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High Court Killing of Closed-Shop Public Employee Contracts a Needed Wake-Up Cal for Business-Model Unions

Stop whining and start organizing!

The labor movement needs to cut loose from the Democratic Party, where it has long moored itself, wasting vast amounts of its scarce resources and energy in bi-annual or quadrennial exercises to support lackluster candidates and in “get-out-the-vote” drives by members going door to door to plead with people to vote for their favored Democratic candidate — someone who most of the time forgets them once elected as did Obama, or who even turns around and screws them.

Unions and a real political labor movement have over history been the only way workers have succeeded in winning such crucial things as the right to organize and to form unions, minimum wage laws, child labor laws, a 40-hour week with overtime for extra work, paid vacations, Social Security, and other key legislation. As they have become increasingly weak over the decades, many of those great victories have been whittled away. The biggest loss has been a trend by employers to convert their workers into “independent contractors,” who lose all protection under federal and state labor laws. The political system has done little to oppose this disastrous trend which doubly weakens unions because independent contractors are generally deemed unable to form or join unions since they are not considered to be employees.

In those early battles for worker rights, unions were a militant movement. They rallied, they struck employers frequently, they confronted police, Pinkerton private security goons and even National Guard troops, held sit-ins at work-sites to prevent them from operating, and ran powerfully effective boycotts of companies that tried to bust their organizing or bargaining campaigns.

The irony is that polls still show that, weak as they are, unions have the support of a majority of the nation’s workers, who keep saying that if they could have a union at their place of work, they would want one. But it’s increasingly hard to organize a union in the current fire-at-will environment.

The answer is militant, aggressive unions with dedicated leaders who win their positions by proving themselves as fellow workers, working their way up as picketers walking the line, as shop stewards, as grievance officers, as organizers and who are willing to work as leaders either as volunteers in their leadership roles, not as paid executives.

Here’s hoping that the Supreme Court’s latest deliberately anti-union decision turns out to produce exactly that result.
 

DAVE LINDORFF was a founder and early organizer of the National Writers Union (NWU-UAW), successfully organized a local of the Hotel and Restaurant workers back in 1972 when he was working as an employee of the Sarah Lawrence College food service contractor, and also was active during the ‘70s in the New York City part of the national grape and lettuce boycott run by the National Farmworkers Union as a part of its successful campaign to win the union’s first contracts with California growers.



story | by Dr. Radut