Unionizing the Ivory Tower: Cornell Workers' Fifteen-Year Fight for Justice and a Living Wage by Al Davidoff
Published by Cornell Press, 2023
Unionizing the Ivory Tower chronicles how a thousand low-paid custodians, cooks, and gardeners succeeded in organizing a union at Cornell University. Al Davidoff, the Cornell student leader who became a custodian and the union's first president, tells the extraordinary story of these ordinary workers with passion, sensitivity, and wit.
His memoir reveals how they took on the dominant power in the community, built a strong organization, and waged multiple strikes and campaigns for livable wages and their dignity. Their strategies and tactics were creative and feisty, founded on worker participation and ownership.
The union's commitment to fairness, equity, and economic justice also engaged these workers--mostly rural, white, and conservative--at the intersections of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Davidoff's story demonstrates how a fighting union can activate today's working class to oppose antidemocratic and white supremacist forces.