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 in person at the Maine AFL-CIO office in Augusta and by Zoom video conference (NOTE: during this time of social distance all participation is by Zoom). Readings are chosen by the group and discussions are facilitated by various people.

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. Typically we meet on the fourth Thursday of the month from 5:30 to 6:30pm. It is not necessary to complete the book to participate in the discussions.


Our first book, discussed in February and March of 2020, was Jane McAlevey's "No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age". 

In April through December of 2020 the group joined with the A. Philip Randolph Institute - Maine Chapter in reading and discussing Ibram X. Kendi's book "How to Be an Anti-Racist." The April discussion was facilitated by Gabriel Tanglao from the New Jersey Education Association subsequent discussions were facilitated by group members.

For January 2021 the group is reading the booklet “Race to Labor” by Bill Fletcher Jr., who will also be facilitating the discussion. Go to our Race & Labor page for more details. This will be a special 90-minute discussion.


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 (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 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.