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Organize Your Workplace: Rebuilding Rank-And-File Worker Organizations ‘Must Be’ Labor’s Priority ‘And Central To That Project Will Be Recreating & Strengthening A Core Of Class-Conscious’ Workplace Activists – ‘The Militant Minority’

Published Thursday, May 28, 2020
by Nick French/Jacobin Magazine
Organize Your Workplace: Rebuilding Rank-And-File Worker Organizations ‘Must Be’ Labor’s Priority ‘And Central To That Project Will Be Recreating & Strengthening A Core Of Class-Conscious’ Workplace Activists – ‘The Militant Minority’

The Coronavirus is causing a major global, social and economic crisis.

In the United States, the government’s response to this crisis has been disastrous and employers are showing, as usual, that they have no qualms about putting their own profits above the health and safety of their Workers and of the public.

Strikes and other forms of on-the-job organizing have kicked off all over the country, but workplace militancy on a much greater scale will be required to force a humane pandemic response from corporate owners and policymakers, both to win the kind of measures we need to fight the disease, like Medicare for All, and to slow the disease’s spread.

The Labor Movement has a key role to play in this.

Unfortunately, Labor’s strength is at a historic low.

The percentage of Workers in Unions was 10.1% in 2019, the lowest rate since 1983 (when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began collecting data).

There was a revival of Strikes in 2018, with the most Workers going on Strike since 1986, but that number is mostly confined to public education and still way below the historic heights of the Great Depression and World War II era - or even the 1960s and 1970s, when Public Sector Strikes kicked off in large numbers.

A fighting Labor Movement is one of the only forces that can prevent needless misery and death during this outbreak and in-coming capitalist-created crises.

Micah Uetricht and Barry Eidlin write about this conundrum in a 2018 article for Labor Studies Journal.  They argue that there are three principal approaches to understanding Labor’s relative weakness in the United States and what to do about it.

Understanding these approaches, and what’s wrong or missing with them, is critical for formulating a successful strategy to revitalize the Labor Movement today.

One approach says Organized Labor is being held back by unfriendly policies and that the solution to the Labor Movement’s woes is to reform Labor Law.

Another approach holds that Labor’s problem is due to Union Leaders using flawed organizing strategies.

The solution, then, lies in improving those strategies.

The third, related to the second, argues Labor has suffered from the absence of elected officials who are friendly to Unions, and that rebuilding the Labor Movement requires electing more pro-Labor politicians.

Uetricht and Eidlin argue that all three are not so much fully wrong as misguided in their emphasis.

Labor-friendly policies have generally been the effect, not the cause, of upsurges in Labor militancy.

The often illegal and occasionally violent Strikes of the early 1930s, for example, spooked legislators into passing the Wagner Act, which institutionalized Collective Bargaining Rights through new Labor Laws.

Leaders’ adoption of new organizing strategies, usually emphasizing research and communications over building power on the shop floor, has failed to revitalize Unions.

And for decades, Unions have tried to strengthen themselves by using connections with the Democratic Party - again, to little avail.

To Continue Reading This Labor News Story, Go To: www.jacobinmag.com/2020/05/labor-organizing-rank-file-strategy-workers-movement

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