Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell); My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement
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Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell); My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement

In 1995, in the first contested election in the history of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney won the presidency of the nation’s largest labor federation, promising renewal and resurgence. Today, less than 7 percent of American private-sector workers belong to a union, the lowest percentage since the beginning of the twentieth century, and public employee collective bargaining has been dealt devastating blows in Wisconsin and elsewhere. What happened?

Jane McAlevey is famous—and notorious—in the American labor movement as the hard-charging organizer who racked up a string of victories at a time when union leaders said winning wasn’t possible. Then she was bounced from the movement, a victim of the high-level internecine warfare that has torn apart organized labor. In this engrossing and funny narrative—that reflects the personality of its charismatic, wisecracking author—McAlevey tells the story of a number of dramatic organizing and contract victories, and the unconventional strategies that helped achieve them.

Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell) argues that labor can be revived, but only if the movement acknowledges its mistakes and fully commits to deep organizing, participatory education, militancy, and an approach to workers and their communities that more resembles the campaigns of the 1930s—in short, social movement unionism that involves raising workers’ expectations (while raising hell).

Title:Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell); My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement
Format Type:
Number of Pages:332 pages

    Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell); My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement Reviews

  • Jamie VW
    Mar 12, 2013

    It's hard to feel completely comfortable with a tell-all. It is hard to distinguish the pursuit of score-settling from honest critiques and assessments and since a large portion of this book is design...

  • Timothy Dymond
    May 21, 2015

    Over the last few decades Australian unions, when they’ve thought about organising, have been strongly influenced by the American Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Many an official and o...

  • Kristen
    Jan 07, 2013

    After Michigan went “Right to Work” I realized I knew precious little about labor unions. All I’ve had to go on was my parents, grandparents and now in laws telling me that unions are absolutely...

  • Jo Hiley
    Jun 11, 2016

    Jane McAlevey gets the balance between being community-led and strategically uncompromising spot on. She's so tuned into facilitation being key at every step that it warms my little heart (and did whe...

  • Erin
    Feb 02, 2013

    Jane McAlevey is my hero. She writes a fascinating account of how she kicked ass in organizing workers across the country, and at no point does she sound egotistical about it. And although her story i...

  • Clare
    Jun 08, 2014

    Fantastic account of union organising in the USA. McAlevey writes in a lively and engaging manner, and details the important organising campaigns she led throughout the decade. We can learn a lot of l...

  • Micah
    Aug 17, 2013

    I can't think of another book I would consider more essential reading on the American labor movement that has been written in the past decade. If you've got one, direct me to it. (Kim Moody's book U.S...

  • Caeser Pink
    Dec 11, 2012

    A great book for anyone interested in labor relations. Jane has great insights from the trenches. For those who side with the working class, the stories are inspirational. She also has insights into p...

  • Jenny
    Mar 31, 2013

    As a social worker who organizes, I found myself very drawn in by the description of whole worker organizing. We need a movement more than ever, and empowering workers (and keeping them empowered) is ...

  • Marylee Raymond
    Jan 19, 2013

    This woman is what Saul Alinsky was to the 60's. SHE IS THE BEST. This is an amazing journey -- 10 years organizing. Labor Unions take note -- labor needs a new attitude!!...