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Labor and Political Histories
We Can't Eat Prestige
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We Can't Eat Prestige: The Women Who Organized Harvard

Published by Temple University Press in 1997, this book tells the inside story of a 15-year struggle by a small group of women (and some men) to form a union representing a largely female staff of 3,500 office and laboratory workers at Harvard University. Growing out of the women’s movement of the early 1970s, the Harvard Union of Clerical & Technical Workers (HUCTW) developed innovative methods of organizing and representing workers based on the values and priorities of working women.

Telling the story in narrative form, Hoerr dips “right into the middle of the daily work lives of the university’s employees,” wrote columnist Bill McKibben in The Nation. He added: “…it’s the most interesting story about feminism that I’ve read in years—about the particular fears and interests of women workers, about the joy and openness that these mostly female organizers brought to their task, and about the fits they caused the cigar chompers elsewhere in the [labor] movement.” “The Land of the Cubicles,” The Nation, October 20, 1997.

Clerical and trades union workers at victory
rally in 1994. Photo credit: Ellen DeGenova

“This is a superb piece of investigative journalism, based on extensive research… [and] …it provides a richly detailed account of an important episode in the late 20th century women’s labor history.” Ruth Milkman, UCLA, Labor History, Vol. 40, No. 1, February 1999.



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