Below is an appeal by radical labor historian Staughton Lyn to help get his recent co-autobiography with his wife, Alice Lynd, into libraries and into paperback form. But readers of Machete408 might be excited to read him quoting from a previously posted article “Building Radical Unionism” by yours truly discussing the dynamics of building vertical vs. horizontal relationships between workers. Read below. -AW
Dear Fellow Workers, brothers and sisters,
Greetings. Many of you know me. Some of you may have heard the remarks I offered at the centennial gathering in Chicago in 2005. Others, I hope, will have read the new book about “solidarity unionism” co-authored by Daniel Gross, an organizer in the Starbucks organizing campaign, and myself: Labor Law for the Rank and Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear Of The Law (PM Press, P.O. Box 23912, Oakland CA 94623, www.pmpress.org.)
I’m writing because I need your help. I would appreciate your sharing this message with members of your branch and readers of your local newsletter, if you have one.
My wife Alice Lynd and I have written a joint autobiography entitled Stepping Stones: Memoir of a Life Together, with a Foreword by Tom Hayden. Some of the chapters are by Alice, some are by myself, and some are by both of us. On the front cover there is a photograph of the two of us on our wedding day in 1951, looking awfully young. On the back cover there is a picture of ourselves on our 50th wedding anniversary.
The Table of Contents goes like this:
Beginnings (includes a chapter by myself called “A Premature New Leftist”)
. Community (about three years we spent at a commune in the hills of northeastern Georgia)
The Sixties (I describe the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project and my trip to Hanoi with Tom Hayden and Herbert Aptheker, but in many ways the most important chapter is Alice’s account of her experience in draft counseling and how she came to see the counselor, who was an expert in laws regulations, regulations, and the practice of Selective Service, and the “client,” who was an expert in his own experience and aspirations, as two equals, solving problems together)
Accompaniment (a description of our work together in oral history and the law during a quarter century as employment lawyers in Youngstown, Ohio, including the genesis of the idea of “solidarity unionism,” as well as chapters on Nicaragua and Palestine)
The Worst of the Worst (about working with prisoners at Ohio’s supermaximum security prison and with five men condemned to death for their alleged roles in a 1993 prison uprising)
Now, here is the problem. We had some difficulty finding a publisher. At length we signed a contract with Lexington Books. However, Lexington publishes for universities and seeks course adoptions by university professors, whereas our book is intended mainly for persons like yourselves: young people in or out of college who want to change the world.
Perhaps in part because of the current economic recession, Lexington has thus far produced only a hardback edition for libraries at (gulp) $75 a copy plus shipping. Whether Lexington does a paperback edition will depend on orders from libraries over the next several months.
So here is what you can do:
1. Go to any library to which you have access, including public libraries. Ask for the person who orders new books. Request that the library order Stepping Stones. Put yourself at the top of the library’s “distribution list” so that when the book arrives you can read it for free. Give the librarian the address of Lexington Books: Lexington Books, 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham MD 20706, www.lexingtonbooks.com.
2. If you are told, “We would like to order a paperback but we can’t afford this hardback edition,” please write Lexington and tell them that.
3. If after all this you have the energy , please let me know what happened: the address is email@example.com.
There is not a great deal in Stepping Stones about the IWW as such but there is a great deal about the ideas and values that are the heart of Wobblyism. I thought of this as I read the most recent Industrial Worker, especially the article “Building Radical Unionism” by Adam W. FW Adam speaks of how we try to create “horizontal relationships” rather than “vertical relationships where workers look to politicians, the government, lawyers, experts and even the bosses to get what they need.” We want “everyone to become a leader,” Adam adds. I thought of the words of the Everett martyrs: “We are all leaders.”
So that’s it. Thanks for whatever help you can provide.
Please, whoever receives this message at GHQ, copy it to all membership branches in the United States and abroad.
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