American labor leaders are constantly developing new programs to revive the union movement. What happens when these plans collide with the daily lives of front-line union staff and members? This book examines the often conflicting interests of key players in the trenches of a national effort to bring back the American labor movement. Brutally honest, funny, never dull, this anthropological ethnography shows the daily struggles of union members today to bring about positive change and hold together their urban labor union in an era of globalization, outsourcing, and deindustrialization. A union activist and an anthropologist (the authors) pair up to offer insideoutside views of labor unions and of how anthropological fieldwork is done. Explaining, coaching, and warning Paul of hazards, Suzan, the communications director for the Local, provides inside views and details of day-to-day interactions. Paul, the anthropologist, provides outside analytical views that related Suzan's experiences and his own observations to the wider view anthropology offers through ethnography, holism, and comparativism. The result is a story of one dynamic union local, one anthropological study, and the lit fuse that connects them until the end.

chapter |6 pages


part |2 pages

Part I: The Science: What We Learned

chapter 1|16 pages

Taking It on the Road

chapter 2|12 pages

What a Union Looks Like

chapter 3|10 pages

Being a Union Rep

chapter 4|14 pages

The Anthropology of It

chapter 5|10 pages


chapter 6|8 pages

Ritual—Here, There, and Everywhere

chapter 7|8 pages

Getting a Raise

chapter 10|12 pages

What Does Change People’s Minds?

part |2 pages

Part II: The Stories: What We Went through to Learn It

chapter 11|4 pages

Sifting through the Remains

chapter 12|6 pages

Translating Anthropology—The Proposal

chapter 13|4 pages

Riding with Tiny

chapter 14|8 pages

A Day in the Life—Hurry Up and Wait

chapter 15|4 pages

We Smell a Rat

chapter 16|6 pages

The Study Explodes

chapter 17|6 pages

Report to the Local

chapter 18|4 pages

The Aftermath

chapter 19|16 pages

An Old Song