The U.S.’s labor movement is suffering very badly, with a steep decades-long decline in membership and power.
This article explains a bold remedy:
Here is one excerpt from early in this article:
At this point, betting our future on the next brutal mating ritual of Republicans and Democrats is not a bet most workers are willing to take. Since the 1950s, union membership decline has been a straight line downward, regardless of which political party is in power.
[O]rganized labor has become so marginal Donald Trump has been able to usurp its role as the emotional voice for workers.
[T]he truth is that the Democrats patronize labor on a good day, sell us out on a bad day, and ignore us on most days.
The author urges:
[S]tart today from where we are and who we are. Simple collective self-representation without institutional, ideological, partisan or monetary artifice. Understanding who and where we are by our own compass; by our own position, not opposition. This requires radical respect for our fellow workers. For lack of a better term, this unadorned organizing is social organizing.
The author shared this experience while helping Poland’s Solidarity in the mid-1990s:
I was tasked with organizing a conference on American union organizing for Solidarnosc activists. Just as the accomplished, well-educated American organizer sent over by the union began his presentation, one Solidarnosc members interrupted to ask, “What do you mean “organize?” A moment of awkward silence followed. Then, charitably, another Solidarnosc member suggested, “Do you mean, join our organization and we’ll represent you?” The original questioner jumped in, “we had 45 years of that with the Communists.” The workers then came up with their own definition of organizing, “co-creating our own future.” Workers, not the organization, were the of, by, and for. … When all we have is each other, social organizing is where we start. … Social organizing built the labor movement. When 19th-century American workers had virtually no institutional or political voice or power, they developed both by caring about and for each other. In nearly every inch of America, now-forgotten workers came together with that definition of solidarity.
The article proceeds with a long explanation of meeting unemployed people face-to-face, listening to them, and helping them organize to articulate their interests. It’s a great story of real grassroots organizing.
Again, I encourage people who want to strengthen the labor movement to read the entire article: