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“Extraordinary reflections….this collection dramatically reasserts the role of rank-and-file revolt in shaping American labor history and offers rich lessons to contemporary rebels.” Mike Davis

“Truly shines … By uncovering the hidden history of the 1970s, REBEL RANK AND FILE reminds us that there is another path to union renewal—a path firmly rooted in the workplace and motivated by visions of transforming society.”
From the mid-1960s to 1981, rank-and-file workers in the United States engaged in a level of sustained militancy not seen since the Great Depression and World War II. Millions participated in one of the largest strike waves in US history. There were 5,716 stoppages in 1970 alone, involving more than 3 million workers. Contract rejections, collective insubordination, sabotage, organized slowdowns, and wildcat strikes were the order of the day.
Workers targeted much of their activity at union leaders, forming caucuses to fight for more democratic and combative unions that would forcefully resist the mounting offensive from employers that appeared at the end of the postwar economic boom. It was a remarkable era in the history of US class struggle, one rich in lessons for today’s labor movement.

The labor struggles in this period have been somewhat overlooked by historians, making this the first in-depth and comprehensive account. The period included strikes which had a significant and lasting impact, such as the Memphis sanitation workers strike which broke the back of racial inequality in the workplace, and the West Virginia coal miners strike which forced the passage of Black Lung legislation.

The struggles in this time also blazed a trail for a new radical and grassroots trade unionism which incorporated demands for racial and sexual equality and challenging entrenched bureaucracies within the union movement itself. The challenge to union bureaucracies led to some remarkable episodes, such as the attempt by UAW leaders to break a wildcat strike at Chrysler’s Mack Avenue stamping plant in Detroit by mobilizing one thousand armed officials and loyalists.

The struggles in this period challenge common assumptions about the US working class – that it is naturally conservative, nationalistic and inward looking. It recaptures a time when millions of ordinary working people engaged in militant action against workplace exploitation, racism and sexism. The book also includes a number of remarkable photographs of the those involved in the struggles by the veteran photojournalist Earl Dotter, a sample of which can be viewed at .
REBEL, RANK AND FILE contains contributions from, in addition to the editors, Judith Stein, Kim Moody, Frank Bardacke, Paul J. Nyden, Dan La Botz, Marjorie Murphy, A. C. Jones, Kieran Taylor, Dorothy Sue Cobble and Steve Early.

“An important collection … honest and thoughtful.”

“This is an unusually high-quality effort, with an all-star cast of authors, which should attract wide interest.”
– Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History at University of California Santa Barbara

“Bracing and often electrifying … A primer and a call to arms for a radical rank-and-file politics.”
– Michael Watts, Professor of Geography and Development Studies at UC Berkeley
Aaron Brenner is President of Rank & File Enterprises, a financial and labor research firm. Robert Brenner is Director of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History at UCLA. He is the author of THE BOOM AND THE BUBBLE, MERCHANTS AND REVOLUTION, THE ECONOMICS OF GLOBAL TURBULENCE. Cal Winslow is Director of the Mendocino Institute and Fellow in Environmental Politics, UC Berkeley.
ISBN: 978 1 84467 174 8 / $29.95 / £19.99 / CAN$37.50 / Paperback / 432 Pages
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