Michael D. Yates Why Unions Matter

In this new edition of Why Unions Matter , Michael D. Yates shows why unions still matter. Unions mean better pay, benefits, and working conditions for their members; they force employers to treat employees with dignity and respect; and at their best, they provide a way for workers to make society both more democratic and egalitarian. Yates uses simple language, clear data, and engaging examples to show why workers need unions, how unions are formed, how they operate, how collective bargaining works, the role of unions in politics, and what unions have done to bring workers together across the divides of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. The new edition not onlyupdates the first, but also examines the record of the New Voice slate that took control of the AFL-CIO in 1995, the continuing decline in union membership and density, the Change to Win split in 2005, the growing importance of immigrant workers, the rise of worker centers, the impacts of and labor responses to globalization, and the need for labor to have an independent political voice. This is simply the best introduction to unions on the market.

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Michael D. Yates Can the Working Class Change the World?

One of the horrors of the capitalist system is that slave labor, which was central to the formation and growth of capitalism itself, is still fully able to coexist alongside wage labor. But, as Karl Marx points out, it is the fact of being paid for one's work that validates capitalism as a viable socio-economic structure. Beneath this veil of “free commerce” – where workers are paid only for a portion of their workday, and buyers and sellers in the marketplace face each other as “equals” – lies a foundation of immense inequality. Yet workers have always rebelled. They've organized unions, struck, picketed, boycotted, formed political organizations and parties – sometimes they have actually won and improved their lives. But, Marx argued, because capitalism is the apotheosis of class society, it must be the last class society: it must, therefore, be destroyed. And only the working class, said Marx, is capable of creating that change. In his timely and innovative book, Michael D. Yates asks if the working class can, indeed, change the world. Deftly factoring in such contemporary elements as sharp changes in the rise of identity politics and the nature of work, itself, Yates asks if there can, in fact, be a thing called the working class? If so, how might it overcome inherent divisions of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, location – to become a cohesive and radical force for change? Forcefully and without illusions, Yates supports his arguments with relevant, clearly explained data, historical examples, and his own personal experiences. This book is a sophisticated and prescient understanding of the working class, and what all of us might do to change the world.

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In this short and accessible book, Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union, presents the case for joining a trade union. Drawing on anecdotes from his own long involvement in unions, he looks at the history of trade unions, what they do and how they give a voice to working people, as democratic organisations. He considers the changing world of work, the challenges and opportunities of automation and why being trade unionists can enable us to help shape the future. He sets out why being a trade unionist is as much a political role as it is an industrial one and why the historic links between the labour movement and the Labour Party matter. Ultimately, McCluskey explains how being a trade unionist means putting equality at work and in society front and centre, fighting for an end to discrimination, and to inequality in wages and power.

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