"We Are All Leaders"
The Alternative Unionism of the Early 1930s
Awards and Recognition:
Contains the Bryant Spann Memorial Prize in Literature for 1997, an award-winning essay, "The Very Last Hurrah" by Eric Leif Davin
"We Are All Leaders" describes a kind of union qualitatively different from the bureaucratic business unions that make up the AFL-CIO today. From African American nutpickers in St. Louis, chemical and rubber workers in Akron, textile workers in the South, and bootleg miners in Pennsylvania to tenant farmers in the Mississippi Delta, packinghouse and garment workers in Minnesota, seamen in San Francisco, and labor party campaigns throughout the country, workers in the 1930s were experimenting with community-based unionism.
Contributors to this volume draw on interviews with participants in the events described, first-person narratives, trade union documents, and other primary sources to tell what workers of the 1930s did. The alternative unionism of the 1930s was democratic, deeply rooted in mutual aid among workers in different crafts and work sites, and politically independent. The key to it was a value system based on egalitarianism. The cry, "We are all leaders!" resonated among rank-and-file activists. Their struggle, often ignored by historians, has much to teach us today about union organizing.
CONTRIBUTORS: Rosemary Feurer, Peter Rachleff, Janet Irons, Mark D. Naison, Eric Leif Davin, Elizabeth Faue, Michael Kozura, John Borsos, Stan Weir
A volume in the series The Working Class in American History, edited by David Brody, Alice Kessler-Harris, David Montgomery, and Sean Wilenz
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