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Labor gains



Our pal Jane Slaughter is known to readers of this rag primarily as a reviewer of restaurants. But she is more than just an authority on courses spanning soup to nuts. A longtime staffer at the publication Labor Notes, she also knows much about the nuts and bolts of the labor movement. She is so knowledgeable, in fact, that she was tapped to edit A Troublemaker’s Handbook. Subtitled How To Fight Back Where You Work — And Win!, the Labor Notes publication ($24) features the collected wisdom of 72 writers and more than 250 activists who have gained their knowledge on the front lines — and the picket lines — of organized labor’s struggles.

As Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, points out in the manual’s foreword: “This book walks you through countless tactics, strategies, and stunningly creative approaches to the new realities faced by our rapidly changing workforce — black, Latino, Asian and white, women and men, young and old. Having done grassroots organizing for 37 years and having been a preacher for 11 years, I continue to be astounded at how much I still have to learn from the experience of others and the miraculous creativity that flows from the hearts and souls of organizers who care enough to take risks for the sake of others.” It is this spirit — the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, of Walter Reuther and Joe Hill and Mother Jones — that is embodied by the “troublemakers” who contributed to this book.

As Slaughter writes, the book, above all, owes its existence to “workplace troublemakers everywhere, who stick their necks out and show others that it can be done. You are leaders, teachers, and inspiration for all troublemakers yet to come.”

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact this column at 313-202-8004 or

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