Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers

Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers

by Alice and Staughton Lynd

Paperback(Second Edition)

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In this long-out-of-print oral history classic, Alice and Staughton Lynd chronicle the stories of more than two dozen working-class organizers who occupied factories, held sit-down strikes, walked out, picketed, and found other bold and innovative ways to fight for workers’ rights.

Rank and File brings the militancy of these firebrand organizers to life—whether it was in founding unions, challenging sexism and racism, safety violations, and management intimidation, or working for broader social changes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608461509
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publication date: 01/31/2012
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 326
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Alice and Staughton Lynd

Staughton Lynd was born in 1929 and grew up in New York City. His parents, Robert and Helen Lynd, co-authored the well-known Middletown books. Staughton went through the schools of the Ethical Culture Society. Above the auditorium of the main school were written the words: “The place where men meet to seek the highest is holy ground.”

Staughton Lynd received a BA from Harvard, an MA and PhD from Columbia, and a JD from the University of Chicago. He taught American history at Spelman College in Atlanta, where one of his students was the future Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker, and at Yale University.

Staughton served as director of Freedom Schools in the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964. In April 1965, he chaired the first march against the Vietnam War in Washington DC. In August 1965, he was arrested together with Bob Moses and David Dellinger at the Assembly of Unrepresented People in Washington DC, where demonstrators sought to declare peace with the people of Vietnam on the steps of the Capitol. In December 1965, Staughton along with Tom Hayden and Herbert Aptheker made a controversial trip to Hanoi, hoping to clarify the peace terms of the Vietnamese government and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.

Because of his advocacy and practice of civil disobedience, Lynd was unable to continue as a full-time history teacher. The history departments at five Chicago-area universities offered him positions, only to have the offers negatived by university or state administrators. In 1976, Staughton became a lawyer and until his retirement at the end of 1996 worked for Legal Services in Youngstown, Ohio. He specialized in employment law. When the steel mills in Youngstown were closed in 1977-1980 he served as lead counsel to the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley, which sought to reopen the mills under worker-community ownership, and brought the action Local 1330 v. U.S. Steel. After retiring, Staughton was for a time Local Education Coordinator for Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown.

Staughton Lynd and Alice Lee Niles met at Harvard Summer School. Alice’s parents had recently become members of the Society of Friends, and Staughton had become aware of Quakerism through a cousin who served as an ambulance driver during World War II. Staughton and Alice were married at the Stony Run Meeting House in Baltimore in 1951. They have three children and seven grandchildren. In the early 1960s the Lynds became convinced Friends, and joined the Atlanta Friends Meeting. They are presently sojourning members of the 57th Street Meeting in Chicago.

Alice was a member of a union of clerical workers in the 1950s, and a member of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers' Union in the 1970s. As a labor lawyer she helped visiting nurses to organize an independent union; assisted laid-off workers when they lost pension, health care and other benefits; filed occupational health and safety claims; and litigated employment discrimination cases.

The Lynds have been deeply involved in opposing the death penalty, and in probing the cases of men sentenced to death or very long sentences for their alleged roles in a major prison riot in 1993. They were co-counsel in a major class action challenging conditions at Ohio's supermaximum security prison that went up to the United States Supreme Court, Wilkinson vs. Austin. This case, now being applied in other states, established procedural standards for placement and retention of prisoners in supermax prisons.

Staughton Lynd has written or edited numerous books, including:

Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution (1967) and Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism (1968), re-issued by Cambridge University Press in 2009;

with Michael Ferber, The Resistance (Beacon Press, 1971);

Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below (Charles H. Kerr, 1992);

“We Are All Leaders”: The Alternative Unionism of the Early 1930s (University of Illinois Press, 1996);

Living Inside Our Hope: A Steadfast Radical’s Thoughts on Rebuilding the Movement (Cornell University Press, 1997). Chapter Four of Living Inside Our Hope is an essay co-authored by Alice and Staughton called “Liberation Theology for Quakers,” which first appeared as a Pendle Hill pamphlet;

Lucasville: The Untold Story Of A Prison Uprising (Temple University Press, 2004);

with Andrej Grubacic, Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History (PM Press, 2008);

with Daniel Gross, Labor Law for the Rank & Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law (PM Press, 2008);

and From Here to There: The Lynd Reader (PM Press, 2010).

Staughton and Alice Lynd have co-edited four books: Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (Olive Branch Press, 1994); Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History (Orbis Books, 1995); Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers (Monthly Review Press, 1988); and The New Rank and File (Cornell University Press, 2000), which includes oral histories of labor activists in the past quarter century.

Most recently, the Lynds have written Stepping Stones: Memoir of a Life Together, published in hardcover and paperback by Lexington Books in 2009.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Introduction to the Expanded Edition ix

Introduction 1

People Who Cannot Be Bought Christine Ellis 9

How I Became Part of the Labor Movement John W. Anderson 35

Back of the Yards Stella Nowicki 67

Your Dog Don't Bark No More George Patterson Jesse Reese John Sargent 89

You Have to Fight for Freedom Sylvia Woods 111

Liberi Cuori [Liberated Hearts] Mario Manzardo 131

I Appeal the Ruling of the Chair Burr Mccloskey 149

How the International Took Over Nick Migas 163

The Informal Work Group Stan Weir 177

Working for Survival George Sullivan 201

It Got My Back Up Ken Tucker 223

An Absolute Majority Wayne Kennedy 233

Going for Broke Jordan Sims 253

A Common Bond John Barbero Ed Mann Others 265

Miners For Democracy Bill Worthington Lee Smith Ed Ryan 285

Organizing White-Collar Workers Vicky Starr 297

Organizing Farm Workers Marshall Ganz 305

Sharing the Work Mia Giunta 322

They're Not Scabs Anymore Bill Dipietro 335

I'm Going Down That Hill Ed Mann 346

War on Black Males James Trevathan 366

I Declined to Join the Staff Andrea Carney 379

Chinese Staff And Workers' Association, Sweatshops, Restaurants, and Community 391

List of Abbreviations 405

Index 407

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