We in the union movement have lots going on at Yearly Kos this year, and want to tell you about just one of the workshops we're organizing or taking part in. We'll post more later on the other workshops later.
"Give Us Bread, Not Roses," long has been a clarion call for those of us in labor. The phrase is associated with the 1912 textile strike in Lawrence, Mass., that united dozens of immigrant communities under the leadership of the Industrial Workers of the World. Led largely by women, the strike resulted in pay increases, time-and-a-quarter pay for overtime and a promise of no discrimination against strikers.
Bread, Blogs and Roses. Friday, Aug. 3. 1-2:15 p.m.
As the century unfolded, it became clear that woman and man can't live by bread alone. Or, as Emma Goldman famously said:
If I can't dance, I don't want a part of your revolution.
In the 21st century, we recognize that to the mix of bread and roses (and dancing), we must add blogs—and everything blogging represents: Connecting with the netroots to build solidarity for our mutual fights against corporate greed and anti-humanitarian politicians. Getting out our message unfiltered by the biases and distortions of mainstream media. And, not the least—having a good time doing so.
The workers' rights organization, American Rights at Work, is hosting the Bread, Blogs and Roses workshop, which we're billing as a frank discussion on unions and the fight for workers’ rights and how this fight connects to the broader battles in which the netroots is engaged.
Long-time activist and blogger Nancy Scola, whom we sponsored earlier this year to blog about the Employee Free Choice Act campaign, will talk about her experiences at union organizing campaigns, including one at Resurrection Health Care in Chicago, where health care workers have sought for four years to form a union with AFSCME. (Management has viciously opposed the workers' efforts, and I've written about it in detail here.) Scola was fairly new to the world of workers' forming unions, and we agreed she would write about the issues involved however she saw them—not how we in the union movment would like them portrayed. After spending several days talking with employees at Resurrection about their working conditions and the low pay and few benefits they receive for their often grueling jobs, Scola described on MyDD that it was impossible not to take sides on the issue of Employee Free Choice.
From where I'm standing, the union movement is a fairly remarkable human experiment. In America alone, millions of people have harnessed the collective strengths of their co-workers to give them all better lives. Amazing, really. But when we got into the human experiment this big, we had to have known that nothing is going to work out perfectly. Especially when we're dealing with the economic lives of millions of human animals, there's something "wrong" that can be pointed out with every step taken.
Scola will be joined in the workshop by a worker from Resurrection, and the dynamic director of American Rights at Work, Mary Beth Maxwell.
The union movement has received fantastic support here from MissLaura, Trapper John, SusanG and others on Daily Kos who have backed workers' issues like passing the Employee Free Choice Act with posts of their own or diary rescues. And we have been privileged by the dedication of Jane Hamsher and the entire Firedoglake family who provide a weekly space for us (every Thurs., 1:30 p.m. ET) because they see the importance of incorporating workers' issues into the broad progressive agenda of the netroots. We hope to build on this foundation throughout the netroots and find ways to mutually support our common goals.
Stop by Bread, Blogs and Roses and let's join forces!
More next week on what we'll be doing at Yearly Kos—and can't wait to see you there!