When Workers Fight Back

In the past few years, I’ve been noticing a lot more workers winning higher wages and new labor laws. This includes the Fight for $15 workers here in the US, and also large bumps in minimum wages in places like Indonesia, Slovenia, the UK, and China. Some countries have been reregulating labor markets to give protections to temporary and precarious workers. Others, like Chile, have reformed their labor law. I have been traveling around the world to learn more: are these real victories? Are the laws being implemented? How are workers winning?

Annelise Orleck, a historian whose work I have long admired, had noticed the same thing. Workers around the world are fighting back, and, in many cases, winning, Her new book, We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now”: The Global Uprising against Poverty Wages”  tells these stories. She interviewed 140 workers: in Bangladesh and South Africa and Cambodia; in the United States and the Philippines and Morocco — berry pickers, garment workers, small farmers, fast-food workers, adjunct professors, airport workers, home health care aides.

I interviewed Annelise about her book for Jacobin.


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