmworkers often lack a day of rest. Farmwork is still dominated by Latinos, often undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, or guest workers from nations such as Jamaica with no hope of staying in the United States legally. These workers are easily exploited and lack allies. Workers in New York’s Hudson Valley report extreme isolation, desperately missing home and living without a community in the United States. Loc: 3,708

The United States had 2.5 million workers in health care by the late 1950s, more than steel and railroads combined. Yet health care workers found themselves ignored by the public and the media, who paid more attention to industrial work as the “real” union jobs as opposed to the more numerous service sector jobs.18 A New York union calling itself Local 1199 started organizing the city’s pharmacy workers in 1932. In the 1950s, it began organizing African American and Puerto Rican health care workers, Loc: 3,722

until New York granted health care workers collective bargaining rights, which they did not have nationally because of the New Deal labor legislation compromises that excluded professions dominated by black workers. Local 1199 kept the pressure on the state and in 1962, its president, Leon Davis, served thirty days in jail during a strike to organize Beth-El Hospital, which led not only to a union victory but also to the state extending collective bargaining rights to nonprofit hospitals. Loc: 3,727

century. Thanks to struggles such as 1199’s, in 1974, hospital workers finally received collective bargaining rights nationally, giving them the basic rights of American employment like overtime after eight hours and the minimum wage.19 But not all health care workers labored in hospitals. Many worked in the homes of the sick and elderly. They remained classified as “domestic companions,” like babysitters. Long hours, hard working conditions, and low pay were standard. They had their own fight for respect. Loc: 3,734

women. By connecting civil rights to labor rights in a workforce that was largely women of color, organizers slowly built these campaigns into powerful forces organizing some of the nation’s most exploited workers. By the mid-1990s, SEIU had organized 74,000 workers in California alone and home workers became a central element of that union’s growth to become the nation’s largest. Loc: 3,740

Given how people of color are relegated to the lowest paying jobs, even today, African Americans and Latinos often work as janitors. Janitors do the work of scrubbing toilets, and, in the absence of unions, are forced to work faster with fewer co-workers, leading to exhaustion and occupational injuries. Exposure to toxic chemicals is common; EGBE, or ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, a suspected carcinogenic substance, was used in 22 percent of cleaning products according to a 1997 study.21 SEIU began organizing janitors in Los Angeles in 1946, Loc: 3,746

Local 399 in Los Angeles fought against nonunion firms and ultimately represented five thousand Los Angeles janitors. Between 1976 and 1983, wages rose by an average of 50¢ an hour each year. This also led companies to seek out nonunion firms through subcontracting the work.22 Commercial real estate values crashed in the 1980s and a small number of building conglomerates took ownership of many of the nation’s office buildings. Instead of employing their own janitors, these conglomerates contracted the work to outside cleaning companies that put enormous downward pressure on wages and working conditions. This was part of the larger move toward outsourcing that plagues the economy to the present, creating greater divides between the have and have-nots, with contractors making profits by keeping wages as low as possible. Loc: 3,753

In 1983, the average wage for a janitor in Los Angeles surpassed $12 including benefits. By 1986, with companies having escaped most of the union contracts, janitors’ wages had plummeted to $4.50 an hour, and their benefits had disappeared.23 The percentage of janitors in major cities represented by SEIU fell from 62 percent to 52 percent between 1977 and 1981. Loc: 3,790

organizers began following building owners to their nice restaurants and country clubs to heckle them, while using leaflets and demonstrations to get the buildings’ tenants to place pressure on the owners to settle the issue. They wanted the contractors to accept unionization without an election. This strategy sidestepped the National Labor Relations Board, and a process that by the 1990s was being gamed by the employers to make it extremely difficult and slow for workers to win a contract. This is both because employers could force workers to sit through anti-union presentations and flood the workplace with anti-union propaganda and because employers could delay an election for years, replacing much of the workforce in the meantime. Loc: 3,796

placed public pressure on the companies to do the right thing, borrowing many of the tactics of the civil rights movement and United Farm Workers to build public sympathy. Loc: 3,836

By 2005, SEIU represented 70 percent of janitors in twenty-three of the nation’s fifty largest cities. In the twenty-first century, with its newly invigorated attacks on unions and worker power, that’s impressive.39 Loc: 3,860

Organized labor tapped into campus activism, trying to rebuild the trust it lost with the college left during the Vietnam War. It started Union Summer in 1996 to connect young activists with the labor movement, hoping to build future union organizers and leaders.46 Today, this is a nine-week internship for college students to get their feet wet in the union movement, fighting on campaigns to help bring economic and social justice to American workers. Several of the first Union Summer veterans took the labor struggle back to their campuses, creating organizations such as United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Loc: 3,870

One of Sweeney’s greatest successes was reshaping the labor movement’s position on immigration. SEIU and other service unions, such as the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE and today UNITE-HERE), fought to integrate immigrants into the labor movement. This led to a drastic transformation of the American labor movement from the leading opponent of immigration it had been for most of its history to one of the nation’s greatest supporters of a fair and just immigration policy. Loc: 3,904

1991. As a LIUNA official stated, “We didn’t organize anybody. There was union there before the union got there.” Workers in the plant fought against a lack of bathroom breaks, low wages, unpaid hours, and the company deducting the cost of their supplies from their wages. Like the Justice for Janitors strikers, many of these workers had survived Guatemala’s civil war and understood the need for solidarity to fight against mutual oppression. In 1995, the Morganton workers walked off the job and voted to join LIUNA a few months later.51 Loc: 3,916

system of labor law that developed during the New Deal is now so captured by the corporations that many union activists believe it is not worth trying to win National Labor Relations Board–supervised elections, precisely for the reasons demonstrated by the North Carolina meatpackers. Despite the Justice for Janitors beatings, the state rarely uses direct violence against workers today. It just makes it impossible for their unions to survive or thrive. Loc: 3,966

the use of mobile pickets in front of Verizon cell phone stores caused the company to lose up to 30 percent of their business during the strike.59 At the same time, this only happened because it was Obama’s Department of Labor that mediated. The strongly pro-employer Trump Department of Labor would surely have acted differently. Workers won a 10.9 percent raise, no pension cuts, and other demands. Mike Tisei, chief steward at one of one of the nation’s two unionized Verizon wireless stores, said that the agreement “means a better quality of life and meaningful economic security for our families. Loc: 3,972

it’s only possible because we stood together.”60 It is this sort of service worker, low paid and often short-lived in the job, that is the future of unionism. Can unions like the IBEW and CWA turn those low-paid jobs into high-paid jobs? Can SEIU turn the Guatemalan American janitorial workers into the next autoworkers, with pensions and vacation pay? There was nothing special about industrial work in the 1930s. Working in a Ford plant in 1932 was not more prestigious than working at McDonald’s or Walmart today. The key to a dignified future is making those jobs good jobs for the working class. The Verizon strike helped move that goal one step forward. So did Justice for Janitors Loc: 4,004

What the 2016 election and its aftermath should reiterate to all of us is the deep connection between who controls the government and the success of the labor movement. As the historian Jefferson Cowie has written, there has only been one major period in American history when the power of workers coincided with the power of government to help unions—from the 1930s to the 1970s or early 1980s. Other than this “Great Exception,” we have struggled against a corporate dominated government.2 We need to reorient American society in order to make it proworker again. Loc: 4,013

each and every one of these movements laid the groundwork for what workers gained in the twentieth century. We may not win our struggles today, but each fight—Justice for Janitors, Occupy Wall Street, the Fight for $15, the Bernie Sanders campaign—is helping to prepare for the next time workers can take power in this country. Second, we can only succeed by welcoming all workers into our movement. This book has centered on the ways race has divided the working class throughout American history. It often continues to do so today. Loc: 4,019

more often than not, white workers have prioritized their racial identity over their class identity without any help from their bosses. This is one of the major reasons why the American working class has struggled to express its power. “Making America Great Again” cannot mean “Making America White Again.” Doing so will allow employers to divide us and presidents such as Trump to run on populist slogans while granting unprecedented powers to bosses to rule our lives. We have to embrace all workers, regardless of race, gender, immigration status, disability, or sexuality. There can be no compromise Loc: 4,025

Nearly all of us are workers, whether you are an Uber driver (a company that makes money by refusing to classify its drivers as employees, putting the onus of employment on their backs while the company profits), a graduate student, a McDonald’s worker, or a bank teller, in addition to those of us who still have jobs in steel mills and auto factories. As in late nineteenth-century movements such as the Knights of Labor, we need a broad definition of worker, building class consciousness among the 99 percent of us against the 1 percent who control us. Too often we identify with our bosses and our companies instead of with our fellow workers. Your boss is not your friend. Without a union, your boss can fire you at will. Loc: 4,041

One of the major parties has to become the workers’ party in order for us to win our rights. Someday that might be the Republican Party, but only if it gives up its focus on corporate domination. The Democratic Party may be flawed, but today it is our best chance at turning a political party into an instrument of workers’ rights. It happened once before and it can happen again, but only if we make it happen by organizing both inside and outside the political parties. American history is a story of freedom and oppression, often at the same time. True freedom cannot come without economic emancipation. Loc: 4,046

In the past four decades, we have given back much of our freedom. Only through our combined struggle to demand the fruits of our labor can we regain our lost freedoms and expand those freedoms into a better life for all Americans.