Work and Struggle: Voices from U.S. Labor Radicalism

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Work and Struggle: Voices from U.S. Labor Radicalism focuses on the history of U.S. labor with an emphasis on radical currents, which have been essential elements in the working-class movement from the mid nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. Showcasing some of labor's most important leaders, Work and Struggle offers students and instructors a variety of voices to learn from — each telling their story through their own words — through writings, memoirs and speeches, transcribed and introduced here by Paul Le Blanc. This collection of revolutionary voices will inspire anyone interested in the history of labor organizing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Even a cursory look at work in the 21st century tells us that we live in radical times. Work and Struggle is a collection of poignant writings from some of the greatest radical thinkers of the last two centuries – and required reading for anyone interested in how movements might develop in our own radical times."

– Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School

"Those who want to revive and reinvigorate labor radicalism in the U.S. will find in Paul Le Blanc’s Work and Struggle an inspiring resource. Radical labor in this collection comes vividly to life, reminding us that the challenge of alternative ways of living has a long, admirable history."

– Bryan D. Palmer, Editor, Labour/Le Travail

"This book offers a great remedy for pessimism over labor's current situation. In every age and despite their status as a beleagured minority, radicals have shaped labor movements that changed the world. Paul Le Blanc's magnificent introduction and these compelling voices from the past provide hopeful and richly rewarding reading to anyone concerned about attaining greater justice in today's world."

– Michael Honey, author of Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign

"It is particularly helpful at this time to bring forth a collection of radical ideas from labor's past. . . . Le Blanc's two-chapter introduction is a good capsule history of U.S. labor and the role of radical ideas in that history. Then he gives us the words of our radical forebears themselves. . . . This is an excellent collection, enlightening and entertaining to all of us who care about this labor movement, where it came from, and how we can move it forward again."

– Al Hart, UE News

"Work and Struggle is just the kind of book that workers need today. It is written in accessible and engaging prose, providing a survey of the official and unofficial leaders and struggles that gave birth to the U.S. labor movement in the nineteenth century and led it through its ups and downs to the mid-twentieth century. ... As we begin to chart the future path for the labor movement, activists will be well served by reading this recounting of its past."

– Sharon Smith, International Socialist Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415878241
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 12/15/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Le Blanc is Professor of History at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, PA, where he served as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 2003 to 2009. He has also worked as a unionized healthcare worker, service employee, shipyard worker, and auto worker. He is author of a number of books on labor and social movements, including Marx, Lenin and the Revolutionary Experience: Studies of Communism and Radicalism in the Age of Globalization (Routledge), and was most recently an editor of The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest: 1500 to the Present.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments vii

List of Abbreviations x

Part 1 The Meaning and Reality of Labor Radicalism 1

Chapter 1 Understanding Labor Radicalism 3

Chapter 2 Revolutionary Currents in the U.S. Labor Movement 21

Part 2 Voices of U.S. Labor Radicalism 61

Chapter 3 Thomas Paine 65

Chapter 4 Frances Wright 81

Chapter 5 Frederick Douglass 95

Chapter 6 William Sylvis 111

Chapter 7 Terence V. Powderly 125

Chapter 8 Albert R. Parsons 139

Chapter 9 Mary Harris Jones 151

Chapter 10 Eugene V. Debs 163

Chapter 11 Fannia M. Cohn 179

Chapter 12 John L. Lewis 195

Chapter 13 A. Philip Randolph 215

Chapter 14 Genora Johnson Dollinger 231

Chapter 15 Cesar Chavez 245

Chapter 16 James Matles 257

Notes 273

Bibliography 285

Index 289

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