Insurgent Labor: The Vermont AFL-CIO 2017-2023

Regular price $ 19.95

by David Van Duesen

PM Press

7/30/3024, paperback

SKU: 9798887440361


Insurgent Labor tracks the trials and tribulations of bringing a formerly stagnant labor council into national relevance with an unapologetically left-wing agenda.

David Van Deusen charts the rise of the UNITED! slate to create a progressive and militant labor organization. He chronicles the many victories throughout his tenure including expanding union democracy into the rank and file, moving power away from single individuals and into democratic structures, supporting farm workers, supporting Black self-determination, and providing solidarity with the Revolution in Rojava.

The boldest step undertaken by the Vermont AFL-CIO--and marker of years of steady progress in labor organizing and raising of political consciousness in Vermont--was authorizing a call for a general strike throughout Vermont as a possible response to the November 2020 coup threat by then US President Donald Trump.

This book should be of interest to anyone, whether they have merely thought of joining a union or are an old union hand. Most importantly, Insurgent Labor offers a blueprint for militant labor's advances in an era of capitalist polycrisis and offers hope for a brighter future based around equality, justice, and true democracy.

With a foreword by Kim Kelly and an introduction by Steve Early.


"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

"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 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

About the Author:

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.

Kim Kelly is an independent journalist, author, and organizer. She has been a regular labor columnist for Teen Vogue since 2018, and her writing on labor, class, politics, and culture has appeared in the New Republic, the Washington Post, the New York Timesthe Baffler, the Nation, the Columbia Journalism Review, and Esquire, among many others. She is the author of Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor and resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Steve Early has been active as a labor journalist, lawyer, organizer, or union representative since 1972. He is the author of Embedded with Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at HomeThe Civil Wars in U.S. Labor: Birth of a New Workers' Movement or Death Throes of the Old?, and Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress. He lives in Port Richmond, CA.