It ain't about negotiating union collective bargaining agreements and resolving grievances any more (Actually, militant unions never were about such goals!)! Conservative campaign aims to strike ‘mortal blow’ on government unions. This is ‘A once-in-a-lifetime chance to reverse the failed policies of the American left’.
One consequence of the rough times unions are facing today is a loss of institutional memory and history. This new book seeks to preserve that memory, and the how-to-be-a-militant-union knowledge that goes with it, by focusing on how one United Electrical Workers local union was built, and how it fared during the McCarthy years and afterwards.
The labor movement's agenda was on full display at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Union delegates numbered roughly one-quarter of the convention’s 4,000-plus delegates. Still, there were stark reminders that labor has struggled to keep at bay the party’s coziness with corporations, especially those of the Silicon Valley disruption variety. Ride-hailing giant Uber—not unionized taxi cabs—served as the DNC’s exclusive shuttle service.
Verizon workers went on strike one week before a competitive New York state primary in which a socialist is running. You had a credible national candidate for president on a nationally-televised debate calling out the CEO of a big corporation. That just does not happen very often. Given the current climate, Hillary Clinton made a big point of coming to our picket line the first day of the strike, Bill went to a picket line in Buffalo.
Platforms are,a statement of the accepted beliefs of the party assembled. For citizen movements, they are a measure of their progress in defining acceptable opinion. And ideas matter. A commitment to ending segregation or guaranteeing the right to vote. Equal rights for women. No first use of nuclear weapons. The DNC prevented Sanders from picking nurses leader RoseAnn DeMoro - the DNC had not wanted labor leaders on the platform drafting committee.
In the best cases, unions are taking the urgency of the threats as a motivator--not just to sign up new members, but more importantly, to make members feel the union is theirs, by training more rank-and-file leaders and helping them take on workplace fights.
In any case, union contracts and the working conditions they codify are the current compromise between labor and capital in any given workplace. With or without a contract, workers will have to struggle. Staughton Lynd doesn't seem to consider the possibility that some workers may not be looking for constant class warfare on the job, and that settling a decent contract offers a much needed respite to lock-in gains.
David Bacon; Photos by David Bacon
The Progressive - On the Line
Workers from Alameda County Industries made the decision to join ILWU Local 6. They convinced the city to provide funding to raise their wages in a new union contract. Their wages are now steadily increasing and will reach $20.94/hour in 2019.
Photo essay by David Bacon.
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