“Joe Burns’ account of the public sector labor breakthroughs in the 1960s and ’70s provides a timely reminder of what it will take to defend and extend past union gains that are now greatly endangered. Too many public employee unions have forgotten their own history and/or kept their own members in the dark about it. Strike Back is the perfect cure for such organizational memory loss!”—Steve Early, former organizer for the Communications Workers of America and author of Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress
“In Strike Back, Joe Burns shows us that labor unions searching for new strategies and tactics to reverse this escalating trend need look no further than the all-but-forgotten labor history of the 1960s and ’70s. This book provides a thought provoking historical look back at how public employee unions took an aggressive and fresh approach to fight back and build support during that tumultuous era. All union members should read this book to learn from our past and build a stronger and more effective labor movement now and in the future.”—Larry Hanley, International President, Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO/CLC
“When I read Joe Burns’ Reviving the Strike I thought that was the definitive book. But Strike Back must be included in the canon. For those of us who are new to the labor movement or who have just forgotten the gains made during the 60’s and 70’s, this book puts it all into perspective. From the careful reconstruction of the historical events to his analysis of those events, Joe Burns provides us with a clear roadmap to what type of unionism it will take to get working people engaged with communities and back to real prosperity.”—Karen GJ Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1
“Nobody better understands the vital role of the strike or the injustice of anti-strike laws than Joe Burns. If you think that economic inequality is a problem in the United States, read this book.”—James Gray Pope, Professor of Law & Sidney Reitman Scholar, Rutgers University School of Law
During the 1960s and 1970s, teachers, sanitation workers and many other public employees rose up to demand collective bargaining rights in one of the greatest upsurges in labor history. These workers were able to transform the nature of public employment, winning union recognition for millions and ultimately forcing reluctant politicians to pass laws allowing for collective bargaining and even the right to strike. Strike Back uncovers this history of militancy to provide tactics for a new generation of public employees facing unprecedented attacks on their labor rights.
Joe Burns is the author of Reviving the Strike: How Working People Can Regain Power and Transform America. A veteran union negotiator and labor lawyer, he has negotiated contracts in the airline and health care industries. He has a law degree from New York University, and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.