- McJobs and Workers -
Bringing Labor back to Life
Posted by: Flint Jones ( IWW, U$A ) on May 04, 1999 at 12:32:04:
In Reply to: Good Luck Brother! posted by Charlie Hoyt on May 02, 1999 at 01:30:43:
: Good Luck Brother! Folks like you are gonna breathe life into the labor movement. Thank YOU!
Fellow Worker, doesn't that beg the question of why the Labor Movement needs life breathed into it? Here we have a worker pissed off and willing to get together with his coworkers, form a union and take on the bosses. Is the best we have to offer them some luck, and then hopes that they'll bring the Labor movement back to its feet with their determination. If anything, the labor movement should have been reaching out long ago to the small shops of franchised ownership, to the unskilled (and I mean that as no insult! I've spent my own time behind the grill and it takes a bit more training than most realize to do it right. What you don't need is formal college education or a lengthy apprenticiship), low-waged, high turnover rate workers.
I think the Labor movement has been failing for a number of reasons.
- Trying to play politics, most notably by wasting money on the political campaigns of the Democrats, those great friends of labor who helped bring us NAFTA.
- Signing away the right to strike in favor of the dues check off system. If you take away the primary way workers can resist oppression, you haven't left them with much except an NLRB that is tilted in the bosses favor. Also, the Union then becomes a tool to discipline the workers rather than to be a vehicle for their struggle.
- Chasing dues, not justice. The labor movement in the US has often tried to organize those places where the opportunty for high dues and high membership were the priorities. Low waged workers in small shops are typically ignored. Its not in the Union's economic interest to organize small shops. However, it should be in their moral interest to do so.
- Dependence on the NLRB election process through the NLRA to win union recognition. As I mentioned, its in the bosses favor. Far better to get people to join the union as individuals and then start acting union.
- Purging of every leftist they can find. The AFL-CIO has a sad history of eliminating some of its best militants through its ranks because of their politics (which help make them such great militants), be it anarchist, communist or socialist.
- An appalling lack of solidarity. Union scabbing is quite common, where picket lines are not honored and the members of one union do business with a struck employer. Nowhere is this so pronounced as in the building trades. We still need that One Big Union.
- Likewise, there is a real lack of international labor solidarity; and many unions are all to happy to ignore what goes on in other countries.
Until now you get the sadly low level of unionization that exists in the use of 13.9%. But, I'm still optimistic that people will begin to take social justice in their own hands and we'll see more wild cat strikes, more daily resistance, more slow downs and more small militant unions appear from the actual struggle of workers on their jobs.