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The Sex of Class_Dorothy Sue Cobble

The Sex of Class

Edited by Dorothy Sue Cobble

Women now comprise the majority of the working class. Yet this fundamental transformation has gone largely unnoticed. This book is about how the sex of workers matters in understanding the jobs they do, the problems they face at work, and the new labor movements they are creating in the United States and globally. In The Sex of Class, twenty prominent scholars, labor leaders, and policy analysts look at the implication of this “sexual revolution” for labor policy and practice.

In clear, crisp prose, The Sex of Class introduces readers to some of the most vibrant and forward-thinking social movements of our era: the clerical worker protests of the 1970's; the emergence of gay rights on the auto shop floor; the upsurge of union organizing in service jobs; worker centers and community unions of immigrant women; successful campaigns for paid family leave and work redesign; and innovative labor NGO's, cross-border alliances, and global labor federations. The Sex of Class reveals the animating ideas and the innovative strategies put into practice by the female leaders of the twenty-first-century social justice movement.

The contributors to this book offer new ideas for how government can help reduce class and sex inequalities; they assess the status of women and sexual minorities within the traditional labor movement; and they provide inspiring case studies of how women workers and their allies are inventing new forms of worker representation and power.

Monica Bielski Boris, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara
Dorothy Sue Cobble, Rutgers University
Marion Crain, University of North Carolina and the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity
Nicola Dones, Labor Project for Working Families
Janice Fine, Rutgers University and the Center for Community Change
Netsy Firestein, Labor Project for Working Families
Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women's Policy Research and George Washington University
Gerald Hunt, Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada)
Jennifer Klein, Yale University
Vicky Lovell, Institute for Women's Policy Research
Leslie McCall, Northwestern University
Ruth Milkman, University of California, Los Angeles
Karen Nussbaum, Working America, AFL-CIO
Maria Ontiveros, University of San Francisco School of Law
Katie Quan, University of California, Berkeley
Lydia Savage, University of Southern Maine
Vanessa Tait, University of California, Berkeley
Leah Vosko, York University (Toronto, Canada)
Misha Werschkul, SEIU

Publisher: ILR Press

ISBN: 9780801489433

Published: March 2007

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Reviews & Awards

“Once again, Dorothy Sue Cobble is right on target. In The Sex of Class, she's brought together a remarkable group of essays that spell out why class inequalities are growing larger and how the working class is becoming more female than ever. At the same time, this collection thoughtfully describes the place in the union movement for millions of women who teach our kids, clean our offices, and nurse us back to health. The Sex of Class is indispensable. Everyone who's part of the struggle for working women should read it.”—Linda Chavez-Thompson, Executive Vice-President, AFL-CIO


“Anyone interested in advancing either our understanding or our practice on class, gender, and the labor movement needs to read this collection, which includes some of the most creative thinking available on these issues. This book is central if scholars are to understand what is happening to the U.S. class structure, and if either the labor movement or the women's movement is to regain momentum and power.”—Dan Clawson, University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of The Next Upsurge: Labor and the New Social Movements


“The Sex of Class, edited by Dorothy Sue Cobble and featuring articles by twenty distinguished authors with varying experiences and points of view, breaks new ground in advancing our understanding of the important role of women in labor and social justice organizations. This highly readable book is essential reading not only for students in labor studies, women's studies, sociology and political science classes but also for all who are concerned with the future of the American labor movement.”—Lois Gray, Jean McKelvey-Alice Grant Professor of Labor-Management Relations Emeritus, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University


“This book is an important addition to the literature on women and trade unions. Dorothy Sue Cobble frames the diverse chapters in terms of 'the sex of class' and points out that work is being feminized in several dimensions.”—Margaret Hallock, Director, Wayne Morse Center, University of Oregon


“A must-read for anyone interested in the future of the union movement.”—Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law and Director, Center for WorkLife Law, University of California, Hastings

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