Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America's Promise

Robert Fitch, Author . Public Affairs $28.50 (412p) ISBN 978-1-891620-72-0

With this passionate but meandering call for reform, union member and journalist Fitch attempts to expose the systemic corruption—the "private use of public office"—that he deems central to the history of American labor and its current ineffectuality. After two scattered and polemical introductory chapters that put the corruption of American labor unions in a global context, the book traces a century's worth of labor history, from the 1881 founding of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters to the mob-backed looting of the Mason Tenders pension fund in the 1990s. Fitch likens labor unions to fiefdoms and union leaders to warlords while comparing their level of corruption to that of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church. He implicates historical figures from early 20th-century AFL president Samuel Gompers and mid-century Teamster Jimmy Hoffa to Bill Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani, whom he censures for their coziness with unscrupulous union leaders. This sweeping condemnation, though provocative, suffers from the breadth of material and its diffuse thematic rather than chronological presentation. The book's structural flaws make for reading that often proves as frustrating as it is fascinating. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 10/24/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next