¿Race, Racketeering and the Fall of the New York Construction Unions
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A call to arms by Butler, a carpenter in New York City and a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America.

The author concentrates on what he knows: the history of working-class struggle and union-organizing in New York. However, his exhaustively detailed text, lacking proportion and polish, conceals grander ideas. The author asserts that nobody can fight for the interests of workers but workers themselves, certainly not existing labor unions. Although systematic racism and sexism, as well as ties to organized crime, have long infected labor unions, efforts to cure the unions of these ills have failed to acknowledge the true nature of the struggle, obscuring the fact that workers and owners are enemies by nature. The ownership class has instituted a cunning policy called “business unionism,” essentially a way to co-opt and depoliticize workers by convincing them that “workers and bosses have some kind of common interest.” Rather than subscribing to the notion of a “labor management partnership,” workers should look toward “revolutionary unionism,” which maintains that workers and owners have conflicting interests, and they always will, “as long as we live under a capitalist system.” Divided into two Books, the five relatively long chapters go into painstaking detail about specific grievances. These chapters have all been previously published on the Internet, on Butler’s “Gangbox: Construction Workers News Service.” The origin of the text may explain why it resembles a catalogue of evidence rather than a polished book. Still, such explanation does not justify the complete lack of documentation and the haphazard writing.

Authoritative, passionate and overwhelmingly detailed–but in critical need of serious editing.

Pub Date: March 27th, 2006
ISBN: 0-595-39143-5
Program: Kirkus Indie
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