Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War
By Jon Melrod
Deeply personal, astutely political, Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War recounts the thirteen-year journey of Jon Melrod to harness working-class militancy and jump start a revolution on the shop floor of American Motors. Melrod faces termination, dodges the FBI, outwits collaborators in the UAW, and becomes a central figure in a lawsuit against the rank-and-file newsletter Fighting Times, as he strives to build a class-conscious workers’ movement from the bottom up.
A radical to the core, Melrod was a key part of campus insurrection at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He left campus for the factory in 1972, hired along with hundreds of youthful job seekers onto the mind-numbing assembly line. Fighting Times paints a portrait of these rebellious and alienated young hires, many of whom were Black Vietnam vets.
Containing dozens of archival photographs, Fighting Times captures the journey of a militant antiracist revolutionary who rose to the highest elected ranks of his UAW local without compromising his politics or his dedication to building a class-conscious workers’ movement. The book will arm and inspire a new generation of labor organizers with the skills and attitude to challenge the odds and fight the egregious abuses of the exploitative capitalist system.
“An eloquent voice from the frontlines of the hard, bitter, exhilarating struggles for freedom and justice that have made the world a better place, and an inspiring guide for carrying the crucial struggle forward.”—Noam Chomsky, co-author of Consequences of Capitalism
“Jon Melrod’s Fighting Times blends the riveting personal history of a dedicated class war veteran with important lessons in building multiracial, multigender working-class solidarity on the shop floor, in the streets, and especially when confronting the boss. As a lifelong activist and unapologetic revolutionary, Melrod’s efforts to democratize the UAW during the 1970s and ’80s foreshadowed today’s battles for union democracy, and his story offers a handy blueprint for the next generation of fired-up workers, labor organizers, and hell-raisers.”—Kim Kelly, labor journalist and author of Fight Like Hell
“Melrod’s Fighting Times isn’t a memoir that talks about halcyon days when revolution was in the air; it’s a fighting manual for people today who want to change society. The revolutionary doesn’t just think the masses into action, but acts alongside them, lifting their fellow worker up and leading by example. If you’re a young worker or student who wants to get things moving, Fighting Times shows you what it means to do just that.”—Brace Belden, co-host of the True Anon podcast, volunteer with YPG Kurdish Militia in Syria, ILWU Local 6 organizing committee at Anchor Brewing
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