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ON THE JOB

THE UNTOLD STORY OF WORKER CENTERS AND THE NEW FIGHT FOR WAGES, DIGNITY, AND HEALTH

These are not your parents’ labor unions—an excellent introduction to a burgeoning and necessary movement.

Monforton, director of the Beyond OSHA Project, and journalist Von Bergen tell the neglected story of the “nationwide worker center movement” that champions the rights of immigrants and others.

In 2018, when a Texas poultry plant gave its workers too few bathroom breaks, diaper-wearing protesters showed up carrying a sign that said, “Let My People Pee.” Organized by the Centro de Derechos Laborales in Bryan, the demonstration led to an immediate improvement in conditions at the plant, and it’s among the surprisingly effective tactics described in this well-reported survey of many of the 225 community labor organizations known as “worker centers,” which fight “exploitation and oppression” on the job. Unlike labor unions that serve members in related trades, worker centers educate and advocate for workers “marginalized because of language, because of immigration status, because their jobs as domestic workers isolate them, or because their employment status is murky as gig or temp agency workers.” With less government regulation than unions, worker centers have won political victories or performed services that have often flown under the radar. In Chicago, Arise Chicago and other groups successfully lobbied the city to create the Office of Labor Standards to enforce minimum wage and other laws, and in Los Angeles, the Pilipino Workers Center rented houses for workers who had to quarantine during the pandemic. In New York, the Gig Workers Collective, a virtual center for Instacart and other shoppers, teamed up with Amazon warehouse workers for a protest in which activists posed next to body bags outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, urging him to do more to protect Amazon workers. A work of journalism rather than history, the book offers little about the precursors of the centers, such as mutual aid societies, but it more than makes its case that “labor activism is not a quaint notion from days gone by.”

These are not your parents’ labor unions—an excellent introduction to a burgeoning and necessary movement.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62097-501-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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