The role of the Union is to represent the interests of it’s members.” (West Coat activist with the SEIU)
“The Role of the union…is to represent the interest of the Working Class.” (South African Union leader)
Page ix of 304 of Solidarity Divided
This contrast is telling of the role of the Union and how labor sees itself in the US. In other places of the world labor sees itself as part of a movement to gain worker rights, not part of the middle class. This is not about a middle class lifestyle, but getting a safe work place, and decent pay, and respect from employers.
Outside the United States (and some of the First Word, such as Canada), this is a struggle between the owners of capital and workers. It is sounds somewhat revolutionary, for Americans it surely does, radical even. But current labor leadership in the US keeps losing not just members, but historic gains. I will say part of it lies in an uncomfortable truth, leaders have forgotten who they work for, and why.
No wonder the unions still growing, (SEIU for example) are doing such for a simple reason…the rank and file members come from countries where militant labor exists, which is not present in the US. But still leaders of these Unions are still trapped in the ideas that have led to the current failure of organized labor…and this is a reality.
Categories: Trade Unionism