This week on The Maris magazineKim Kelly joins Maris Kreizman to discuss her book, Fight Like Hell: The Untold Story of American Labornow available from Atria/One Signal Publishers.
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On problematic working conditions in book publishing:
What I’ve learned from the people I’ve been able to talk and work with, and their friends, is to learn a little more about working conditions in publishing. I don’t know if I have the right to swear, but wow, that’s screwed… It’s the same idea that I think a lot of workers in these so-called creative industries are told. This is your dream job. You are lucky to work here. There are snacks in the kitchen. Maybe you’ll see someone classy at the office. This brings me back to working at VICE when people were making $30,000 a year, but sometimes Action Bronson showed up and disrupted your work day.
Why solidarity is our best weapon:
I was always trying to find stories of people who, even if they didn’t win, had tried. They had struggled. Even though they didn’t achieve their immediate goal, they laid the groundwork that other people could then build on. It’s all part of this very long chain. The factory girls, women and young girls who worked in New England’s garment factories in the 1800s and who walked out in America’s first factory strike, faced the same problems that Los Angeles garment workers, who are now mostly Asian and Latino immigrants, are dealing with. They breathe the same dust. They are treated the same way. History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, but it definitely rhymes.
In terms of lessons that I hope people will take, the most important thing, and it’s going to look like a sticker but sometimes stickers make good points, is that togetherness is our greatest weapon. Find ways to find common ground and build relationships with people regardless of divides, whether fabricated or real.
Mrs. by Debby Applegate
Kim Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and organizer. She was a regular labor columnist for teen vogue since 2018, and his writings on work, class, politics and culture have appeared in The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The disconcerting, The nationthe Columbia Journalism Reviewand Squire, among many others. Kelly also worked as a video correspondent for more perfect union, The Real News Network and Means TV. Previously, she was the heavy metal editor at “Noisey,” VICE’s music vertical, and was an original member of the VICE Union. A third-generation union member, she is a member of the World Union of Industry Workers of Freelance Journalists as well as a member and elected councilor of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). She was born in the heart of South Jersey’s Pine Barrens and currently lives in Philadelphia with a hard-working man, a few stuffed bears and way too many books.