Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reading, Writing, and Union-buidling

Talking Union has an important post by Steve Early on books about labor, the obstacles to getting them bought and read, and steps that might be taken to create a synergy between university presses (and other publishers) and unions. It is a very important article. I encourage you to read it.

And buy and read some of the books.

Here's a couple of paragraphs from near the end.

If more unions took similar initiatives, there could be far greater book-selling synergy with university presses (or any cooperating labor book publisher) whenever union members are being trained at university facilities like Cornell’s or union-operated education centers, like the George Meany Center or the Maritime Institute, both located in Maryland. In an earlier era, some unions like the Auto Workers even operated book clubs for their members. Les Leopold’s The Man Who Hated Work recalls how OCAW leader Tony Mazzocchi, a ninth grade drop-out, launched a book discussion group among local union activists on Long Island, in the mid-1950s.

“Tony’s group saw itself as part of a working-class culture that encouraged self-education. Soon there were more than twenty people enrolled in the University of Mazzocchi. The introductory curriculum packed a political wallop. It started with Howard Fast….books such as Freedom Road, Spartacus and Citizen Tom Paine. Then, the group turned to the history of American class struggle through such works as Labor’s Untold Story and The History of the Fur and Leather Workers. For some, the reading group opened the door to more traditional literature as well. [One member] recalled how they passed around the Iliad and the Odyssey.”

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