Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America, Second Edition

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Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui

Continental Crucible examines the clash between the corporate offensive and the forces of resistance from both a pan-continental and a class struggle perspective.


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The crucible of North American neoliberal transformation is heating up, but its outcome is far from clear. Continental Crucible examines the clash between the corporate offensive and the forces of resistance from both a pan-continental and a class struggle perspective. This book also illustrates the ways in which the capitalist classes in Canada, Mexico, and the United States used free trade agreements to consolidate their agendas and organize themselves continentally.

The failure of traditional labor responses to stop the continental offensive being waged by big business has led workers and unions to explore new strategies of struggle and organization, pointing to the beginnings of a continental labor movement across North America. The battle for the future of North America has begun.


  • “This insightful, revealing, and passionate book is a must read for workers and union activists all over the world in their efforts to develop strategies to overcome neoliberalism. The creation of a single North American and global labor market by NAFTA and neoliberal globalization has created both the bases and the necessity for workers and unions to move beyond nationalism and chauvinism.”
    —Alejandro Álvarez, socioeconomist and professor at the Faculty of Economics-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM, National Autonomous University of Mexico), member of the Trinational Coalition in Defense of Public Education and of the ’68 Pro-Democratic Liberties Committee.
  • “The analysis presented by the authors and the conclusions they come to are fundamentally sound. The call for going beyond basic cooperation between unions to a profound transformation of unions into organizations fighting for the needs and aspirations of working people in all three countries is powerful and exciting. This very readable text may well prove crucial for those wanting to move beyond a national framework and encompass one that is continental and global.”
    —Chris Schenk, Global Labour Journal

  • “All of those interested in understanding the nature of the problems we face in taking on the capitalist class and building a new continental labor movement will find this book essential.”
    —Dan La Botz, New Politics

  • “The product of decades of close collaboration between two participant/observers of the Mexican labor movement, Continental Crucible is a significant contribution to the literature on NAFTA and labor that merits the study and consideration of labor educators.”
    Labor Studies Journal

  • “Roman and Velasco have made a valuable contribution to understanding the convergence of North American political economy under free trade and neoliberalism, and a timely intervention in their call for a transnational labor movement with transformative ambitions.”
    Working USA

About the Contributors:

Richard Roman is associate professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Toronto and a fellow of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University.

Edur Velasco Arregui is a professor of law and labour economics at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City.

Steve Early has been an organizer, strike strategist, labor educator, lawyer, and a national staff member of the Communications Workers of America. Early is the author of Civil Wars in U.S. Labor and Embedded with Organized Labor; his writing on the labor movement has appeared in many publications, like The Nation, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Progressive.

Mel Watkins is professor emeritus of economics and political science, University of Toronto, and adjunct research professor, Institute of Political Economy, Carleton University.

Product Details:
Authors: Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui • Foreword by Steve Early • Preface by Mel Watkins
Publisher: PM Press/Fernwood
ISBN: 978-1-62963-095-3
Published: 05/01/2015
Format: Paperback
Size: 9×6
Page count: 192
Subjects: Political Economy/Labor Studies


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