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Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  15 reviews

Is labor’s day over or is labor the only real answer for our time? In his new book, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan argues that even as organized labor seems to be crumbling, a revived—but different—labor movement is the only way to stabilize the economy and save the middle class.

But the inequality now reshaping the country goe
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by The New Press (first published December 4th 2012)
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Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Good stuff on our over-reliance of "get an education" when wages are falling for most workers as labor unions are whittled away. As always with his writing, it is passionate but not always clear and he has a habit of repeating ideas, making a 200+ page book that feels like it could have been half the size with the same takeaway. His arguments for unions giving up exclusive representation in exchange for making joining a union a civil right are pretty interesting, but I don't think even he fully ...more
Scott Schneider
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a book for labor junkies. It is almost a stream of consciousness rant Geoghegan is having with himself about the problems with the labor movement, why a strong labor movement is needed to bring back the middle class and how the solution is more democratic workplaces like they have in Germany where elected worker councils run the plants. This book is particularly good for labor lawyers as it poses some legal solutions that might help, like getting rid of the requirement for unions to repr ...more
Eric Lotke
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Is the title too apocalyptic? Maybe so, but it’s worth it. Especially because it contains friendly, chatty, easy-to-read directions about how to avoid the apocalypse.

Geoghegan shows how organized labor is essential to a functioning economy. Capital has the money; people have the numbers. But they need to organize to level the playing field and get their fair share.

American labor unions aren’t perfect and Geoghegan criticizes them as only an old friend can. But unions do plenty right, and if we d
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love Thomas Geoghegan (his Which Side Are You On? is one of the books that has most knocked my socks off), and in my case, this book was certainly preaching to the choir in terms of politics. But it gave me new things to think about in terms of how to go about achieving these goals, so that pushes it past 4 stars for me. It helped that he lives and works in Chicago, so many of his examples were local for me.
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: labor
Leftists praise Geoghegan for thinking out of the box when it involves shaking up organized labor’s establishment, but they get uneasy and defensive when Geoghegan’s outside-of-the-box thinking challenges long-held leftist tenets. To say that organized labor is on the decline is obvious. But Geoghegan’s leftist critics should also acknowledge that the Labor’s Left too, has been in steady decline. Geoghegan’s book demands more serious consideration and engagement from his leftist critics.

Paul Buehrens
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Changed my thinking

This is one of the few books I've read that is actually changed my thinking. If you have an open mind and want to learn something read this book
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have any interest in the state of the labor movement in America, this is a must-read. Written pre-Trump, yet the issues it raises are ripped from the headlines.
Jun 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
Written by a labor lawyer who knows his economics, Keynes anyway. Argues that it is not education that is going to help us overcome inequality - increasing the number & percentage of college graduates is just going to contribute to increasingly dismal post-graduation job prospects. Says we need to support labor & nothing supports labor like organization - unions. Increased union power & participation will result in (1) lowered national private & public indebtedness, (2) increased aggregate deman ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm a big fan of Tom Geoghegan and I applaud him for again writing about how the American Labor Movement needs to stop doing things that don't work and challenge itself to be something different. I think he's more right than wrong in his prescription that some form of "members only unionism" coupled with an emphasis on making joining a union a civil right and advocating for broad-based policy reform. I just wish he made this point stronger before page 215 of this book. Unfortunately what could b ...more
C. Scott
Sep 17, 2015 rated it liked it
A fine book by Thomas Geoghegan, filled with ideas about how to revive labor in the US. Unfortunately this book suffers in comparison to Which Side Are You On? Geoghegan's best work written almost 25 years ago. A lot of that has to do with tone. The tone in Which Side Are You On? is dispirited. The tone in Only One Thing Can Save Us is almost completely defeated. There are of course glimmers of hope embedded in this new volume, but the author's grim outlook on the future - and he is someone who ...more
Amanda Valenti
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that really altered my perspective--it's good to find at least one book like that a year. I highly recommend. It is easy to read and really gives you a good grasp of the history and economics behind his argument. ...more
Samuel Lubell
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a pro-union book. I found its depictions of the Chicago Teachers Union interesting and I like the idea of changing the rules so unions could go into places and unionize workers who want to join without requiring a majority vote so everyone is represented.
Gerald Friedman
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

Georgetown shows how revived and transformed labor movement is vital for America's future economy, democracy, and for a decent society. Solidarity forever!
Mills College Library
331.88097 G3451 2014
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Thomas Geoghegan received national attention when he ran as a progressive candidate for Rahm Emanuels congressional seat in 2009 (and was endorsed by Barbara Ehrenreich, James Fallows, Thomas Frank, James K. Galbraith, Hendrik Hertzberg, Alex Kotlowitz, Sara Paretsky, Rick Perlstein, Katha Pollitt, David Sirota, Garry Wills, and Naomi Wolf, among others). He is a practicing attorney and the author ...more

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