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Poor Workers' Unions
Rebuilding Labor from Below (Completely Revised and Updated Edition)
Illuminates key connections between the social justice movements of the last fifty years and today's most innovative labor organizing.
A classic account of low-wage workers’ organization that the US Department of Labor calls one of the “100 books that has shaped work in America.”

As low-wage organizing campaigns have been reignited by the Fight for 15 movement and other workplace struggles, Poor Workers’ Unions is as prescient as ever.
Reviews
  • "This is a wonderfully sunny history of recent efforts to bring the social justice commitments and tactical innovations of community organizing to the labor movement, and especially to the ranks of low wage workers."
    —Frances Fox Piven, co-author of Poor People's Movements

    "This updated and revised edition of Poor Workers’ Unions provides entry into a multi-racial and multi-ethnic multitude of struggles inside and outside the union movement. It remains essential reading for students, scholars, and people who want to make their own history by organizing."
    —Michael Honey, author of Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign

    "Poor Workers' Unions is a much-needed reinterpretation of the labor movement since the 1960s. Vanessa Tait offers an expansive notion of both the meaning of labor and labor organizing–those who worked in traditional and non-traditional venues, for pay or not, nearly all of whom understood class as intimately bound up with race, gender and ethnicity. This book offers hope and a vision for building a broad-based workers' movement. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about social justice or the future of the labor movement."
    —Premilla Nadasen, author of Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement

    "As working people seek to envision a new labor movement, they will find invaluable inspiration in the hidden history of social justice unionism revealed in Vanessa Tait's Poor Workers' Unions."
    —Jeremy Brecher, author of Strike! and Climate Insurgency: A Strategy for Survival

    "This updated edition of Poor Workers’ Unions more than provides a useable past for today’s 'Alt-labor' taxi drivers, domestic workers, freelancers, fast food servers, retail clerks, and day laborers. Vanessa Tait shows that another labor movement is possible, one rooted in racial, gender, immigrant, and economic justice, that bridges community and workplace. In offering strategic lessons and inspiring stories, she envisions a brighter future for the people made by the people for all."
    —Eileen Boris, co-author of Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State

    "Vanessa Tait's Poor Workers' Unions, upon its original publication a classic of incisive history and lucid interpretation, now reappears at a crucial moment, as the demographic transformation of the working class accelerates. The threat of worsening conditions stands alongside the urgency and the possibility of new organizing. Tait's thorough revisions, Fletcher's foreword, and Tzintzun's afterword add vital updates and reminders. Buy this book and give it to your friends."
    —Paul Buhle, labor historian and editor of a dozen radical comic books

    "With gripping tales of grassroots experiments in social justice unionism from the 1960s to the present, Vanessa Tait cracks wide open our concept of what a labor movement looks like, and shows how it can be part and parcel of movements for racial and gender justice. In the process, she does a stunning job of helping us imagine workers' movements that are creative, democratic, and, above all, build power from below—pointing the way to a vibrant future for labor."
    —Dana Frank, UC Santa Cruz

    "Poor Workers’ Unions makes a critical contribution to the current debate about how unions can survive, in open shop conditions, as voluntary membership organizations. Vanessa Tait emphasizes the importance of building workplace power through grassroots organization and rank-and-file control. This book reminds us that greater "participatory democracy'—a conce

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