New Forms of Worker Organization: A CHOICE Review

New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class Struggle Unionism

By J.H. Cobbe
January 2015

This volume collects 13 essays by political scientists, sociologists, labor relations specialists, labor activists, a social anthropologist, and a union organizer on various aspects of nontraditional organization and activism in a variety of settings and countries around the world.  Editor Ness (political science, CUNY) contributes a substantive introduction and one of the essays.  The book includes useful chapters on worker protests in Russia and China by well placed and experienced observers, and more specific case studies of Indian car workers, South African mine workers, unskilled workers in conservation in Madagascar, Colombian open-pit coal workers, and transport workers in Argentina.  There follow more historical studies of syndicalism in Sweden and workers’ control in Australia, case studies of the Wobblies in US fast food and British contract cleaners, and finally a historical contrast of IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) ideas to conventional US unionism and the legal framework of collective bargaining and binding contracts.  In general, the committed authors espouse a radical viewpoint, and are open about their advocacy against existing capitalism and in favor of workers and a renewed rise of labor power.  The essays are uneven and many are jargon-laden, but the content is valuable and should be widely available.invites ethnographic inquiry from those whose research lies within the anthropology of work.

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