Fighting Times: An Evening with Jon Melrod and Bill Franks
A Room of One's Own is thrilled to welcome Jon Melrod and Bill Franks for a reading and discussion on Jon's new book Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War.
This event is cosponsored by the University of Wisconsin School for Workers, the South Central Federation of Labor, and the Havens Wright Center for Social Justice. Join us for a rousing discussion on class organizing!
About Fighting Times
“An eloquent voice from the frontlines of the hard, bitter, exhilarating struggles for freedom and justice that have made the world a better place. [A]n inspiring guide for carrying the crucial struggle forward.”
- Noam Chomsky
Deeply personal, astutely political, Fighting Times: Organizing on the Front Lines of the Class War recounts the thirteen-year journey of Jonathan Melrod to harness working class militancy and jump start a revolution on the shop floor of the American Motors auto company in Wisconsin. Melrod faces termination, dodges the FBI, outwits collaborators in the UAW, and becomes the central figure in a multi-year, surreptitiously funded and orchestrated defamation lawsuit by American Motors against the rank-and-file shop newsletter Fighting Times, as he strives to build a class- conscious workers’ movement from the bottom up.
A radical to the core, Melrod was a key part of the campus insurrection at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He left campus for the factory in 1972, hired along with hundreds of other youthful job seekers onto the mind-numbing auto assembly line. Fighting Times paints a portrait of these rebellious and alienated young hires, many of whom were returning Black Vietnam vets returning from the war-torn jungles with little faith in the system and with little tolerance for authority. Containing dozens of archival photographs, Fighting Times captures the journey of a militant anti-racist revolutionary who rose through the ranks of his UAW local without compromising his politics or his dedication to building a class-conscious workers’ movement.
The book will inspire and arm a new generations of labor militants and organizers with the skills and attitude to challenge the odds and fight the egregious abuses of the exploitative capitalist system.
Jon Melrod was born into the political and cultural quiescence of the 1950’s and grew up in apartheid-like Washington D.C. Active in the student movement that opposed the Vietnam War and a supporter of Black liberation, Jon embraced the ideology that the working class held the power to radically transform society. In 1972 he left the campus for the factory, and for the next thirteen years he immersed himself in the day-to-day struggles of Milwaukee’s working class, both on the factory floor and in the political arena. Today, he is married to Filipina actress and human rights activist Maria Isabel Lopez and has become politically active in the movement to defend the ancestral lands of the persecuted indigenous peoples of the Philippine archipelago who are under attack by the army at the behest of foreign logging and mining interests. He has also become active in the human rights struggle defending imprisoned Filipino political prisoners.
Bill Franks worked as a Senior Equal Opportunity Specialist for the Department of Workforce Development in the Division of Employment and Training. He was the Statewide Equal Opportunity Officer and Complaint Officer. Additionally, Bill served as a Union Steward for the AFT-W Local 4848 from inception in 1993 until and beyond retirement. The Local was at one time the largest public employee union, with approximately 4,800 in the bargaining unit. From 2005-2010, Bill was the Chief Steward and served on the Local's Executive Committee and was Bargaining Support Committee Chair for two of three Bargaining Sessions. Currently, he chairs the Labor & Industry Committee of the NAACP of Dane County and has been a member of POWRS, Protect Our Wisconsin Retirement Security, since retirement.