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LOCAL Review :: Labor & Class

Review: Class Matters

In "Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists" (New Society Publishers, 2005) Betsy Leondar-Wright attempts to make sense of class diversity in movements for change.
In her overview, she writes, "Class is a huge topic, and there are many aspects that this book is not about." What the book *is* about is the struggles of middle and working class activists as they attempt to form alliances to work together, share resources, and effect social change.

Betsy Leondar-Wright's book is a detailed look into such cross-class bridge building. Cross-class bridge building has to come from a place of understanding our own limitations.

The diverse list of the activists that she interviewed for the book is impressive. She talked to Northerners and Southerners, academics and workers. In a no nonsense eye-opening view of these activists she manages to balance cynicism and optimism about the possibilites for cross-class alliance. But the personal interviews give readers an insight into how classism, racism, and other social and economic issues make organizing difficult. Activists confess the pitfalls in their own words... the conditioning and anxiety, the need to move from the pretense of understanding to authentic knowledge... these
problems thread their way through each of the interviews.

As a union activist, this book set me on a journey of understanding that was a departure from my labor-oriented mindset. I am very concerned about the rights and freedoms of workers all over the
world especially in light of the current economic atmosphere. Class Matters forced me to take a new look at cross-class movements for social change. It forced me to think about the most effective ways to empower all people involved (not just the well-meaning middle class activists).

Annette Joseph Walker, is a former organizer of a NYC tenants association and rent strike. She is also a former William and Mary employee and a member of the Virginia Public Service Workers Union.

To reach the Virginia Public Service Workers:

Virginia Public Service Workers Union
UE Local 160
2225 South Henry Street Suite L3
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 476-6587

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