by Jon Melrod
Deeply personal, astutely political, Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War recounts the thirteen-year journey of Jonathan Melrod to harness
working-class militancy and jump start a revolution on the shop floor of American Motors.
Melrod faces termination, dodges the FBI, outwits collaborators in the UAW, and becomes the central figure in a lawsuit against the labor newsletter Fighting Times, as he strives to build a class-conscious workers' movement from the bottom up.
A radical to the core, Melrod was a key part of campus insurrection at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He left campus for the factory in 1973, hired along with hundreds of youthful job seekers onto the mind-numbing assembly line. Fighting Times paints a portrait of these rebellious and alienated young hires, many of whom were Black Vietnam vets.
Containing dozens of archival photographs, Fighting Times captures the journey of a militant antiracist revolutionary who rose to the highest elected ranks of his UAW local without compromising his politics or his dedication to building a class-conscious workers'
movement. The book will arm and inspire a new generation of labor organizers with the skills and attitude to challenge the odds and fight the egregious abuses of the exploitative capitalist system.
"In Fighting Times, Jon Melrod shares his personal experiences in historical context about his human rights battles against social injustices. Jon was an early supporter of the Black Panther Party and the struggle for black liberation. As you will read, he became a target of the FBI after landing on the Bureau's radar when he called the Chicago office to coordinate sales of The Black Panther community newspaper in Madison, WI. A must-read for all freedom-loving peoples."-- Emory Douglas, social justice artist and minister of culture for the Black Panther Party, 1967-1981
"Jon Melrod's Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War blends the riveting personal history of a dedicated class war veteran with important lessons in building multiracial, multigender working-class solidarity on the shop floor, in the streets, and especially when confronting the boss. As a lifelong activist and unapologetic revolutionary, Melrod's efforts to democratize the UAW during the '70s and '80s foreshadowed today's battles for union democracy, and his story offers a handy blueprint for the next generation of fired-up workers, labor organizers, and hellraisers." -- Kim Kelly, labor journalist and author of Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor
"Brother Melrod's book Fighting Times provides first-hand insight into the valiant struggles waged in the early to mid-eighties in the contentious struggle between rank-and-file auto workers and the four US auto manufacturers. Concession fever, pushed by both the auto companies and their partners in the UAW International union, swept the industry and threatened to decimate decades of hard-fought gains won by the rank-and-file since breaking down the non-union shops in the 1930's. For any young activist just entering the labor movement, Fighting Times offers inspiration, guidance, and insight on how to motivate the rank-and-file to identify its own interests and stand up to corporate attacks, and in some cases, union sellouts who do the bidding of the owning class. The book is a must read for all aspiring labor activists." -- Peter Kelly, former President UAW Local 160 GM Tech Center, UAW National Bargaining Committee 1985
About the Author:
Jonathan Melrod was born into the political and cultural quiescence of the 1950s and grew up in apartheid-like Washington DC. Active in the student movement that opposed the Vietnam War and a supporter of black liberation, Jon embraced the ideology that the working class held the power to radically transform society. He left the campus for the factory in 1973. For thirteen years, he immersed himself in the day-to-day struggles of Milwaukee's working class, both on the factory floor and in the political arena. Despite FBI surveillance and interference, Jon organized a militant rank-and-file caucus and rose through union ranks to a top leadership position in UAW Local 72. After a mass workforce cutback imposed by AMC's joint venture partner Renault, he left to attend Hastings college of the law in San Francisco in 1985. Graduating cum laude with a JD, he opened a law firm in San Francisco successfully representing hundreds of political refugees.