Who Will Lead the U.S. Working Class

  This essay* is based upon an interrogation of two books: Gregg Shotwell, Autoworkers Under the Gun: A Shop-Floor View of the End of the American Dream (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012), 200 pages, $17.00, paperback, and Jane McAlevey with Bob Ostertag, Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting For the Labor Movement (New York: […]

Cades Cove: History Is So Much Fun!

Cades Cove: History Is So Much Fun!

While visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we spent a day at Cades Cove. Twenty-seven miles west of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and once a thriving farming community, it is now the park’s major tourist attraction, receiving more than two million visitors each year. We enjoyed the trip between the town and the Cove, on a narrow […]

Mike Yates and Bruce Williams in 1972

Bruce and Mike

Bruce Williams was my best friend for nearly all the years I was a teacher. Although he wasn’t happy when I told him I was retiring, I knew that we would keep in close contact from wherever I traveled.  Then, suddenly and sadly, he died, twelve years ago, on March 27, 2001. For awhile afterward, […]

OWS and the Importance of Political Slogans

OWS and the Importance of Political Slogans

 Radical political movements always employ slogans that encapsulate in a few powerful words the aspirations of those fighting for a new world. The French revolutionaries fought under the banner, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” words that still resonate with radicals. The first words of the U.S. Constitution—“We the People”—have quickened the hearts of generations of populist activists. […]

Why Is Our Work So Meaningless?

Why Is Our Work So Meaningless?

 Workers in a hospital are sick of management violating their collective bargaining agreement. Their work is ever more stressful: hours keep getting longer; patient loads rise; safety rules are ignored. They tell their union steward that it is time to bombard the bosses with grievances before they explode in rage. He tells them, “You better […]

Oliver Stone, Obama, and the War in Vietnam

Oliver Stone, Obama, and the War in Vietnam

 Oliver Stone’s Showtime series, Untold History of the United States, is the most radical mainstream television I have ever watched. Eye-opening scenes, shocking speech by our presidents, splendid narration by Stone, all make for a compelling series. A 700-page book by Stone and historian Peter Kuznick accompanies the ten-part program; it provides greater detail and […]

My Christmas Story (for Tatiana)

My Christmas Story (for Tatiana)

 When I was a boy, I wore mostly hand-me-down clothes. The neighbors next door had a son a year or two older than I, about my size, and I got his discarded shirts and pants. Grandma or my mother would alter them to fit me better. Maybe some cousins’ outgrown outfits found their way into […]

Sego Canyon: Rock Art Glory, Mining Town Ruins

Sego Canyon: Rock Art Glory, Mining Town Ruins

 One of the most enjoyable things we do in the southwest is search for petroglyphs and pictographs, the rock art made by the native peoples. Sometimes we come upon them as we hike in canyons and at the base of cliffs. Sometimes we find information about them in books or online, and then we go […]

The State of the Unions

The State of the Unions

 The AFL-CIO and most member unions went all-out for Obama, doing their usual get-out-the-vote phone banking, canvassing, and radio advertising. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) put 100,000 volunteers in the field the last few days of the campaign. Labor’s message spread fear of Romney’s overt anti-union, anti-worker views and praised Obama’s supposed pro-union, pro-worker […]