From the Ashes of the Old
American Labor and America’s Future
By Stanley Aronowitz
Houghton Mifflin Company
The future of American labor is deeply connected to America’s future. In the last quarter century, most American workers — blue collar, white collar, and professional — have taken an enormous hit, while only 20 percent of the population has prospered. Corporate downsizing, technological change, mergers, and acquisitions have cut the workforce by half in some industries; in others, the best-paid employees have lost their jobs and have been replaced by part-time, temporary workers who often lack benefits. Meanwhile, government protections are slowly fading from the lives of ordinary Americans as health benefits, pensions, and safety and health standards deteriorate.
Stanley Aronowitz, a teacher, writer, and former trade union organizer, examines the decline of the labor movement in the past twenty-five years and its recent reemergence as a major force in the country’s economic and political life. Republicans suddenly find themselves under attack from a forgotten foe. Democrats are shocked to see this ghost walking about, compelling the party to fight for a minimum-wage law it had practically abandoned. The labor movement, once given up for dead, is now the engine of economic democracy and progressive politics. But to succeed, Aronowitz argues, labor must return to the social-movement unionism of Eugene Debs and Walter Reuther. Such an energetic new movement is the key to America’s future.
Bound to generate national debate, From the Ashes of the Old calls for a bold new agenda, covering the principal challenges facing the labor movement today: to organize in the South and among the working poor, to unionize white-collar and technical employees, and to reestablish labor’s political independence
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