Labor’s Civil War in California
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The NUHW Healthcare Workers’ Rebellion
By Cal Winslow
A clear analysis of tactics and politics, this thorough account examines the dispute between the United Healthcare Workers (UHW) union in California and its “parent” organization the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—one of the most important labor conflicts in the United States today. It explores how the UHW rank and file took umbrage with the SEIU’s rejection of traditional labor values of union democracy and class struggle and their tactics of wheeling and dealing with top management and politicians. The resulting rift and retaliation from SEIU leadership culminated in the UHW membership being forced to break out and form a brand new union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Timed to coincide with elections in California, this detailed history calls for a reexamination of the ideological and structural underpinnings of today’s labor movement and illustrates how a seemingly local conflict speaks to the rights of laborers everywhere to control their own fates.
“One of the untold stories of the American labor movement over the past ten years has been the transformation of the once-progressive Service Employees International Union into a twenty first century version of business unionism, its leaders allied to corporate and neo-liberal interests from both major political parties. Cal Winslow offers a unique glimpse into this heart-breaking tragedy and how rank-and-file workers are fighting back.”—Juan Gonzalez, co-host of Democracy Now!
“This book has a lot of valued lessons for all who yearn for justice for working people, I urge everyone to read it.”—Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers
“Highly informative. And the spirit is invigorating.”—Noam Chomsky, author of Consequences of Capitalism
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