- A Troublemaker's Handbook 2: How to Fight Back Where You Work and Win!
A Troublemaker's Handbook 2 is a successor to the popular A Troublemaker's Handbook, which was published in 1991. The earlier volume had become a widely used reference book for union "troublemakers" who worked to put more activism into the labor movement. It had also been extensively used in many labor education programs, primarily through photocopied chapters dealing with particular issues and tactics.
The new edition is bigger and broader than the last one. At 372 pages, [End Page 108] this large book with its double-column format is equivalent to a 550-600 page book of normal dimensions. This sampling of chapter titles should give a sense of how widespread its contents are: Organizing New Members, Shopfloor Tactics, Fighting Discrimination, Saving Good Jobs, Organizing for Health and Safety, Strikes, Corporate Campaigns, Allying with the Community, Bringing Immigrants into the Movement, Reform Caucuses, Running Your Local, Dealing with the Media, International Solidarity, and Troublemaking on the Home Page. About a dozen of the 72 authors are full-time labor educators, so the educational aspect of many of the above topics gets full attention.
Troublemaker's 2 is a massive resource volume that can help activist labor leaders, rank-and-filers, and their allies develop a stronger, more activist labor movement. There is no comparable book on the market that has as much useful information in one place. Many of its individual chapters will be extremely useful in labor education programs, and I highly recommend that that all labor educators get a copy and make good use of it. Any type of labor activist should find it equally useful.
Depending on the reader's interest or need, different parts of the book will be more valuable or useful. For example, this reviewer found the chapters on dealing with the media and doing work on the worldwide web particularly enlightening, because those are areas of current interest combined with relative ignorance. Others with an interest in contract campaigns or labor-community alliances may find those chapters most useful. In short, this book could be seen as something of an "encyclopedia" that can be consulted piecemeal, topic by topic.
That said, some issues in the book are likely to ignite controversies. For example, a number of national unions are portrayed in a very critical light, usually because the book's viewpoint is for the most part a rank-and-file perspective. Some readers who may disagree with an assessment of a particular union might be tempted to reject the book in whole. I think this would be a mistake. Whatever disagreements one might have with one of the book's 72 authors, its cornucopia of strategies, ideas, tactics, and resources are immensely valuable to anybody trying to build a more activist and engaged labor movement. Readers would be well advised to "get over it" on any particular disagreement and put the many helpful parts of this book to good use.
Some parts of the book are already outdated, as is probably inevitable in a book of this nature. For example, a reform Teamsters local in Washington State that is a centerpiece "success story" in the book has been decertified after a vicious and lengthy employer assault. In addition, a few of the case write ups contain minor inaccuracies. Neither of these issues constitutes a major problem. [End Page 109]
This is an enormously useful book to the labor movement and to its activists. I recommend it highly.