Steven Greenhouse’s Beaten Down Worked Up is a critical look at the past, present and future of unions in America. While Greenhouse’s work, as he acknowledges, doesn’t provide the detail into historical incidents other books do, Beaten Down Worked Up is an important read.
What I appreciated the most about Beaten Down Worked Up is that Greenhouse didn’t shy away from the historical racism and sexism that marked the union movement in America. While regularly educating about union triumphs, Greenhouse is sure to point out when those unions intentionally discriminated against and left behind.
Greenhouse repeatedly talks up the important societal gains American workers have because of unions. His efforts to tie those successes to the greater societal good they brought about is also important.
Greenhouse’s consideration of the war on unions begun by Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers in 1981 through the assault on labor launched by Republican Scott Walker in Wisconsin, recaps information all those believing Donald Trump’s GOP will save their jobs should read.
Lastly, Greenhouse’s discussion of the teacher strikes and other productive efforts by unions to hit back during the Trump administration are thoughtful. I appreciated the new tact unions, especially teachers, are taking. Seemingly, unions have recognized the need for holistic bargaining; no longer is their focus guided only by wage increases. My view is this holistic approach will lead to better contracts, more union participation, and a better society.
Beaten Down Worked Up is a worthwhile read for anyone wanting to learn about the history of unions in America and who wants to contemplate their place in America’s future.