Sunday, April 03, 2022

Five books on the true source of collective power

Daisy Pitkin has spent more than twenty years as a community and union organizer, working first in support of garment workers around the world, and then for US labor unions organizing industrial laundry workers. Her essays have been awarded the Montana Prize, the Disquiet Literary Prize, the New Millennium Award, and the Monique Wittig Writer’s Fellowship. She grew up in rural Ohio and holds an MFA from the University of Arizona. Today, Pitkin lives and writes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she works as an organizer with an offshoot of the union UNITE.

Pitkin's new book is On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women's Epic Fight to Build a Union.

At Lit Hub she tagged five "books that illuminate the lives and communities and worlds that are built inside movements of resistance, books that center on what it is possible to build, even as we act to dismantle." One title on the list:
Jennifer Worley, Neon Girls: A Stripper’s Education in Protest and Power

In one of my favorite scenes in this book, one of its main characters, Velvette, is being forcibly removed from a strip club by its owner who had just fired her, and Tori, another stripper, runs offstage in her G-string and jumps on the owner’s back to defend her. The live-wire energy of this scene runs through every page of Neon Girls, which is the story of the formation of the first strippers’ union. The brave women at the story’s center militantly resist their treatment as disposable labor and succeed—first in unionizing, and then in taking over the club as a worker-owned co-operative. The community of trust and care they build changes them and stands to change the entirety of the industry in which they work. Worley’s sharp character sketches and fast-paced account of the organizing drive make this book a hard one to put down.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue