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Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Jane Mcalevey , Bob Ostertag

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Kurzbeschreibung

6. Mai 2014
In 1995, in the first contested election in the history of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney won the presidency of the nation’s largest labor federation, promising renewal and resurgence. Today, less than 7 percent of American private-sector workers belong to a union, the lowest percentage since the beginning of the twentieth century, and public employee collective bargaining has been dealt devastating blows in Wisconsin and elsewhere. What happened?

Jane McAlevey is famous—and notorious—in the American labor movement as the hard-charging organizer who racked up a string of victories at a time when union leaders said winning wasn’t possible. Then she was bounced from the movement, a victim of the high-level internecine warfare that has torn apart organized labor. In this engrossing and funny narrative—that reflects the personality of its charismatic, wisecracking author—McAlevey tells the story of a number of dramatic organizing and contract victories, and the unconventional strategies that helped achieve them.

Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell) argues that labor can be revived, but only if the movement acknowledges its mistakes and fully commits to deep organizing, participatory education, militancy, and an approach to workers and their communities that more resembles the campaigns of the 1930s—in short, social movement unionism that involves raising workers’ expectations (while raising hell).

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“This book is gripping, funny, sad, and very thought-provoking. Jane McAlevey uses her own experiences in a movement that has been undergoing dramatic changes—within a workforce that has undergone even greater changes—to suggest to the reader the necessity and potential for a transformation of the union movement into a real labor movement. Once I started reading it, there was no stopping.”—Bill Fletcher Jr., author of “They’re Bankrupting Us!” And Twenty Other Myths about Unions

“This book casts a bright light on the problems of American unions. Jane McAlevey gives us an on-the-ground account of the obstacles the union hierarchy throws in the path of a bold and energetic organizing effort that scored a string of brilliant successes before the hierarchy cracked down. We need to read this book and learn its lessons partly for what it tells us is wrong about unions, but also because it demonstrates that good organizers can in fact succeed. That message is heartening because the simple truth is that we can’t rebuild a democratic left in the United States without a revived labor movement.”—Frances Fox Piven, author of Who’s Afraid of Frances Fox Piven?

Raising Expectations is a breath-taking trip through the union-organizing scene of America in the 21st century. In the battles McAlevey recounts, hardly anyone comes out standing tall. But her story, along with those of so many brave health care workers, fills me with hope.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

“This book renews my faith that organizing works. It calls for a new kind of unionism and makes a compelling case for a new vision for the American labor movement. In the ‘whole worker theory’ that McAlevey tested and retested in real life campaigns, all the issues negatively impacting the poor, working and middle class become the cause of unions, not simply wages and narrowly defined workplace conditions. At a time when climate change is wreaking havoc at home and abroad and communities of color are becoming the vital center of progressive social change, this book offers one path to building a movement that can and must tackle many issues. Raising Expectations is so refreshing because it aspires to tell us how we can rebuild a movement that can win.”—Van Jones

“McAlevey’s message—that unions alone give working people voice at the bargaining table and the ballot box—burns with conviction. She makes for bracing company in interesting times.”—The Plain Dealer

“McAlevey burns with a passion for the cause”—Keith Richmond, Tribune

“McAlevey promotes the concept of ‘whole worker’ organizing, which seeks to go beyond the ‘labor-community’ paradigm in a manner that recognizes that workers are rooted in, and not separate from, communities and also recognizes the value of bringing community organizing techniques into the realm of labor and vice versa.”—Book News

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Jane McAlevey Jane McAlevey spent twenty-five years as an organizer in the student, environmental, and trade union movements. She is a Contributing Writer at the Nation, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Amazon.com: 4.7 von 5 Sternen  27 Rezensionen
15 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Astonishing and Tragic 20. November 2012
Von John A - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I bought this book on Friday, and finished it over the weekend. It's hard to put down. McAlevey paints a graphic, funny and heartbreaking portrait of a labor "movement" that, faced with a hostile legal environment and an economy in the midst of profound structural transformation, has chosen to give up its best weapons and leave workers to struggle on the best they can. This book is incredibly moving, inspiring, and in the end infuriating. Anyone wondering what ever happened to the American Dream should look no further; the dream has turned into a money machine for the rich and powerful and a nightmare for the working class.

What McAlevey shows is that it simply doesn't have to be this way, and that if labor spent even a small fraction of the cash it devotes to electioneering and recruiting new workers to doing real "whole worker" organizing and putting talented organizers and contract experts on the negotiations where better deals for working people are actually won, unions might actually get some forward motion in their movement. What transpires instead is astonishing and tragic. Unionized workers pay dues that trickle up to support the activities of the union bureaucracy, but suffer with lousy contracts and worse working conditions. No wonder most American workers don't want to join a union -- a lot of the time, it doesn't do much for them.

MAlevey also makes it clear that to focus on the "density" or percentage of workers unionized in a given industry as a key metric of union strength is to miss the main point. Sheer numbers are great for union leaders, who can leverage the weight of multitudes to gain influence and cut political deals, but numbers alone don't create movements that empower the rank and file. Leadership, boldness, movement democracy and a relentless focus on what really motivates people count for a lot more. Who would you rather have on your side in any fight? A whole bunch of passive individuals who barely know you exist? Or a smaller number of fierce fighters who know what they want and have the organizational skills to get it?

I read a lot of books, and this one is by far the best I have read this year. Don't miss it.
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Important Book for Everyone in the Labor Movement 18. November 2012
Von david and karla goldberg - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
As an educator and teacher union leader I find this book incredibly important. As all of us try to think and act our way out in these difficult times, it is vital to listen to the insight of people like Mrs. McAlevey that have dedicated their lives to invigorating the labor movement. Her humor and wit make the lessons that much more easier to listen to.

David Goldberg
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen High Expectations for "Raising Expectations" Met -- and Exceeded 13. November 2012
Von Troyboy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Quite simply, one of the best books I've read. A gripping account of a labor activist. Many lessons on how the labor movement can become a relevant force. Kudos to McAlevey for a well written, cogent and compelling account.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A must read for any activist. Period. 25. November 2012
Von Ms. Rae - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
In crisp, faced-paced prose that has you living the text rather than reading it, McAlevey has created a book not unlike her powerful unions: smart, relevant, and forceful. This is a must read for activists in any arena.
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Doesn't just apply to labor 15. November 2012
Von el molestoso - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
"Raising Expectations" provides a very practical, on the ground perspective of what organized labor today is and what it is not, from a person who has done extensive work in local and national settings, but who is also well aware of global trends and of the strategic role unions can and must play in the fight for democracy and social equality. Jane McAlevey has given us a real "page turner" - a well-written, engaging story full of humorous anecdotes that introduces the reader to the lives of not only organizers but rank and file workers, all the while allowing even those unversed in labor and social justice organizing to get a sense of what is at stake for healthcare workers, and the ways that organized people can win victories that concretely improve their lives.

With that said, "Raising Expectations" is not just about "labor" organizing. There are many lessons here for anyone involved in grassroots organizing in the community and electoral arenas (McAlevey in fact argues that you cannot engage in successful union work without doing the other two things.) McAlevey does a great job of defining, through her own practical experience, what real leadership is and what it takes to successfully identify and develop leaders. She draws a useful distinction between "organizing" people through a transformative process, and "mobilizing" those who are already convinced about an issue or a candidate. In so doing, she raises basic questions about the degree to which organizing work can actually enable people directly affected by day to day social and economic concerns to act on their own behalf, as opposed to simply building up an infrastructure of paid staff who then engage in advocacy via communications and messaging.

McAlevey also recognizes her own weaknesses in this honest assessment - something all too rare in this day of big-headed "leaders" who are more adept at waxing poetic about their own profundity than they are at engaging in collective self-assessment and open reflection. She realizes that she overlooked the political dynamics of SEIU and that this contributed to the ultimate dismantling of many of the gains that were made by the union in Nevada through the organizing campaigns that she led. But in the end, it is a tribute to her and to the workers and leaders of the public and private sector healthcare workers in Nevada that they were able to accomplish what they in fact did given the twisted SEIU national politics, and the heat that she had to bear throughout her time with the union.
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