Steve Early

Labor Journalist, Steve Early

Steve Early has been active as a labor journalist, lawyer, organizer, or union representative since 1972. He is the author of “Embedded With Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home” (Monthly Review Press, 2009) and “The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor: Birth of a New Workers’ Movement or Death Throes of the Old?” (Haymarket Books, 2011)

For 27 years, Early was a Boston-based international representative and organizer for the Communications Workers of America. He finished his CWA career in 2007, after serving as administrative assistant to the vice-president of CWA District 1, which represents more than 160,000 workers in New York, New England, and New Jersey.

Early was involved in organizing, bargaining, and/or major strikes involving NYNEX, Bell Atlantic, AT&T, Verizon, Southern New England Tel, SBC, Cingular, and Verizon Wireless. He also assisted CWA public sector organizing, plus mergers with other AFL-CIO affiliates and independent unions.

Early’s freelance journalism has appeared in The Nation, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail, The Berkshire Eagle, The Progressive, CounterPunch, The Guardian, In These Times, Our Times, American Prospect, Mother Jones, Labor History, New Politics, New Labor Forum, Social Policy, Labor Notes, Labor, WorkingUSA, Labor Research Review, MonthlyLabor Review, Technology Review, Boston Review, Dollars and Sense, Socialism and Democracy, The Guild Reporter and Tikkun.

He serves on the editorial advisory committees for three independent labor publications–Labor Notes, New Labor Forum, and WorkingUSA. He is a member of the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA) and the National Writers Union/UAW.

Early has been a longtime supporter of Jobs with Justice, the Association for Union Democracy and Teamsters for a Democratic Union. In 1992–while on loan from CWA–he was part of the Washington, D.C. headquarters transition team for Teamster President Ron Carey and other union reformers elected with TDU support in the IBT’s first direct election of national officers.

Early is a graduate of Middlebury College and Catholic University Law School. He was admitted to the Vermont bar and state and federal courts in Vermont in 1976. In the 1970s, Early was also a staff member of the United Mine Workers and wrote for The UMW Journal, when it received a National Magazine Award in 1975.

According to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Steve Early’s newest book The Civil Wars in US Labor “should be required reading for all workers’ rights advocates.” BETWEEN 2008 AND 2010, the progressive wing of the U.S. labor movement tore itself apart in a series of internecine struggles. More than $140 million was expended, by all sides, on organizing conflicts that tarnished union reputations and undermined the campaign for real health care and labor law reform. Campus and community allies, along with many rank-and-file union members, were left angered and dismayed.

In this incisive new book, labor journalist Steve Early draws on scores of interviews and on his own union organizing experience to explain why and how these labor civil wars occurred. He examines the bitter disputes about union structure, membership rights, organizing strategy, and contract standards that enveloped SEIU, UNITE HERE, the California Nurses Association, and independent organizations like the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico and the new National Union of Healthcare Workers in California. Along the way, we meet rank-and-file activists, local union officers, national leaders, and concerned friends of labor who were drawn into the fray.
“Steve Early has long been a voice of distinctive clarity, honesty and intellectual seriousness in and about the labor movement.” —Adolph Reed, Jr., professor of political science, University of Pennsylvania
“Civil Wars in U.S. Labor critiques a union culture that privileges control over the practice of democracy. With an honest eye, the author adds an essential chapter to the long history of rank-and-file efforts to keep unionism vibrant and engaged… compelling reading.” —Vanessa Tait, author, Poor Workers’ Unions


Listen to an interview with Early about the book by The Progressive Magazine‘s Matthew Rothschild on Progressive Radio.