AFSCME's Philadelphia Story: Municipal Workers and Urban Power in the Twentieth Century

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9781439902790: AFSCME's Philadelphia Story: Municipal Workers and Urban Power in the Twentieth Century

Beginning in the 1920's and ending in the 2000's, AFSCME's Philadelphia Story provides a comprehensive account of the development of what is today the largest and most powerful union in the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Author Francis Ryan shows how sanitation workers and other blue-collar municipal employees formed an organization that successfully challenged the power dynamics of one of the nation's largest cities, to become the model for successful municipal collective bargaining in the United States.

Ryan's engaging story describes how AFSCME emerged out of Philadelphia's notorious Republican political machine and how ordinary workers forged what would become the city's most enduring interracial, working-class organization of the twentieth century. He provides new insight into the working-class origins of African American political power, as well as a thorough overview of the role the municipal state played in the Quaker City's urban economy.

Ryan's study offers a compelling, long-term analysis of the growth of a single union in a major American city andùby grounding his narrative in the experiences of municipal workers, from sanitation workers and crossing guards to clerical staff and administrative professionalsùrecasts how the history of government sector unionism is understood.

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Book Description:

AFSCME's Philadelphia Story provides the most comprehensive account of the early years of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is one of the nation’s largest and most politically powerful unions in the AFL-CIO. Author Francis Ryan details the emergence of the Quaker City's interracial union, charting its beginnings in the political patronage system of one of the nation's most notorious political machines to the first decade of the twenty-first century. Ryan provides new insight into the working class origins of African American political power in the late twentieth century as well as a thorough overview of the role the municipal state played in the urban economy of one of the nation's largest cities.

Ryan describes the work processes and how they changed, and uses workers' testimonies to ground the detailed accounts of issues and negotiations. Beginning in the 1920s and ending in the 2000s, Ryan's study offers a long-term analysis of the growth of a single union in a major American city.

About the Author:

Francis Ryan teaches labor history at the Comey Institute of Industrial Relations at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

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