As ILCA prepares for its November convention, we find the stage effectively set via Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, the new book by respected labor journalist Steven Greenhouse. In our version of Cliff’s Notes, we’ve compiled excerpts to present a sense of the book.
The jacket cover defines it as “an in-depth look at working men and women in America, the challenges they face, and the ways in which they can be re-empowered.”
On the back cover, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich critiqued the book this way.
In this riveting account of the rise and fall of organized labor, Steven Greenhouse tells the stories of courageous men and women who put their jobs and often their lives on the line to help American workers gain the income and the dignity they deserve. Greenhouse outlines how a workers’ movement could be rekindled, and why it must be. Deeply inspiring and profoundly important.
On the subject of labor communications, Greenhouse draws this conclusion.
Unions also need to do a better job communicating. Many unions are headed by shrewd tacticians who do a fine job wrestling with management at the bargaining table but do far less well conveying labor’s message on television or to the public, or even to workers in their industry. To get labor’s message across — and, importantly, to attract and inspire young workers (and to obtain TV and radio bookings) — every national union should appoint a smart, appealing young spokesperson or policy director. If union presidents fear that this person will eclipse them in the public eye, that’s a risk that must be taken to do what’s best for the nation’s workers.
Let’s carry on the conversation in person. See you in D.C. in November.