Praise for Strike for America
“Indefatigable reporting and elegant writing backed by an erudite command of the relevant history, and by precious on-the-ground experience as an organizer. Uetricht’s first book establishes him as the most exciting young labor writer today.” – Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
“A short, accessible guide to one of the most important and inspiring events of our time.” – Brian Jones, member of the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators
“A wonderfully readable, smart account of the CTU’s transformation into a democratic, militant union that with its community partners took on Chicago and the nation’s power elite.” – Lois Weiner, author of The Future of Our Schools: Teachers Unions and Social Justice
“An indispensable account of a strike that was badly misconstrued and underreported by the mainstream media. Uetricht not only tells the story lucidly, but explains why the struggle of teachers in Chicago should matter to all of us.” – Liza Featherstone, author of Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart
The 2012 Chicago Teachers Union strike was the most important domestic labor struggle in decades, and the strongest challenge to the bipartisan, free market education reform agenda that fosters education inequality using teachers as a scapegoat. In an age of austerity, when public education and the public sector generally are under attack, Chicago teachers fought back—and won.
Far from being spontaneous, the strike was years in the making. Standing up against a hostile Democratic mayor, billionaire-backed reformers out to destroy unions, and even their own intransigent union leadership, Chicago teachers had been building a grassroots movement that engaged and educated the entire union membership, and was unafraid to take militant action.
Written by Micah Uetricht, a progressive journalist and former labor organizer who was on the scene for the entire strike, Strike for America is a blow-by-blow account of how CORE, a rank-and-file caucus of the CTU, lead this movement, elected Karen Lewis as the union’s president, and launched a successful strike against neoliberal reform. Working closely with parents and community members, CORE developed an agenda that went beyond the usual compensation negotiations in order to establish a broad coalition opposed to the market-driven education policies backed by the previous union leadership.
More than local heroes, Chicago teachers have created a model for true school reform, shaped by the the community rather than the private sector. The movement is an inspiration for workers looking to create democratic unions that fight for the issues that matter to their members, and for anyone committed to resisting austerity measures.
Strike for America tells the story of how this movement came together in Chicago, and how its success will inform the defining struggles for workers today.
is an Assistant Editor at Jacobin
and Contributing Editor at In These Times
. He has written for the Nation
, Al Jazeera America
, theAmerican Prospect
, the Chicago Reader
, and Salon
. He is a former labor organizer and lives in Chicago.
Strike for America is part of our new Jacobin series – short, radical, punchy books publishing in collaboration with Jacobin magazine.
Jacobin has quickly gained a high level of cult influence, with 300,000 hits per month and profiles in the New York Times and Rolling Stone.
The series will interrogate politics, economics, and culture from a socialist perspective, as an avenue to radical political practice. The books offer critical analysis and engagement with the history and ideas of the Left in an accessible format.
“The new sensation of literary New York.” —Guardian
“Jacobin...has certainly been an improbable hit, buoyed by the radical stirrings of the Occupy movement and a bitingly satirical but serious-minded style. Since its debut in September 2010 it has attracted nearly 2,000 print and digital subscribers, some 250,000 Web hits a month, regular name-checks from prominent bloggers, and book deals from two New York publishers.” —New York Times
Three books will launch the series in March 2014: Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work - Melissa Gira Grant, Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis – Benjamin Kunkel, Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity – Micah Uetricht