A True National Safety Net

by Glenn Parton

net

We need a New New Deal in America, bigger and better than the one enacted by FDR in the 30s (and even bigger than his visionary proposal for a Second Bill of Rights in the 40s). The basic components of it are Medicare-for-All, Living Wages, Affordable Housing, Federal jobs guarantee, free colleges and Universities, and BIG (Basic Income Guarantee of $1,000 per month per adult until income exceeds $ 100,000 per year). These elements, woven together, could and should provide a strong national safety net (NSN) for every American citizen and legal immigrant, effectively ending poverty in America, and preparing the ground for a qualitatively better society.

In the last election a number of working class people, including some union members, wanted to “shake things up.” They weren’t impressed by the establishment changes that Hillary Clinton represented because they were left behind by the economic prosperity of the last several decades, and they fell for Trump’s lies to make big improvements in their daily lives. These folks, together with the vulnerable, the unemployed, the insecure, and the forgotten everywhere could be persuaded, or are already on board, to vote for the specific, concrete programs and policies articulated in the National Safety Net [NSN]. The Democrats don’t get enough support from these people, not because the Party asks for too much change, but because the Party asks for too few major changes on their behalf. The simple truth is that the vast majority of people in this country desire and need financial help and cooperation from their government and the nation as a whole, so the Dems should offer it–not false promises a la Trump– but the real thing, spelled out and ready to go in the form of NSN. We fall short not when we aim too high but when we aim too low.

A better electoral strategy is not to appeal to Independents and moderate Republicans in order to tip the scale in favor of Democrats because that requires moving Center or Right, with a corresponding loss of substance (of policies and programs) in order to gain a relatively few votes, perhaps winning a battle here and there but losing the overall war on poverty and an improved quality of life for everyone. Rather, the Democrats should go Left because that’s where the biggest pool of likely voters for genuine progress or substantive issues are to be found, especially among the roughly 100 million people who don’t usually vote (but who are eligible to vote) because many of them have given up on politics that they believe doesn’t serve their vital self-interests (and they are largely correct about this). If the Democrats don’t offer a juicy sustenance to the common people (the red meat of a decent secure livelihood such as NSN) then the GOP will squeak out victories again and again. The sad truth is that the movement toward the Center from within the Democratic Party is being driven by a small group of elite-donors who are seriously retarding the evolution of the Party, and this managerial class needs to be removed from leadership. The victory by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents the new direction that is needed.

We need a New New Deal in America, bigger and better than the one enacted by FDR in the 30s (and even bigger than his visionary proposal for a Second Bill of Rights in the 40s). The basic components of it are Medicare-for-All, Living Wages, Affordable Housing, Federal jobs guarantee, free colleges and Universities, and BIG (Basic Income Guarantee of $1,000 per month per adult until income exceeds $ 100,000 per year). These elements, woven together, could and should provide a strong national safety net (NSN) for every American citizen and legal immigrant, effectively ending poverty in America, and preparing the ground for a qualitatively better society.

Glenn Parton was the last student of Herbert Marcuse, and since then has been struggling to turn radical philosophy into socio/political reality. He lives in Arizona.
The full text of Glenn’s essay can be accessed at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x4kYI3VocVPBvJpoa7V2qzN1lS8lvpS-tfcBCflPiHs/edit?usp=sharing

 

Teamster Tackles Corporate Democrat in California Assembly Race

by Steve Early

JovankaBeckles3299strike

It has become a movement mantra, as labor suffers betrayal after betrayal by Democrats and Republicans alike: union members should run for office themselves.

Rhetoric on this subject is cheap and easy. But running successful candidates is not. Even labor activists with considerable skill and experience have found it difficult to win public office.

Yet in California’s “jungle primary” in June, a Teamster from Richmond astounded many observers by placing second in her state legislative race.

Jovanka Beckles, a two-term city councilor, county worker, and past Labor Notes Troublemakers School speaker, now advances to the November run-off for Assembly District 15, which includes Richmond, Berkeley, and part of Oakland.

She’s up against Buffy Wicks, a well-connected former White House official who recently relocated to the East Bay. Wicks has been personally endorsed by former President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who is likely to become California’s next governor.

The November showdown between Beckles, a strong Bernie Sanders supporter, and Wicks, who managed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 California primary campaign, gives some unions a chance to do penance for their short-sighted embrace of Clinton two years ago.

It’s also an important test of whether East Bay labor’s post-primary backing for one of its own will translate into the kind of union member mobilization necessary to overcome the paid media blitz already underway on Wicks’ behalf.

“We don’t have a million dollars to send out a bunch of mailers,” Beckles said, in a recent appeal for more volunteers. “We’re not trying to elect another status-quo Democrat.”

OVERCOMING DISADVANTAGES

Why don’t union candidates win more often? One disadvantage, resumé-wise, is that the demands of local union leadership or activism can leave little time for personal involvement in community affairs or service on local boards and commissions. Working-class candidates may be well known in union circles but less familiar to the larger electorate. Their opponents are often well-funded and better-networked professionals, businesspeople, and “civic leaders” long identified, for better or worse, with local public policymaking.

Beckles wasn’t a lone individual candidate when she broke into electoral politics in Richmond. She won a council seat in 2010, after an earlier defeat, because she had become a neighborhood council activist and then a citywide leader of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

The RPA is a 14-year old local political group that has dues-paying members and a year-round program of organizing around labor and community issues. All of its candidates for city council or mayor run on a common slate and must refuse all business donations.

The RPA now boasts a super-majority of five out of seven members on the part-time Richmond city council. During her tenure, Beckles and her council allies developed a track record of impressive local achievements that now lends credibility and substance to her current RPA-backed bid for an open assembly seat. (For details, see here.)

Still, for more than a year Beckles has had to juggle her continuing council duties, four 10-hour shifts a week as a child protection worker for Contra Costa County with in Richmond, plus conducting her campaign for Assembly on weekends, free evenings, vacation days, and holidays.

Only in the homestretch of her general election campaign has she been able to take a leave from her demanding day job to campaign more freely.

PEOPLE-POWERED

If the RPA was the original force propelling Beckles’ candidacy, she now has supporters of all kinds—knocking on doors, making phone calls, hosting house-parties, displaying yard signs, and handing out flyers throughout the East Bay.

RPA volunteers have been joined by Oakland and Berkeley members of one of the country’s fastest-growing chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America, which includes many young labor activists. Since last year, Beckles has also gotten key help from the national Our Revolution, the Sanders campaign spinoff based in Washington, D.C., and local political groups like the Wellstone Democrats and Berkeley Progressive Alliance.

Wicks—thanks to her past role as a Clinton Super PAC director and her continuing ties to national Democratic Party donor networks—was the beneficiary of $1.2 million in primary spending ($240,000 of which paid for the services of the same San Francisco consulting firm used by that city’s Chamber of Commerce.)

Wicks’ funders include wealthy donors tied to Lyft, Uber, and Bay Area tech firms, charter school interests, major landlords, a health care industry PAC, and Govern for California, a business-oriented Super PAC created by the board chair of Walmart and a former top advisor to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In contrast, Beckles raised and spent only about $160,000, mostly in smaller, in-state donations. She ran as a “people-powered” candidate, free of corporate money and relied on few paid staffers or outside consultants.

ONE OF OUR OWN

In the primary, some California unions associated with Labor for Bernie (and long supportive of Labor Notes) backed Beckles because of her support for workers’ and tenants’ rights, single payer health care, and getting big money out of politics. These included the National Union of Healthcare Workers, Transit (ATU) Local 192, and University Professional and Technical Employees (CWA).

But they were joined by the Bay Area affiliates of several national unions that were missing from the Sanders camp two years ago—including Beckles’ own Teamsters Joint Council 7 and SEIU Local 1021, which represents Richmond city workers and nearly 50,000 other public employees in northern California.

“How often do we get a chance to elect one of our own?” asks Local 1021 political organizer Gabriel Haaland, who has spent the last year helping Beckles defy Democratic Party insider predictions that her bid for higher office was hopeless.

Since June, Beckles backers like Haaland have succeeded in broadening the labor base for her campaign. It now includes the Alameda and Contra Costa County Labor Councils, the California Labor Federation, both statewide teachers’ unions, AFSCME, and the California Nurses Association.

Kathryn Lybarger, who serves as president of the state AFL-CIO and AFSCME Local 3299 at the University of California, has hailed Beckles, an immigrant from Panama, as “a candidate strongly aligned with our values and so representative of our members.

“We are utterly confident that she will continue to fight for us when she gets to Sacramento,” Lybarger said.

HOLDOUTS

Not everyone is on board. The Alameda County Building Trades Council backs Wicks over Beckles—despite the latter’s past advocacy of project labor agreements, the usual litmus test for endorsement by the trades.

The building trades council in neighboring Contra Costa County has been a reliable political ally of Chevron, Richmond’s largest employer. Four years ago, its member unions even joined the Chevron-backed “independent expenditure” committee that spent $3 million trying unsuccessfully to defeat Beckles and other pro-labor progressives running for city council.

Ex-SEIU President Andy Stern is an individual endorser of Wicks—despite the fact that two major SEIU locals and their state council favor Beckles. Since leaving the union, Stern has become a corporate board member and gig economy consultant. He worked closely with Wicks and other Obama Administration staffers when they were lining up union support for the Affordable Care Act eight years ago and sidelining labor proponents of Medicare for All. In the Assembly District 15 race today, California single-payer advocates favor Beckles over Wicks, whose position on health care reform is much weaker.

Over Labor Day weekend, Beckles is scheduled to appear at a teachers’ union picnic and a rally with SEIU members protesting out-sourcing by Kaiser Permanente. If Beckles’ consistent solidarity with local labor causes is reciprocated through sufficient union voter turnout and spending on her behalf, she may indeed be joining the Assembly in January.

And there, she will be a rare “corporate-free” voice for many other working class and poor Californians whose interests tend to be overlooked by state legislators who do take money from business PACs and industry associations.

Steve Early is a Labor Notes policy committee member, a Jovanka Beckles supporter, and fellow member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance. He is the author, most recently, of Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City, a book about local political organizing in Richmond, CA. To find out more about Beckles’ campaign, see here. This article is reposted from Labor Notes.

CORRECTION: It’s the Alameda County Building Trades Council that’s backing Wicks, not the Contra Costa County Building Trades Council as we at first reported. We have also clarified the following paragraph to reflect that member unions of the Contra Costa County Building Trades Council were the ones who backed Chevron’s committee four years ago.

Workers Win Missouri Vote

 

missouri

Last night workers in Missouri organized, voted, and WON BIG.

On the ballot was Prop A, a so-called “right to work” bill that would’ve limited workers’ rights to stand together, form a union, and earn better wages. But workers refused to back down and voted to defeat Prop A by a 2-1 landslide.

I’m fired up because the same strength we built through organizing, marching, and striking – the strength that won us raises for 26 million people nationwide – is the strength that’s going to take back power for working people in November.

Share this image to show the corrupt politicians and greedy corporations that their time rigging the system is about to expire.

Thanks for standing with us – in the workplace, in the streets, at the ballot box, and beyond.

Onward,
Bettie Douglas
McDonald’s Worker
St. Louis, Missouri
Fight for $15

Demand a Real NAFTA

Demand a Real NAFTA Replacement that Puts People & the Planet Ahead of Corporate Profits

Dear Duane :

Replace NAFTATrade officials are racing to complete their renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) within the coming weeks — and, not suprisingly, corporate lobby groups are pushing hard to ensure that NAFTA provisions that make it easier to outsource jobs, drive down wages and pollute the environment are maintained.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition demanding that any NAFTA replacement protects jobs at home, protects human rights abroad and raise wages and protects the environment continent-wide.

For decades, NAFTA’s intentionally weak and ineffective labor and environmental standards have enabled big corproations to outsource jobs to Mexico, where they can pay workers less than $2 an hour and dump toxins with impunity, and then ship products back for sale in the United States.

Roughly a million U.S. livelihoods have already been destroyed, with more jobs outsourced every week.  And the impact in Mexico has been even worse.  Not only have millions of livelihoods been destoryed there, but manufacting wages in Mexico are now 9% lower than they were before NAFTA was enacted.

NAFTA also grants corporations vast new privileges that make it easier to outsource jobs while empowering them to attack the environmental and health laws on which we all rely.

PLEASE ACT NOW: Tell Congress that NAFTA’s replacement must end the race-to-the-bottom job outsourcing.

Already, multinational corporations have grabbed $392 million in taxpayer money using NAFTA’s infamous Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals.

ISDS empowers corporations to sue governments before a panel of three corporate lawyers. These lawyers can order taxpayers to pay the corporations unlimited sums of money, including for the loss of their expected future profits.

The multinational corporations only need to convince the lawyers that a law protecting public health, a food safety regulation or a pro-environment court ruling violates their special NAFTA rights. The corporate lawyers’ decisions are not subject to appeal.

We cannot let this continue.

That’s why Citizens Trade Campaign’s powerful coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, faith and consumer organizations — along with many others — are joining our voices together with this demand:

Any NAFTA replacement deal must eliminate ISDS and end the job outsourcing and add strong labor and environmental standards with swift and certain enforcement to raise wages and protect the environment throughout North America.

Please add your name to the petition now.

Together, we can make a difference.

Many thanks,

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN

Online: citizenstrade.org
Twitter: @citizenstrade

Donate Online Now to Support Our Work

A Union Response to Janus

A Union Response to the Supreme Court’s Janus Decision

LEE SAUNDERS

JULY 9, 2018

And how policymakers can help—not hurt—workers in responding to it

http://prospect.org/article/union-response-supreme-courts-janus-decision

In Spite of Janus: Don’t Count Us Out

The Supreme Court may have ruled against us , but don’t count us out.

The right-wing extremists on the Supreme Court showed their true colors today. Their thirst for rigging the economy toward the powerful trumped the aspirations and needs of communities and the people who serve them. But, despite this decision, workers are sticking with the union because unions are still the best vehicle working people have to get ahead.

Our union comprises some of the hardest-working and most compassionate people in the country. Every day, we care for patients, educate and support America’s children, ensure high-quality public services, and provide a world-class system of higher education. Together, through our union, we fight not just for ourselves but for the people we serve. When the Supreme Court overturns 40 years of precedent in an effort to weaken our ability to bargain for what we need, then we have to recommit ourselves to standing together in solidarity.

Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, the Koch brothers and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner are celebrating right now. The best way to take the wind out of their sails is to show the world that, despite their attacks, we’re sticking together. Let them know you’re sticking with the union.

Let’s be clear, the Janus case was about defunding unions. It was about who will have power in our country—working people or big corporate interests. That’s why the case was being funded by wealthy donors and corporate interests. First, they pledged $80 million to “defund and defang” unions. Then, the Kochs, after receiving the Trump tax cut, upped the ante with $400 million to undermine public education and “break” the teachers unions. Why? Because unions fight for a better life for people, and corporate interests see that as a threat to their power.

Strong unions create strong communities. We will continue fighting, caring, showing up and voting to make possible what is impossible for individuals acting alone. And we will continue to make the case—in the halls of statehouses and the court of public opinion, at our workplaces and communities, and at the ballot box in November—through organizing, activism, and members recommitting to their union.

 

When we fight for resources for schools, we’re fighting for students. When we fight for safe staffing standards for nurses, we’re fighting for patients. When we have the resources to do our jobs, all of society benefits. We may be a threat to the power of wealthy corporate interests, but by sticking together, we are stronger than their attacks.

Throughout the day, union members have been sharing selfies and videos on social media. Let’s show the world that we’re proud to be union members. You can start right now: Tell them you’re sticking with the union. Show the people attacking unions that you value your freedom to have a better life and your freedom to have a union.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

Continue reading

The Time Has Come for Sectoral Bargaining

by Larry Cohen

It is now clear that enterprise-based organizing and bargaining in the U.S. has a dim future.  U.S. workers’ collective bargaining coverage is back to early twentieth century levels, and even the Democrats’ landslide national election of 2008 produced little measurable change when it came to workers’ rights.  For my union colleagues the challenge is how to focus more effectively on the 90 million workers left out of collective bargaining, realizing that more than ever the 15 million still represented by unions cannot realize major gains on their own.

We cannot simply chant “more funding for organizing” or “elect more Democrats” as important as both may be.  Union funding of great organizers cannot overcome the stacked deck of employer opposition and so-called corporate free speech in workplace-by-workplace organizing.  And all too often the political demands on elected Democrats don’t go beyond short-term transactions that are defensive in nature. The 2018 teacher walkouts and resulting statewide negotiations in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona signal a new opportunity for workers in the U.S. : sectoral bargaining, familiar to teachers and other workers  around the world.  Rather than negotiating with each school district, teachers in the four states with strikes, at least to some extent, and with varying results, were able to negotiate statewide, not only on key issues affecting them but also on state funding of education. And the results have been unprecedented. In states like New Jersey and New York with practically wall-to-wall public-sector union representation, years of negotiations with hundreds of individual local school boards have produced much higher wages, but many other issues, like class size, school vouchers, and privatization, are off the table.

…the challenge is how to focus more effectively on the 90 million workers left out of collective bargaining…

With sectoral bargaining, collective bargaining itself is not a factor in union organizing, but the effectiveness of bargaining is very much connected to the membership level and solidarity of workers in those sectors.

In the U.S., at one time, unions in auto, steel, rubber, and other industries bargained jointly with employers or at least set patterns on wages and benefits.  But industry bargaining was never supported by law and, as new employers gained market share and opposed union representation, enterprise bargaining declined.  A version of industry or sector (sectors like manufacturing can be broader than one industry) bargaining persists, for example real estate developers in some cities negotiate jointly with building trades and building services unions, but examples are rare. Similarly the Railway Labor Act provides for craft based national bargaining, and in the rail sector bargaining occurs with multiple employers and crafts.

When U.S. bargaining coverage and rights at work are compared to other nations, the case for change is clear.  In nearly every other democracy, collective bargaining coverage in the public sector has been nearly universal for decades.  And many countries have fifty per cent or more coverage in the private sector—mostly the result of widespread, nearly universal sectoral bargaining.

For example in 1995 the new post-apartheid South African government was able to legislate sectoral collective bargaining and sectoral minimum wages as key parts of their initial economic agenda.  Finance workers in Brazil bargain for their sector with employers that include all the major U.S. banks, and as a result, wage rates in the Brazilian finance sector for back-office and customer service staff are higher than the U.S.

Public and private sectoral bargaining results in Europe are well documented, and even conservative political parties like Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany view sectoral bargaining as a way to engage workers and employers while maintaining a broader focus on jobs as well as wages.  The CDU and employer federations realize both that worker participation has not only social value but also provides economic stimulus through wages versus government spending.

…the new post-apartheid South African government was able to legislate sectoral collective bargaining and sectoral minimum wages as key parts of their initial economic agenda.

In Norway a national wage negotiation precedes sectoral bargaining and both unions and employers are mindful of the responsibility to balance productivity gains, jobs, and wages with an eye on tradable sectors, where jobs can be exported to a country with lower labor costs.  As a result, in Norway cleaners and unskilled construction workers enjoy sectoral wages of about $25 an hour while skilled workers in manufacturing and services earn about 50 percent more, but still within a range that incentivizes investment.  In addition, the political consequences of high levels of union membership have provided much of the support for universal health care, childcare, tuition-free higher education, and home health care for seniors.

As we discuss a new framework for U.S. workers’ rights, we must ask, “Do we believe that we can win?”  U.S. workers and our organizations need to aim higher and not accept arguments about U.S. exceptionalism that reject new approaches in a global economy that has left U.S. unions on defense for decades both at the bargaining table and in organizing.

If we were to build a movement for universal sector-based bargaining rights in the U.S., how would we do it?  The answer begins with unions and community and political allies, and a grassroots as well as legislative strategy realistically focused on congressional Democrats, and demanding the Party’s serious commitment to collective bargaining rights.  All too often commitments to workers’ rights, and other issues, is political speak but not with the fervor or focus necessary to accomplish real change.

There is already a foundation of grassroots work in cities and states raising the minimum wage, adopting scheduling notice for retail workers, paid family leave, and more.  It is clear for those fighting for rights at the local and state level that federal reform is slow and out of reach. But at the same time these initiatives should be viewed as instructional, much like the teacher strikes, demonstrating what is possible as well as key elements for future mobilization.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets a floor for minimum wages, does not preclude sector-based minimum wage campaigns in cities and states.  Imagine a minimum wage for transit workers of $25 an hour in key cities like Washington, D.C. where massive privatization of bus routes and paratransit has undercut union jobs while offering city government a cheap way out.  A municipal campaign in a city like Philadelphia could provide for a $25 an hour or higher wage for construction or communications techs, eliminating much of the incentive for low-wage bids and boosting the standard of living across the city.  Why are pay standards like those possible in Oslo but not Washington or Philadelphia?

Broad community support has been a key factor in the teachers’ strikes in the toughest states. Similarly this support would be critical in sectoral minimum-wage campaigns.  Community support for higher wages can also transfer to support for broad sector-based bargaining rights once we create a dialogue about how this can provide a decent standard of living, rights at work, and a sustainable economy.

Bringing this campaign forward as an urgent and critical economic issue for Democrats is key for credibility; support for collective bargaining needs to be more than a slogan for Labor Day.  In 2007 when Speaker Pelosi helped lead passage of the Employee Free Choice Act in the House by a wide margin (Senate supporters could not muster the 60 percent needed for a vote, nearly every Democrat supported the act as well as 16 Republicans).  Since then those Republicans have retired and the Republican Party outright opposes collective bargaining, a total reversal in the 40 years since President Ford supported and signed the extension of the National Labor Relations Act to hospital and other non-profit employers.

We need to be clear that universal sectoral collective bargaining rights would do far more to stimulate economic growth and reduce inequality than well-deserved increases in the minimum wage.  This cannot be simply a policy argument, but must be a political demand backed up by increasing militancy across sectors as demonstrated by teachers and fast-food workers.  If we don’t demand support from Democrats we will never get it.  If we build support inside the Democratic Party and insist that there is no path to real economic justice without it, our political work can lead to real change.

Several states including California, New York, and New Jersey have had some success with wage boards, which have included management, union, and public members setting standards in certain industries and occupations. Most recently in 2015 in New York, the state wage board authorized a $15 hourly minimum wage for fast-food workers that are part of chains, phased in over six years.  State-based initiatives like these can provide positive examples, but workers in the U.S. need to organize for collective-bargaining rights, as our predecessors have done for generations.  We want and demand self-organization where the strength of the union rests on the strength of our organizing.

…universal sectoral collective bargaining rights would do far more to stimulate economic growth and reduce inequality than well-deserved increases in the minimum wage.

We can win more for U.S. workers with universal sectoral bargaining supported by law, but based on organizing.  The details on sector composition are complicated (and left for further discussion) since unions would bargain together; and with sectoral bargaining there can be competition for members.  But we need to face the huge limitations of U.S. private-sector enterprise bargaining and the near total collapse of enterprise organizing compared to the growth of the labor force. Current statutory exclusions in the U.S. include not only contractors and temp agency workers, but a federal sector consigned to negotiating merely working conditions and disciplinary procedures, and the majority of states blocking bargaining rights for local and state employees.

Assuming sectoral bargaining gains broad-based support, next would come an outline of specifics, including proposed sectors, and the mechanisms to insure  employer and union roles and participation.  We are not starting from scratch; global research from a range of nations already documents various approaches. Additional organizing campaigns, including sectoral minimum wage campaigns, could be followed by drafting federal legislation and then the tough campaign for passage.  As with the yet unsuccessful Employee Free Choice Act, this campaign will take years, but is there an alternative that can lead to real change?

While 15 million union members can certainly help lead this movement in the U.S., particularly in the Democratic Party, the value of effective bargaining rights for the majority of the U.S. workforce needs to be central to building a broader political movement.  Unions in South Africa were bolstered by the much stronger African National Congress when sectoral bargaining was adopted there.  Conversely in Chile, coup leaders advised by U.S. right-wing economists, were quick to dismantle collective bargaining as they gutted the rules governing their democracy in multiple ways.  We need to learn from examples in our own history, as well as other nations, that we cannot separate larger economic gains from building a broad movement for political change.

Progressive political groups should join this discussion since economic equality and opportunity is at stake and nothing significant will be adopted without massive public support and organizing.  This is not mainly about union growth as important as that might be, it is about the economic direction and growth of our nation.

…effective bargaining rights for the majority of the U.S. workforce needs to be central to building a broader political movement.

There are no quick answers to an 80-year slide in workers’ rights.  The decline was partially obscured by the rise of public-sector collective bargaining in many of the largest states, and in those cases at least maintaining the political clout of labor despite the collapse of union manufacturing jobs.  But now the consensus is growing that we need much deeper change.

Most important, we need to act as if collective bargaining on a nearly universal scale is essential if we are serious about combating income inequality and empowering workers.  Otherwise generations of working-class Americans, black, brown, and white will continuously listen to politicians’ empty speeches about words on pages of legislation predestined for the dustbin.  Enterprise-based organizing and bargaining has played a useful role, but the promise of universal, sectoral bargaining is now much brighter.  We can learn from the teachers that much more is possible— “If We Believe That We Will Win!”

reposted from Portside, https://portside.org/2018-06-26/time-has-come-sectoral-bargaining

 Source: New Labor Forum, June 18, 2018

 

Larry Cohen chairs the board of Our Revolution, the successor organization to Bernie 2016, and is the past President of the Communications Workers of America.