; For All White-Collar Workers: The Possibilities of Radicalism in New York City's Department Store Unions, 1934-1953
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For All White-Collar Workers: The Possibilities of Radicalism in New York City's Department Store Unions, 1934-1953

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									170                                                                                        Book Reviews


For All White-Collar Workers: The Possibilities of Radicalism
in New York City’s Department Store Unions, 1934–1953
Daniel J. Opler
                  Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007, 270 pp. ISBN 0814210635 (hardcover), $49.95.




W
              ith the rise of the service economy, the demise of organized
              labor, and now an economic downturn comparable to the one
              Opler writes about, this history of the unskilled labor of the
service economy provides some necessary perspective. Opler’s six chapters
cover the roughly two decades between the early Roosevelt years to the
McCarthy era and center mostly on Local 1250 in New York. Because the
labor force of primary concern in For All White-Collar Workers is a mostly
female one, and over half of the book covers the 1930s, Opler also provides
new insight into the experiences of women in this era.
   Opler explores a sub-theme of public space that seems to derive from his
thorough understanding of the dynamics of labor organizing. As Opler points
out, space was (and is) a crucial aspect to union campaigns. The organizers
and workers themselves recognized the need to occupy or claim public space.
The later failure to appropriate space for the union in part doomed the efforts
of organizers in the 1950s. In Opler’s research this plays out both within the
setting of the retail stores and on the sidewalks outside and in the parks.
   Opler’s treatment of Communist involvement is also commendable. As the
Cold War continues to be fought in some academic circles, Opler has aligned
himself with the “localists,” who find in local circumstances the motivations
for Commu
								
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