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View Diary: Kossacks Must Share the Democratic Party with Factory Workers (285 comments)

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  •  But take a look at what you wrote. (none)
    "We won on the backs of labor retirees who vote Democratic by default"

    "I'm in Michigan, which has suffered enormous job losses since Bush took office, many of which are union jobs."

    "There are many white-collar folks who are well-educated, bring many talents to the table, but who are also being  pink-slipped every day."

    It sounds like you should be argueing for more unions. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be vigilant in making sure unions aren't corrupt (every Democratic organization needs eternal vigilance). Just that if you get people into unions (and that includes white collar jobs and wal-mart jobs), then they WILL blow out the republicans. And they will turn into those labor retirees that vote Democratic by default. There's a reason they vote for Democrats by default.
    •  Not the same world (none)
      We don't live in a manufacturing-based economy any longer.  We live in a knowledge-based economy.

      And unlike manufacturing sites, knowledge is portable.  It moves.  It doesn't have barriers like logistics over distance.

      Unionizing knowledge workers will only be effective if every single knowledge worker around the world signs on.  

      Not going to happen any time soon.

      Manufacturing unions do have another option: they become owners of the firms that employ them, make management decisions for themselves.  No more of this lip-service "valued partner" happy talk between corporations separate from union workers.

      Manufacturing unions could also change their worldview and self-image; they can look at themselves as guilds, entities that provide intensive training, entities that provide the highest quality, most productive workers.  If union workers can produce more reliable, higher quality product at costs lower than overseas providers (including the cost of energy to transport), fewer jobs will be lost.  But it will take a lot of education and training and a willingness to see technology as a tool to this end, not as a threat.  It's going to take a sea-change among unions that are fighting amongst themselves and losing solidarity; it's going to take support of the community and political will to support this effort, including investing in innovation here in the U.S. and not abroad.

      In my case, I can and am changing my worldview and self-image.  I have small contracts from time to time doing consulting work for companies three time zones away, not here in Michigan, since my knowledge is portable.

      My passport is current.  I already speak a little French, Spanish, can be polite in half a dozen other languages.  

      And I'm learning Chinese - Mandarin and Cantonese first.

      •  postscript (none)
        The retirees who vote Dem by default lived in a time when manufacturing was king.  I've talked with these folks; they still think that unions are massive, possessing all the money and political power in this state.

        In Michigan, the 2004 elections saw 4.8 million voters at the polls.  The state did better for Kerry than Gore, but won for Kerry over Bush by a narrow margin.

        There were 4.3 union members in this state at the time of the election.

        What does that tell you?

        •  union membership (none)
          I think your numbers are a little high.

          There are only 966,000 union members in Michigan right now.

          Are you talking about current and past members?

          Whoops I saw where you got your numbers. You were looking at total number of people employed in Michigan, not the total number of union members.

          Which makes sense because if there were 4.3 million union members in Michigan then there would be 20 million workers in Michigan!

      •  I don't understand (none)
        Why knowledge moving doesn't mean that workers can't organize. That knowledge is still the product of a worker isn't it?

        Are you saying that it's easier to pick up and move a company because you're only investment is in the workers knowledge and not in fixed capital costs like buildings and machines?

        Well, that's still not so different from manufactoring companies picking up and moving to where they can find the lowest wages.

        If you're saying that it's harder to organize these workers because they can be placed anywhere over the globe I still don't quite buy it. I'm a "knowledge-based" employee, but I still work in a place. As do most all tech and knowledge workers. The airlines wouldn't be doing nearly so bad if everyone was a knowledge based worker traipsing all over the globe espousing knowledge in our fluid globalized neo-liberal world.

        Nor would morning commutes be so horrible if so many knowledge based workers were distributed so sparsley over the country or out of their homes.

        Railroad workers were pretty far flung across the country back in the late 1800s and they still managed to organize.

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