What do workers really want?, May 22, 2000
Reviewer: Eric N. Romsted "romsted" (Highland Park, NJ USA)
A classic ploy of employers who want to keep unions out of their companies is to paint the unions as outsiders, a bunch of rabble rousing radiclas who will disrupt what was once industrial harmony. This theme has lasted through the years, from last century, when all socialists where decried as immmagrants, to modern union busting campaigns.
There is certainly a short term, self-serving aspect to this image, but there is also a larger social claim: american workers are basically satisfied. America is the land of opportunity and no regular Joe worker would question this fact if outsiders didn't come in and cause trouble.
Jeremy Brecher's classic book, Strike!, runs gaping holes through this image. He details several of the countless times in American history that workers have spontainiously risen to fight for better jobs, better lives and a better world. Further, he shows that labor leaders, whether conservative or radical (socialist, communist etc) have have historically acted to hold the militancy of the workers at bay and channel them into the compromise of collective bargaining. A system which the labor leaders control and profit from.
An important book for anyone interested in unions, labor, or the history of the American working class.
Great history of the labor movement.