Chelsea Green Publishing

Les Leopold

Les Leopold

After attending Oberlin College and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (MPA 1975), Les cofounded and currently directs two non-profit educational organizations: The Labor Institute (1976) and the Public Health Institute (1986). He designs research and educational programs on occupational safety and health, the environment and economics. He is now helping to form an alliance between the United Steel Workers Union and the Sierra Club. He is the author of The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor (2007), and The Looting of America (2009).


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Les Leopold

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  1. The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor

    By Les Leopold

    A CIA-connected labor union, an assassination attempt, a mysterious car crash, listening devices, and stolen documents--everything you'd expect from the latest thriller. Yet, this was the reality of Tony Mazzocchi, the Rachel Carson of the U.S. workplace; a dynamic labor leader whose legacy lives on in today's workplaces and ongoing alliances between labor activists and environmentalists, and those who believe in the promise of America.

    In The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi, author and labor expert Les Leopold recounts the life of the late Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union leader. Mazzocchi's struggle to address the unconscionable toxic exposure of tens of thousands of workers led to the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and included work alongside nuclear whistleblower Karen Silkwood. His noble, high-profile efforts forever changed working conditions in American industry--and made him enemy number one to a powerful few.

    As early as the 1950s, when the term "environment" was nowhere on the political radar, Mazzocchi learned about nuclear fallout and began integrating environmental concerns into his critique of capitalism and his union work. An early believer in global warming, he believed that the struggle of capital against nature was the irreconcilable contradiction that would force systemic change.

    Mazzocchi's story of non-stop activism parallels the rise and fall of industrial unionism. From his roots in a pro-FDR, immigrant family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, through McCarthyism, the Sixties, and the surge of the environmental movement, Mazzocchi took on Corporate America, the labor establishment and a complacent Democratic Party.

    This profound biography should be required reading for those who believe in taking risks and making the world a better place. While Mazzocchi's story is so full of peril and deception that it seems almost a work of fiction, Leopold proves that the most provocative and lasting stories in life are those of real people.

    Paperback $39.95

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  2. Runaway Inequality

    By Les Leopold

    Revised, Updated Edition

    Runaway inequality is now America’s most critical economic fact of life. In 1970, the ratio of pay between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker was 45 to 1. Today it is a shocking 829 to one! During that time a new economic philosophy set in that cut taxes, deregulated finance, and trimmed social spending. Those policies set in motion a process that greatly expanded the power of financial interests to accelerate inequality. But how exactly does that happen?

    Using easy-to-understand charts and graphs, Runaway Inequality explains the process by which corporation after corporation falls victim to systematic wealth extraction by banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds. It reveals how financial strip-mining puts enormous downward pressure on jobs, wages, benefits, and working conditions, while boosting the incomes of financial elites.

    But Runaway Inequality does more than make sense of our economic plight. It also shows why virtually all the key issues that we face—from climate change to the exploding prison population—are intimately connected to rising economic inequality.

    Most importantly, Runaway Inequality calls upon us to build a common movement to tackle the sources of increasing income and wealth inequality. As the author makes clear, the problem will not cure itself. It will take enormous energy and dedication to bring economic justice and fairness back to American society.

    The book is divided into four parts:

    • Part I: What is the fundamental cause of runaway economic inequality? What has made our economy less fair and left most of us less secure?
    • Part II: How does the United States really compare with other major developed countries?  How do we stack up on quality of life, health, and well-being?
    • Part III:  What does economic inequality have to do with so many of the critical issues we face, including taxes, debt, education, criminal justice, racism, climate change, foreign trade, and war?
    • Part IV: What concrete steps can we take to begin building a fair and just society?   

    From the book: “There is nothing in the economic universe that will automatically rescue us from runaway inequality. There is no pendulum, no invisible political force that ‘naturally’ will swing back towards economic fairness. Either we wage a large-scale battle for economic, social, and environmental justice, or we will witness the continued deterioration of the world we inhabit. The arc of capitalism does not bend towards justice. We must bend it.”

    Paperback $19.95

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