Union Voices

Labor's Responses to Crisis

Edited by Glenn Adler & Doris Suarez

Subjects: Industrial Sociology
Series: SUNY series in the Anthropology of Work
Paperback : 9780791412480, 321 pages, December 1992
Hardcover : 9780791412473, 321 pages, December 1992

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Table of contents

Victor Gotbaum


Introduction: Union Voices
Glenn Adler and Doris Suarez

Part One: Economic Change, New Technology, and Union Responses

Leaving The Jungle: A Union Response to Questionable Medical Treatment in Repetitive Trauma Disorders
Tom L Robbins

Smith Steel Workers and A. O. Smith: New Directions in Safety and Health
Jonathan D. Rosen

Adversary Participation in the Brave New Workplace: Technological Change and the Bakery, Confectionery, and Tobacco Workers' Union
Raymond F. Scannell

Part Two: Rebuilding Labor's Base

Reaching for Their Rights: Asian Workers in New York City
May Ying Chen

Strategy for Failure: Affirmative Action in a Mass Production Context
Susan R. Strauss

Women in Trade Union Leadership: How More Women Can Become Leaders of Today's and Tomorrow's Unions
Susan C. Eaton

Part Three: Labor and Politics: Recasting Alliances and Solidarity

In Search of the Movement: 1960s' Activists in Labor
Kim Fellner

International Labor Solidarity: The Campaign for Justice for Moses Mayekiso
Don Stillman

Part Four: Conclusion





The contributors to this book are labor activists reflecting on their direct experiences and their union's efforts to address the serious problems facing them in a rapidly changing political and economic environment. The authors discuss now new forms of international competition, corporate restructuring, technological innovation, and the anti-labor policies and prejudices of recent national administrations have undermined union strength and influence, reflected in steeply declining membership and the erosion of workers' rights and living standards. The book is anchored in the reality of workers day-to-day struggles.

Union Voices focuses on three central issues which confront all workers and unions: first, changing technology and work organization, especially its effect on health and safety and worker displacement, and union responses to the new workplace; second, the impact of the changing economy on workforce composition and the problem of responding to the needs of new work constituencies, especially among women and new immigrant groups; and third, the question of developing new union practices, especially to promote alliances between unions and other social movements, both nationally and internationally.

Glenn Adler is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg and a member of The Sociology of Work Program. Doris Suarez is in the Political Science department at the Graduate School of the City University of New York.


"This book is unique in that it is a non-academic treatment, or more accurately, an academic treatment by non-academics, informed by their trade union experience. It gives an unvarnished view of worker's day-to-day struggles, including both victories won and defeats suffered." — Gilbert J. Gall, Pennsylvania State University

"I like the direct experience of workers expressed in their terms. The text completely belies the negative stereotype about labor union leaders. It shows the considered responses to the manifold changes in the workplace that have challenged accepted ways of doing things and indicates the readiness of the rank and file to respond flexibly to the new demands put upon them.

"I think there is no more significant set of issues in today's labor scene. The future of American industry and economy is at stake. Workers are the only sector making as their primary goal the stabilization of employment and the workplace at home. The way in which these rank and file members address this issue is a convincing demonstration of their capability and the need to place more responsibility on them rather than a footloose management in the governing of our economy." — June C. Nash, City College of New York