Posted on June 11, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Alexandra Bradbury , Labor Notes
If members run the local… what exactly is the union rep’s job? We asked four experienced staffers how they approach their day-to-day tasks while keeping the rank and file in the driver’s seat. Photo: Jim West/jimwestphoto.com.
Suppose you’re a union staff rep. (Or a business agent, an internal organizer, whatever the local lingo is.) And suppose you believe in union democracy: the members should run the fight against the boss.
Where do you come in, then? What exactly is your job, and how can you do it in a way that keeps the rank and file in the driver’s seat?
The obvious danger: you work for the union all day, while members have their jobs to do. It can be all too easy for members and staffers alike to start thinking “the union” means the people who have desks at the union hall: the top brass and the reps they hire. That’s not only undemocratic—it’s a terrible foundation for building power.
We asked four experienced staffers how they see their jobs and how they translate the idea that the members run the union into their day-to-day tasks.
Filed under: Organizing, Union Reform | Tagged: democratic unions, union staffers | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 31, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Larry Savage
On May 8, 2014, Hassan Yussuff made history as the only candidate in the history of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to successfully unseat
an incumbent President. The convention was the largest in the organization’s history with over 4,600 delegates casting ballots. In the end, Yussuff won by a razor thin margin of 40 votes, capturing 50.4 per cent of the total valid votes cast.
Why did Canada’s labour movement opt for new leadership? There were multiple factors at play.
Filed under: Solidarity, Union Reform | Tagged: Canadian Labour Congress, CLC, Hassan Yussuff | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 14, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Jack Rasmus welcomed back labor historian, Staughton Lynd to his radio program Alternative Visions, to discuss specific ideas how American unions might evolve their current organizational structure to better confront the growing crisis of American workers and their unions in the 21st century. Jack and Staughton agree it’s time for solutions, not just talking about dimensions of today’s crisis in union strategy—whether political, industrial, bargaining, organizing—i.e. strategies that that are now failing across the board for American workers today. Both agree that some new form of local union organization is needed that strengthens local unions to confront the massive legal web that has grown over decades favoring employers, government, and national union leaders. Stronger local unions must somehow be developed, both argue, that organizationally integrate the community.
Filed under: Organizing, Politics, Union Reform | Tagged: Jack Rasmus, Staughton Lynd | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 2, 2014 by paulgarver
by Eric Lee
[Ed. Note: This image shows strikebreakers sent by the local union federation attacking young striking workers at a Honda parts plant in 2010 The local union was forced to apologize and a higher level federation officer helped negotiate higher wages at the plant. A wave of strikes at auto parts plants in China followed. -Paul Garver]
At the end of March, the International Labour Organisation’s Bureau for Workers Activities (known as ILO-ACTRAV) and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding “to promote Trade unions South-South Cooperation in the Asia- Pacific region”.
The Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, said “we need to find a way which so that the ACFTU can work more closely with other parts of the international trade union movement, sharing common objectives.”
Ryder is a former General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, which has decided to invite the ACFTU to attend its upcoming World Congress in Berlin in May.
These two events illustrate the fact that the trade union leadership in much of the developed world now seems keen on putting the past behind us and welcoming China’s trade unions back into our “global family”.
Filed under: Global organizing, Low wage workers, Solidarity, Uncategorized, Union Reform | Tagged: ACFTU, China, ILO, ITUC | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 26, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bill Fletcher
Preface: The following is what used to be termed a “struggle paper,” i.e., a paper presented as an argument for a position. It is not presented as a final position, however. It is, instead, inspired by the content of the February Left Strategies web discussion on the labor movement. This paper does not try to present the ideal tactics or all elements of strategy. It does, however, attempt to identify–for purposes of discussion–issues and concepts for consideration in the development of a full-blown left labor strategy. Feedback is welcomed.
Filed under: Organizing, Politics, Union Reform | Tagged: Bill Fletcher Jr., left labor strategy | 6 Comments »
Posted on March 10, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Labor Notes Staff
Our new book, How to Jump-Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers, shows how activists transformed their union and gave members hope. This excerpt tells how the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE) campaigned for top offices, and won.
It’s one of the universals of organizing—first you make a list.
Elementary teacher Alix Gonzalez Guevara remembers staying up late transferring data about each school from a district-published book into an Excel spreadsheet: region, address, how many teachers, how many students.
This became a Google document, an online spreadsheet available to everyone working on the campaign. The schools were grouped by regions. Within each, a couple of lead activists took responsibility to find people to do outreach at each school. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Organizing, Union Reform | Tagged: Chicago Teachers Union, CORE, CTA, How to Jump-Start Your Union, Labor Notes | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 24, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Jon Flanders
When Machinists President Thomas Buffenbarger intervened to foist concessions on the union’s largest district, at Boeing, he added fuel to his opposition’s fire. A rank and file vote for top officers will be held this spring. Photo: Don Grinde.
For the first time in more than 50 years, the Machinists union (IAM) will hold a contested election for top officers. The vote was ordered by the Department of Labor after member Karen Asuncion protested violations in the union’s 2013 uncontested election.
An opposition slate, IAM Reform, is headed by former Transportation Coordinator Jay Cronk. Cronk is a former officer because he was fired, after more than 20 years at the International, eight days after he announced his candidacy.
IAM Reform’s platform focuses primarily on internal functioning: nepotism, wasteful spending (a Lear Jet for international officers), high salaries ($304,000 in total compensation for President Thomas Buffenbarger), and excessive numbers of international officers, some of whom were appointed without ever having been an IAM member.
But since the initial appearance of the reform slate, under the pressure of events—principally the big showdown over concessions at Boeing—its nature has begun to morph into a broader opposition to concessionary contracts.
The membership vote will be held some time before June. Continue reading
Filed under: Union Reform | Tagged: IAM, IAM Reform, Thomas Buffenbarger | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 19, 2013 by dcampbell1
by Bill Fletcher Jr. and Jeff Crosby
The AFL-CIO Convention in September took an important turn to reposition unions toward speaking for all working people in the United States. This was a correction to the narrow focus on its dues-paying members and traditional electoral work that has cursed the movement for most of its history.
To argue that this turn represents an abandonment of current members, as Steve Early does here , is factually false and politically wrong.
It helps to understand what the federation is and is not. It is a collection of unions “held together by a rope of sand,” as a former federation president put it. From the central labor councils to the national organization, affiliates that don’t like the turn of events just quit. Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Immigrant Workers, Organizing, Politics, Solidarity, Union Reform, Worker Centers | Tagged: AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO convention, Labor Notes, National Labor Relations Act, Richard Trumka, Trade union, United States | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 9, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Alexandra Bradbury
A diverse slate of local leaders pledging to take a firmer hand with management, increase transparency about contract details, collaborate with other postal unions and community groups, and mobilize members has just won national leadership of the American Postal Workers Union.
The Members First Team, headed by now President-Elect Mark Dimondstein, won seven of the nine seats it contested, the APWU announced last night.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for postal workers, who are battling wave after wave of attacks—post offices and sorting plants closing, work privatizing, delivery standards eroding. The latest nasty bill pending in Congress would kill Saturday letter delivery, replace door-to-door with curbside and neighborhood “cluster box” service, and ban workers’ time-honored no-layoff clause from future contracts.
“We’re at a crossroads,” said Dimondstein before the election. “At the core of this whole struggle is whether the post office is going to be decisively privatized and turned over to profit-making entities and low-paid, non-union jobs—or remain a public entity that serves all the people and maintains good-paying union jobs.” Continue reading
Filed under: Organizing, Politics, Union Reform | Tagged: APWU, Mark Dimondstein, Members First | 1 Comment »