Join Our Labor Reading Group!

Members of the Maine AFL-CIO and friends of labor meet monthly to discuss labor related books and articles. Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney hosts the reading group meetings. Meetings are currently held on Zoom from 5:30 to 6:30 on the fourth Thursday of each month, or occasionally other times or dates. Readings are chosen by the group and discussions are facilitated by group members or occasional special guests.

 To join the group and be notified of meeting details please contact Cynthia at cynthia at "maineaflcio dot org" and put "Reading Group" in the subject line. Visit our events page to find out when the next meeting is. It is not necessary to complete the entire book to participate in the discussions.

 READINGS

In March through June, 2021 we are reading Jane McAlevey’s “A Collective Bargain: Unions Organizing and the Fight for Democracy.” Jane McAlevey will be joining us for the discussion in May, to speak briefly and then to answer questions related to anything in the book (although we will be primarily focused on chapters 4&5 that night). The May discussion will be 90 minutes instead of the usual hour. 

We will aim to read and discuss two chapters each month beginning with the introduction and Chapter 1 for our March 25thdiscussion. 

  • March 25, 5:30-6:30pm: Introduction & Chapter 1
  • April 22, 5:30-6:30pm: Chapters 2&3
  • May 27, 5:30-7:00pm (90 minutes): Chapters 4&5, discussion with Jane
  • June 24, 5:30-6:30pm: Chapters 6&7 and review

Past Readings

  • February and March 2020 – “No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age” by Jane McAlevey
  • April through December 2020 – “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi
  • January and February 2021 – “Race to Labor” by Bill Fletcher Jr.

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS

We encourage you to either purchase the books at a local bookstore, or if you want to purchase online, to purchase from Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. Powell’s workers have a union (ILWU Local 5) and if you go to the Powell’s website via the store link at the union’s website www.powellsunion.com (go to their “support” section and click the link for the store), the union gets a commission on the sale, which they use for their strike fund. Another online source is www.bookshop.org which, while not union, supports local independent bookstores.

Questions From a Worker Who Reads

By Bertolt Brecht 

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ? 
In the books you will read the names of kings. 
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ? 

And Babylon, many times demolished, 
Who raised it up so many times ? 

In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ? 
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?

Great Rome is full of triumphal arches. 
Who erected them ? 

Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?  
Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ? 

Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it, 
The drowning still cried out for their slaves. 

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ? 

Caesar defeated the Gauls. 
Did he not even have a cook with him ? 

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down. 
Was he the only one to weep ?  

Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War. 
Who else won it ? 

Every page a victory. 
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?  

Every 10 years a great man. 
Who paid the bill ? 

So many reports.  

So many questions.