Labor Writing and Union Building

A fascinating article by Steve Early about the role of books and union-building came across Znet a few weeks ago. In discussing the ability of labor writers to connect with readers, and the overall climate of the labor writing marketplace, Early argues that labor writers' task has become increasingly easier due to current labor conditions raising political consciousness. Still, the publishing environment remains an obstacle with which labor writers must contend, including the difficulty university presses face in appealing to the general public and intra- and inter-union politics.

From the article:
Within organized labor—an institution not known in the past for the richness of its intellectual life—the marketplace for new ideas has grown even as union density has shrunk. Labor activists today are often desperate for any information, insight, or inspiration that can aid the difficult task of re-building unions. While many labor education programs continue to focus on developing basic union skills, more shop stewards, local officers, and union staffers realize they need to think critically and analytically about "the big picture" in their occupation, industry, and society. The challenges facing 16 million union members—and eight times as many unorganized workers—are a product of past workplace struggles, won and lost, and powerful economic and political forces that need to be analyzed and better understood. As [Eric] Lee argues, trade unionists can even find out "what works and what doesn't" by studying "the experience of others in our globalized world."
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