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A History of America in Ten Strikes

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Recommended by The Nation, the New Republic, Current Affairs, Bustle, In These Times

"Entertaining, tough-minded, strenuously argued."
--The Nation


A thrilling and timely account of ten moments in history when labor challenged the very nature of power in America, by the author called "a brilliant historian" by The Progressive magazine

Powerful and accessible, A History of America in Ten Strikes challenges all of our contemporary assumptions around labor, unions, and American workers. In this brilliant book, labor historian Erik Loomis recounts ten critical workers' strikes in American labor history that everyone needs to know about (and then provides an annotated list of the 150 most important moments in American labor history in the appendix). From the Lowell Mill Girls strike in the 1830s to Justice for Janitors in 1990, these labor uprisings do not just reflect the times in which they occurred, but speak directly to the present moment.

For example, we often think that Lincoln ended slavery by proclaiming the slaves emancipated, but Loomis shows that they freed themselves during the Civil War by simply withdrawing their labor. He shows how the hopes and aspirations of a generation were made into demands at a GM plant in Lordstown in 1972. And he takes us to the forests of the Pacific Northwest in the early nineteenth century where the radical organizers known as the Wobblies made their biggest inroads against the power of bosses. But there were also moments when the movement was crushed by corporations and the government; Loomis helps us understand the present perilous condition of American workers and draws lessons from both the victories and defeats of the past.

In crystalline narratives, labor historian Erik Loomis lifts the curtain on workers' struggles, giving us a fresh perspective on American history from the boots up.

Strikes include

Lowell Mill Girls Strike (Massachusetts, 1830-40)

Slaves on Strike (The Confederacy, 1861-65)

The Eight-Hour Day Strikes (Chicago, 1886)

The Anthracite Strike (Pennsylvania, 1902)

The Bread and Roses Strike (Massachusetts, 1912)

The Flint Sit-Down Strike (Michigan, 1937)

The Oakland General Strike (California, 1946)

Lordstown (Ohio, 1972)

Air Traffic Controllers (1981)

Justice for Janitors (Los Angeles, 1990)

288 pages, Hardcover

First published October 2, 2018

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About the author

Erik Loomis

6 books26 followers
Erik Loomis is an associate professor of history at the University of Rhode Island. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns, and Money on labor and environmental issues past and present. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Dissent, and the New Republic. The author of Out of Sight and A History of America in Ten Strikes (both from The New Press) as well as Empire of Timber, he lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.1k followers
March 8, 2019

If the name “Erik Loomis” sounds familiar, that may be because you have read him in the politically progressive blog “Lawyers, Guns & Money” under the headings “Erik Visits a Grave" (410 entries to date) and “This Day in Labor History," in which he introduces his readers to such memorable events as the Creation of the Colored Farmer’s Alliance (1886), the Battle of Blair Mountain (1921), the Hard Hat Riot (1970), and the Kader Toy Fire (1993).

Loomis, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, knows his labor history, and, in A History of America in Ten Strikes he has found an effective vehicle to convey this often neglected subject to the average reader. Loomis chooses ten “strikes” in ten different periods, each of which exemplifies a different theme. He chronicles the events leading up to it and stemming from it, and then underlines its importance in the development of the labor movement. Although the narrative can be a dry at times (since—by the nature of the labor struggle—it customarily deals with collective action, not individual heroics), it is studded with illuminating anecdotes and brightened with notable names.

In “The Lowell Mill Girls” (1830’s), Loomis shows us how workers, often female textile workers, struggled from the first against a new industrial system they did not yet understand. Then our author moves on to consider “Slaves on Strike,” and how what we usually think as slaves abandoning their plantations during the Civil War was in effect a labor action, a protest that not only paralyzed the South but also brought about the end of slavery. Loomis goes on to write about the “Eight-Hour-Day Strikes," how, in the Gilded Age, the Knights of Labor’s aggressive push and the hysteria that followed the Haymarket Bombing (1886) led to owner reprisals and a virtual war between capital and labor. By way of contrast, he then demonstrates, in “The Anthracite Strike” (1902), how the rare action of a progressive elected official on the side of a union—in this case by president Theodore Roosevelt in support of the coal miners—could tip the scales in the favor of workers' rights.

Loomis then shows us how a new radical movement led by the IWW (the "Wobblies") shaped the nature of “The Bread and Roses Strike” in the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile mills in 1912, and how they succeeded through an expert use of propaganda:
With the strikers destitute, the IWW thought to place worker’s children with sympathizers in different cities. This spread the Lawrence workers' cause. On February 10th, 119 children boarded a train to New York dressed in their rags, with their name, age, address, and nationality pinned to them . . . They all found families when they arrived, as five thousand socialists met them at the train station to celebrate their arrival.
Although the Wobblies’ uncompromising radicalism—and their promotion of violent “direct action”—never brought about the worker’s revolution they hoped for, the slow, steady growth of the union movement and the election of important Democratic allies in government led to significant union gains by 1940. Loomis sees the crucial event of this period to be “The Flint Sit-Down Strike” (1937). In this action, not only the GM workers, but their wives played a part:
A women's auxiliary formed to support the workers, bringing them food, clean clothing, newspapers and other items to help them spend the long nights inside the plant. Genora Johnson, a mother of two and the wife of one of the strike leaders, took the microphone and urged the women of Flint to stand up (or sit down!) to GM and fight for the men inside. She shouted, “We will form a line around the men, and if the police want to fire then, they’ll just have to fire into us.”
Wages had bee been artificially frozen throughout WWII, and the demand for increased wages eventually led to a wave of post-war labor actions, which Loomis illustrates here in his treatment of “The Oakland General Strike.”
For two days, Oakland shut down. Despite the cold December rain, over 1000,000 workers participated . . . All businesses except for pharmacies and food markets, which the workers deemed essential for the city, closed. Bars could stay open but could only serve beer and had to put their jukeboxes outtside and allow for their free use. Couples literally danced in the streets . . . Workers allowed children to visit Santa in front of a department store to give their Christmas wishes. Recently returned war veterans created squadrons to prepare for battle against the police.
Labor made wage gains throughout the postwar years, but eventually a new generation of workers began to agitate for a change in dehumanizing working conditions. For Loomis, the crucial event in this phase of the struggle was the “Lordstown” strike (1972) in Youngstown, Ohio. (Equal treatment for women and minorities was also an important theme during this period, and Loomis does a good job of treating these issues too.)

Unfortunately, the ‘80’s brought with it the ascendancy of the Republican party and its deliberate attempt to break the back of unions. The crucial event in this phase, according to Loomis, was “The Air Traffic Controllers Strike” (1981) when Ronald Reagan fired all the strikers who refused to return to work, thereby crushing a powerful public sector union and setting the tone for years to come. Private sector unions as a force in the U.S. have now been virtually neutered, and what remains of the public sector unions—teachers, firefighters, police—are continually subject to attack. The only bright spot in union growth now lies in the organizing of minority and immigrant labor in low wage service industries, which Loomis sees exemplified in the rise of the SEIU (The Service Employees International Union) and the “Justice for Janitors” movement in 1990’s in L.A.

America’s history of labor in ten strikes. It is an account of painful gains through more than a century, followed by a forty-year decline. Loomis, although not optimistic, is still hopeful that Americans will listen to the lessons of history and continue to fight:
We came very far in the struggles of workers in the two centuries before today. 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.
Profile Image for Natalie.
310 reviews135 followers
December 9, 2018
Excellent, excellent book, and possibly my new favorite intro to the basics of US labor history.

What worked here:
This read as history, not as political theory. It feels like the author is studying these events with an eye to learn from them, not to retroactively apply an interpretation to advance an agenda. I appreciate this a lot in history writing.

And I learned a lot. We hear so much talk about the dismal state of organized labor, but really, when taking the long view, the situation is not hopeless right now. For all but 40 years of US history, the government and corporate powers have been aligned to crush their workers. Previous to 1935, that crushing often took the form of lethal violence. And people KEPT ORGANIZING! It's really stunning that anybody kept at it, given how few successes were ever won, how quickly those successes were usually eradicated, and how steep the costs of failure were. Given what organizers and workers faced before 1935, our terrain today doesn't seem nearly as difficult--it's always encouraging for me to remember that it could be way, way worse.

It was also such a relief to read a book that accounted for race and gender dynamics in a thoughtful way without that being the framing lens. Too much of labor history is the history of white men, and you have to read women's history or black history etc to get the other parts of the story. I appreciated that this history took, for the most part, a holistic approach, and brought about an analysis of those dynamics throughout. Specifically, I appreciated the author's straightforward accounting of the way legalized rape helped fuel both indentured servitude and slavery, and all the ways sexual violence against women has served the economic interests of capitalism.

Slavery was framed as a worker's rights issue! Yes! Duh! It is thrilling to learn the history of massive slave strikes during the Civil War, and it feels really appropriate to frame the mass abandonments of plantations as a strike. Too much of labor history has relegated slavery to being about only racial equality or black justice--OF COURSE it needs to be seen as possibly the most important development in the history of the US working class!

And it was illuminating to read an analysis of organizing tactics, action plans, and structural decisions in past eras of labor organizing. It is so easy for us to come up with easy, reductive answers today: unions need to be more militant! they need to strike more! they need to stop supporting the democratic party! and so on and so on and so on. Understanding the vast number of approaches taken in the past, where they worked and where they failed, is so helpful for gaining a more seasoned and strategic analysis than any of that.

My critiques are not necessarily finding fault, but wanting more. I want a lot more about immigrant organizing throughout the 20th century. I want a lot more about how bosses brought in trainloads of black strikebreakers from the south in different eras. The history covered of the massive manufacturing industries is obviously important and unavoidable, but I'd love to read more about what was happening in marginalized industries throughout this time--what was it like to be a waitress in 1940, or a house cleaner in 1960, or bus driver in 1980? It is particularly a little head scratching that the UFW only served as a footnote, and that the Las Vegas Culinary Union only earned a brief mention for its electoral prowess, and not it's groundbreaking worker strength and industry dominance in a right to work state. The final chapter on SEIU and Justice for Janitors felt the least satisfying--maybe because it's the history I'm personally closest to. But I would have liked to see more details about how that organizing was carried out, and what the economic results of it have been.

Overall, this book is easy to read and an excellent, excellent way to understand the major themes of American labor in various parts of history.
Profile Image for Theo Logos.
587 reviews88 followers
January 9, 2023
If you only ever read one book about the labor movement you should make A History of America in Ten Strikes that one book. First, it’s eminently readable, written to be read and understood by the general reader rather than academics and theorist. Second, it has absorbed and incorporated the perspectives of those once outside the mainstream labor movement, in particular the ideas of the brilliant W.E.B. Du Bois — a necessary corrective to past racism that once crippled the movement. And finally, it tells the history of America from the perspective of the working people who built it. This is such a dynamic change from studying American history as a series of wars or artificial eras, as the history of politicians and their machinations, or of Great Men (almost all white and wealthy).

While the book, as its title claims, concentrates on ten strikes across American history, it manages to fit a significant amount of labor history around those featured ten. Two of those ten stood out particularly for me. Incorporating Du Bois’ claim that the self liberation of American slaves fleeing to Union lines during the Civil War amounted to the greatest, most effective wild cat strike in labor history was brilliant. And the final of the ten, the Justice For Janitors strike by SEIU in the 1980s — a strike that reinvented the labor movement for a new century — stands as a personal favorite, as I have been a proud organizer for that union.

If you are a union member you need to read this book. If you are working class (i.e. you have a boss and draw a paycheck) you need to read this book. If you are at all aware of the function of class driving history, you need to read this book. If you simply care about the real, people’s history of the United States you need to read this book. Just read it already!
Profile Image for bianca .
126 reviews4 followers
January 31, 2019
This book is really good: very dense but somehow always interesting, heavy on anecdotes to demonstrate macro themes, and clear, sharp critics of (1) racism, sexism, and xenophobia that has plagued the US labor movement and (2) the violence used by corporations & all levels of government to squash worker power. Also, it includes a good explanation of how progressive labor rights were afforded to women through very gendered (and arguably sexist) legal arguments.

I’d recommend to anyone who didn’t learn much about labor movements in high school or college, as well as anyone who thinks that businesses can be lured or enticed to treat workers well by their own volition. If you have read about the labor movement but don’t know much about the role women and people of color have played in it, read this too.

Things that I liked about this book:
- the level of detail (it includes so many examples of labor struggles I didn’t know about from all regions & geographies in the US)
- its critical analysis (really demonstrative, enraging examples of corporations and governments working together to forcefully break union strikes)
- clear, important take always (unions need to be inclusive; workers need to build movements that push political parties to the left; labor fails without an emphasis on electing allies to office; unions should focus on organizing low wage workers of color)
- the bibliography (so many books about black people, queer people, and women’s role in the 20th century labor movement)

Things I did not like:
- I think Loomis implies in the last chapter that economic insecurity lie at the core of racism/why white people voted for Trump. Its not a big per of this book so I didn’t knock a star off for it, but I disagree with that idea.

This was such a well written, accessible text that lies in anecdotes from the ground, legislation and court cases, and macro analysis. It centers the right people and successfully names groups that have historically been left out of conversations and legislation about American labor. It’s the best history book I’ve read in a while and I’m excited to continue reading Loomis’ work.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,663 followers
March 11, 2019
A really great concept not well executed. Just go read Howard zinn or Eugene Debs. It’s dry and boring and there’s not much insight about the future
Profile Image for Christopher Saunders.
844 reviews829 followers
July 15, 2022
Erik Loomis's A History of America in Ten Strikes provides a brief overview of American labor history, from colonial times through the Trump Administration. Despite the title, Loomis's narrative is less structured around specific labor actions than broader trends and subjects: labor vs. capital, the inequality of the Gilded Age and the attempts of the Progressive Era to rectify it, the fraught relationship of workers with the Federal government (often indifferent, frequently hostile, rarely friendly) and the rise and decline of labor unions. Loomis does zoom in for looks at specific periods, with brief sketches of famous strikes like the Lowell Girls, the Pullman Strike of the 1890s and Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, the "Bread Roses" rebellion spearheaded by the IWW and the Flint General Motors Strike of the '30s. A key, repeated lesson is of the underprivileged taking action themselves: no example better captures this than Loomis's chapter framing the Civil War as a "general strike" of Black slaves against their master, self-emancipating while the Federal government dragged its feet. On the other hand, even the most idealistic unions have been subject to predictable divisions of race, gender, ideology and tactics; radical unions like the Wobblies engaged in "infantile leftism" that hurt the cause more than Big Business while conservative unions like the United Mine Workers and American Federation of Labor began to accommodate with business and the state, some even joining the reactionary backlash of the '7os and '80s. And since World War II, but particularly beginning with Reagan's crushing of the PATCO union in the early '80s, anti-union forces have managed to destroy the political power and social cache labor once held. Loomis ends the book on a note of cautious optimism, using recent strikes by custodial workers, fast food employees and other "unskilled" laborers, a growing, cross-racial sense of working class camaraderie against the corporate society and increased political activism by progressives to argue that American workers can still work towards a fair and just society. Here's hoping that Loomis is right.
Profile Image for David.
638 reviews230 followers
January 7, 2019
Even book giveaways make me sad. Thousands of people put their names in for the chance to win a single free copy of the latest silly romance novel or knuckleheaded apoca-prepper saga. By comparison, when I signed up to receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley, there was not even the suggestion that some poorly-paid employee of a dying publishing company might vet my application to see if I was a big enough influencer to merit a freebie. If I wanted this history of how long dead complete strangers often lost their lives and livelihoods to win work benefits later enjoyed (and then surrendered) by self and ungrateful millions, I could have it, immediately.

Of course, reading the content of this book won't make you feel any better about humanity, either. While the book makes clear that unions were and are not uniformly populated by little angels, the horrific exploitation and cruelty that non-unionized workers were subjected to makes it difficult to feel anything but sympathy. Then, of course, efforts to organize their ranks and improve their lot often bring further adversity raining down, often at the hands of authorized representatives of government, but also occasionally at the hands of private paramilitaries.

Even the reviews of this book are depressing. One two-star review mocks the author (a university professor) for using the personal pronouns “we” and “us”, lumping himself in (so goes the criticism) with workers with whom he really has nothing in common. Call me a lefty apologist if you will, but it is clear that the traditional image of the workers as exclusively people tending a roaring smelter or clanking printing press is as outdated as hoop skirts, starched collars, and centralized economic planning. Times change -- the definition of a worker should change with them.

Furthermore, negative reviews of this book indicate to me that the reviewers never really got past the beginning of this book, which, to be fair, has a worshipful tone toward unions and unionizing. If you stick with this book, you will see that the author has a thorough knowledge of the shortcomings of unions, past and present, especially racism, but also corruption, intolerance of dissent, and lack of follow-up. This last I thought was an important point that is often lost in traditional histories, even when they are nominally sympathetic to unions, because often the great labor leaders and other lefty celebrities followed the spotlight, while workers had their gains reduced or even reversed completely once the public's eye had turned elsewhere.

I didn't love this book every moment and sometimes quibbled with certain statements. I noticed a few spelling and grammar errors, and sometimes I thought the text could have contained a few more citations. But I was glad I stuck with it, especially as it filled me in on labor actions of the last fifty years or so which I knew little about.

Thanks to Netgalley and The New Press for unquestioningly giving me a free electronic galley copy of this book to review.
Profile Image for Clare.
710 reviews30 followers
October 24, 2018
I've been a big fan of Erik Loomis' writing over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money for years. Additionally, as I believe I mentioned in my review of John Nichols' The "S" Word, I had an American history event to run for DSA and nowhere near enough time to read Zinn for it! Fortunately, Loomis' new book A History of America in Ten Strikes, which I have been waiting for for several months, had the goodness to be published only three weeks ago, and the BPL system had some copies. I was able to cram about the first third of this book before I left for Vegas, which I was able to use to flesh out the presentation, and read the rest of it on the T and the plane, taking mental notes about stuff to use to fix the second half of the presentation when I got back to a computer the morning of the event.



Fortunately, this book is extremely readable and covers a lot of ground, which made it both immensely helpful for the presentation and easy enough to cram into my brain that it didn't feel like entirely inappropriate vacation reading (although the last time I went to Vegas I was reading a poker strategy book on the way out, which has math, so I guess I'm just bad at vacation reading). It's also vintage Erik — straightforward, dryly funny, relentlessly judgmental about the left's strategic weaknesses, but still militantly supportive of the dignity of all working people. One of the recurring themes, which is also a recurring theme in his blogging and also a recurring theme in American politics, is the role of racism in tanking attempts at labor solidarity and class consciousness in the U.S., or, more bluntly, that white people consistently decide they'd rather be racist than have nice things, and that's why we as a country can't have nice things.

The book covers a pretty well-rounded range of strikes, from the early industrial strikes of the Lowell Mill Girls up through the Justice for Janitors strikes and the current hubs of action in the labor movement. In between, we read about the big IWW-led strikes in heavy industry that everyone stereotypically associates with the labor movement, but ample attention is also given to strikes in female-dominated industries such as garment work and strikes by workers of color, such as the mass self-emancipation of slaves during the Civil War.

While there are some really great stories in this book — Loomis isn't going to miss a chance to recount my favorite failed historical assassination, Andrew Berkman and Emma Goldman's bungled attack on Henry Clay Frick — it's certainly not intended to be merely a repository of historical curiosities. There are valuable lessons that the current activist left can learn from the successes and failures of the past, and if you don't pick up on them just from hearing the stories, Erik will explicitly spell them out for you. Big ones include "It's important to get some less-terrible people into office so that you can work them" and "Workers of color are the future of the labor movement, and white people should strongly consider stop being so fucking racist, although there's no reason to assume they'll actually do that." He also makes sure you don't miss how incredibly violent much of labor history is, both in terms of the lengths to which capitalists and the state have gone to suppress even the mildest, most reasonable forms of worker organizing, and the militancy with which our labor ancestors worked to obtain the rights that we take for granted and which are being rapidly degraded as the New Gilded Age marches on (you know, stuff like "weekends"). The contrast with — and parallels to — the current whinging over "civility" in our current political discourse is illustrative.

Anyway, strikes are rad and they're making a comeback, so this is a timely book for anyone looking to be informed about them. It will make you fun at cocktail parties, assuming you go to the kind of cocktail parties that are full of weird nerds who like stories about anarchosyndicalists fucking up the Paterson silk mills, which are the only good kind of cocktail party to go to anyway.

Originally published at Uphold Rose Schneiderman thought.
Profile Image for Kelbaenor (Dan).
151 reviews36 followers
June 8, 2022
Among the many problems of Loomis' myopic liberal worldview are some basic premises which are not backed up by facts. This book, released in 2018 in the middle of Trump's term, stands as an extremely "I did not understand the 2016 election and so listened to all the ruling class press to explain it to me" sort of moment in time. One of Loomis' core premises is that white workers in the US are inherently racist and will choose race over class when situations get difficult. Very funny to see liberals like Loomis and ultraleftists like J Sakai agree on this ahistorical, idealist argument. Never mind the fact that US labor history, and his own book, is filled with dozens of counter examples that prove otherwise. There's a complete misunderstanding of the history of racism, and how it and more broadly how ideology generally functions. Racism, sexism, anti semitism, etc, are not 'naturally occuring, inherent parts of workers identity'. They are purposefully constructed and promoted by the ruling class to split workers against each other and preserve their privileged position. They are artificial constructs and can be overcome. He also continues to promote the easily disproven line that the "white working class" swept Trump into office on the back of their racism. An examination of the actual facts can show people that Trump got more or less the exact same voters as Mitt Romney, disproportionately petit bourgeois and bourgeois votes. Hillary lost because she was an awful candidate who offered the working class nothing but disdain. The majority of the working class, as in basically every election, did not vote. Trump did not win office because racist white workers with "economic anxiety" "voted against their interests", he won because neither party offered workers anything, so most workers stayed home, and the Democrats ran the least popular candidate in history. Yes there are racist white workers in the US, plenty of them for sure. But history has shown that smart, class based organizing that empowers workers to fight for issues that directly impact their daily life on the job can show those workers that they have more in common with their Black and Brown coworkers than the bosses.

With that out of the way we can get at the biggest problem of this book, Loomis' liberal misunderstanding of what the State actually IS under class society. Loomis views the state in the classic, liberal, Weberian manner, as a neutral ground where different interests fight for influence. This is incorrect. In class society, as its history has shown us, and as theorists like Marx, Engels, Lenin, Gramsci, Althusser, Poulantzas, and others have demonstrated, functions as the executive committee for the ruling class. The state has limited, relative independence from any SINGLE group of capitalists only because it exists to promote the interests of the capitalists AS A CLASS. Its role of mediation is between fractions of the power bloc, different segments of the bourgeoisie and occasionally the petit bourgeoisie. Workers cannot solve the inherent contradictions of capitalism by voting in representatives to the state because that is not what the state is structurally designed to do. Workers may win temporary gains via reforms enacted after fierce periods of class struggle, but as long as the property relations of society remain capitalist, the state will roll those back. We see this with numerous examples, in how OSHA was created after long fought struggles by union workers, but now serves to protect corporations, handing out tiny fines to prevent lawsuits and strikes that might actually force companies to enact safety procedures. Anti trust legislation passed ostensibly to reign in monopoly excesses are instead used nearly exclusively to prevent workers, especially those misclassified as "independent contractors" from unionizing. Regulatory agencies serve to protect the industries they claim to regulate rather than the public. These attacks on workers happen under both parties. These are not aberrations, they are how every capitalist state functions, even the lauded aocial democracies of western europe, whose welfare states are built on the wages of global imperialism and are themselves straining at their seams as the global rate of profit falls.

This may seem like a tangent for a book about labor history, but this misunderstanding of the state shapes Loomis' entire narrative about labor history. His ultimate conclusion is that worker power alone is nothing faced with an intransigent capitalist state. His prescription for saving the labor movement is, in essence, for unions to continue the failed policies of the last 50 years, pouring millions of their workers hard earned dollars into supporting capitalist politicians. As Kim Moody (a vastly superior labor historian) points out in his excellent works An Injury to All and US Labor in Trouble and Transition, unions have been trying this for decades and it has only brought failure. Unions will never be able to outspend business, that's a structural feature of an economic system that concentrates wealth in the hands of a tiny few. So trying to influence politicians with donations in a losing battle. The Democrats are just as much the enemy of the working class as the Republicans are, as numerous examples in his own book demonstrate!

What we need, and what we are seeing with the rise of movements like the Amazon Labor Union and Starbucks Workers United, is a democratic, rank and file revival within the labor movement where workers control their own organizing. Direct action through strikes, protests, walkouts, slowdowns, working to rule, community rallies, and numerous other tactics, are what win gains for workers, not begging bourgeois politicians. What has kept those radical, militant unions from being able to make their wins permanent in the past however, has been the lack of an independent, working class political movement to unite behind. Only socialism can make working class wins permanent, they will never be able to keep them under capitalism. For socialism to triumph, we need a strong, fighting labor movement. For that movement to keep its momentum, it will have to build beyond just reformist legislation to actually overturning the economic order and putting workers in charge for the first time in our history. It's a tall order, but as history demonstrates, its our only path to permanent victory. Loomis' argument that revolution is impossible, that even the formation of an independent workers party is impossible, and that workers should instead focus on the actually structurally impossible task of pulling the bourgeois Democrats to the left, which unions have spent millions unsuccessfully trying to do for a century, is an incredibly nihilistic, ahistorical viewpoint. It flies in the face of the history of global class struggle confining it to choosing which of the representatives of the billionaires will represent us every few years. We can look to the success of our brethren in Vietnam, Cuba, Bolivia, and elsewhere to see that we need not confine our political horizons to such a sad, narrow lot.

Don't read this book, there's tons of other better labor histories out there. Read Kim Moody's work or Mike Davis' Prisoners of the American Dream instead .
Profile Image for Mack Hayden.
440 reviews18 followers
February 20, 2020
This book is immensely informative for its brevity, but Loomis's writing struck me as pretty bone dry. Oftentimes, it feels like a recitation of facts with not much narrative finesse at all. Still, I've yet to come across another book this short with this much information about the history of labor movements in the United States, so even if he's not the best storyteller, he's certainly a capable historian. The chapters on slave strikes and the '80s Air Traffic Controllers strike were the most interesting to me.
Profile Image for Griff.
157 reviews5 followers
May 5, 2021
A descriptive but concise summary of some of the most important labor movements in American history.

The author does an excellent job conveying the context and narratives of each of the featured strikes by showing analog labor efforts in other parts of the country, how media reacted, and how the government intervened to alternately buoy and crush the union movement.

Recommended reading for anyone seeking to better understand the state and history of labor and its struggles in America and how we got to be where we're at today.
Profile Image for Tara.
175 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2022
This book could also be titled "It's almost like the history of the nation's labor movement is intentionally omitted from US education."

But seriously, I found this history to be fascinating and kept thinking of all the gaps in my own education that this book was only starting to fill.

My one quibble is with the structure of the book. It's not really only 10 strikes, and so sometimes whatever specific action was the theme of the chapter got lost in (still fascinating) diversions.
8 reviews
February 6, 2019
This is a dense, readable overview of labor history in the United States. The "Ten Strikes" framing is a little overstated - the ten specific strikes get a bit more elaboration than the other strikes discussed, but not much. It's more of a way to divide up the history into digestible chunks.

I appreciate the frank way Loomis discusses how racism, nativism and sexism have divided workers. I wish the book were a bit longer so he could provide more detail about what circumstances and choices allowed workers to create long-lasting solidarity, but the narrative is a bit too whirlwind for that.
Profile Image for Mara.
1,460 reviews3,543 followers
September 16, 2018
In a time when organized labor and unions are on the decline, Loomis provides a fierce call to arms to not let US labor rights slip from our fingers. I really enjoyed reading about 10 of the most significant strikes in US history, especially the one he details of slaves to attempted to self-emancipate in the 1800s. I also appreciated his emphasis on how prioritizing racial identity over class identity has been detrimental to the overall progression of workers' rights.
Profile Image for Sarah.
361 reviews43 followers
November 10, 2020
"Too often we identify with our bosses and our companies instead of with our fellow workers. Your boos is not your friend. Without a union, your boss can fire you at will. And while you might be the best worker the company has ever seen, you have no power to control your own destiny without a union."
Profile Image for Quentin.
321 reviews11 followers
August 19, 2020
Read my Review on my blog: http://www.quentinlewis.com/blog/2020...

A rich but readable account of American labor history that is refreshingly honest about both its successes and its challenges.

Eric Loomis is a professor of history at the University of Rhode Island, but is perhaps more well known as a History blogger at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, and for his "This Day in Labor History" series. This book is a cogent coalescence of that series, which provides a periodization of American labor history using ten historical strikes to exemplify the state of labor at given historical moments. These are

The Lowell textile strikes of the 1830s
The strikes of enslaved Africans during the Civil War
The Strikes for the Eight Hour Day in the "Gilded Age" of the 1880s and 90s
The Anthracite strikes, particularly the Ludlow, Colorado coal strike and massacre at the dawn of the 20th century
The "Bread and Roses" strike and the IWW in the 1910s and 20s
The Flint sit-down strike of 1937 and the New Deal
The Oakland General Strike of 1946 and post-war Unionism
The Lordstown strike of 1972
The Air Traffic Controller's Strike of 1981
The Justice for Janitors movement of the 1980s and 90s

The book is filled with an astonishing and interesting cast of characters, and Loomis works hard to bring to life the stories of everyday, working people and the struggles they faced. Perhaps because of his blogging, Loomis is a gifted and clear writer, and despite its broad reach, the book is eminently readable, while still being filled with plenty of wild details, and astonishing stories and quotes. Interesting and complicated characters like Sarah Bagley (who organized arguably the first Women's Union in the US), or the story of the tensions in the Oakland General strike are rich and rewarding. And the book is full of anecdotes and details, such that I suspect even people relatively knowledgeable about American labor history will find something they didn't know before (I certainly did).

Loomis chooses to focus on the diversity and social tensions that have run through the US labor movement. Loomis is not shy about discussing the ways in which race and ethnicity have structured and organized the forms that labor organization and class consciousness have taken in America. He follows Du Bois in seeing the Civil War as being won due to the labor action of enslaved African-Americans, and he casts a clear eye on the racism of swaths of the labor movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, with rich discussions of the AFL's failure to organize non-white or marginally White workers in the 19th century, or the violent pushback by White workers and Southern elites when the CIO attempted to organize Black and White workers in the 1940s. There are also clear (though brief) discussions of the role of race in the election of Donald Trump and his courting of the putative "White Working Class" (though I have found other analyses more useful in understanding 2016).

More explicitly than most academic histories, Loomis is clear that he wants the book to serve as a guide for activists and political supporters of working people. He begins the book with a discussion of the recent teacher's strikes in West Virginia, which were ultimately successful. And his conclusion argues that we "live in a new Gilded Age" of rampant income inequality and exploitation of working people. He sums the book up by arguing what he sees as the main lessons of American labor history. These are that labor wins when it focuses both on organizing and on political persuasion, that a racially diverse labor movement is ultimately stronger than a racially homogenous one, and that successful labor movements recognize the wide range of laboring activities rather than focusing on just a few (re: industrial) forms of work.

The book is a clear and digestible history, and a call to arms to make a more just and equitable society, using the lessons of past attempts to do the same. Well worth the time of anyone who wants to change the world.
Profile Image for Marie.
Author 55 books84 followers
January 14, 2020
This is not one of those popular nonfiction books that reads like fiction. It summarizes a lot and drags down in detail. I can't say it's a fun read, but then, it is an important read, for providing a sweeping overview of labor struggles in the United States over time. If it feels repetitive, well, so does history.

I wish it had done what it advertised and focused just on the ten titular strikes, going into greater depth on less material, but rather it separates out a long narrative of many strikes with these ten keystones to separate eras.
Profile Image for ac.
10 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2021
I really enjoyed this book! Was dense at times but was a great overview of the labor struggle in the U.S. Takeaways: (1) The historical labor struggle was so violent omg; (2) We have so much to thank unions for; (3) The government’s attitude towards unions can make or break the movement; (4) 🗣 Your boss is not your friend; (5) I wonder if we will ever see a reprise of strong unions 🤔 if we do it will be led by workers of color! ✊🏼
Profile Image for Samuel.
269 reviews5 followers
Read
September 19, 2022
I tried. Man, I tried. I got midway into strike three and called it. Just… a poorly written book.
Profile Image for Edward Rathke.
Author 10 books125 followers
December 2, 2020
I don't really know what I expected or wanted from this book, but I didn't really get it.

I mean, it is exactly what it says it is. It's basically ten case studies on what happens when labor organizes. The takeaway is that no amount of organizing labor can withstand the combined resistance of corporations and government. Which is why organized labor failed throughout the 19th century, succeeded from the beginning of FDR until Jimmy Carter, and then collapsed and has continued to be crushed since Reagan.

There's hope in recent history, but the state and corporations stand belligerently against organized labor right now. Even so, people are fighting for their rights.

Maybe it's just that I already basically knew the broadstrokes of this and that I find the whole mess depressing.

The book is very good. I guess maybe I wasn't wanting to hear what I knew was true.
11 reviews
January 17, 2023
If you’re interested in US labor movements over the last 150ish years and how we’ve reached the point we’re at today, you’ll love this book.
624 reviews10 followers
January 4, 2019
A country’s history can focus on many things because the pageant of a country can be glimpsed through many facets. The labor movement of our country is part of our social and economic history and “A History of America In Ten Strikes” uses the ultimate labor weapon to reflect that history.

The first strike is the 1834 Lowell (Massachusetts) Mill Girls strike against the textile manufacturers that resulted in reducing the work week to sixty-nine hours. The second is the rolling strike of slaves who stopped working for their masters during the Civil War. Third is a series of Gilded Age strikes for an eight-hour-day. Next is the anthracite coal strike that saw the first Presidential intervention, that of Theodore Roosevelt, to attempt to bring labor peace in contrast to the traditional government support of management. Fifth was the Bread and Roses Strike organized by the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) in 1912. Sixth is the Flint Sit-Down Strike against GM in 1936 and 1937 and the advent of the New Deal in government encouragement of labor unions. Seventh is the Oakland General Strike of 1946, coming in the wake of World War II. Next is Lordstown, Ohio Strike against GM set against the backdrop of a chasm opening between the union leaders and their membership. Ninth is the Air Traffic Controllers of 1981 the highlighted the rise of public sector unions and finally the rise of the Service Employees International Union and the struggle of low wage earners.

This book clearly has an agenda of arguing for the interests of workers. In a sense this is a revisionist history in that it attempts to substitute the myth that progress came from the workers’ struggle for the myth of the rising tide lifting all boats. Even readers who do not identify with this agenda should stop and think where their forebearers stood in relation to the events chronicled on these pages. Author Erik Loomis uses each strike as a core of a chapter describing a phase in the evolution of labor-management relations and the broader socio-economic environment. He also examines the contest within labor between those striving for tangible, measured improvements in the lives of the workers and those seeking to force fundamental revolution. The author lays his card on the table early when he asserts “In Donald Trump, we face the most racist and misogynistic president in a century (maybe since Woodrow Wilson?, comment mine) who has demonstrated his utter contempt for the Constitution and the values that have made the United States the best it can be, (Wilson again?) even if it was never great for many of its citizens.” So, he does not like Trump but with language like that we can see that we are in for a biased narrative. My suspicion is also aroused when I catch historical errors. On page 42 we read that “Tennessean Andrew Johnson ascended to the Oval Office”, an office that was not constructed until the administration of William Howard Taft, 40 years after Johnson left office. I wonder how many other “facts” are not so.

Shortcomings notwithstanding history is not told only though presidents and wars. Cultural, religious, scientific and business, of which labor history is a part, also shape the nation we are today. Those who think that American history is a saga of injustice and oppression will find justification in this book. Those who think otherwise would benefit from taking a look from the other side for a more well-rounded appreciation of the American Pageant.

I did receive a free copy of this through the Amazon Vine Program.
Profile Image for James.
445 reviews19 followers
November 28, 2018
Loomis wrote this popular history of labor uprisings in the United States, one shaped by ordinary and often powerless people banding together to improve their own lot in life. He frames this struggle as one of human beings reclaiming their own lives. He also deposits that there is little evidence that when governments and employers ally themselves to crush unions, they usually are successful and that labor's only hope in the long term is to put allies into government as well as strong grassroots organizing. I'm not so sure of that because often unions have supported politicians who end up betraying labor with little consequences, Loomis notes that more often than not, state and federal governments have sided with employers over workers. Despite the setbacks of unions, fights have been continued to be fought and won as well as lost.

Still, Loomis does a fabulous job of breaking down what he identifies as major flash points of working people's histories and how they have shaped the overall history of the United States. He opens with the story of the Lowell women's strikes in the mills in 1834-36 in one of the first mass strikes against the incredibly harsh working conditions of their day, even as conditions worsened as Irish immigrants filled the jobs. The second chapter looks to enslaved peoples resistance, reprising Dubois's argument that the mass leaving of plantations during the US Civil War helped break the South's economy that sealed the Union victory. The third looks to the story of the Knights of Labor in 1869 that sought to unite all workers and win the 8 Hour Day, only to collapse after the Haymarket affair in 1886, while the more conservative skilled white male craft based AFL rose in its stead. This lays the seeds of the fourth chapter in which after mass militant strikes were defeated by federal force in the 1890s, middle class progressives took a softer approach to labor and negotiated a settlement after the Pennsylvania Anthracite strike of 1902, the first time the federal government had interceded on the side of labor. In the fifth chapter, he moves to the rise of the radical Wobblies with immigrant based strikes in the Lawrence Bread and Roses strike and the Paterson strike, which Loomis notes both failed as the Wobblies could not establish permanent organization and once the radicals moved on, the companies crushed whatever had been achieved, yet the Wobblies loomed large in the power of direct action.

In chapter 6, Loomis moves to the story of the modern labor movement with the Flint sit-down strike that cemented the CIO as a permanent force that brought all workers no matter their craft into unions, organizing across racial and gender lines, mostly popularly in the UAW in auto. He then, in chapter 7 moves to the post-war strike wave that challenged Corporate America to share the massive profits it had accumulated during the war instead of sliding back into another depression, focusing on the Oakland General Strike, though he notes that labor eventually settled in return for serious wage gains and benefits, it booted its radicals and gave management complete control over decision making. In chapter 8, he looks to how workers began to push back against complacent union leadership, especially young and black workers who'd been left behind by leaders, especially as corporations began moving towards automation and demanding givebacks, as happened in Youngstown OH. This challenge set up, in chapter 9 the militant Air Traffic Controllers union which had become isolated and targeted by Reagan for crushing and blacklisting, which set up a general brutal offensive to destroy labor in the 1980s that set up a shrinking of organized labor by almost 2/3rds of its peak strength. However, he notes, in chapter 10, even as labor was crushed, alternative community based organizing rose, based in immigrant people of color led workers organizing in the Justice for Janitors campaign stewarded by SEIU.

Overall, this book would be valuable in introducing the reader to basic labor history. It is a fast and accessible read, as it boils down a large period into readable chunks. I'd consider assigning this to undergraduates.
Profile Image for John Ryan.
177 reviews2 followers
July 25, 2021
The author overstated his title, but the book still presented a good overview of our weakened, troubled labor movement highlighted by various major struggles including slaves going on strike, the Bread and Roses strike, Flint sit-down, Lordstown, PATCO, and Justice for Janitors. Packed with professionally researched and interesting facts, the book is worth reading.

As someone who ran for president of the largest CWA Local in Ohio right after Reagan busted the PATCO strike, when industrial unions were taking major concessions, where most Democrats deserted by action – if not words – workers’ rights, and labor union members as a percent of workers was on a steep decline, this book did a good job detailing the complex reasons for the loss of workers’ rights. Lack of leadership, economic and technological change, trade policy, racism, sexism, the lack of solidarity within the labor movement, and the inability of our government to provide meaningful support for workplace democratic rights were all emphasized.

My home-state of Ohio and my own union, the Communications Workers of America, go largely unnoticed even through the author goes far beyond sharing information about the ten strikes he believed explains American history. Little is said about the founding of the AFL-CIO (in Columbus, Ohio) and nothing is mentioned about Ohio’s labor movement successful fights against labor concessions twice – in 1958 and again in 2011 – when workers led ballot efforts that brought broad support to allow workers’ rights to continue. Instead Looms mentioned the vocal – and unsuccessful Wisconsin fight in 2011. While he mentioned the sit-down strike that started at the Cleveland GM plant, he didn’t give any indication on how this brave effort might have helped with triggering the action at the more strategic Flint, Michigan plant. Ohio workers fight in Toledo also didn’t get the play it deserved.

Finally, it was disappointing that the author barely mentioned the struggle of Asian workers in this country and their victory in the fields in California. Looms mentioned that UFW was “building on previous work by Filipino farmworkers in California, who began organizing in the 1930’s” but didn’t share even one story of those battles. This was especially a sad omission since labor often unfairly targeted Asian workers – railroad, textile, and others – as enemies instead of bringing them into the house of labor as the Filipino workers did with Mexican workers in the fields.
It's good that the author highlighted some successful efforts of labor – Justice for Janitors, farm workers, and others. But he only once mentioned CWA’s unique efforts that gained power for workers including starting Jobs with Justice, successfully organizing cellular workers by using current worker’s collective bargaining fight despite AT&T’s resistance, and CWA’s unique manner in providing a voice for workers in states with no collective bargaining rights including winning a vote by clear majority status at Indiana University and having an association in Texas for decades.

It would be interesting to dig into the farm workers battle – a minority union that created workers’ rights for workers who were purposely left behind by targeting major corporations or the SEIU janitor campaigns that again battered major employers to win rights and better living conditions for people of color.
Profile Image for Louise.
45 reviews1 follower
October 17, 2018
This and other reviews can be found here.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

A History of America in Ten Strikes by Erik Loomis is an informative non-fiction book focusing on the importance of strikes and what they they did for the working class of America. Loomis focuses on 10 strikes ranging from the Lowell Mill Girls Strike from 1930-1840 to Justice for Janitors in 1990.
The layout for this book was not what I expected, though it was not a bad way to do it. I expected that each chapter would talk about what happened during the strike and then tie it in with other parts of American History. Instead each strike is framed with a question which is then answered in depth using other strikes and context before going into the strike named at the beginning of the chapter. Once I understood this layout it didn't bother me.
This is definitely not a book to read all at once. There is so much information to absorb. I took breaks every few chapters and went and read a lighter book so that I could fully understand everything in the book. I loved that it had so much information, I learned tons of things that I didn't know already. In fact, it was rare that I already knew the strike that was focused on in the chapters and it was really refreshing to be able to learn so many things. However, it is a lot and it would have been overwhelming if I read it without stopping to read other things inbetween.
While this is an informative book, Loomis’ opinions come through a lot throughout this book. I didn’t expect the rhetoric that is used, I was looking more for an explanation on the strikes, not so much being told how important it is for workers to fight for their rights. While I agree with this ideal it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.
A History of America in Ten Strikes is an informative book and not one for someone who is just looking for a general overview. It held my attention for the most part through the usage of real life things that were happening at the time period, such as 12+ hour work days at dangerous jobs for low wages. This book holds real day importance and should be read by anyone who is trying to understand how we got to where we are in our workforce.
Profile Image for Brenden Gallagher.
271 reviews16 followers
December 21, 2018
Concise yet thorough, brisk yet wide-ranging, Erik Loomis' "A History of America in 10 Strikes" does what Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" did for American History for the American Labor Movement.

Perhaps those more familiar with labor history than myself will find this material familiar, and Loomis does hit some events most high school history students have encountered, like Reagan breaking the air traffic controllers strike and clashes between IWW and Pinkertons. However, Loomis uses familiar and unfamiliar events to paint a vivid picture of American Labor from the Revolution to present day. As a primer or a starting point for a dive into American Labor History, it is hard to imagine a more readable, considered book filled with plenty of names, movements, and moments to read more about if you like.

While Loomis take a broad historical view, he returns to familiar themes, reiterating important concepts like the professor he is. He reminds us that sex work is work, white union members are often racist, and that liberal political leaders and union leaders cannot always be depended on. These welcome reminders constitute the threads the pull numerous vignettes together into a taught whole.

Loomis also deserves particular praise for being sure to name many of the obscure workers from oppressed groups who changed labor history. He clearly wants this book to motivate: the underlying message in rescuing so many forgotten names from picket lines' past is that no matter who you are, any worker can change the world (or at least their workplace).

I am sure there are more thorough American labor histories out there (most of the highest rated tomes run 800 pages or more). But, with this brisk 200 page text you can get the information you need to start understanding American labor and class struggle more broadly. Whether you're shopping for a burgeoning Marxist, a curious Bernie Bro, or frustrated fast food worker, this book is sure made a nice addition to the bookshelf of any liberal, progressive, or radical in your life.
Profile Image for Andrew Figueiredo.
279 reviews7 followers
June 10, 2020
I'm torn between 3 and 4 stars, mainly because it's not what I expected coming in. Loomis doesn't hone in on 10 particular strikes, with each chapter representing more a chapter in the American labor movement. This is valuable, but I found it short on details related to the purported list of 10. Would have liked more thorough explanations of specific strikes instead of a cursory glance at a bunch of them. This book also reads a little too much like a hyperbolic op-ed at times. Loomis can be gratuitously aggressive about capitalism, but he makes sense more often than not.

However, because there's a lack of labor history taught in our country, "A History of America in Ten Strikes" is a valuable overview of American union history (even though he doesn't talk about Matewan???). I ended up Googling a lot of the figures and happenings mentioned for more information, which is a sign of an intriguing book. So I came down with a 4 star rating.

The most important part of Loomis' work is the set of lessons he provides. Among them:
-The labor movement has been more diverse than depicted. From the mostly female textile worker strikes to the self-emancipation strikes of slaves in the South during and after slavery to the Knights of Labor organizing Black workers to Latino organizing in office janitorial roles, we must rethink the ways we frame workers' histories. In this time of racial division, labor is a tool to combat racism.
-The broader success of the labor movement depends on having a supportive government. Loomis displays numerous examples. Surprising many, Governor Waite of Colorado supported miners being attacked at Cripple Creek. During the New Deal, political alliances gave labor some of its greatest gains ever. Alliances during this time faced limits (government bans on sit down strikes), but resulted in many gains.
-On the other hand, unsupportive government can and will crush labor with diverse tactics. Sometimes, it's a lack of buy in. For instance, the Freedman's Bureau didn't have enough government or established support to really change the South. Sometimes, it's direct action that bubbles outward. Reagan's smashing PATCO inspired many private corporations to ramp up anti-union activity. Even in the modern era but especially back in the day, the state employed/employs violence (Loomis brings up the early 1990s janitorial strikes, which I hadn't really heard of).
-Workers need to come together in general solidarity even if not part of the strike, as the Great Railroad Strike first showed and the Oakland General Strike (among others) reiterated.
-Too often, racial conflict encumbered class organization. It still does. The CIO's Operation Dixie is a saddening examp of a region whose workers were left behind by prejudice. Non racial ethnic conflict did the same, but some strikes like the early 1900s Anthracite Coal strikes bridged this and encountered success. Even through the 1960s and 1970s as social movements influenced what unions looked like, divisions remained prominent. Loomis endorses a movement that pays no heed to immigration status and while this seems a little radical, I see his point. Labor must forge cross-racial alliances.
-Employers had a stronger anti-union response in the US compared to abroad. Employer-sponsored unions, strikebreakers, etc all influence this dynamic. Eventually, this led to the capture of the institutions meant to create a fair bargaining position for workers. This makes organizing a lot tougher today.
-There's a balance to be had between justified bold demands and overdoing it. The IWW often flared up and demanded a lot but didn't put in the groundwork to actually organize longer-term. In other times, overly radical rhetoric turned people off of supporting labor and invited government repression. Loomis doesn't find a perfect line, and one might not exist, but he displays the spectrum.
-Labor's existence is often marked by contradiction. In the times when workers earned the most, they also gave up many of the tools they used to get there. Subsequently, success bred complacency which led in turn to rank-and-file rebellions that sometimes worked but often fell short. Too niche and facing a socioeconomic climate of deindustrialization, these movements both provided hope and showed the longer-term decline in action.
-Democrats have also fallen short on labor issues. Jimmy Carter's administration was antagonistic to PATCO, which is in line with the idea that he was the real first neoliberal President (which Matt Stoller posits in Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy). Loomis also criticizes Clinton for NAFTA and Obama for purportedly not standing up for unions in his first term. I wish he explained more on Obama, but it's a decent point.
-Changes in our economy towards the service sector and the diversification of this field require a new approach to what organizing looks like. The economy isn't the same as it used to be, and neither can the labor movement be.

Loomis finishes with a powerful, cautiosly optimistic call for direct action, a broader front of all workers, and understanding how to get a voice in government. There's no question, the stakes are higher than ever in a time of such inequality. But so too are the challenges. Anybody interested in revitalizing the movement should read this as well as State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence. It's important, even if not really a story of 10 strikes.
Profile Image for David Dayen.
Author 5 books167 followers
December 25, 2021
Finally got around to reading this one from 2019. What pays off here is the presentation of wrapping these strikes and labor action into a story about America's biggest preoccupations: race, class struggle, immigration, identity, corporate power.
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