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Release: Immediate

UI Press book looks at "the jungle" of meatpacking industry

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The unique story of the rise and decline of industrial unionism in the packinghouse industry is the focus of a new anthology from the University of Iowa Press.

"Unionizing the Jungles: Labor and Community in the Twentieth-Century Meatpacking Industry," edited by Shelton Stromquist and Marvin Bergman, is a collection of essays by historians and anthropologists on the meatpacking industry, its unions, and its impact on communities.

Originating from a seminar at the University of Iowa sponsored by the Center for Recent United States History, "Unionizing the Jungles" includes discussion of the violence and extreme anti-unionism central to the packinghouse culture.

Other essays look at the primary actors in the union-building process, the roots of the distinctive interracialism of the United Packinghouse Workers of America and the explosion of industrial unionism in the 1930s, and the community-based militant unionism of the Independent Union of All Workers.

Central themes include the role of African American workers, the constant battle for racial equality, and the eruption of gender conflict in the 1950s.

The title refers to "The Jungle," Upton Sinclair's classic 1906 novel about the turn-of-the-century meatpacking industry.

Shelton Stromquist is professor and chair in the department of history at the University of Iowa; he is the author of "Solidarity and Survival: An Oral History of Iowa Labor in the Twentieth Century" (Iowa, 1993). Marvin Bergman has edited the "Annals of Iowa" for the State Historical Society of Iowa since 1987; he is also the editor of the "Iowa History Reader."

"Unionizing the Jungles: Labor and Community in the Twentieth-Century Meatpacking Industry" is available at bookstores nationwide for $32.95 clothbound. The book can also be ordered from UI Press by calling (319) 384-3808 (for calls within Johnson County) or 1-800-235-2665 (outside Johnson County).

Information is also available at the UI Press website: