Where Do Unions Fit Into Socialist Strategy?

The core problem for Marxists is that unions occupy a paradoxical place in socialist strategy. On the one hand, they are essential for creating the collective working-class actor that is necessary to bring about socialism. On the other hand, by their very form they presuppose the continued existence of capitalism, given their primary focus on negotiating wages, benefits, and working conditions with capitalists.

Of Hoffa and Hollywood

I recently published a piece in Jacobin offering a sober assessment of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa’s legacy. He was a household name in his prime when he was heading up the Teamsters Union, and even today remains one of the best-known labor leaders in the U.S. He’s been on people’s minds more recently thanks to Martin Scorsese’s film The Irishman.

Labor and the Class Idea Reviewed in The Progressive

I was happy to see Shaun Richman’s generous review of my book in The Progressive. A longtime labor activist, writer, and now Program Director of the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College, Richman brought to the review his many years of experience grappling directly with the kinds of challenges that I address in the book.

Live on Beneath the Surface with Suzi Weissman

On March 29, 2019, Suzi Weissman and I sat down for an in-depth interview around the theme of “Labor, Socialism, and the Struggle for Power,” at a meeting sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. The interview was taped for Suzi’s long-running “Beneath the Surface” show on KPFK 90.7 FM Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles.

What the LA teachers’ strike tells us about labor’s future

On January 25, the Washington Post published a piece of mine on the recently-concluded Los Angeles teachers’ strike. While it was certainly a decisive victory for the members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the LA teachers’ union, it also has broader implications for the US labor movement more broadly—particularly in light of last year’s Supreme Court…

Talking with Heartland Labor Forum about the Class Idea

On December 27, 2018, I had the chance to sit down with Jacob White of Heartland Labor Forum to talk about my book. HLF is a weekly radio show on KKFI 90.1 FM in Kansas City, Missouri that was founded by the Worker Education and Labor Studies Program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. While…

An introduction to comparative-historical sociology

I recently received one of those e-mails that we as professors dream of receiving: an e-mail from a student asking for reading recommendations to get better acquainted with my chosen field of study. In my case, this involved introducing my student to the world of comparative-historical sociology.

Taking Stock of the Labor Movement for Labor Day

To mark the Labor Day holiday, I wrote a piece for the Washington Post taking stock of the current state of the US labor movement, and thinking of what its past can tell us about the road ahead. While unions have taken a beating over the past several decades, this Labor Day is somewhat different in…

Labor and the Class Idea on Beneath the Surface with Suzi Weissman

Just in time for the Labo(u)r Day long weekend, I was invited on to Suzi Weissman’s great radio show, Beneath the Surface, to discuss my book. Suzi always asks great questions, which made this interview a real treat. We spent some time getting into what exactly I mean by this concept of “the class idea,”…

“Academic, but not painfully so…”

That’s the key take-away point about my book from its first review, published in Labor Notes magazine. The review is written by Steve Downs, a long-time leader and activist in Transportation Workers Union Local 100, the union representing New York City transit workers. It’s particularly gratifying to me that the book has something to offer not…

Labor and the Class Idea on Political Eh?conomy Radio

Michal Rozworski is a smart lefty economist from Canada. He runs a smart blog, as well as a smart podcast, both called “Political Eh?conomy” (because Canadians say “eh?” a lot, and it’s about political economy, get it?). On July 26 I was able to join Michal as a guest on his podcast, where we talked…

A step backwards for worker freedom

Today, the US Supreme Court issued its worst decision on labor rights in decades in Janus v. AFSCME. The 5-4 decision uses a narrow conception of individual rights to declare that workers are free to opt out of paying for the cost of negotiating and enforcing union contracts from which they benefit. It does so by stating…