Cover image for Ravenswood : the steelworkers' victory and the revival of American labor
Ravenswood : the steelworkers' victory and the revival of American labor
Juravich, Tom.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. : ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 245 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD5325 .A492 1990 .J87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Over the past two decades, Americans have seen their workplaces downsized and streamlined, their jobs out-sourced, sped up, and, all too often, eliminated. Unions have seemed powerless to defend their members, with big defeats in the strikes at PATCO, Eastern Airlines, International Paper, and Hormel. Ravenswood recounts how the United Steelworkers of America, in a battle waged over an aluminum plant in West Virginia, proved that organized labor can still win-even against a company controlled by one of the world's richest and most powerful men. Fast paced and compellingly written, the book provides an insider's look at the new tactics that many hope will revitalize the struggle for workers' rights in America. On November 1, 1990, just as its contract with the United Steelworkers of America was about to expire, Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation locked out its seventeen hundred employees and hired permanent replacements. Despite deteriorating conditions that had led to five deaths in the previous year, the company had refused to discuss safety and health issues. The locked-out workers faced an industry in turmoil, a plant manager with a grudge against the union, and a business controlled by a billionaire fugitive from justice. Tom Juravich and Kate Bronfenbrenner describe how victory was achieved through the commitment of the workers and their families coupled with one of the most innovative contract campaigns ever waged by an American union.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Juravich and Bronfenbrenner analyze a little-noted labor victory that may turn out to have been more significant in revitalizing a flagging labor movement than the 1997 Teamsters' successful strike against UPS. The authors, noted labor scholars, tell the story of the bitter 20-month struggle by Local 5668 of the United Steelworkers (USWA) against a lockout by West Virginia's Ravenswood Aluminum Company that began in 1990. The battle focused attention on replacement workers and dramatically showed how a community can be torn apart when some workers take others' jobs. Most important, Ravenswood illustrates the consequences that result when financial consultants and corporate raiders take over companies and move to slash costs. Union activists suspected that Marc Rich, a commodities trader living in Switzerland and wanted for racketeering and tax evasion, had a major interest in the company. This story details attempts to follow an elusive paper trail that would lead to Rich and highlights the unprecedented cooperation between a union local and its national leadership to pressure managers and owners wherever they could uncover them. --David Rouse

Choice Review

Despite continuing declines in membership, the American labor movement has achieved some success in protecting workers against corporate downsizing, global competition, and financial turmoil. This book describes the struggle between members of United Steelworkers Local Union 5668 and the Ravenswood Aluminum Company in Ravenswood, West Virginia. Under new ownership, the company in late 1990 rejected the union's contract proposals and locked out union workers. It then hired "permanent" replacements to operate the plant. The ensuing deadlock lasted until June 1992, when the membership ratified a new agreement. In important ways, the Ravenswood strike illustrates the difficulties facing US workers as economic forces transform traditional employment patterns and relationships. The authors contend that unions remain a viable means of effective collective action. They depict in compelling detail the courage and intelligence of Ravenswood workers, whose efforts signaled a new vitality in the labor movement. In their words, "Today Ravenswood remains a beacon of hope for American workers and Unions who are struggling to re-chart their direction and rebuild a shattered movement." For anyone with an interest in labor issues, this book is a valuable account of a significant union victory. Public, academic, and professional library collections. R. L. Hogler; Colorado State University