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Cover text:

“Just as the American labor movement faces both external and internal challenges that call our very existence into question, along comes "All These Years of Effort" to remind us that our future, like our past, lies in the grassroots solidarity and activism that has always been the foundation of our nation's central labor bodies. Here's hoping this history of one such labor council sparks similar celebrations of the lost or forgotten stories of worker resistance, struggle and victories across America.”

—Joslyn N. Williams President,
Metropolitan Washington (DC) Council, AFL-CIO


“Even before the first national labor federations, workers in many American communities formed central labor bodies that brought together workers across the boundaries between unions, industries, and trades. Workers have maintained those institutions into the twenty-first century. Yet their history is too little known either to scholars or to the communities of which they are a part.

“Thanks to the authors’ hard work and their discovery of rich sources of documentation, All These Years of Effort: 150 Years of Rochesterís Central Labor Unions provides a fascinating and unique account of one cityís central labor bodies. It deserves the attention of labor historians, local historians, and members of the Rochester labor community alike.

“All These Years of Effort reveals above all a “culture of solidarity” that goes beyond individuals unions, crafts, and industries. This culture was manifested in labor newspapers and radio shows; promotion of union labels and boycotts of non-union products; labor education programs; fights for jobs, health, housing, and social justice; political action; and union organizing. When the local Community Chest excluded organized labor from its governing bodies during World War II, Rochester’s labor councils protested “donation without representation” and organized their own United Labor Chest—demanding respect from the wider community and eventually winning a seat at the table. When the Rochester city government fired workers who were trying to organize a union, the rival AFL and CIO labor councils joined together in a general strike that saved them their jobs.

“Today, individual unions often lack the strength to defend their members’ needs by themselves. The growing numbers of workers who donít have unions find they are almost powerless in the face of giant global corporations. And the problems workers face often involve not just their immediate employer but the community and government as well. Workers in different unions and sectors need each other’s support just to address the problems of daily life. This book tells how working people have built and rebuilt their culture of solidarity over a century-and-a-half—and thereby provides insight and inspiration for today and tomorrow.

—Jeremy Brecher, Author of Strike! and History From Below; co-author and editor of many books on globalization, union-community coalitions, and labor history.”

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All These Years of Effort

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