Unions and Class Transformation: The Case of the Broadway Musicians. Catherine P. Mulder; New York and London: Routledge, 2009, xiii + 147 pp. DOI: 10.1177/0486613415574474
One of the features of our age is the decline of organized labor. This decline has been especially dramatic in the United States and has led to numerous books and articles investigating its causes, effects, as well as the labor strategies that could reverse it. As many of these works have recognized, responsible for this decline are both the loss of industrial jobs as a result of new labor-saving technologies and capital’s increased ability to scour the global economy for cheap labor.
Catherine Mulder’s contribution to this problem is unique in a number of ways. First of all, it recounts the experience of Broadway musicians. They are a segment of organized labor that goes beyond the usual suspects of unions within industrial manufacturing or even the public sector unions that have increasingly captured people’s attention as they have become the largest segment of unionized labor in the United States. While focusing on a segment of the labor force that does not figure prominently in scholarly analyses of organized labor, Mulder also makes clear that both the issues faced by Broadway musicians and the lessons that can be drawn from their experience are broadly relevant. In this respect, Mulder’s book constitutes a genuine contribution to the debate on the future of organized labor rather than simply a monograph on a union local that had not been studied in the past.
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