David Van Deusen

David Van Deusen is a longtime libertarian-socalist thinker, organizer, and militant union leader. He has been President of the Vermont AFL-CIO since 2019 and is part of the progressive United! Slate. He is also a member of Democratic Socialists of America and a past member of Anti-Racist Action and the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (NEFAC-VT). Van Deusen resides in Northern Vermont. Find him on Facebook and Instagram.

The Vermont AFL-CIO United! Platform

Insurgent Labor: The Vermont AFL-CIO 2017–2023

SKU: 9798887440361
Author: David Van Deusen • Foreword by Kim Kelly • Introduction by Steve Early
Series: PM Press / Working Class History
ISBN: 9798887440361
Published: 07/30/2024
Format: Paperback
Size: 6×9
Pages: 288
Subjects: Labor & Industrial Relations, Political Advocacy, Anarchism, Activism & Social Justice


“Employing historically effective left strategies Van Duesen shows how a Central Labor Body organized to fight for both the economic and political interests of workers can unite with other social movements to blunt right-wing attacks on workers at the workplace and globally. Essential reading for those who believe in democracy.”
—Fernando E. Gapasin, principal researcher for AFL-CIO 1996 “Union Cities” project and coauthor with Bill Fletcher, Jr. of Solidarity Divided

“Labor Councils focused on member involvement and action are needed now more than ever. Vermont is a model for cross union solidarity and David Van Deusen’s account should inspire others.”
—Larry Cohen, former national president of Communications Workers of America and AFL-CIO Executive Council member; current chair of Our Revolution

“Van Deusen’s Insurgent Labor tells the compelling story of the Vermont AFL-CIO and how they took a left turn in their politics. A must read for rank-and-file union members and those looking to make progressive change in society.”
—David Zuckerman, Vermont lieutenant governor (VT Progressive Party)

“This is a fascinating account of a multiyear campaign to transform a sleepy business-as usual state labor federation into a vibrant, militant, and inclusive example of what the union movement should be. Steering our labor organizations in a better direction requires internal struggle against the powers that be and a willingness to believe in rank-and-file workers. Anyone looking for a primer in class struggle unionism, on a cross-union basis, should get a copy of this very instructive and readable book.”
—Joe Burns, AFA-CWA director of collective bargaining and author of Class Struggle Unionism

“On his way to becoming president of the Vermont AFL-CIO, Dave Van Deusen hit a hard truth: ‘A majority of members had no idea what the AFL-CIO was, let alone understand why growing its power mattered. . . . The State Labor Council was so far removed from their day-to-day reality that they did not even recognize the name.’ This gap between labor officialdom and working union members is so pervasive—and so tragic—that the story Insurgent Labor tells will be inspirational to reformers widely. It is a refreshingly frank account of how Van Deusen painstakingly put power back in the hollow shell of the State Labor Council, and helped rekindle the potential of militant, democratic, rank-and-file unionism. As disgruntled union members justifiably demand more of their union “tops,” this book will be both a goad and a guide.”
—Ellen David Friedman, Labor Notes board member

“This is a book for our times. From the periphery of the class struggle in Vermont, to its heart, Insurgent Labor tells the story of how a group of militant Vermont organizers, holding fast to principle and refusing to compromise, are winning the battle for all working people and those who believe in true democracy.”
—Jeff Jones, former Weather Underground militant, currently active in the fight for environmental justice

Insurgent Labor chronicles how the Vermont AFL-CIO has significantly extended the progressive energy of exemplary Central Labor Councils going back to the 1980s. Van Deusen’s book is a welcome addition to ongoing debates about union revitalization strategies at the state and local level. This story should inspire union activists to organize for change throughout the labor movement.”
—David Newby, president emeritus, Wisconsin state AFL-CIO

Insurgent Labor shows us that labor organizing is far from dead, and still has meaningful fangs in today’s workplaces when organized on anarchist ideas and practice of cooperation, direct action, and solidarity in tandem with some local electoral strategies. Van Deusen illustrates well how the tensions between these disparate approaches can provide meaningful solutions for rank-and-file union workers without kowtowing to union bosses, special interests, or political parties.”
—scott crow, author of Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy, and the Common Ground Collective

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