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Starry Messenger

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Name: Decline to State
Gender: Female
Hometown: Bay Area, CA
Home country: USA
Current location: Left Coast
Member since: Sat Apr 9, 2005, 08:01 PM
Number of posts: 24,266

About Me

Artist, high school teacher and "hard-liner" (yet to be defined).

Journal Archives

Nude George W. Bush Self-Portrait

Posted by Starry Messenger | Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:39 PM (66 replies)

Alt-Labor

I thought this highlighted some positive developments in working class solidarity. The ending is a little more pessimistic than I think is warranted, but I thought folks might be interested in this here. I wish I could post more than four paras, check it out when you have a moment.

http://prospect.org/article/alt-labor



<snip>

The ROC is a labor group. But it’s not a union. It represents a new face of the U.S. labor movement—an often-ignored, little-understood array of groups organizing workers without the union label. As unions face declining membership these workers’ groups—like the mostly union-free job sectors they organize—are on the rise, particularly in New York. Because of their efforts, more restaurant workers in the city get paid sick days, domestic workers receive overtime pay, and taxi drivers will soon have health insurance.

Twenty years ago, when Rutgers labor professor Janice Fine first set out to count the nonunion groups that were organizing and mobilizing workers, she found just five in the entire country. Today, her tally stands at 214. These groups organize farmworkers and fashion models. They go by names like “workers’ centers” and “workers’ alliances.” Some are rooted in the immigrant-rights movement as much as the labor movement. Lacking the ability to engage in collective bargaining or enforce union contracts, these alternative labor groups rely on an overlapping set of other tactics to reform their industries. The ROC teaches workers their rights and also restaurant skills; advises and publicizes model employers; and helps organize protests like the ones at Capital Grille, making customers aware of what goes on behind the dining room. The ROC also lobbies state and local lawmakers for reforms and helps workers take legal action when all else fails.

<snip>

There’s another reason for the rise of alt-labor: For an increasing number of U.S. workers, unions are not even an option. Labor law denies union rights to increasingly significant sectors of the workforce, including so-called independent contractors and domestic workers, whose numbers are expected to double as baby boomers enter elder care. In 1989, the United States had twice as many manufacturing jobs as service-sector jobs; now the numbers are nearly equal. But many corners of the service sector are virtually union-free—even where, as in restaurants, workers have the right to organize.

At first, traditional unions dismissed alt-labor efforts. Now many have come to recognize workers’ groups for what they are: part of the labor movement. The AFL-CIO and its local unions and labor councils have increasingly been funding, collaborating with, and rallying beside their alt-labor counterparts. The country’s other major labor federation, Change to Win, and its affiliates have also been supporting and partnering with alt-labor groups. Those efforts burst into the headlines with strikes by Wal-Mart employees and fast-food workers last fall. “Workers’ centers are movements in search of institutions,” says Ana Avendaño, who directs immigration and community policy for the AFL-CIO. “And our unions are often institutions in search of movements.”

<snip>






Posted by Starry Messenger | Wed Feb 6, 2013, 07:13 PM (13 replies)

CPUSA leader turns up the volume on labor’s future

(This is a bit of a self-plug too, since I'm the author. )

http://www.peoplesworld.org/cpusa-leader-turns-up-the-volume-on-labor-s-future/



<snip>

A key to understanding this time of transition, Marshall said, is to look at the phases that labor struggles have gone through in U.S. history. Just as Eugene Debs took labor to a qualitatively different form by organizing the railroad workers, and William Z. Foster in his turn transformed labor unions with the formation of the T.U.E.L. and the T.U.U.L., eventually bringing the force of industrial unionism to the C.I.O., likewise labor is now looking toward a new form, which Marshall refers to as "big-picture unionism."

In beginning to talk about a changing phase for labor, it is necessary to look at the weakened position of labor, as part of its objective conditions. Offshoring, automation and other changes in manufacturing have put traditional industrial unions at a disadvantage in pursuing tried-and-true methods of bringing improvements to the lives of rank-and-file workers. The old ways of applying pressure to monopoly's profit-seeking have diminished in effectiveness, while the bread-and-butter issues that union members face have hardly diminished.

In "big-picture unionism" the issues that each union faces need to be seen in the context of a global system. Unions must, meanwhile, also look at how forming coalitions with other affected groups outside of their membership can bring wins not only for labor, but also for the local communities affected by the vagaries of capitalism.

This local vs. global approach has the advantage of accumulating force both horizontally and vertically: horizontally along the net of communities that live alongside the union and struggle alongside union families and also vertically along the length of the production supply chain.

<snip>


Posted by Starry Messenger | Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:24 PM (3 replies)
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