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Hardcover Three Strikes : Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century Book

ISBN: 0807050121

ISBN13: 9780807050125

Three Strikes : Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Three renowned historians present stirring tales of labor: Howard Zinn tells the grim tale of the Ludlow Massacre, a drama of beleaguered immigrant workers, Mother Jones, and the politics of corporate power in the age of the robber barons. Dana Frank brings to light the little-known story of a successful sit-in conducted by the "counter girls" at the Detroit Woolworth's during the Great Depression. Robin D. G. Kelley's story of a movie theater musicians'...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

Well written & informative great 4 both pleasure & research!

The 1937 Detroit Woolworth's Strike Throughout history and around the world, since the time of the construction of the ancient Egyptian pyramids , workers have united in protest of low wages, unfair policies from employers, and unpleasant work environments. The history of the United States consists of many examples of working people's struggles to organize. The greatest successes in U.S. labor history occurred in the mid-1930's and 1940's, as millions of working people who had never belonged to unions became organized in the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the CIO, and with their new strength in unity, organized strikes and won better wages, the 8-hour work-day, and other benefits. During this labor movement, millions of workers across the United States went on strike every single day, and each triumph inspired others to organize and succeed. This national movement was due much to the new branch of the labor union, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which was full of young, energetic union activists. It had emerged from the American Federation of Labor, an older labor union uneager to enlist new members and to help workers fight capitalism that bound them. A rush of all different types of workers hurried to enlist in the CIO. The CIO allowed the workers to weave themselves into a force stronger than the largest and the most prosperous of corporations. Unions had traditionally included only white men who worked in industries such as the auto industry or as dockworkers. Now, women, African Americans, waiters, teachers, artists, and salesclerks were included in the workers' organization and their struggle for righteousness, too. In early 1937, the women working in one of the forty Woolworth stores in the greater Detroit, Michigan area organized a strike against what was one of the biggest corporate chains in the world, its two thousand department stores stretching across five different countries. This particular store was centrally located in downtown Detroit, with heavy foot-traffic outside and a lot of business inside. The key to the Woolworth department store chain's huge success was in its miniscule income from each of its items, adding up to a hefty profit in the millions. The Woolworth department store's founder, Frank W. Woolworth, the company's president until he died in 1919, developed this clever strategy. Woolworth's bought products at very low prices from sweated labor and directly from manufacturers and hired an inexpensive workforce. Therefore it was able to price many useful items cheaply, in addition to selling fashionable items by their sides. Drawing many eager customers, this "palace built for working class people, " was similar to today's discount chain stores such as Wal-Mart and COSTCO, where the same selling strategy is still used. On February 27, 1937, one hundred and eight women working at a downtown Detroit Woolworth's store sat down, presenting their store manager with a list of policies t

Why don't we learn about this in history class?

Since Reagan's presidency all we Americans have heard are about the "problems" caused by the labor movement. This book is a refreshing reminder of the sacrifices (sometimes, of their lives) and struggles that working people have made to better conditions for themselves and others. The spirit and zeal and commitment to each other as a "union" of equals is inspirational. Remember if it was up to the corporations we'd all be working (starting at age 12) 60-hour weeks. We can thank the labor movement for the eight-hour day, safety regulations, and minimum wage laws.

Inspiring, Compelling

The history of the Woolworth salesgirls stirke, especially, is extremely well written and inspiring. Dana Frank makes you feel and see the interior of Woolworths in the 1930s and the conditions in which the women worked. She also makes you feel the power and joy of their struggle. A must read for anyone interested in American history.
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