Providing incisive commentary on the historical and contemporary American working class experience, Banded Together: Economic Democratization in the Brass Valley documents a community's efforts to rebuild and revitalize itself in the aftermath of deindustrialization. Through powerful oral histories and other primary sources, Jeremy Brecher tells the story of a group of average Americans--factory workers, housewives, parishioners, and organizers--who tried to create a democratic alternative to the economic powerlessness caused by the closing of factories in the Connecticut Naugatuck Valley region during the 1970s and 1980s. This volume focuses on grassroots organization, democratically controlled enterprises, and supportive public policies, providing examples from the Naugatuck Valley Project community-alliance that remain relevant to the economic problems of today and tomorrow. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with Project leaders, staff, and other knowledgeable members of the local community, Brecher illustrates how the Naugatuck Valley Project served as a vehicle for community members to establish greater control over their economic lives.
Prologue ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction xiii 1. Roots of Powerlessness in the Brass Valley 1 2. Banding Together 21 3. Buyout 35 4. Organizing 49 5. Century Brass 67 6. The Life and Death of Seymour Specialty Wire 84 7. Founding ValleyCare Cooperative 111 8. Taking Care of Business 130 9. The Demise of ValleyCare 149 10. Brookside Housing Cooperative 164 11. Economic Democratization from Below 186 12. Afterstories 203 Notes 219 List of Interviews 241 Index 243