Belabored Podcast #7: Social Arsonists

Belabored Podcast #7: Social Arsonists

Josh and Sarah interview Gabriel Thompson, biographer of Fred Ross, the little-known organizer who trained Cesar Chavez. They also discuss the latest strikes by low-wage workers, a strike in Dubai of immigrant workers, & more.


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“A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.”

Those are the words of Fred Ross, the organizer who trained Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and many others who’ve shaped the labor movement. Ross is little-known outside of organizing circles, but journalist and author Gabriel Thompson aims to change that. He’s writing a new biography of Ross, and he joins Josh and Sarah to talk about what drew him to Ross, from his techniques to his focus on women and people of color at a time when the labor movement mostly ignored them. He also discusses the current immigration bill and what it will (or won’t) do for the workers he met while reporting his last book, Working in the Shadows.

In the news roundup, Josh discusses the latest strikes by low-wage workers, this time in Washington, DC, and a strike in Dubai of immigrant construction workers. Sarah talks about Venezuela’s move to grant pensions to housewives and Minnesota’s vote to let home care and child care workers form unions.

Help Gabriel Thompson fund his book project and learn more about Fred Ross here.

Find Gabe’s articles and other books here.

Stories we wish we’d written:

Micah Uetricht on the re-election of CORE, the progressive caucus led by former Belabored guest Karen Lewis, to lead the Chicago Teachers Union for another three years.

Katie Baker on why your favorite stores aren’t signing a worker safety agreement for the people who make your clothes.


Lima