Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983

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9780875461564: Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983

Holding the Line, Barbara Kingsolver's first non-fiction book, is the story of women's lives transformed by an a signal event. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, it is part oral history and part social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work together as a community. Like Kingsolver's award-winning novels, Holding the Line is a beautifully written book grounded on the strength of its characters.

Hundreds of families held the line in the 1983 strike against Phelps Dodge Copper in Arizona. After more than a year the strikers lost their union certification, but the battle permanently altered the social order in these small, predominantly Hispanic mining towns. At the time the strike began, many women said they couldn't leave the house without their husband's permission. Yet, when injunctions barred union men from picketing, their wives and daughters turned out for the daily picket lines. When the strike dragged on and men left to seek jobs elsewhere, women continued to picket, organize support, and defend their rights even when the towns were occupied by the National Guard. "Nothing can ever be the same as it was before," said Diane McCormick of the Morenci Miners Women's Auxiliary. "Look at us. At the beginning of this strike, we were just a bunch of ladies."

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From Publishers Weekly:

Several mining towns have grown up around the rich Morenci copper pit in southern Arizona, each ruled to a certain extent by the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. In 1983, the company tried to freeze wages and deny the miners cost-of-living protection. The resulting strike lasted a long and miserable 18 months; management ultimately won its bid to have the union decertified but its business was damaged in the process, and the strikers took some comfort in a series of legal victories that, suggesting a discriminatory pattern of law enforcement, kept the labor activists out of jail. Journalist and novelist Kingsolver (The Bean Trees) has written a stirring partisan account of the role the area’s women played in holding the strike and in keeping families and communities together, despite the strike’s failure. The women tell remarkable stories of their lives and actions, displaying the strength that led one corporate official to remark, "If we could just get rid of these broads, we’d have it made." This book pays powerful tribute to their resolve and passion for economic justice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In 1983, after the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation demanded an unprecedented amount of pay and benefits cuts, a union consortium, consisting of mostly Hispanic women, held a strike in four small Arizona mining towns. The women's lives were transformed. Their culture had confined them to limited roles; they now became leaders, strategists, spokespersons, and morale-boosters. The first-person narratives of these women dominate this account of the 18-month strike, written by novelist Kingsolver, author of The Bean Trees (LJ 2/1/88) and Homeland and Other Stories ( LJ 5/15/89). While this format is interesting, fewer quotations and additional industry and strike background would have made the account more effective. Despite these reservations, the book will interest readers of labor studies, women's studies, and community/ethnic studies.
- Frieda Shoenberg Rozen, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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