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Labor History


When trade union growth worldwide came to a halt in the 1980s, a wide body of literature appeared on the causes of trade union decline. Since that time an even more substantial number of books and articles have been penned on the possibility of trade union revitalization: which combination of factors might lead to resurgence; what organizational forms are best suited to the new political and economic landscape; which goals, strategies and tactics are most likely to spark a reversal of trade unionism’s fortunes. Gerald Friedman, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts and the US editor of this journal, has contributed impressively to these ongoing debates in his Reigniting the Labor Movement. One of the strengths of this important book is its historical and transnational approach. Friedman skilfully weaves together a century’s worth of data from 16 countries to support his principal argument that strikes hold the key to any understanding of the rise, decline and possible resurgence of the labour movement. Trade unions, he argues, must enhance internal democracy in order to facilitate militancy. An indispensible book for all concerned with the present and future prospects of trade unionism, Reigniting the Labor Movement is here examined by four of the leading authorities on that subject.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Labor History in November 2009, available online: