No news at present, please check back later.

PM Press - David Ranney.

Join Our Mailing List
Email:

Bookmark and Share

Authors

David Ranney


Indulge in a book
Book events
Get the latest news
What others are saying
For more from David

Photo credit Hope Curtis

In 1973, David Ranney left his academic position at the University of Iowa to work as an activist in Chicago. To support himself he went to work in a number of factories on the Southeast Side of Chicago. His factory work is the basis for Living and Dying on the Factory Floor. In 1983 he returned to academia where he provided research support to Chicago community organizations that were trying to assist workers who had been displaced by massive deindustrialization. He also worked with international coalitions to fight the development of institutions that were facilitating the collapse of U.S. manufacturing while undermining worker health and safety standards and wages world-wide. These coalitions opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and the imposition of neo liberal economic policies by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These experiences became the basis for his 2003 book Global Decisions, Local Collisions. He followed up this work with another book, New World Disorder (2014), which is an analysis of the role of the finance industry in the global economy.  He is presently Professor Emeritus in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago. He received his BA degree at Dartmouth College and his PhD at Syracuse University. He has written a number of recent essays on economic policy, politics, militarism and the environment that can be found on www.david-ranney.com. In addition to writing and speaking, he finds time to be an actor and director in a small community theatre. He is married and has a son, daughter in law and two granddaughters. He splits his time between Chicago, Illinois and Washington Island, Wisconsin.

Purchasing Links

Living and Dying on the Factory Floor: From the Outside In and the Inside Out
Author: David Ranney
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-62963-639-9
Published: 04/01/2019
Format: Paperback
Size: 6x9
Page count: 160
Subjects: Memoir/Labor Studies
$15.00

David Ranney’s vivid memoir describes his work experiences between 1976 and 1982 in the factories of southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana. The book opens with a detailed description of what it was like to live and work in one of the heaviest industrial concentrations in the world. The author takes the reader on a walk through the heart of the South Side of Chicago, observing the noise, heavy traffic, the 24-hour restaurants and bars, the rich diversity of people on the streets at all hours of the day and night, and the smell of the highly polluted air.

Factory life includes stints at a machine shop, a shortening factory, a railroad car factory, a structural steel shop, a box factory, a chemical plant, and a paper cup factory. Along the way there is a wildcat strike, an immigration raid, shop-floor actions protesting supervisor abuses, serious injuries, a failed effort to unionize, and a murder. Ranney’s emphasis is on race and class relations, working conditions, environmental issues, and broader social issues in the 1970s that impacted the shop floor.

Forty years later, the narrator returns to Chicago’s South Side to reveal what happened to the communities, buildings, and the companies that had inhabited them. Living and Dying on the Factory Floor concludes with discussions on the nature of work; racism, race, and class; the use of immigration policy for social control; and our ability to create a just society.

Praise:
“David Ranney’s is our best account of the New Left’s turn to the factory and other workplaces in the seventies. Reading in some parts like a novel, it introduces us to a remarkable cast of working-class characters, while offering a refreshingly critical look at his own experiences. We get compelling views of factory work, including the physical dangers and injuries that came with it, as well as a better understanding of a range of New Left organizing efforts. With the experience of a radical organizer and the insights of a very good social scientist, Ranney writes with particular sensitivity about race relations in the workplace.”
—James R. Barrett, author of History from the Bottom Up & the Inside Out: Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Working-Class History

“Apart from its merits as literature—it made me laugh and weep—Dave’s account of and reflections upon his experience working in the southeast Chicago/northwest Indiana region is valuable to young activists for at least three reasons: 1) It provides information about the nature and significance of the point of production to a generation that has no more knowledge of what it was like than would a Martian. 2) It offers an example of persistence to a generation that tends to measure commitment in days or weeks rather than years or a lifetime. 3) It shows the possibility of personal transformation, both in those like Dave who set out consciously to change the world and in those he met in the course of his efforts to do so—transformation which is, after all, the whole point.”
—Noel Ignatiev, author of How the Irish Became White

“David Ranney has produced a riveting memoir of his years working industrial jobs on the southeast side of Chicago. Compellingly written and thought provoking, Living and Dying on the Factory Floor brings to life the daily realities of race, class, and gender in an urban community on the brink of joining the rust belt. Ranney pairs vivid depictions of everyday forms of social struggle with timely reflections on the political implications for contemporary readers. This book will be required reading for the next generation of radicals, particularly those hoping to understand how we arrived at the postindustrial ‘gig economy,’ and how we dismantle it and construct a truly free society.”
—Michael Staudenmaier, author of Truth and Revolution: A History of the Sojourner Truth Organization, 1969–1986

Buy the book now | Buy the e-Book now | Read Reviews | Back to the top

Events

For a calendar of speaking events, please click here

Blog

 

What Others are Saying




livingDavid Ranney Interviewed
By Cecil Prescod, Celeste Carey
KBOO
May 13th, 2019

This book is the story of the men and women who worked in the factories of Chicago’s Southeast Side in the 1970’s and early 1980’s told from the perspective of one who worked along side of them. Day to day life on the factory floor is punctuated by spontaneous wildcat strikes over management abuses, an immigration raid, industrial accidents, a failed effort to unionize and a murder. Reflections on these stories in a concluding chapter include discussions of racism, the relation of race and class, the use of immigration policy for social control, worker safety and health, environmental pollution and our ability to create a just society.

Listen HERE | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

livingDavid Ranney Interviewed
KSFR, Wake up Call
May 6th, 2019

Allen is joined by David Ranney to discuss his new book, Living and Dying on the Factory Floor. Written as a memoir, the book describes his firsthand experiences as an industrial worker in the factories of southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana between 1976 and 1982 and offers an opportunity to reflect on race and class, working conditions, environmental issues, and the social and political climate of the 1970s in the Midwest.

Listen HERE | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

livingLiving and Dying on The Factory Floor
By Martin Billheimer
Counterpunch
April 30th, 2019

Dave Ranney’s memoir of economic electroshock in South Chicago is subtitled ‘from the outside in and the inside out’, which is apt for many reasons, not the least being the picture of a city flayed alive. Living & Dying on the Factory Floor is just what was done, with little life in between. Ranney was a member of Sojourner Truth among several Leftist groups, going from CLR James to Red Rosa politically and from professor to prole on his soles. A mixture of discontent with easy sitting-by and the spirit of Lenin’s old vanguardism made him quit his job in academia and go down past Senior’s Last Hour into the guttering world of the factories. Few predicted how quick it would vanish (Paul Sweeney was prophetic here – so was George Romero) or foresaw the strange familiarity of a hollowed-out Gold Rush landscape rolling back into the greatest American industrial towns.

Read more | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

livingLiving and Dying on The Factory Floor
By Jenni Herrick
Shepard Express
April 22nd, 2019

An eye-opening and provocative new book by labor activist and professor emeritus David Ranney, Living and Dying on the Factory Floor: From the Outside In and the Inside Out, takes readers to Chicago as the author recounts his own experiences working in factories and organizing for better working conditions. Between 1976 and 1982, Ranney held jobs at seven manufacturing plants in the heavily industrialized area in the heart of Chicago’s South Side. He recounts sordid tales of illegal immigration raids, supervisor abuses, serious injuries and high tensions over race and class. During his year-and-a-half stint at the Chicago Shortening plant, Ranney found himself in the center of a wildcat strike, a work stoppage so named because it occurs in violation of a no-strike clause. The personal recollections in Living and Dying on the Factory Floor are passionate depictions of social struggle and outline tangible ways that activists of today can mobilize for a more just society.

Read more | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

livingLiving and Dying on The Factory Floor
By Christian Belanger
Chicago Reader
April 17th, 2019

Living and Dying on the Factory Floor, released earlier this month, is Ranney's account of his time spent laboring in southeast Chicago and northern Indiana. At the heart of the book is the story of a year-long stint at Chicago Shortening, where Ranney helped organize and lead a prolonged wildcat strike. While the strike ultimately failed, Ranney says the experience was illuminating: within the racially charged environment of the factory, the action was able to, however briefly, bring together different groups of white, Black, and Latinx workers in solidarity. At his apartment in Pilsen, where he's lived for the last 35 years, I spoke with Ranney about Living and Dying. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Read more | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

livingDavid Ranney Interviewed
WORT FM, A Public Affair
April 18th, 2019

Allen is joined by David Ranney to discuss his new book, Living and Dying on the Factory Floor. Written as a memoir, the book describes his firsthand experiences as an industrial worker in the factories of southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana between 1976 and 1982 and offers an opportunity to reflect on race and class, working conditions, environmental issues, and the social and political climate of the 1970s in the Midwest.

Listen HERE | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

livingLiving and Dying on the Factory Floor: A Review
By Steven Tufts
Antipode
April 15th, 2019

Living and Dying will appeal to a number of audiences. Those with interests in labor studies and organizing, political formations emerging out of the New Left, and autobiography as research method should all read it. But anyone with a sense of humanity and social justice who has ever worked in a factory will eagerly turn the pages. For this reason alone, I really do hope the book travels beyond academia and makes it to the factory floor.

Read more | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

livingUnmade in America
The Interchange
March 26th, 2019

Taking a close, insider’s, look at Chicago’s industrial Southeast Side in the 1970’s and early 1980’s offers us lessons of a period brought forward to our current moment, when talking heads and politicians spout off about middle class values and middle class jobs and the way to make America great…again. What today’s show makes clear is that there’s no “middle” in America, just a great mass of exploited labor fed the dream of ease if only they’d just work a bit harder, and a bit longer.

My guest is Dave Ranney, who from 1976 to 1982, worked at several factory jobs in Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana, after leaving the far less dangerous work of being an urban planning professor in Iowa. Ranney’s day-to-day life on the factory floor is punctuated by spontaneous wildcat strikes over management abuses, an immigration raid, industrial accidents, a failed effort to unionize and a murder. He details this in his new book, Living and Dying on the Factory Floor: From the Outside In and the Inside Out, newly published by PM Press.

Listen HERE | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top

living"We're Gonna Shut This Place Down"
by Jarrod Shanahan
Jacobin
February 28th, 2019

David Ranney was part of the wave of US socialists who went into factories in the 1970s to organize workers. In an interview, he discusses his new book about those explosive years — and the pitched battles his coworkers waged against both their corrupt union and the company.

Read more | Buy book nowDownload e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top


Story Options

Search

Quick Access to:

Authors

Artists

New Releases

Featured Releases


A Soldier's Story: Revolutionary Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist, Third Edition

The Unknown Revolution: 1917-1921