World Wide Work reviews books, music and more

This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.

WORLD WIDE WORK Powell’s (www.powells.com), the unionized alternative to Amazon.com for buying and selling books online, has just reached a new four-year contract with its employees and their union, ILWU Local 5. The agreement provides an immediate 8.8 percent pay increase plus additional increases each year, increased health care coverage for preventive procedures, and more promotional opportunities.

New and worth noting…

*The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Dr. Devra Davis (Basic Books). Pointing out that one in two men and one in three women living today will have cancer of some type, this masterpiece by the head of environmental oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute provides in one readable account the facts about how environmental, consumer product, and work-related causes of cancer have been deliberately covered up for decades while the public is distracted by P.R. campaigns posing as a “War on Cancer.” Davis asks whether emerging potential hazards such as cell phones or Ritalin will be the next examples of exposures that are reassuringly pronounced safe until it is too late. Woven into the book is the story of Davis’ own parents who died of cancer after years of exposure to chemicals in a steel town in Pennsylvania.

*Global Unions edited by Kate Bronfenbrenner (Cornell University Press). Ten scholars present frank research on the opportunities and obstacles illustrated by recent efforts at transnational union collaboration in various parts of the world, with examples drawn from agriculture, longshoring, manufacturing, food processing, and SEIU’s global partnerships in service sectors.

*Army of None by Aimee Allison and David Solnit (Seven Stories Press). This practical guide shows how the U.S. military uses access to public school classrooms to make false promises to children in order to get them to enlist – from college tuition benefits a majority of recruits will never receive to empty assurances that they aren’t likely to be sent to Iraq. As part of its $4 billion annual recruiting effort, the military has created a database on 30 million targeted 16 to 25 year olds that includes information about their family, ethnic background, work and school history, and much more. The book describes and provides resources for a variety of successful local tactics that have been used to challenge and counteract the increasingly desperate military effort to draw young people in.

*Surviving Iraq by Elise Forbes Tripp (Interlink). The fact that the 30 men and women who have served in Iraq and are interviewed in this book have the full range of political views makes this oral history a particularly powerful statement about the brutal effect of the invasion on all concerned.

*Selling Anxiety by Caryl Rivers (UPNE). The news media bounce from one scare story for women to the next, many centered on the horrible things that may happen to their children while they are out working. A journalism professor persuasively describes the sexism and pseudo-science behind most media coverage of women and asks why the real economic and social issues women face are ignored.

*The Argument by Matt Bai (Penguin Press). A New York Times Magazine writer contends that it’s not enough for progressives to remind working Americans of economic pressures they feel in their daily lives. Activists must also put forward a credible argument or analysis about why working people are having to work so much harder to keep their head above water. Republicans have advanced a coherent argument ever since the days of Barry Goldwater, while Democrats have not done so since the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s. Bai got inside access to liberal billionaires, bloggers, MoveOn staff, and others who aspire to remake progressive politics, but didn’t find a more developed argument there than among traditional Democratic politicians.

*The Real All Americans by Sally Jenkins (Doubleday). In the early 1900s, shortly after the U.S. military finished taking over Native American land, a former Army officer set up a boarding school in Carlisle, PA, for the sons and daughters of tribal leaders. The school eventually developed one of America’s top teams in the newly emerging sport of football, introducing the passing game and innovative offensive plays that went beyond the rugby-like, straight-ahead running that dominated until that time. After defeating top teams such as Harvard and Yale, Carlisle reached its sports pinnacle by beating Army’s team from West Point.

*Double Crossing by Eve Tal (Cinco Puntos). A first-rate story for junior high or high school students about a Jewish girl from Russia who immigrated to America with her father.

*ABeCedarios by Cynthia Weill and K.B. Basseches (Cinco Puntos). This beautiful book teaches children their ABCs in both English and Spanish, using as illustrations wooden creatures carved by artisans in Oaxaca.

*Reading, Writing, and Rising Up by Linda Christensen (Rethinking Schools). Practical ideas, experiences, and readings for helping diverse working class students learn to write about their world.

*More Unequal by Michael D. Yates (NYU Press). Fourteen useful essays challenge ways of thinking about class in America that most of us learn in school and from the news media.

*The Cost of Privilege by Chip Smith (Camino). A left working group has produced a textbook on white supremacy and racism that begins with a historical review and ends with a discussion of what readers can do.

*Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity by Anne Elizabeth Moore (The New Press). The former co-editor of the magazine Punk Planet explores efforts by big corporations to exploit independent and underground youth culture for marketing purposes.

*Going Down Jericho Road by Michael K. Honey (W.W. Norton). This thoroughly researched story of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike that was Martin Luther King’s last campaign recalls a time when unions like AFSCME were closely tied to the civil rights movement’s moral crusade.

*Monongah by Davitt McAteer (West Virginia University Press). One of the nation’s leading experts on coal mine health and safety spent decades researching the 1907 mine disaster in West Virginia that killed nearly 500 men and boys. Like most mine deaths that occur today, these were preventable if the company had put safety first.

FILMS

*Pete Seeger: The Power of Song . This feature film profiles the singer who lent his talents to nearly every major social movement of the 20th century. It shows how he tapped into the desire of audiences of all ages and types to sing along, often in harmony, rather than sitting in silence while one person performed. The popularity of karaoke among many young people today suggests that the interest in participation is still alive and well, yet virtually none of Seeger’s successors as socially conscious musicians have followed in his footsteps by leading their audiences in song.

*The Motherhood Manifesto . This hour-long film, financed by contributions from SEIU and AFSCME, shows the need for public policies that support working parents, including paid family leave, flexible hours, benefits for part-timers, quality after-school programs, and improvements for both the providers and users of child care services.

*No End in Sight . U.S. military and State Department officials who were in charge in Iraq during the first phases of the occupation detail what they say were a series of disastrous strategic decisions by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush – decisions they claim they advised against at the time.

MUSIC

*Best of the Righteous Mothers . A group of women in the Seattle area have been singing, often humorously, for more than 25 years about every conceivable aspect of women’s experience, from relationships to activism to ice cream.

*Leave the Light On by Chris Smith (Mighty Albert/Signature). An original songwriter riffs on opening up your mind, intelligent design, fathers, diplomacy, and other subjects.

*Dailey & Vincent by Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent (Rounder). High quality, straightforward bluegrass, including Poor Boy Workin’ Blues and the moving “More Than a Name on a Wall” about a mother visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC and remembering her son.

Free tools for effective grassroots organizing and communication, as well as back issues of World Wide Work, are available at .