American labour history is typically interpreted by scholars as a history of defeat. Hidden by this conventional wisdom are a handful of militant unions that did not follow the putative Congress of Industrial Organizations trajectory. Based on three years of ethnographic research, this book examines a union that organised itself to systematically challenge management's rule on the shopfloor: San Francisco's longshore union. American unionism looks quite different than conventional wisdom suggests when everyday union practices are observed. American labour's trajectory, this book argues, is neither inevitable nor determined; militant, democratic forms of unionism are possible in the United States; and collective bargaining does not automatically eliminate contests for workplace control. The contract is a bargain that reflects and reproduces fundamental disagreement; it states how production and conflict will proceed.Read more
- Interesting examination of a vital area of US labour history
- Challenges the conventional notion that American labour history is a history of defeated militant unionism
- Based on three years of ethnographic research
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- Date Published: December 1997
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521629683
- length: 388 pages
- dimensions: 228 x 152 x 26 mm
- weight: 0.525kg
- contains: 8 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Notes on unpublished sources
Part I. Labour Radicalism Revisited:
1. Unsettling old scores: labour radicalism encounters conventional wisdom
2. Sealing the fate of radical labour theoretically
3. A framework for American unionism
Part II. Local Community and 'Tumultuous' Democracy: the Socio-Cultural Foundations of Unionism on the San Francisco Waterfront:
4. Political community on the San Francisco waterfront
5. The structure of participationist politics
6. Being political in Local 10
Part III. Unionism, Work and Technological Change:
7. Work, knowledge and control: conventional longshoring
8. Work, knowledge and control: containerised longshoring
9. 'Doing the right thing': working principles and codes of conduct
Part IV. Waging the Battle for Workplace Control on Contractual Terrain:
10. Who decides how to work?
11. Which side's language shall govern?
12. By whose principles will merit be rewarded?
Part V. Agreeing to Disagree: Being Defensibly Disobedient:
13. Translating troubles into grievable issues
14. 'We essentially have no contract with you': keeping the agreement
15. Constructing and maintaining the appearance of co-operation
Conclusion: Trade union exceptionalism or prefigurative politics?
Appendix: doing field research - an ethnographic account
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