There is no better time than now to consider the labor history of the Golden State. While other states face declining union enrollment rates and the rollback of workers’ rights, California unions are embracing working immigrants, and voters are protecting core worker rights. What’s the difference? California has held an exceptional place in the imagination of Americans and immigrants since the Gold Rush, which saw the first of many waves of working people moving to the state to find work. From Mission to Microchip unearths the hidden stories of these people throughout California’s history. The difficult task of the state’s labor movement has been to overcome perceived barriers such as race, national origin, and language to unite newcomers and natives in their shared interest. As chronicled in this comprehensive history, workers have creatively used collective bargaining, politics, strikes, and varied organizing strategies to find common ground among California’s diverse communities and achieve a measure of economic fairness and social justice. This is an indispensible book for students and scholars of labor history and history of the West, as well as labor activists and organizers.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PREFACE: WHY CALIFORNIA LABOR HISTORY?
PART I:BEFORE THE BEGINNING
PART II:EARLY DAYS
PART III:FROM PRIDE OF CRAFT TO INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM
PART IV:DIVISIONS IN THE GROWING HOUSE OF LABOR
PART V:THE ERA OF BUSINESS UNIONISM
PART VI:REINVENTING CALIFORNIA LABOR
AFTERWORD: A PLACE IN THE SUN
LIST OF LABOR ORGANIZATIONS AND ACRONYMS
Fred B. Glass is Communications Director for the California Federation of Teachers and Instructor of Labor and Community Studies at City College of San Francisco. He is the producer of Golden Lands, Working Hands, a ten-part documentary video series on California labor history.
“No one has ever made California labor history so vivid or so rich with lessons for the present. A landmark book.”—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles
“Fred Glass puts to rest the myth that unions are a thing of the past, once needed but no longer. These stories from the hidden history of working people’s struggles show that unions today serve the same purpose they always have: protecting and empowering workers in the quest for their fair share of the American Dream.”—Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
“It took work to create California. Fred Glass now chronicles that epic of labor in a masterful narrative that will in short order establish itself as one of the best—and certainly the most up-to-date—histories of the labor movement in California.”—Kevin Starr, Professor, University of Southern California
“From Mission to Microchip is engaging and inspiring. This book includes the often-neglected stories of workers of color, immigrants, and women who have played and who continue to play important roles in our movement. Union members, community activists, students, and all who support worker justice should read this book.”—Kent Wong, Director, Labor Center, University of California, Los Angeles
"The volume embraces more than California’s rich labor organizing history—it examines the nature of work, the forces that manage our work lives, who benefits from labor and how it all shapes our present notions of what work is about."—Bobbi Murray, Capital & Main
"Labor history comes alive in CFT Communications Director Fred Glass’s new book."—United Educators of San Francisco
"Glass goes beyond the popular bumper sticker about how labor unions brought us the weekend and conclusively demonstrates how on progressive issue after issue, labor is fighting to benefit most Californians."—Beyond Chron