Cover image for Only one thing can save us : why America needs a new kind of labor movement
Only one thing can save us : why America needs a new kind of labor movement
Geoghegan, Thomas, 1949- , author.
Publication Information:
New York : The New Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
255 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
"Is labor's day over or is labor the only real answer for our time? In this new book ... labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan argues that even as organized labor seems to be crumbling, a revived--but different--labor movement is now more relevant than ever in our increasingly unequal society. The inequality reshaping the country goes beyond money and income: the workplace is more authoritarian than ever, and we have even less of a say over our conditions at work"--
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


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HD6508 .G374 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Is labour's day over or is this the big moment? Are unions the logical next step beyond the Occupy Movement, or are they just an anachronism from a bygone era? In Only One Thing Can Save Us, acclaimed author Thomas Geoghegan asserts that only a new kind of labour movement can help switch course toward a future that is fair and prosperous for all people. He shows how a revitalised labour movement can help ease debt. Geoghegan argues that labour must transform itself as well. This is a sorely needed call to arms, written in Geoghegan's inimitable, winning and witty style.

Author Notes

Thomas Geoghegan is a practicing labor lawyer and the author of several books, including See You in Court; In America's Court; the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Which Side Are You On? ; and, most recently, Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? (all available from The New Press). He has written for The Nation , the New York Times , and Harper's Magazine . He lives in Chicago.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This unsettling cri de coeur from a veteran labor lawyer laments the extent to which unions have vanished from the American workforce and political consciousness. Geohegan, who explored modern Germany's social democracy in Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?, spotlights that country's principle of "co-determination," in which blue-collar workers share power with executives, as an alternative to the U.S. economy's low-skill, low-wage blueprint. But his prescriptions for finding our way back to a union-backed middle class are tough to see as feasible: bolstering unions to raise wages, and backing away from four-year college education as a panacea in lieu of more high-skills vocational education and mentorship opportunities. Similarly, creating a constitutional right to union membership sounds good, but Geohegan's own experience makes it clear how much of an uphill fight such an amendment would require. Even for those who agree on the need to create a new labor movement in principle, his closing exhortation that "unless we do so, you and I are done" will seem less inspiring than intended. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Choice Review

Many people in both political parties think that labor unions are outdated, antiquated institutions at best. Union critics view unions as the cause of reduced productivity, outsourcing, and the trade deficit. Making the case that the labor movement can bring about expanded democracy, greater income equality, and economic growth is a Herculean task. Geoghegan, a practicing attorney and the author of several books, makes his case successfully in a most readable, entertaining, and provocative way, using many anecdotes from his personal experiences and encounters as a labor lawyer and, at one point, a political aspirant. The author knows the obstacles he faces but takes on the opposition in an argument ranging from Thomas Jefferson and John Dewey, to James Heckman and economists at the University of Chicago, to classroom teachers and striking workers on the picket line. Among the many proposals advocated are the elimination of the congressional filibuster and the inclusion of workers in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its expanded provisions. Germany is often cited as an example of a country implementing changes needed in America. The author makes an excellent case--but unfortunately not one that will convince many, given the current societal predisposition. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. --John F. O'Connell, emeritus, College of Holy Cross

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Part 1 The Case for Rational Thinking
1 "You and I Are Done!"p. 3
2 "There's No Middle Class!"p. 17
3 Are We Weak Enough to Fight?p. 34
4 "How About Them Apples?"p. 45
5 The First Duty of a Democratp. 666
6 What Keynes Would Dop. 83
Part 2 Democracy Or Education
7 Why Demoralize Our Base?p. 111
8 What Would Dewey Do?p. 141
9 Toward the School of Social justicep. 152
Part 3 We Will Come Back-as Something New
10 What King Would Dop. 185
11 If All Else Failsp. 212
12 Why We Live in Hopep. 236
Indexp. 245