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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks at a 2010 rally against Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka isn't shying away from the hard facts of how effective the corporate war on unions has been. "To be blunt, our basic system of workplace representation is failing to meet the needs of America’s workers by every critical measure," he acknowledged Thursday, speaking at a conference on New Models for Worker Representation. That fact has been evident for years now; as Trumka went on to say, "The numbers give us all the proof we need. Not even 7 percent of the private workforce in America has the security and stability of a union contract." The question is what the union movement can or will do about it.

Trumka's answer Thursday was to both highlight the ways the AFL-CIO has been opening itself up to new and different forms of organizing and reaching out to workers and to commit to find still more such ways, saying "The AFL-CIO’s door has to be—and will be—open to any worker or group of workers who wants to organize and build power in the workplace." He cited Working America, which has begun recruiting members to industry committees "as a way to get closer to unions and begin to take collective action," as well as the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, worker centers, and workers who "do not neatly fit the legal definition of an employee," such as home care workers and taxi drivers.

Each of these, Trumka suggested, is a model that could conceivably succeed at building worker power in the future, and while acknowledging the dire statistics of recent years, he pointed out that such depressing moments have happened before and that workers who people thought could not be organized have been organized before, as we'll see below the fold.

Over 100 years ago, the only unions were of skilled craft workers.  No one thought industrial workers could organize.  

Then a man from a small town in Indiana, Eugene Debs, created a new model, a union of all railroad workers.  And when, in a small town just south of where we sit today, 4,000 employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike to protest a cut in wages, Debs led a national railroad strike in defense of the Pullman workers.  The strike led to federal court injunctions, armed intervention, and the jailing of Eugene Debs, the leader of the Railway Union.  From his prison cell, Debs declared:

“Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and bruised itself. We have been enjoined by the courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, traduced by the press, frowned upon in public opinion, and deceived by politicians.  But notwithstanding all this and all these, labor is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun.”
The armed might of the federal government broke the National Railway Union.  But the idea of an industrial union—a union of all workers in an industry, could not be broken—and four decades later provided the answer in the industrial age, in Steel, Auto, and Rubber—helping to pull our country out of the Great Depression, and creating the American middle class.
The thing about organizing is it's rare to find what works on the first try. You have to throw a lot of things against the wall to see what sticks, be willing to learn from what's worked in the past, and be willing to adjust as longtime tactics become less effective. That seems to be the path Trumka is laying out here. Existing unions are challenged by the fact that they do have so much to lose, both in terms of the organizational resources and power they are trying to preserve and in terms of the people they represent, people whose lives are injured when they lose a job or their union is broken or their pay and benefits are cut. But if top union leaders are beginning to shed that fear and fight like they're already dead, times could get interesting.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 11:56 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  flexibility and adaptability (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurious, dotdash2u, Words In Action

    to what is changing so quickly around us. In a time where it's hard to predict what direction will save and build the middle class, it's good to see Trumka talking about these things.

    BagNewsNotes: Visual Politics, Media Image Analysis

    by ksh01 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:01:01 PM PST

    •  Yes. It is PR, being a value added resource (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr MadAsHell

      And this includes upgrading some standards and doing away with archaic practices. I know folks in the aerospace industry who complained that they could not so much as hand a co-worker a hammer because they were not allowed to work on that job. This antagonized both the workers and management. In other words, inefficiencies were created by outdated methods and practices.

      Or a better example could be seen with music unions. They are less than useless or non-existant for most gigging musicians in clubs and bars. In an ideal world the unions would not only secure work but help club and bar owners create a vibrant entertainment scene in any given city. They'd help bands pool resources and go with them and club owners to city hall to help enact productive changes in zoning restrictions if need be. They'd make sure the musicians hold up their end and encourage the bands to expand on what they could do to earn more. Perhaps helping them with someone who could set up advertising and lights and sound and otherwise creating a draw. And to compete, without threats, with non-union musicians by making them worth paying more than those not in the union. In a perfect world they'd be able to interface with 'independent contractors' as musicians are now categorized as.

  •  Nothing wrong with the model we HAD... (4+ / 0-)

    Until the conservatives and corporations got together to "Fix It".

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:15:37 PM PST

    •  Well, thing is, you have to be willing to oppose (7+ / 0-)

      those forces no matter what political party they turn up in. Or what numbers they turn up in.

      The unions should have turned on the Democrats big time as soon as NAFTA was unveiled. Then maybe we wouldn't be in this position. Of course, to some extent the unions themselves were reaping what they'd sown by siding with Nixon (Teamsters) and Reagan (I believe AFL-CIO chose the wrong side in the air traffic controllers' strike, didn't they?)  

      But none of that excuses NAFTA, and it should have been fought with righteous indignation. Had it been, like I said, maybe we wouldn't be so disempowered now. It's hard to have an effective union movement when you're not sure you're going to stand up for workers because your buddies in Washington wearing blue are going to ream workers within an inch of their lives and you really don't want to fight with them about it.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:33:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They figured how to bust unions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      That's what is wrong.  It's the access to cheap labor.  And there is no end in sight to it.  I can't imagine ever creating laws to prevent it.

      The new model would likely be worker's cooperatives.  The problem in forming them is that they need capital to get started.  Thus far, I hear no one in the political sphere (short of democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders) who wants to fund them.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:23:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I consider the IWW (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    Has what might be the best model of union for our times, particularly for "contract" professionals, but regrettably, the IWW was so marginalized by government and AFL-CIO they are virtually ignored.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:28:20 PM PST

    •  Saw this too late to rec, sorry n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zooecium

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:13:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So what are his new strategies? (0+ / 0-)

    What new industries is he targeting?

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 12:32:44 PM PST

  •  i tired to get them to really think about things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    but they are too tied to the status quo

    they need to know how the 1% pulled off the coup d'etat and then they can regroup

    maybe a year later they would be willing to listen

  •  After all these decades, Unions have not learned (6+ / 0-)

    They should have always been involved with infiltrating and taking over Management.

    Why, for example, have Unions not had serious stock purchase strategies for their membership?  Guidance and education on how to purchase common stock and portfolio management?

    They could easily form coalitions of retail stockholders strong enough to challenge boards of directors and even take over corporations.

    I am not talking about the watered down ESOPs which were nothing but management tricks to rob workers of pay, benefits and pensions.

    But with the adversarial relationship between management and labor it would be a far better strategy for Unions to teach management and administration staff that they are workers too and need the protection of Unions.

    Why continue to fight the corpse when you could just buy them?

  •  Go into the benefits business. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, Words In Action

    Offer to take on the entire job of managing employee benefits in return for a flat fee and make those benefits portable, allowing each employee to structure their benefits in any way they see fit. Business gets rid of the headache of employee benefits administration and can focus strictly on payroll.

    Then push for a law that says a member of a benefit union is entitled to the package of benefits in his or her union and this cannot be superseded by a company package or used to discriminate.

    In effect, this will mean some employees with have benefits that others wont. Everyone will have their own package. Some might pay extra out of the salary for more benefits and some will bank the difference between the company payment and the smallest package of benefits.

    But it would also mean an end to private sector collective bargaining over benefits and wages. Instead, if you want to hire a guy, that guys benefit package comes with the price of hiring him or her. But, and this is key, you will not be able to hire anyone for NO benefits as you can now. What you wont have to do, however, as a business is deal with structuring employee benefits. That is between that person and their union.

    •  Is there such a thing as a nonprofit (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brooklynbadboy, Words In Action

      healthcare collective? Like REI for healthcare. And why couldn't the model you are talking about work that way? If it was built transparent from the ground up I think people could be persuaded to not just join, but politically align with it. People would be helped with real access to collective bargaining for healthcare. A significant liberal goal could be met and the obstructionist elements that are against it politically could be bypassed.

      Poverty = politics.

      by Renee on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:19:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd imagine something like freelancers union, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Renee

        only your employer, such as they are, has to pay into the union fund for the cost of employing you.

        So lets say you have an $10000 benefit package that includes 2 weeks paid vacation, 5 sick days, full healthcare, and family leave time. You have that package with your union. The employer then pays you your salary and $10000 to the benefit package. The union can even set this is up so that there is no upfront cost by making the payments flow over time.

        Now, when you take a day off, the union pays your employer for the day. You take your two weeks, the union gives that back to your employer. You take your sick days, the union sends that back. So on and so forth.

        So lets say you get another job. You have a weeks vacation left. You carry that over to your new employer and the union reimburses your old employer for that week. Then they collect the money from the new employer.

        The goal here is to get everyone who works a basic set of benefits, individually tailored to suit that persons needs. Perhaps young people would rather have cash than vacations and older people would rather have more  sick days. You negotiate that with your union and it applies to you personally no matter where you work.

        •  Interesting idea, but isn't this almost socialism? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          brooklynbadboy, 6412093

          If the union is the government, then it is socialism.  This is outsourced socialism.  Interesting idea for the twenty first century.  I think it could work, but if you are trying to get a job, the employer will see this "benefits package" as a reason not to hire you.  If he has two people that are equally qualified, one who belongs to this union, and another that doesn't, it isn't clear to me that the employer would want to hire the person with the "benefit" bundle around his neck.  The employer would need to see the savings from working with the "Benefit Union" rather than administering it himself.  I could see a definite benefit, but what happens if you want to go work for a company and they don't want to pay your benefit union?  If you don't take the job, that might be hard on you.  If everyone had the benefit union hanging around their neck, then no problem.  But if an employer needs to do administration for a handful of stupid employees, he's paying the cost of doing that benefit and he doesn't want to pay for it twice.  I like the concept, but the startup will be hard.  

          "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

          by dangoch on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:51:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I went back and looked at your last diary. You (3+ / 0-)

            have already been thinking about this.

            I think one way or another, this kind of collectivism is what will have to happen if we are to experience real and lasting change.

            Poverty = politics.

            by Renee on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 03:24:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, yeah, you'd have to level the playing (0+ / 0-)

            field so that all employees had a third party benefits package and all employers had to handle employee benefits through the benefits package providers.

            Obama, Emanuel, Geithner, Summers, Holder, Breuer. With pragmatism stacked that deep is it any wonder that justice on Wall St., the 99% and the just Wall demise of supply-side economics had a chance? We were robbed, and not just by the banksters.

            by Words In Action on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 08:28:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This is similar (0+ / 0-)

          in some ways to the system used by some trade unions. My nephew is an ironworker, and their benefits are administered by the union. They work out of the union hall for whatever employer wants to hire them. The employer pays a comprehensive hourly wage, the union buys health insurance, administers the retirement fund, and so forth. The employer doesn't have to bother with any of it. Workers see a deduction on their pay stub for the cost of their benefits.

          "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

          by happy camper on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:10:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Many health insurance providers run as non-profits (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Renee

        but their rates are about the same as the for profit providers as the driving cost is the cost of healthcare goods and services and our use of ineffective costly care.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 03:06:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for answering this. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Words In Action, nextstep

          It doesn't make sense to me that the rates would be about the same if one service has a profit that also has to be paid for…

          I hear you on the other part though. We need a non-binding collection of rationalist healthcare professionals who will discuss treatment options based on outcomes.

          I know that was a wildly idealistic suggestion.

          Poverty = politics.

          by Renee on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 03:26:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wonder if there is a significant difference in (0+ / 0-)

          exec compensation in the n-p's vs. the f-p's?

          Obama, Emanuel, Geithner, Summers, Holder, Breuer. With pragmatism stacked that deep is it any wonder that justice on Wall St., the 99% and the just Wall demise of supply-side economics had a chance? We were robbed, and not just by the banksters.

          by Words In Action on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 08:29:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not as true as it used to be. (0+ / 0-)

          Most of the BCBS logo owners turned for-profit long ago, for instance.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:14:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not really. (0+ / 0-)

          Read "Bitter Pill:  Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us" in the current issue of Time.  It's a real eye-opener.

          The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself." -- Wanda

          by the autonomist on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 12:35:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Very interesting. (0+ / 0-)

      I'll have to chew on it a while. Pretty cool idea. Need to poke at it to see if it has any flaws, and where.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:36:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Go into the benefits business... (7+ / 0-)

      Yes, this is thinking along the right path.

      I'll give you an example of my union, Local One, IATSE, NY Stagehands.  We work for multiple employers over the course of a year, sometimes as many as 20 or more.  It would be impossible to get benefits from each employer.  However, our older brothers devised a system to handle this, many years ago: they created two funds, Welfare, and Pension which are separate entities from either the Union, or any employer.  The employer pays a contractually obligated percentage of the workers pay (not taxed or added to the W-2) into these funds.
      A worker who makes a yearly minimum is covered.  Simple.

      The funds are jointly administered by 3 union reps, and 3 employer reps for the members.

      What's great about this set-up is that no one can steal the money.  When our pension fund is "over-funded", the employer can't come in and take the "extra" money.  Instead, our pension increases.

      We have the same struggle with health care costs as everyone else.  The difference is we are secure in knowing that the fund will be there in the future, and can't be taken away by any employer on a whim.

      We also have an Annuity fund which works like this, with individual contributions to a named account for each employee.  It functions like a 401K, with the employer adding a fixed percentage each payday.

      I could see a system like this for ANY kind of worker: white collar, home-health care, day laborer...
         

      If a carpenter built a cabin for poets, I think the least the poets owe the carpenter is just three or four one-liners on the wall. Mike Lefevre - steelworker

      by Bob Friend on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:21:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Laura, DailyKos should be Union Made (4+ / 0-)

    How can DailyKos, a fiercely pro-Union website not have its workers represented by a union?

    What if you and other pro-union workers get a union to represent the workers of Kos Media LLC?

    I look forward to the day when the Top of DailyKos web pages say "Proudly Union Made."

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:24:16 PM PST

    •  Only one problem, what does Kos do? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee

      If you read my comment below, an Everyone Union could bring management and laborers together if the management was progressive enough and wanted to help the working class.  Management do work for a living, but big companies treat their management very differently from "regular workers".  That is not fair.  Workers need to have some ability to hold government accountable without having to belong to a negotiating union like the AFL-CIO.  I'd like to see the AFL-CIO have an Everyone Union branch that let everyone join at a reasonable cost with the idea of building the strongest lobbying team in the country to hold politicians to account.  Corporations have their lobbying organizations, unions are lobbying organizations, the Boy Scouts are a lobbying organization (not doing too well) probably even the PTA has its own lobbying organization, but I can't belong to any of them.  We shouldn't try to separate the Us and Them here, it should all be Us and maybe the Them is the stupid politicians that take corporate money to do their bidding.  I'd like to see a organization that would fight for reinstatement of bribery laws as is stated in the constitution.  Politicians won't do it by themselves and they write the laws to make themselves exempt.  That needs to stop.  Corporate money is ruining this country and we need to fight back.  The only requirement for this union is you must be a person.  "Corporations are NOT people, my friends"  That should be the only limit.  No corporate sponsorships, non-profit, social media centric, get ready, get set, GO!

      "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

      by dangoch on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:42:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Role of political parties (0+ / 0-)

        Your comment says:

        Workers need to have some ability to hold government accountable without having to belong to a negotiating union like the AFL-CIO
        People can join political parties and support individual campaigns.  How is you vision of an Everyman Union different than a political party?

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 02:58:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not the commenter, but it seems to me that (0+ / 0-)

          several of these comments, including one I made are fumbling towards putting together a larger coalition of working people which has the potential to become a party which is beholden to the people who formed it instead of the influence buying mess both of the current major parties have become.

          Poverty = politics.

          by Renee on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 03:41:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not interested in a third party (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Renee

            The politicians have done everything to prevent any significant ability for more than 2 parties.  What I would like to see is a strong workers group or union that is focused on forcing all politicians to pay more attention to workers rather than corporations or at least pay equal attention.  I think that is the only way the people are going to be able to wrestle control of this country from the plutocrats from both parties.  We really only have one party, the corporate party.  The Dems talk a better story about helping the 99% but they still hold the hand out to the 1%.  The rethugs are a little more pour, they only care about the 1% and have talking points that says they are for the 99%.  But Rmoney's hidden camera recording to the 1% was very telling what people in his class think.  The dependant 47% want only to receive government assistance.  That is so much BS but the rethugs sure make it clear they don't want to help the middle class.  

            My goal is to see an organization (one already in esistance would be nice) that can organize a campaign to get workers of any class but mostly the middle class with the sole purpose to stand up to politicians for the workers of America.  There are many organizations that say they are for workers, most negotiating unions say that, but I can't join because I don't work in anything that resembles a union position.  I'm an unaffiliated worker like millions of other workers that have no voice.  Our politicians say they listen, but it is mostly talking points.  We need a focus on the middle class.  If the organization can assist workers in a beneficial way like health insurance or whatever, all the better.  I'm all for that.  But we need to get a group that can have the power of the NRA, Freedom Works or Norquist that isn't beholding to corporate sponsors.  Workers, occupiers, can grow this union with the goal of holding politicians accountable.  I have no desire to lead this organization but I'd sure join this organization in a flash.  We need to get our country back, but not the way the Tea party folks say they want it back.  We need to get the country focused on people not corporations.  We need a 99% group, not all the 1% groups that say they are for the 99%.  That is a talking point not a conviction.  

            "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

            by dangoch on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 08:24:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah. (0+ / 0-)

              I wasn't saying we should do that to build a third party. I could see one arising from that work which I think needs to be done. The way you are describing it sounds right to me. I just think as workers realize we have power it would get bigger than a lobby group.

              I don't care either way, as long as the power shifts to the workers.

              Poverty = politics.

              by Renee on Fri Mar 08, 2013 at 10:10:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Managers and supervisors (0+ / 0-)

        are not protected by the NLRA, and cannot join unions. The bosses lobbied hard for that provision, because without it, the interests of low level supervisors coincide with those of the workers, rather than those of the company.

        The current state of labor law in the US effectively requires unions to operate with one hand tied behind their backs.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:20:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think there needs to be a "Everyone Union" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, Renee, Words In Action

    I like the Benefits Union idea, but I work for a company with 5 employees.  My boss is my friend.  I wouldn't want a union and don't need a union, but that doesn't mean I can't belong to a union.  I think there should be a "Union of Unaffiliated Workers" that can provide a means of getting benefits, lobbying the state and federal government to look out for all laborers needs.  If somehow, enough people sign up for this union that work at the same place, maybe this is a way to force a "Union" vote and establish a negotiating union with that company.  But those people could still be members of the Unaffiliated Workers Union all the same.  The only requirement is you pay your membership dues.  It's kind of like joining the NRA.  We can elect the President of the Union, have conventions and all those fun things, but the import thing is using social media for organizing.  Have significant Facebook presence and Twitter presence and grow viral-y.  I'd join in a flash and I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of workers who would join too.  It shouldn't just be a Progressive Union, but have workers progressive positions and try to bring income inequity down and workers salaries up.  We also need a retirement safety net, which a union could provide.  All these things unions do, but it is stupid that I can only join if I work at a GM plant.  And this way, you get around the right to work laws.  In this case, it is a right to organize, which the constitution guarantees.  I also think we should take lessons from Norquist and friends and maybe have a "Worker's Pledge" that we get politicians to sign.  We don't want to be as draconian as Norquist, but make politicians accountable to workers.  It is about time.

    "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength", George Orwell, "1984" -7.63 -5.95

    by dangoch on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:28:40 PM PST

    •  What I would love to see is a clear framework (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action

      of growth in which there is a voted on power structure before dues paying starts happening. Say the first step of membership is learning to work social media to effect change. Second step is becoming part of the media team. Third step is developing collective self governance. Fourth step, voting on leaders. Finally, after lots of people have skin in the game because of their efforts and clear transparency has been established then dues are agreed upon.

      Money corrupts. Inattention corrupts. And we want people joining in and feeling empowered. We need to acknowledge that in any collective group we build... you know, IMO.

      Poverty = politics.

      by Renee on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 03:47:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Occupy (3+ / 0-)

    was one of the best things that could have happened for unions in many years.

    Occupy preached that the 1% are generally heartless clueless asses who wake up every morning thinking of ways to screw workers and the middle class out of their money and time.

    The logical next step from Occupy's message is that we'd better stick together against them, and unions are one way to stick together.

    Too many folks still believe the playing field is level and they just need to work a little harder to get ahead, and not get involved in unions or other workers' problems.

    I hoped to see Occupy carry its message into labor's situations, but it was hard to mesh the two movements into anything concrete.

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 01:56:37 PM PST

    •  Occupy is still around (0+ / 0-)

      They have indicative s in creating worker cooperatives.  That is the only way to change the system.  You need to start from ground up and cultivate a new way for employees to relate to the workplace.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:37:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Where? (0+ / 0-)

        I don't really see much activity on the websites. I mean, I'm aware of the rolling jubilee/strike the debt and Occupy Sandy, but what is actually going to build Occupy itself as an organization?

        Obama, Emanuel, Geithner, Summers, Holder, Breuer. With pragmatism stacked that deep is it any wonder that justice on Wall St., the 99% and the just Wall demise of supply-side economics had a chance? We were robbed, and not just by the banksters.

        by Words In Action on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 08:24:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Occupy died before it could be gunned down (0+ / 0-)

          in the streets.  End of story.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:15:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Your kidding right? (0+ / 0-)

          Just go into google and you still find the occupy web site.  The NYC GA still meets all the time.  They have working groups.  On Sunday, Chris Hayes regularly has Alexis Goldstein from occupy.

          It's true that they are no longer occupying physical space but the organization is still around.  Just wait for 2.0.  I predict life will become so miserable because of a crappy grand bargain that you'll something larger than the first time.
          It's just a matter of time.  Where it will end up I have no idea.

          "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

          by noofsh on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 02:13:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Think cooperatives (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    They aren't unions in the traditional sense but they are a powerful to empower employees.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:35:02 PM PST

    •  I wish you were right (0+ / 0-)

      a few years ago I helped a group of highly skilled (and minority) seamstresses in Oakland (CA) split their clothing line off from their corporate bosses and form a co-op.  We caught the owners at the NLRB and coerced a large financial $ettlement for start-up funds.

      Asian clothing companies undercut them so bad, they went out of business in a couple of years.

      Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

      by 6412093 on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 10:11:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Moderates have forgotten how we got here, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    how hard Labor worked (and died) to get us the envy of working conditions by the 70s. And how the plutocracy with the help of Republicans and Corporate Dems have frittered away important social understandings and policies and practices until we are where we are and still going downhill.

    They weren't there when Labor put its neck on the line, and they aren't there for anyone today.

    Obama, Emanuel, Geithner, Summers, Holder, Breuer. With pragmatism stacked that deep is it any wonder that justice on Wall St., the 99% and the just Wall demise of supply-side economics had a chance? We were robbed, and not just by the banksters.

    by Words In Action on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 08:20:10 PM PST

  •  ORGANIZE! DON'T JUST REINVENT THE WHEEL (0+ / 0-)

    labor does need to adapt and use new strategies, but too many unions don't put enough resources into their organizing programs. The AFL-CIO has been tossing money at democrats for far too long instead of helping affiliates. We need a comprehensive organizing strategy that includes labor law reform.

  •  What Works is Force. nt (0+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:02:50 PM PST

  •  They need to get involved internationally. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wildthumb, KauffmanArkansas

    Most of the European manufacturers making products in the South to avoid unions wouldn't dare do such a thing in their home countries.

    If US unions can forge some kind agreements whereby the Euro Unions would fight such union busting in their home countries, it would help US unions.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:09:02 PM PST

  •  Unions ought to be as diabolically strategic (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, JR, KauffmanArkansas, a2nite, mkor7

    as corporations to work their way back to more clout.  

    Certainly I think there should be more global strategies for working people, too.

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:11:48 PM PST

  •  Finally. They need to open up a dialogue with (0+ / 0-)

    small business owners. Here in Texas, just about every carpenter/plumber/electrician, etc. is "self-employed".
    Jump in with both feet on the "solar power" movement.
    Etc.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:20:12 PM PST

  •  Working America (7+ / 0-)

    I used to be a Field Manager with Working America. We recruited thousands of members in Arkansas. Nearly every day an unskilled worker would appeal to a canvasser for assistance in fixing a problem in their workplace. All we could do was nod our heads and give them a phone number and ask them for a donation. We wouldn't call these people back about their concerns let alone to remind them of a local rally.

    AFL-CIO's ground game is pure astroturf and electoral politics. Hopefully Trumka has shifted the way the organization is run. Because it's operation is nothing like they laud it to be.

    Hell, defund Working America and use the extra millions to support the staff at a single Wal Mart while they strike. If you can't provide for striking families you won't get a strike and without that you won't get something like Wal Mart to care you exist.

  •  Mark my words: The future of unions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SouthernLiberalinMD

    is not in the workplace.  Unions should not organize around the jobs people have, but in the future they want.

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 08:38:20 PM PST

  •  unions suck at media (3+ / 0-)

    i see bumper stickers occationally with unions bragging about 40 hour weeks and weekends, etc. These stupid ads simply fail to say that we don't have 40 hour weeks or weekends anymore

    Sure after 40 hours/week they have to pay you over time. What do they do? they work you for 40hours without enough to make it on your own and they hire a part timer to make up the difference..

    businesses essentially swap employees part time to avoid overtime fees by paying them less than a living wage. The employees work more than 40 hours per week at two jobs, never get paid overtime and never have a week end. Dig that fact into commercials week after week and it'll catch on.

  •  What about taking that big pool of money and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, corvo, mkor7

    voters that Trumka's union creates and making it clear to O and the Dems that it will ALL be withheld unless O and the Dems get something done to help labor..... and I'm not talking lip service. I'm talking DONES.... things DONE.... legislation PASSED..... executive orders ISSUED..... etc, etc, etc........  If O and the Dems can't get the job done then NO funding for Dems in 2014 and 2016. Because lets face it, Dems aren't helping labor now, so there is nothing to lose by not supporting Dems in 2014/2016, and everything to win by playing hardball with them. It's all they understand. Money and threats.... it's the woof and warp of U.S. politics.

    I can't tell you how many times I've seen Trumka on talk shows and it seems he's all bluster and no real action. I know the GOP are horrible shits, but at some point the Dems, activists and voters have to take some responsibility for what is happening in this country. We let the Dems and GOP get away with their crappy behaviour and then we whine about it. It's time to get effective.

    Corporations before people.... it's the American way!

    by Lucy2009 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:16:23 PM PST

  •  Trumpka better look to his own house. When you (4+ / 0-)

    have a situation in NJ with Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney, the President of the Iron Workers Union no less, collaborating with Chris Christie to reduce public workers pensions and collective bargaining rights for health care in a supposedly pro-union state, you have a big problem with the credibility of the union movement.  

    Apparently Sweeney, the bag boy for South Jersey Democratic political boss, Knucky Norcross, is more concerned with delivering the goods to the rich and powerful than he is with his union brothers and sisters who are public employees in NJ.  

    If the union movement is fragmented, it has only itself to blame with people like Sweeney running the show.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:30:34 PM PST

  •  Um... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auapplemac

    There is nothing to lose by not supporting Dems???

    Do you know how terrible the Republicans can be? (See Arkansas General Assembly)

    There is so much to lose.

    It's all about the Democratic primaries, union organizing changes, and mass culture advertising.

    •  Yeah. So right, but (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, corvo, mkor7

      It just ain't enough to fight like hell only to see it chipped away just the same.  

      I worked my ass off for the POTUS reelection.  A Romney win would have guaranteed a loss for us in every category.

      The Obama win, only gives us a chance not to lose every time.

      We need better fucking odds than that.

      Where is Anarchy, when you need it?

      by Boberto on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:32:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If the union movement is (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhauenstein, a2nite, corvo, mkor7, Whatithink

      simply a part of the Democratic party, it should stop pretending to be an independent movement for labor and just sign up as the unpaid portion of the DNC.

      It doesn't matter how terrible Republicans are; it's the Democratic party's job to beat Republicans. If they can't do it without our unpaid labor helping them, then perhaps they should offer us something in exchange for it, something more than just not being Paul Ryan.

      It's the union's job to advocate for working people's rights.

      if necessary for years; if necessary, alone

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:43:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Women who work in offices (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude

    are ripe for organizing.  They are exploited and abused as much as other groups.  Also teachers and staff at private schools.   I've done both and while it would be an effort to get this done, I believe it's possible.

    There is a huge pool out there waiting.

  •  better answer for you (0+ / 0-)

    Of course, I am not sure if union leaders are excited by this but its clear to me that traditional unions will not work in many cases (certainly not all cases).  The reason is that they are too easy to bust with outsourcing.  If I were a labor leader, I would back both traditional unions and cooperatives.  Unions may play some role in helping workers in cooperatives manage their business, at least help them organize themselves so they can.  Not sure ...

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:20:49 AM PDT

  •  guns (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey

    Unused guns need to be cleaned--unused union power needs to be unleashed.  When was the last major union shutdown in the US?  Probably Boeing--which has been disobeying NLRB rulings openly.  In Europe, unions are strong--and they often strike.  And they often strike in concert with other unions.  And they often have much higher wages and benefits than their American brothers and sisters.

    The NYC teacher union--UFT--has been without a contract for 6 years-- in that time span they didn't try to prevent Mayor Bloomberg from running for a third term--which needed city council approval.  Al Shanker deserves a better legacy.

    Power goes to those that bully others--sad fact of life--the meek inherit crumbs.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:40:58 AM PDT

  •  What, you mean that Trumka's (0+ / 0-)

    tried-and-true method of bluster-followed-by-capitulation isn't working any more?  Whoda thunk . . .

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:12:56 AM PDT

  •  WA. Teacher Union FAILINGS which are LEADERS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Whatithink

    fault.

    FIRST - let's set up potemkin "Democratic" processes where meeting agendas are ALWAYS last minute ...

    OR, instead of processes by insiders --

    Let's have OPEN processes. (presume monthly meeting.)  NOTHING should be voted on which hasn't been on the internet for at least 7 weeks.

    http://www.liemail.com/...

    SECOND - let's have last minute 'organizing' where, under the dictates of 'solidarity' and 'unity', we're ALL supposed to jump jump jump when "leaders" say 'let's support this sell out, OR, things will be worse!"  

    For example, Mary Lindquist of Washington Education Association spent all kinds of time stumping for Jay Inslee for Gov. cuz ... yawn... Rob McKenna would be a Ronnie Raygun ... I mean Scott Walker! (wow, no shit? ) So, last week, Gov. Jay the Dunce appoints to the WA. Charter School commission a guy from Seattle, Steve Sundquist, who is an ed deform bill gate$ a$$ ki$$er. WOW, good thing WEA dumped all kinds of resources into supporting a traitor!

    Did I mention WEA supporting a DLC style clone for Congress, Susan DelBene over Darcy Burner?

    OR, instead of grassroots by insiders --

    how about open organizing? There are 80,000 WEA members, if we all did 4 things in a year (sign wave during a primary, doorbell, phonebank, leaflet... ) those 320,000 things would add up to people like Jay the Dunce being afraid of messing with us! Duh!!

    http://www.liemail.com/...

    THIRD - the union which TAKES MY MONEY (yup - I did NOT say "my union", on purpose) has elections of senior officers by politburo!! President and Vice President of WEA elections are NOT open to all paying members!

    Because I'm an building representative, and because I got elected to the annual union meeting, I get to vote on the President and Vice - President ... and tens of thousands of dues paying members do NOT get to vote!

    When an organization is going to claim to be 'democratic' and runs elections this way, I can't even be polite about what a bunch of insider, corrupt, despicable, venal lying f'king bullshit this is -

    ANYONE who wants to justify this f'king bullshit to me, PLEASE respond, so I can call you a lying toadie, or, a chump.

    FIRST + SECOND + THIRD  = a 'union' run by the leadership, for the leadership, of the leadership.

    The fascists are OUR enemies, and the leadership of the union which takes my dues is ... randomly on my side.

    rmm.

    (p.s. - I got a 40++++ an hour full time job - ANYONE who wants to tell me to go fix all this stuff, that is my fault - go fuck yourself. How about those who are paid to lead an organization which is supposed to represent the working stiffs make processes open?)

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:21:50 AM PDT

  •  Good for him. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Rix

    It's easy to whine about all the nasty things that  corporations do to thwart labor, but -- what's new about that?

    They used to send in Pinkerton thugs.
    They used to beat the crap out of union organizers and sympathetic workers.
    Used to kill some.

    The unions still managed to organize.

    The question to ask now is why workers aren't interested, and address that. Now, more than ever, should be a prime opportunity to organize and balance the equation a bit for  whole groups of workers.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 11:08:06 AM PDT

  •  "I'm lucky to have a job" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Whatithink

    is probably the most common worker resistance to unions. Keep  workers in a state of anxiety. Bosses make them believe it can only get worse if they try to get a little more.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 02:08:53 PM PDT

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