Mar 13, 2009

Which Side Are You On? Explaining what happened to labor in America

(boingboing) - I've just finished Thomas Geoghegan's classic memoir of his life as a labor lawyer, "Which Side Are You On?: Trying to Be for Labor When It's Flat on Its Back," in its revised, 2004 edition (which includes a lengthy afterword on labor in the 2000s). This is one of the best books I've read about labor politics in America, striking a balance between the romance and heroism of the best labor struggles in US history -- the workers who risked everything to bring us vacation pay, a minimum wage, the weekend, overtime, an end to child labor, and fundamental free speech and free association rights -- and the venality, pettiness and criminality of the worst of labor, from the big unions' historic exclusion of the poor and non-whites to the corruption, violence and fraud that has dogged labor through its American history.
... It's hard to love imperfect things -- countries, movements, people -- but it's also fundamentally adult to acknowledge the imperfections in the things that matter to you, and to fight to improve them rather than writing them off. Continued