Fighting for Total Person Unionism

Fighting for Total Person Unionism : Harold Gibbons, Ernest Calloway, and Working-Class Citizenship

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During the 1950s and 1960s, labor leaders Harold Gibbons and Ernest Calloway championed a new kind of labor movement that regarded workers as "total persons" interested in both workplace affairs and the exercise of effective citizenship in their communities. Working through Teamsters Local 688 and viewing the city of St. Louis as their laboratory, this remarkable interracial duo forged a dynamic political alliance that placed their "citizen members" on the front lines of epic battles for urban revitalization, improved public services, and the advancement of racial and economic justice. Parallel to their political partnership, Gibbons functioned as a top Teamsters Union leader and Calloway as an influential figure in St. Louis's civil rights movement. Their pioneering efforts not only altered St. Louis's social and political landscape but also raised fundamental questions about the fate of the post-industrial city, the meaning of citizenship, and the role of unions in shaping American democracy.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 25.4mm | 566.99g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252039491
  • 9780252039492

Review quote

"Bussel's careful and caring effort with Gibbons and Calloway deserves a much larger audience than labor historians alone; Fighting for Total Person Unionism is a must read for union leadership and staff and, especially, labor educators."--Labor Studies Journal

"Bussel paints a vivid portrait of two very complex--and often contradictory--union leaders. Fighting For Total Unionism: Harold Gibbons, Ernest Calloway, and Working Class Citizenship holds many important lessons for unionists today, and deserves to be read widely."--People's World "Advocates of a powerful vision of what unions could and should do, Ernest Calloway and Harold Gibbons of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters pioneered a "total person unionism" that engaged rank-and-file energies in the workplace and broader community. In this important and highly readable joint biography, Robert Bussel breaks new ground that helps us rethink the politics of postwar labor at the local level.--Eric Arnesen, editor of The Black Worker: Race, Labor, and Civil Rights since Emancipation "The collaborative work of Calloway and Gibbons provides insight into labor at its post war best, and the path we must reclaim today. Total Person Unionism is a wonderful effort to reclaim that ground not only for historians but for all of us committed to economic justice and democracy today."--Larry Cohen, former president, Communications Workers of America

"As Robert Bussel's important recent book Fighting for Total Person Unionism: Harold Gibbons, Ernest Calloway, and Working-Class Citizenship (2015) reminds us, this tradition carried into postwar St. Louis where the Teamsters developed an innovative community steward program."--Dissent "A captivating must-read for historians of postwar labor and civil rights movements as well as for present-day union officials and community organizers."--Journal of Southern History

"Robert Bussel makes a signal contribution to this emerging historiography in his dual biography of Harold Gibbons and Ernest Calloway, St. Louis labor leaders, one white and one black, who struggled against employer power, organized crime, and the city's culture of white supremacy."-Missouri Historical Review
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About Robert Bussel

Robert Bussel is an associate professor and director of the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon. He is the author of From Harvard to the Ranks of Labor: Powers Hapgood and the American Working Class .
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