Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)

Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell)

My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement

Book - 2012
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Random House, Inc.
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).

WW Norton

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).


How one militant union organizer fought the bosses—and national labor leaders.

Baker & Taylor
The famed labor and environmental justice activist presents a cautionary assessment of the American union movement that notes the current low membership of unionized private-sector workers while sharing the stories of her victories, revealing current conflicts in organized labor and making recommendations for how labor can be revived.

Norton Pub

Only about 7.5 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 is under fire in Wisconsin,Ohio, and elsewhere. What happened to the US labor movement?

Jane McAlevey swept to fame—and notoriety—as the hard-charging “Hurricane Jane” who helped make Las Vegas one of the few labor success stories of recent years. Then she was bounced from the movement, a victim of the high-level internecine warfare that has torn apart organized labor. In an engrossing, suspenseful and funny narrative—that reflects the personality of its charismatic, intense and wise-cracking author—McAlevey tells the story of her amazing organizing victories and lifts the lid on the civil wars inside organized labor. Labor’s Last Stand unearths the reasons for the movement’s downfall and emphatically argues that labor can be revived.


A real-life Norma Rae on the catastrophic state of the American union movement.

Book News
Reporting on her labor organizing experiences with the AFL-CIO over the course of a decade, McAlevey promotes the concept of "whole worker" organizing, which seeks to go beyond the "labor-community" paradigm in a manner that recognizes that workers are rooted in, and not separate from, communities and also recognizes the value of bringing community organizing techniques into the realm of labor and vice versa. Two other key themes of her discussion include the failures of the top echelons of labor leaders to support the efforts of organizers on the ground (and a constant undermining of grassroots accomplishments in top-level turf wars) and the damaging effects of constant and pervasive sexism. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Brooklyn, N.Y. : Verso, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781844678853
Branch Call Number: 331.88097 MCA
Characteristics: vi, 325 p. ;,22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Ostertag, Bob 1957-

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StarGladiator
Apr 04, 2017

50-STARRED REVIEW ! ! !
This is one incredible book - - especially for anyone interested in Real American labor history - - that just happened yesterday!
Jane McAlevey was a labor organizer in the trenches -- whether in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election/coup in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, or organizing throughout the country. [And she reinforces my belief that Gore really blew it at all levels!]
After reading this superlative book, you'll understand the insightful comment by the great social economist, Thorstein Veblen, who shortly before his passing said that // . . . unions are nothing more than business associations. \\ And this was back in 1920!
This lady full grasps a recent remark by one of the top economists of our day, Michael Hudson, who repeated a thought by the socialist, Michael Harrington, who asked fifty years ago why union members and progressives imagined that they had to work through the Democratic Party!
Ms. McAlevey includes the quote from Andy Stern [when he headed the SEIU] to a reporter about offshoring union work - - that's right, offshoring union work - - HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!!
[And for years I've been pointing out how unions invest their pension funds in private equity funds and hedge funds which are then used to destroy unions -- meanwhile the Labor News Network faithfully reports N.A.M. press releases as if they were valid news reports - - what's wrong with this picture? ? ? ?]
As Ms. McAlevey says, // . . . screw the Democratic Party as we know it. \\
God bless Jane McAlevey, a Real American Hero - - or heroine, whichever!
A great read with a brilliant epilogue full of lucid truth!
[This is NOT an anti-union book, but it is anti-corporate union leadership and anti-corrupt labor laws which are anti-worker and anti-union. And Ms. McAlevey's thinking, especially at the end, perfectly mirrors the thoughts on union leadership by the late and great thinker, Jane Jacobs!]

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