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Reviews

Here's what reviewers are saying about Refinery Town:


Early's work "shaped my understanding of urban governance and the central role of race and class in conflicts over land, space and place in the modern city." -  Juan Gonzalez, co-host of Democracy Now and author of Reclaiming Gotham 

"Steve Early is a sharp eyed observer as well as participant in grassroots change. What's been happening in Richmond politics is extraordinary and vital, all the more so because it should be replicated in cities across the United States"  -  --Norman Solomon, Socialism and Democracy 

"Refinery Town shows how much a progressive city can accomplish." - Dan Berman, Monthly Review

"Refinery Town  suggests that there is hope yet....The Richmond Progressive Alliance can serve as an example for many cities, including larger ones, in both form and content. The amount of RPA activity that Early documents, concentrated in one decade, is nothing short of amazing."--Robert Ross, Dissent.

"Steve Early's book is piece de resistance about what residents of a city must do to shape the future, using local government as a sharp, flexible tool and a lab for incubating and experimenting with policy innovation.” - Robert Rogers, former Richmond reporter for The Contra Costa Times.

"Refinery Town stands out in the literature of progressive urban politics." - Pierre Clavel, Progressive City

"Steve Early shows how we can build power locally in order to resist Trump and all the other corporate-backed elected officials at the state and national level.” - David Cohen, Labor Notes

""With a Foreword by Bernie Sanders, Refinery Town will be read proudly by activists. Progressives will value the blueprint laid out by the author, one that details setbacks as well as triumphs." - Kate Galbraith, San Francisco Chronicle

"The case of Richmond reminds us that, by being both daring and pragmatic, the left can be surprisingly successful in unexpected places. Refinery Town should be on the reading list of all aspiring political revolutionaries." - Jonathan Martin, HuffingtonPost

"The core of this book is the story of of people in Richmond, CA., who decided they wanted something different for their town and then fought for it - Trisha Brown, BookRiot

“Refinery Town is a story well told and true...." - Peter Lewis, Barnes & Noble
Refinery Town

Refinery Town provides an inside look at how one American city has made radical and progressive change seem not only possible but sensible.” - David Helvarg, The Progressive

Refinery Town is indispensable reading for activists thinking about the real problems of governance once a municipal insurgency gains a toehold of power.” - Mark Dudzic, Jacobin

“Early’s book is a ray of hope for anyone wondering how to survive, and possibly even thrive under Donald Trump and a hostile Republican Congress .- Shaun Richman, Salon and In These Times

“Readers interested in American politics, progressivism, community practice, and local, labor, and socialhistory will find Early’s book to be informative, engaging, and inspiring." - Booklist

“A specific tale of governance at the local level that should appeal to labor activists and scholars of urban studies.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Steve Early has produced a powerful chronicle of how progressives can win against big money and powerful interests.” - Randy Shaw, Beyond Chron

“Early’s tale is well-told and a good antidote for the despair that now runs rampant among many American progressives.” - Mike Miller, CounterPunch

“This book is a fantastic study of the relationship between Chevron and the city of Richmond, CA…for those interested in progressive activism, public health, urban planning and development, environmental causes, labor history, and local government issues.” - Goodreads

“Steve Early’s portrait of the Richmond Progressive Alliance provides a model worth of emulation. Using the RPA as a source of inspiration, activists everywhere can begin the process of building the kind of society we want from the grassroots up.” - Sid Shniad in The Bullet

“Early’s narrative is compelling on many levels…His granular account of local electoral politics demonstrates thatleft-liberal alliances can and do help improve the quality of life for working families.” - Seth Sandronsky, Progressive-Populist

Refinery Town shows how labor unions can be part of a progressive solution to urban problems and discover new friends and allies in struggle for justice.” - ILWU Dispatcher

“The Richmond experience deserves to be publicized, studied, and emulated so addressing needs of working people can become the actual purpose and goal of governments, local, stateand national.” - Garrett Brown, The Pump Handle

“The pages of this book greatly enrich the national discussion on independent politics…the story of the RPA may be exactly the inspiration we need to dream big again.” - Ryan Haney, Talking Union

“You don’t often see municipal history recorded in this level of detail. For those of us who lived it, Early’s book is a fascinating read.” - Richmond, CA. Mayor Tom Butt

Refinery Town is a tour de force…recommended reading to get a grip on local politics and importance of local government, especially as we enter the murky waters of the Trump Administration.” - Michael Fitzgerald, The Point


Praise for Steve Early's Other Books:

"Save Our Unions chronicles how neoliberalism in the U.S. has impacted workers and unions, and transformed what it takes to fight the boss." - Meredith Schafer, Against The Current

"Activists of any age or degree of familiarity with labor will benefit from Steve Early’s coverage of key union battles in telecommunications, hospitality, and healthcare." - Neal Meyer, Talking Union

"There are lots of books on labor. Few are rooted so clearly in the struggles, victories, and defeats of workers and their unions as Save Our Unions." - Ken Paff, Teamster Voice

"Steve Early turns an experienced and critical eye on what is actually happening beneath the conventional industrial relations radar....Save Our Unions is far ahead of most attempts to look at key changes in the U.S. trade union movement." - Kim Moody, Capital & Class

"Save Our Unions is a coherent collection that can be put to good use by young and old union members and leaders, as well as labor historians." - Mike Sacco, LaborOnline

"Early’s essays are not for the faint of heart... But he does suggest a way forward, without pretending to have all the answers. Early is convinced that the best ideas will come from rank-and-file members and their elected leaders who belong to democratic unions." - The ILWU Dispatcher

"Save Our Unions is not only an inspirational tribute to the power of determined rank-and-file union members, it is a useful reference full of lessons for today’s reformers. A must-read for every working-class partisan from the shop floor to Congress and all points in between." - Rank-and-File Review

“Union activists should read Early’s book for essential background on the on-going crisis of the U.S. labor movement.” - Jon Flanders, Jacobin

"Early dissects labor's involvement in the struggles over the Affordable Care Act and its subsequent impact on collective bargaining. He maintains that these consequences were predictable and were ignored by most unions at the time as they embraced an American Enterprise Institute model of healthcare reform and engaged in a cycle of bargaining against themselves that any shop steward could have predicted was doomed to failure." - Mark Dudzic, Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare

“As with all of Early’s work, his Save Our Unions combines sharp reporting with a deep understanding of working class history, the quotidian lives of workers on the job and labor’s struggles and political affairs.” - Michael Hirsch, Union Democracy Review

"Very readable and quite reflective...a running narrative from an author who was directly reporting, and often directly participating, in the unfolding human drama as it occurred." - Carl Finamore, CounterPunch

“Steve Early is a well-known commentator on the complex world of US trade unionism. His analyses are often provocative and always well-informed….” - Melanie Simms, London School of Economics Book Review

“Steve Early’s latest edited collection confirms that social justice unionism is far from dead…” - New Labor Forum
"Early is honest, informative, and unsparing in his criticisms of blunders and betrayals by leaders of business unionism." - Al Hart, UE News

“Early’s journalism is at its best when he illuminates the day-to-day problems faced by labor, such as the apparently intractable problems unions encounter with Obamacare.” - Bruce Vail, In These Times

“There is something wrong in the House of Labor and Steve Early knows it. In his most recent book, Early chronicles some of the internal and external reasons for labor's continued slide, and he provides a window on the need for a new direction.” - Ed Grystar, Marxism-Leninism Today

“Early makes a strong case for union democracy and involving members both politically and organizationally…” - Mike Matejka, Grand Prairie Union News

"Steve Early’s Save Our Unions presents a powerful portrait of rank-and-file members and labor activists... It is an important book, one worth reading, examining, debating." - Kurt Stand, New Politics

"Be forewarned. Save Our Unions is not for the faint of heart. Although it includes inspiring stories of heroic individuals and admirable groups striving to create or restore viable, progressive unions, the book's bottom line is that organized labor is in terrible trouble..." - Sid Shniad, WorkingUSA, June, 2014

"Early's new book is a must-read for working people." 
- Seth Sandronsky, The Progressive-Populist, March, 2014.
"Early's dispatches tell the good, the bad, and the ugly of labor's fight for survival, but they also describe a new era of capitalism that makes worker collective action harder." - William Rogers , Left Labor Reporter

"Reading Save Our Unions is like sitting in on a seminar on the modern labor movement....Early furnishes historical and current examples that offer blueprints for the revival of the labor movement and the rise of the working class." - Fran Quigley, Labor Notes

"Steve Early is one of the two or three labor journalists whose byline I’m always glad to find." - Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

"Steve Early's views are always stimulating and sometimes controversial. Save Our Unions is a must read for anyone interested in what is happening in today's labor movement." - Portside

“Steve Early is…the most well-networked and best informed reporter on the current troubled and troubling state of the American labor movement.” - Working Class Studies Association/Book Notes

“Steve Early, a longtime union activist, looks back on the movement’s successes and shortcomings. Drawing on the lessons of American labor history, Early suggests strategies for restoring union clout…” - Jan Gardner in The Boston Globe

“Embedded with Organized Labor is a compendium of some of the savviest writing on working men and women written over the last 20 years….In breadth, it ranks with C Wright Mills’ The New Men of Power.” - Michael Hirsch in Democratic Left

“The pleasures of Early as a writer stem, in part, from his never having had to face the anonymous blandness-generating torture chamber of academic peer review. His opinions have edges and his humor has a delightful snarkiness. If only more texts on labor were as well written or half as funny.” - Robert Ross in Socialism and Democracy

“Early’s ability to merge humor and thoughtful analysis sets his work apart from much of the contemporary writing on organized labor, and makes it a strong contender for inclusion in labor extension and labor education curriculum.” - Daisy Rooks in Labor Studies Journal

“Reflecting the author’s experience in the labor movement, Civil Wars is richly informative and sharply provocative on a wide range of contemporary labor issues.” - Robert Zieger in Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas

“Every staff member of an international or local union and every rank and file activist should read this book; it would be useful and provocative reading for all of them.” - Jerome P. Brown in Social Policy

“Steve Early is the Greg Palast of the labor movement! Often authors make labor history extremely bureaucratic and boring, as in a lecture by a college professor who has never been on a picket line. But Steve has been there, and writes with the passion of a dedicated activist who can inform and inspire us.” - Barri Boone in Solidarity Blog

“No one writes more convincingly about the power and hope of union democracy than Steve Early. The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor is not only a comprehensive history of the rise and degeneration of a once-progressive union, it’s also a story of the resistance - the democracy movement within SEIU and the insurgency of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.” - Paul Rockwell in Black Commentator

“Early’s journalistic quest speaks to his continued idealism in the face of 30 years of union decline that could easily have left him cynical about the prospect of the United States ever achieving a progressive labor movement.” - Randy Shaw, The Industrial Worker

“While Early always makes clear that he stands on the side of union democracy against union bureaucracy, he includes quotes from both sides and creates a full picture of the situations that he reports on. The recent history highlighted in Civil Wars [shows that] union democracy isn't limited to voting for the best officials. It's about having an engaged membership.” - Jenna Woloshyn in Socialist Worker

“As the post-2008 capitalist crisis deepens, with public employees under attack by the very politicians labor relied on for past gains, it will take a resurgent movement from below to make the course corrections needed for working people. Steve Early’s book will provide essential guidance for a new generation of labor activists.” - Jon Flanders in Monthly Review

“[Steve Early's] new book is not about the class war between labor and capital, nor any war between a conservative right and a radical left in unions. It is the war that split labor’s progressive left, and Early is an apt author to tell us about it... [He does so] in fascinating, meticulous detail chapter by chapter with profiles on all the characters, major and minor and who did what, why, when, where, and to whom.” - Herman Benson in New Politics

“One hopes Early’s critiques will prompt some soul-searching inside the post-Stern SEIU. For other unionists, Early’s relentless focus on grassroots activism can help point a way out of labor’s current fog. The central point flowing through The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor remains indisputably valid—the true source of union power is a mobilized rank and file.” - Joe Burns in Labor Notes

“With the new energies and hopes inspired by the welcome insurgencies in Wisconsin and other states, we can still work for a real workers’ movement in the USA. We owe it to future generations not to blow the current opportunity. Whether or not you agree with Steve Early’s analysis, he helps us think about we can bring to 'Birth a New Workers’ Movement' from the ashes of the 'Death Throes of the Old.'” - Paul Garver in Talking Union

“Civil Wars is essential reading for those interested in understanding how difficult it is for young organizers to change the U.S. labor movement for the better. ” - Mike Elk in Working In These Times

“Civil Wars leaves the reader with a very sober understanding of current problems which cannot and should not be discounted. These are difficult times indeed. But, surprisingly enough, it also leaves us with an optimistic message about the ample rewards that come from continuing to emphasize democratic control and active involvement of workers in their unions as the way forward to achieving expanded social, economic and political goals of a revitalized labor movement.” - Carl Finamore in Beyond Chron and Truthout

“Early’s Civil Wars pulls back the purple curtain and reveals an autocratic wizard (Andy Stern) pulling the levers and wreaking havoc.” - Bennett Baumer in The Indypendent

“The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor is an important book dealing in great detail with a highly significant slice of current and ongoing history. It provides a basis for discussion on not just what happened, but on why and how, to use these lessons to build a new future for our labor movement and therefore for our class.” - David Cohen in Against the Current

“Early’s new book builds on Embedded With Organized Labor. Each are required reading for a majority non-union US working class facing austerity as far as the eye can see. ” 
- Seth Sandronsky in The Progressive Populist
“Steve Early tells the story of an internal upheaval that cost the labor movement dearly in blood, sweat, and treasure. It affected millions of workers and will continue to do so in the years to come...” - William Rogers in Left Labor Reporter

“You don’t need to read Steve Early’s book to understand that the battles between major labor unions in the midst of a major economic crisis was worse than wrong. It was stupid. Distracted by internecine warfare, the combatants not only wasted massive amounts of their members’ dues money – they failed to take advantage of the potential political opening created by the meltdown of neoliberal capitalism. What makes Early’s book a necessary read is the ideological framework he provides to critique this misguided era in American labor history.” - David Duhalde in Talking Union

“Sober words from a dedicated, insightful and hopeful observer of, and participant in, the labor scene...Early’s book is a valuable contribution that helps us gain a deeper understanding of the causes and costs of civil war as well as of the external difficulties the labor movement faces in its efforts to enact its vision.” - Jeff Kelly Lowenstein’s Blog

“Steve Early's book functions as a cautionary tale. Member-driven unions must be genuinely member-driven unions. The staff are there to serve us, not vice versa. I think he has written an invaluable book, if we pay attention to its lessons and protect and extend our positions as members in our unions.” - Greg King in Open Media Boston

“As an SEIU rank and file member and steward, I found this book to be invaluable. I hope all my union brothers and sisters read it. But it's a bitter pill.” - Shamus Cooke in Workers Compass

“This book deserves a careful reading, raising provocative questions as labor struggles to maintain its rights and ensure its relevance to its members and the nation.” - Mike Matejka in Grand Prairie Union News

“According to Early, who retired after 27 years as a staffer for the Communications Workers, [SEIU's former president Andy] Stern wielded... one-man power that allowed him to treat the union treasury as a piggy bank, make backroom deals with corporate employers, promote his own self-interest in politics, and engage in costly power struggles with former allies within labor’s leadership." - Matt Witt in The Worksite

“Since his first job as a staff reporter for the United Mine Workers Journal in the 10970s, Steve Early has written about the pressing issues facing organized labor, often to the delight of rank-and-file activists - and sometimes to the dismay of a labor leader or two…Early is an astute critic and wicked partisan of rank-and-file democracy and bottom-up strategies for revitalizing labor.” - Howard Kling in Workday Minnesota

“Early has interviewed rank-and-file agitators, national and local union leaders, and their campus allies to help get to the bottom of what triggered these costly (financially and otherwise) civil wars. Fusing historical analysis with personal narrative, Civil Wars makes a case for building a democratic and unified new workers movement...." - New Labor Forum, Winter, 2011

“The essays [in Embedded] cover a rich history of strikes, struggles, victories and defeats, with good pieces on the relationship of the left (and some interesting leftists) to the union movement.” - Ken Paff in Social Policy

“It sometimes seems that Steve Early’s new collection encompasses every person, place or corporation of significance to the labor movement over the past four decades….This book is dense—and I mean that as a complement.” - Tom Gallagher in Demockracy.com

“Steve Early is one of a small handful of extraordinarily keen-eyed observers who sees things from within the shrinking world of U.S. organized labor—and hold nothing back.” - Paul Buhle in Against The Current


Steve Early • 747 Lobos Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801 • Cell: (617) 930-7327 / Landline: (510) 260-0636 • lsupport@aol.com
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