Interested in learning more about Unions?

July 2, 2009

The CIRHR Library has added three new books to their collection on various issues and arguments surrounding the current state of unions.

For more information on these titles, including availability, continue reading on!

Union-free America: workers and antiunion culture, by:Lawrence Richards

Union-Free America: Workers and Antiunion Culture confronts one of the most vexing questions with which labor activists and labor academics struggle: why is there so much opposition to organized labor in the United States? Scholars often point to powerful obstacles from employers or governmental policies, but Lawrence Richards offers a more complete picture of the causes for union decline in the postwar period by examining the attitudes of the workers themselves. Large numbers of American workers in the 1970s and 1980s told pollsters that they would vote against a union if an election were held at their place of employment, and Richards provides a provocative explanation for this hostility: a pervasive strain of antiunionism in American culture that has made many workers distrustful of organized labor.

Weighing the arguments of previous historians and sociologists, Richards posits that this underlying antiunion culture in America has been remarkably consistent over the course of half a century. Assessing organizing efforts among blue-collar, white-collar, and pink-collar workers, Richards examines the tactics and countertactics of company and union representatives who sought to either exploit or neutralize workers’ popular negative stereotypes of organized labor’s insidious control over workers’ autonomy. The book considers a number of case studies of organizing drives throughout recent history, from the failed attempt by District 65 to organize clerical workers at New York University in 1970, to a similarly fruitless drive by the Textile Workers Union in 1980 at a textile factory in Charlottesville, Virginia. In both of these particular cases and in many more, antiunion culture has operated to hinder unions’ efforts to organize the unorganized. By examining the manifestations and motivations of antiunion culture in the United States, Richards helps explain why so many American workers seem to vote against their own self-interest and declare themselves “Union Free and Proud.”

Union-free America : workers and antiunion culture / Lawrence Richards. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008. x, 245 p. : ill.   ISBN 0252032713

For more information on the availability of this title from the University of Toronto Library catalogue, click here.


Union revitalisation in advanced countries: assessing the contribution of union organising, edited by: Gregor Gall

After a decade of “union organizing” in Britain, the time has come to make a thoroughgoing assessment of it. This book evaluates the efficacy of the union organizing in terms of union strategies, tactics, styles and resources, and assesses the impact of differing regulatory regimes on union organizing.

Union revitalisation in advanced countries : assessing the contribution of union organising / edited by Gregor Gall.  Basingstoke [England] ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, c2009. xii, 215 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.   ISBN 9780230204393



Unions and class transformation : the case of the Broadway musicians, by: Catherine P. Mulder

How can unions move from a defensive strategy to one of class transformation? Mulder demonstrates how the current union strategies of class blindness lead to weak and often unintended results. Unions, she argues, do not use their collective power for class transformation and union commentators/critics do not theorize about unions as possible agents for such class transformations. Using the case study of the Broadway musicians’ union, Mulder shows how unions can facilitate a class transformation that increases workers’ control over their working conditions and enables them to make the changes needed to improve their lives. This innovative and needed study will be of interest to labor economists, scholars of class and labor, and those interested in the plight of unions and the potential they still hold for social and economic transformations.

Unions and class transformation : the case of the Broadway musicians / Catherine P. Mulder.  New York : Routledge, 2009. 147p.  ISBN 987-0-415-99616-7

For more information on the availability of this title from the University of Toronto Library catalogue, click here.

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