1944 Slices
Medium 9780870819650

SIX Approaching Industrial Democracy in Nonunion Mines: Lessons from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin

E. Paul Durrenberger University Press of Colorado ePub

Jessica M. Smith

In both popular and academic imaginations, the coal industry is often characterized by strong unions and dramatic strikes. In the decade after World War II, unionization rates in the coal mining industry exceeded 80 percent (Lichtenstein 2002:56). When the center of the U.S. coal industry shifted to western surface mines in the mid-1980s, however, most of the new operations were nonunion worksites.

The surface mines surrounding Gillette in northeastern Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, which currently supply over a third of all coal burned in U.S power plants, played a key role in this shift.1 The last major union drive in the basin took place at Black Thunder Mine—one of the largest mines in the country—in 1987, about ten years after most of the region’s mines were first opened.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Gillette, this chapter traces the historical and cultural factors contributing to the region’s nonunion status. After presenting the history of unionization in the basin,2 it traces the debates surrounding job security and self-representation that contributed to the 1987 defeat of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and its subsequent decline in regional influence. In particular, the chapter highlights the role western tropes of independent yet hardworking cowboys played in the community-wide debate. At the same time that many miners take pride in their nonunion status, he discussion also demonstrates that they have developed camaraderie-filled workplace relationships that resonate with the solidarity commonly prized by unionized workers and activists. Finally, the chapter argues that women miners in the basin have successfully integrated themselves into these family-like work relationships, countering the existing research on women miners that tends to emphasize the difficulties they face in the industry. The Gillette case thus provides a possible example of workers cultivating close-knit, dignified, and respectful work relationships with their peers and many managers without formalized union structures.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253003089

5. Belonging amidst Shifting Sands: Insertion, Self-Exclusion, and the Remaking of African Urbanism

Abdoulaye Kane Indiana University Press ePub


I have been here for six years, but I don’t think any right thinking person would want to be South African. . . . They are just so contaminated.


In the diversity of African cities, dynamic and overlapping systems of exchange, meaning, privilege, and belonging are the norm. These systems stem from longstanding patterns of political and economic domination—apartheid, indirect colonial domination, monopolistic party rule (Zlotnick 2006)—enacted across national territories, mixing together groups that might otherwise have chosen more autonomous trajectories. With differences and diversity heightened by recent mobility, Africa’s cities are increasingly characterized by greater disparities of wealth, language, and nationality along with shifting gender roles, life-trajectories, and intergenerational tensions. Through geographic movement—into, out of, and within cities—urban spaces that for many years had only tenuous connections with the people and economies of the rural hinterlands of their own countries are increasingly the loci of economic and normative ties with home villages and diasporic communities spread (and spreading) across the continent and beyond (Geschiere 2005; Malauene 2004; Diouf 2000).

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253011404

11. Massacre through a Kaleidoscope: Fragmented Moral Imaginaries of the State in Central Asia

Madeleine Reeves Indiana University Press ePub

There is a curious link between state and sentiment. People today often have strong sentiments about how their governments should work effectively and fairly. Those thoughts and feelings, however, are partly shaped by the states themselves. Governments, especially more “authoritarian” ones, put out characterizations about the nation’s purpose under the state’s guidance. Many would call this propaganda, and every modern state to some extent, including democratic ones, attempts to co-opt consent about its legitimacy by trying to manage how it is perceived.1 These thoughts and feelings about a political community’s distinctive purpose can have profound influence in organizing the experience of citizens, undergirding everyday moments (as in why one goes to work), to extraordinary ones (as in why one goes to war). Most take for granted their attitudes about society and politics and remain unaware of the influence that ideologies circulated by governmental apparatuses may be having on them.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781605098821

chapter three Personal Visions

Linda Stout Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Shared visions emerge from personal visions. This is how they derive their energy and how they foster commitment.


If people have never learned to vision for themselves, it’s hard to create a collective vision that leads to change. In some cases, you will sense that the group you are working with is not ready for collective visioning because individuals feel so hopeless in their own lives. I have found this to be true often among urban teenagers and young adults, especially low-income youth and youth of color, who face extreme challenges around lack of education and job opportunities. Such youth are condemned by statistics. They are repeatedly told that a high percentage of them are not likely to graduate from high school or that they will end up in jail or dead by age twenty-five. Recently, I heard an amazing eighteen-year-old speaker, Mathew Davis, say,

I remember numerous “inspirational speakers” coming to my local community centers to speak to me and groups of other young black males and giving speeches about how to “make it out.” They would come in and spout off a bunch of facts and stats about how black males aren’t supposed to make it to eighteen and at best twenty-five, or the correlation between high school graduation rates and prison rates and how we better straighten up (which means pursue white middle-class interest) and if not, we weren’t going to make it out the hood and would end up dead or in jail. Looking back, what I find funniest about these speeches is that they were supposed to inspire me!1

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855754812

CHAPTER FOUR: Globalization

Lionel F. Stapley Karnac Books ePub


In this chapter I shall attempt to provide an explanation of the way that the process of Globalization is manifesting itself in the world today. Rather like the Industrial Revolution, what we refer to as Globalization is a largely imperceptible phenomenon. I wish I could say that I will start with something as conventional as a definition of Globalization. Sadly, I cannot. No such definition exists. However, I will try to provide a view of what Globalization is all about and what it seeks to achieve that has been developed from multiple sources. We can say with some degree of confidence that starting in about 1985 a dramatic and growing change started to roll out across the globe and that this was strongly driven by the implementation and availability of the www. As with the Industrial Revolution, it was not just the change in technology, but the fact that the new technology has brought into being a new way of living. Globalization, like its forerunner, was originally driven by economic need but has developed way beyond that to begin the process of creating in societies throughout the world a new way of life. At this time, what that new way of life will be is not known and we are currently at the stage where we are experiencing “death of a known way of life”.

See All Chapters

See All Slices