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Union Power: Solidarity and Struggle in Niagara

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From factory workers in Welland to retail workers in St. Catharines, from hospitality workers in Niagara Falls to migrant farm workers in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Union Power showcases the role of working people in the Niagara region. Charting the development of the region's labour movement from the early nineteenth century to the present, Patrias and Savage illustrate how workers from this highly diversified economy struggled to improve their lives both inside and outside the workplace. Including extensive quotations from interviews, archival sources, and local newspapers, the story unfolds, in part, through the voices of the people themselves: the workers who fought for unions, the community members who supported them, and the employers who opposed them. Early industrial development and the appalling working conditions of the often vulnerable common labourer prompted a movement toward worker protection. Patrias and Savage argue that union power – power not built on profit, status, or prestige – relies on the twin concepts of struggle and solidarity: the solidarity of the shared interests of the working class and the struggle to achieve common goals. Union Power traces the evidence of these twin concepts through the history of the Niagara region's labour movement.
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... There is less of an appetite for exploring collective struggle, in terms Jameson would use, of wresting Freedom from the realm of Necessity, making the study of class a part of the analytic playing field of a politics of engagement, the kind of orientation that animated such pioneering and influential texts as Panitch's and Swartz's now decades-old study of austerity's state-crafted assault on workingclass entitlements. 6 There are indications that some historians in Canada are willing to swim against the stream, with established scholars such as Joan Sangster and Carmela Patrias and younger members of the Graphic History Collective keeping older socialist-feminist sensibilities alive in their studies of women, the labor movement, and class struggle (Patrias 1994(Patrias , 2012Patrias and Savage 2012;Sangster 2010Sangster , 2011Graphic History Collective 2016;Julia Smith 2014). But, the fusion of labor history and gender studies that seemed so promising in the 1980s, when many feminist scholars aligned with Marxism in one way or another, has lost much of its collective edge (Maroney 1983;Hamilton and Barrett 1986;Sangster 2002;Luxton 1980Luxton , 2001Luxton and Corman 2001). ...
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