by Mike Stout
From the famous strike of 1892, through the century-long fight for a union and union democracy, Homestead Steel Mill--the Final Ten Years: USWA Local 1397 and the Fight for Union Democracy is a case history on the vitality of organized labor in the twentieth century and an insider's portrait of the union at the U.S. Steel's Homestead Works, specifically the workers, activists, and insurgents that made up the radically democratic Rank and File Caucus from 1977 to 1987. Developing its own "inside-outside" approach to unionism, the Caucus drastically expanded their sphere of influence so that, in addition to fighting for their own rights as workers, they fought to help stop the closures of other steel plants, opposed U.S. imperialism in Central America, fought for civil rights, and built strategic coalitions with local environmental groups. Mike Stout chronicles his experience in the takeover and restructuring of the union's grievance procedure at Homestead by regular workers and put at the service of its thousands of members. The Rank and File Caucus was a profound experiment in democracy that was aided by the 1397 Rank and File newspaper--an ultimate expression of truth, democracy, and free speech that guaranteed every union member a valuable voice.
"The best movements have the most leaders, and Mike Stout does a great job introducing us to some of the many people who took on the steel industry and devious union bureaucrats during the last decade of U.S. Steel's Homestead Works in Pittsburgh. Mike's union sisters and brothers built community alliances, and they had fun, partied together and mourned together. They made mistakes and built victories. It's a story from the era of de-industrialization, but with lessons for all of us working to rebuild a powerful labor movement for the future." --Ken Paff, national organizer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union
"I can see this book finding a privileged place on the shelves of American radicals. This is a labor history which is exciting, emotional, and thought-provoking, a splendid example of radical history at its best." --Andrej Grubacic, professor and chair of Anthropology and Social Change, CIIS-San Francisco; author of Wobblies and Zapatistas
About the Author:
Mike Stout has been an antiwar, union, and community organizer, as well as the last Local 1397 Union Grievance Chair at the U.S. Steel Homestead Works.