"We Are All Leaders": The Alternative Unionism of the Early 1930s
edited by Staughton Lynd
contributions by Rosemary Feurer, Janet Irons, Mark Naison, Peter Rachleff and Stan Weir
University of Illinois Press, 1996
Cloth: 978-0-252-02243-2 | Paper: 978-0-252-06547-7


Contains the Bryant Spann Memorial Prize in Literature for 1997, an award-winning essay, "The Very Last Hurrah" by Eric Leif Davin

This collection of articles delves into the little-known community-based unionism of the 1930s. Worlds apart from bureaucratic business unions like the AFL-CIO, these organizations emerged from workers involved in many kinds of labor, from African American nutpickers in St. Louis to chemical and rubber workers in Akron, and from bootleg miners in Pennsylvania to tenant farmers in the Mississippi Delta. 

The contributors draw on eyewitness interviews, first-person narratives, trade union documents, and other primary sources to describe experimental forms of worker activism during the period. This alternative unionism was democratic, deeply rooted in mutual aid among workers in different crafts and work sites, and politically independent. The key to it was a value system based on egalitarianism. The cry, "We are all leaders!" resonated among rank-and-file activists. Their struggle, though often overlooked by historians, has much to teach us about union organizing today. 

Contributors: John Borsos, Eric Leif Davin, Elizabeth Faue, Rosemary Feurer, Janet Irons, Michael Kozura, Mark D. Naison, Peter Rachleff, and Stan Weir

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