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.
"[Glass] takes on California's industrial history, the whole beastly golden expanse of it, and tries to figure out what connects the struggles of workers across time and space... [he] has managed to catalogue the most meaningful moments for working people in the biggest state in the union."—East Bay Express
"Use this book. Read it and teach the young. Our future will be better if you do."—Bill Morgan California Federation of Teachers
"Anyone involved in social justice work sooner or later finds her interests intersect with the labor movement . . . There’s no better roadmap to this complex animal than Fred’s book . . . it’s inspiring for the work ahead of us now."—Lincoln Cushing California Studies Association
"In this comprehensive look at California workers—their job experiences and living conditions, antagonisms among them and with the powers that be, their leaders and the rank and file, politicians who claimed to speak for them and some who actually did, their unions and allies, and much more—Fred Glass does for [labor] history what Taylor Branch did in his trilogy of the civil rights movement, The King Years. From Mission to Microchip is filled with stories, analysis, history and data. It is a good and important story, well told."—Boom California
"From Mission to Microchip achieves its goal as a broad exploration of California labor history. Glass demonstrates well the enduring power, creativity, and tenacity of working people in the Golden State. And in these times of increasing uncertainty for labor, the book offers a valuable reminder—for both California and beyond—that collective action remains the most effective tool to achieve economic security and social advancement for workers and their families."—Labor Studies Journal
"You can't look at the history of unions and working-class struggle in California as something isolated from the broad social movements that have changed the state, and the book is a deep and entertaining examination of that relationship. . . . From Missions to Microchip doesn't just cover events, it describes the politics and political organizations of labor's activists and organizers."
“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