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View Diary: Why Unions? Labor 101 (269 comments)

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  •  An interesting opportunity (3+ / 0-)
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    StuartZ, farleftcoast, kraant

    One I believe (as a former union member and rep) most of the labor movement has deliberately ignored.

    Years ago I was a back-row participant at a meeting where an enthusiastic organizer-type proposed some exploratory efforts around organizing tech workers (implying investment in staff and infrastructure) targeting a few high-potential geographies.  The meeting included reps from a bunch of unions, one of whom was the organizing director of a particularly big union.

    The organizing director immediately denounced the idea -- and in vicious terms.  He essentially played the whole Marxist routine, portraying the very notion as the nefarious sedition of a class enemy.  He concluded with the argument that even if you organized tech workers, they would only dilute the emphasis and agenda of the labor movement away from the core concerns of the working classes.

    It was a passionate, powerhouse performance -- completely breathtaking.  Killed the discussion in its tracks, in such a way that a) it would never be raised to that guy again, and b) all the more junior folks from other unions would absorb the obvious truth that organizing tech workers = betraying the labor movement.

    Maybe tech workers do represent a bad use of scarce organizing resources (there are some valid reasons one might argue this), but this occasion -- representative of a dozen others -- exhibited the type of Bushian, ideology-driven, shut-down of debate that can only lead to decline.

    The loss of union membership has mainly been driven by employers ignoring labor law, government agencies declining to enforce it, and legislators watering it down.

    But some unions have responded creatively and effectively to changing circumstances and have grown membership.  As for the rest?  Basic leadership failures among those at the top often keep them from even having a chance.

    Anybody seen my owl?

    by Minerva on Tue Jun 13, 2006 at 03:46:21 PM PDT

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