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Labor's Last Stand

Practically speaking...

This is a very compelling presentation of the situation faced by organized labor in the current moment, and with it the fate of any progressive themes in American society. The author suggests that the only way to fight back is to launch a massive organizing campaign based on directly challenging the ideology of corporatist individualism that grounds right-wing assaults. I think she is completely correct in arguing this, but it prompts a simple question. Will unions, currently as always fighting their own local battles for basic survival, actually fund such a thing? Are there other progressive organizations with the capital, resources and willpower to launch it? This type of effort would take tens of thousands of organizers to make a real dent. How will they be found and who will pay them? Practically speaking, would it be possible to do something like this with trained volunteers?

Donald E. Jackson

Austin, TX

Feb 24 2011 - 3:26am

Labor's Last Stand

Like the man said...

“First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out; Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out; Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”   —Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)

George Jay Mendelson

Kill Devil Hills, NC

Feb 20 2011 - 11:18am

Labor's Last Stand

Right-wing divide-and-conquer strategy

Jane McAlevey points out that the left has not made the connection that while the right is attacking the unions it is also waging war on the poor, people of color, the working and middle class. Furthermore, those folks represent the majority of working or unemployed Americans; they not only lack union representation; they lack any employment rights. They are subject to termination with no notice, without any due process or seniority rights, and without severance. They are subject to pay cuts and hour increases, and often lack benefits. The right is not merely going after public employment union pay and benefits; they are vilifying public employees, portraying them as incompetent and greedy parasites.

The hope is that private sector nonunionized workers and unemployed will “pile on" against the undeserving public sector employees. The non-unionized will believe the problems are due to their unionized brethren. Thus instead of class warfare, workers v. Wall Street, nonunionized workers and those unemployed will be the infantry in the war on unions.

The solution will not be to unionize. It will be to legislate worker rights and protections. Unless our streets start to look like Egypt's,
this is not going to happen. Glenn Beck's greatest fears will have to materialize: union, public and private nonunion workers will have to unite and really scare the crap out of the oppressive establishment.

Asher Fried

Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Feb 17 2011 - 5:05pm

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