Our Members Be Unlimited

by Sam Wallman

In our current political climate, people are looking for answers — and alternatives. The promise of unions is that their ‘members be unlimited’: that they don’t belong to the rich, the powerful, or special interests, but to all workers.

How did the idea of unionism arise? Where has it flourished? And what are its challenges in the 21st century? From Britain to Bangladesh, from the first union of the 18th century to today, from solidarity in Walmart China to his own experiences in an Amazon warehouse in Melbourne, comics journalist Sam Wallman explores the urge to come together and co-operate that arises again and again in workers and workplaces everywhere.

With a dynamic and distinctive art style, and writing that’s both thoughtful and down to earth, Our Members Be Unlimited serves as an entry point for young people or those new to these notions of collective action, but also as an invigorating read to those already engaged in the struggle for better working conditions — and a better world.

Judges' Report

Our Members Be Unlimited by Sam Wallman is an immense achievement. Both a history of the union moment and a personal memoir of Wallman’s own experience of working as a picker at an Amazon warehouse, the personal is political and the political is intensely felt and personal. The graphic medium allows for dense information to be told in an accessible way, while images of the body speak directly to the body of the reader, we recognise the burden of exploitation as an embodied reality. Timely, but also a book that will remain relevant, sadly, for a long time, this important book could play a role in helping younger generations engage with what it means to collectivise and unionise and make informed choices about navigating a lifetime of labour; this book should be considered for secondary curriculums.

About the author

Sam Wallman is a comics journalist and cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia. His drawings have been published in The GuardianThe New York TimesThe Age, the ABC, and SBS.

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