Democracy Is Power


The missing element in much of today's debates about rebuilding labor is internal democracy. Democracy Is Power, by Mike Parker and Martha Gruelle, shows what member control really looks like, and why it is crucial to labor's future.

With a focus on union activity in the workplace, the authors describe democratic approaches to contracts, grievances, communications, and leaders’ relationship with members. They shine a revealing light on democratic union culture, yet also attend to the more obvious parts of democracy, like elections and bylaws.

Democracy Is Power will be an important resource for anyone active in reforming their own union, whether as a rank and file member or as a local officer.

Mike Parker is an industrial electrician and computer controls specialist who has been a labor educator for more than twenty years. He is author or co-author of a number of books for unionists on labor-management cooperation programs, including Inside the Circle, Choosing Sides, and Working Smart.

Martha Gruelle was a staff member at Labor Notes from 1993-2000, serving as co-editor and assistant director. She has been active in the labor movement for almost two decades, as a local union officer, field organizer, and for four years as an educator and writer for Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

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Contents include:

  • The Culture of Reform Movements
  • Building Reform Caucuses
  • Benchmarks of Union Democracy
  • Inclusion and Equality: The Keys to Democracy
  • Promoting Member Involvement
  • Elections
  • Taking Power in the Local
  • Structure and Bylaws
  • Dealing with Racism and Sexism
  • Conventions
  • Effective Union Meetings