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The future of the USA Labor Movement

category north america / mexico | workplace struggles | feature author Friday August 19, 2005 19:30author by Patrick Star - Northwest Anarchist Federation Report this post to the editors

The proposal for restructuring the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization

This decline in union membership across the USA is being felt through the decline of the standard of living. Wages have not kept up with the increased cost of living. There is a crisis in the labor movement and workers are going to have to devise strategies that will lay the foundations for the eventual upsurge in organizing at work.

The Ivy League labor aristocrats at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) think they can solve workers problems. Their proposal called for a restructuring of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO). These proposals may seem radical and pushing towards creating an upsurge in the labor movement, yet, all it really means is a bureaucratic restructuring of the labor movement.

Don't Take the Purple Pill


From the New York Times to the lunch room at work, people are seriously debating the future of the U.S. Labor Movement. A look at some statistics show where this concern is coming from. In 1948 31.8 percent of workers were organized into union and since the 1960's this number has been on a steady decline. 1980 saw only 23.2 percent of workers organized and in 2004 only 12.5 percent of the U.S workforce held membership in unions.

This decline in union membership is being felt through the steady decline of the standard of living in the U.S. Wages have not kept up with the increased cost of living and the labor movement is no longer setting the standards for wages, benefits, and work conditions. The problem is obvious, workers need to organize. Yet, the proposed solution thus far is not coming from workers, it is coming from pencil pushing labor aristocrats who think they can solve the crisis in the labor movement through statistics and grand sounding strategies created by people who have hardly worked a day in their lives, people who don't know first hand the problems we workers face when it comes to power at work. There is a crisis in the labor movement and workers are going to have to devise strategies that will lay the foundations for the eventual upsurge in organizing at work.

The Solution From Above

The Ivy League labor aristocrats at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), folks who've never cleaned floors for a living, think they can solve workers problems. Andy Stern (the old New England money bags) president of SEIU came out with a proposal for the labor movement called Unite To Win. This proposal called for a restructuring of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO). The main points of this proposal are centered on industry wide organizing, union density, and more money put towards organizing. Although these may sound like some good ideas, there are some serious problems with them. But first, I'll overview the two main points of the proposal:

Granting the AFL-CIO the authority to require coordinated bargaining and to merge or revoke union charters, transfer responsibilities to unions for whom that industry or craft is their primary area of strength, and prevent any merger that would further divide workers strength.

Rebate 50 percent of the dues unions pay to the AFL-CIO if unions put 10 percent of their budget towards organizing new workers.

These proposals may seem radical and pushing towards creating an upsurge in the labor movement, yet, all it really means is a bureaucratic restructuring of the labor movement. The first point basically is a preventative measure against unions raiding other union's membership, or, a way for unions like SEIU to justify their current raiding wars against unions like the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employee's (AFSCME) and officially move those members into SEIU. The first point will create larger industrial unions and destroy smaller unions, as well as put a stop to unions like the United Auto Workers organizing university workers. This may seem like a reasonable re-organization of unions and a refocusing of union organizing to their specific industry, yet, it does not take into account what workers want and the plain and simple fact the workers get organized from their own self-activity, not the sole efforts of union organizers.

The second point is simply that unions should put more money into organizing and less into servicing their members. Sure, I would rather my union dues go towards organizing my fellow workers as opposed to fat cat salaries for union officers. Yet, I beg the question: what kind of organizing are we talking about here? SEIU is real fond of organizing the bosses, not workers. A case in point is their Justice for Janitors campaign. Instead of trying to organize all the janitors in a city, SEIU is pressuring building owners to give cleaning contracts to union janitorial companies. My union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) does the same thing. UBC organizers pressure non-union contractors to sign up with the UBC through secondary picketing.

For example, in Portland, Oregon, my union is picketing the U.S. Bank Tower because non-union carpenters are doing the Tenant Improvement work in the building. The UBC organizers are attempting to get the building owner to use a UBC contractor instead of the non-union contractor, Russell Construction. And I wouldn't dare leave out the sham method shamefully titled organizing called market recovery. My union actually gives money to union contractors, my dues, so they can underbid non-union contractors for jobs. Hey, I'm a union member; I buy my right to work union (about $20 a week)!! These are the models of organizing that unions 'at the forefront' of the labor movement in terms of organizing, are using. The labor aristocrats have forgotten where our strength as workers comes from, US, THE WORKERS!

The Change To Win Coalition

In the month preceding the AFL-CIO convention in July, six or so unions signed up with the Change To Win Coalition. The basic tenants of the coalition are the same as the Unite To Win proposal. Put more money towards organizing. As argued above, the fundamental question is what kind of organizing is this and is it real worker organizing? And the answer is still no.

The last week of July saw the Teamsters, SEIU, and the UFCW withdrawal from the AFL-CIO. UNITE-HERE, The Laborers, and The United Farm Workers, all members of the new coalition, are also threatening to pull out of the AFL-CIO, but as of yet, they are still making up their minds.

The Change To Win Coalition is still very new. In the next months we will see what it has to offer, but many are doubtful they will fundamentally change to labor movement. The structure of the Change To Win Coalition is just as undemocratic as the AFL-CIO, hell, there was no membership vote over affiliation with this new coalition. Andy Stern and Jimmy Hoffa junior, with approval from their national executive boards, not local unions, made the undemocratic decision to withdraw from the AFL-CIO and join the coalition. There has been no democratic vote from the membership of the coalition unions over affiliation. Once again, the labor aristocrats are deciding the future of the labor movement, not us rank and file union members.

There once was a time when workers felt like they had the power to fundamentally alter the economic and political structure of the U.S. In the 1930's workers started to organize themselves and create their own organizations, their own unions. The 1930's saw the largest upsurge in worker organization ever in the U.S. When you look into how these elders of the labor movement accomplished this, you'll see that it was because they were self-organized. They were the power at work, through direct actions, strikes, and generally a willingness to put their economic power into action, the workers of the 1930's wielded real power to better their lives. Coming out of the 1930's, the statistics show the militancy of the newly organized workers to take action to maintain and grow their power. In 1945, 1,435,000 workers were out on strike. In 2004, only 171,000 workers took to the picket line to maintain and grow their power.

Many factors play into this dismal crisis in our power. The two largest factors in the minds of many labor militants is workers complacency due the acceptance of the middle class mindset that what matters in life is two cars, a house in the suburbs, and fancy toys; the American Dream, and the second factor is the lack of ownership of our unions due to their good ol'' boy structure (the labor aristocracy) and upper class take over by the likes of people such as Andy Stern.

As proven by the experiences of the 1930's, we rank and file militants are the ones who have the power to turn this crisis into an upsurge. We have to develop strategies around organizing our fellow workers in a way that builds power on the job, not just a collective bargaining agreement. It is high time for us to shake the hopelessness from our minds and start engaging in militant tactics and strategies that hold the potential for an upsurge in our power. I don't pretend that I know what the answers are, but I do know we have to start looking and acting. An upsurge in Labor Movement will most likely come out of economic crisis that takes years of development and hardship until workers start to stand up and fight. We must prepare the militant bare bones structure that will facilitate this upsurge. This means testing tactics, building organizations of rank and file militants, and recognizing that we don't have to get this all done right now. We have time, keep a long term outlook or we'll get lost in the seeming futility of it all.

Patrick Star is a member of the Firebrand Collective, a member collective of the Northwest Anarchist Federation. He is also a rank and file member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Local 247.


From Unfinished Buisness No 2: Agitational publication of the NORTHWEST ANARCHIST FEDERATION - NAF U..B.. B U P.o. Box 112 Portland, O R 97232

author by lucas - nafpublication date Wed Aug 17, 2005 22:57Report this post to the editors

is a great article. the analysis is dead center. now the only question is what are we supposed to do as anarchists to counterpose the corporatism of the labor movement and build a real future for labor?

thoughts?

author by Spartacus - Union Free Americapublication date Thu Aug 18, 2005 02:13author email info at unionfreeamerica dot comReport this post to the editors

Patrick Star's analysis of the problems the unions are having is one of the best I've seen. In most respects he hits the nail on the head (to be expected from a carpenter).

What's missing is the fact that a big part of the unions' problem is that employees don't want them. There was a recent Zogby poll that dealt with this. Take a look at http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1011

Related Link: http://www.unionfreeamerica.com
author by JJ - NorthStar (A) Collectivepublication date Thu Aug 18, 2005 05:24Report this post to the editors

Get your right-wing crap out of here, union-free America. You really are some sick #%$&@. I mean really, why do you feel the urge to post crap like this? You most likely are a union busting law firm masquerading as someone who really cares about the working person or you are just some corporate kiss-ass schmuck. The working class needs to organize to fight back, because the employer is never your friend. They (the employer) are only out for themselves and don’t give a rats ass if others die or can barely earn enough to survive and live a happy and productive life. The working class did not invent slavery (that is the sick dreams of capitalists and power hungry sick-o’s), the working class would never devise a genocidal plan such as invading Iraq for nothing more that oil, empire, domination, and power. The only reason why you right-wing folks can even site statistics of declining union membership and want of being in a union is due to the fact of very harsh repression coming from the owning and capitalist class. They have destroyed so many families and lives just not to have people unionize that people do get scared of these strong-arm tactics (read: fascism). We have been through many years of class warfare but the capitalist have vast amount of resources and a huge state apparatus to backup their demands. What does the working class have? Well class for one thing, but we have our ability to get knocked down and get back up. But you sick folks keep knocking us to the ground and we do break, but we just need time to heal. You will see an organized revolution on your hands.

author by remypublication date Thu Aug 18, 2005 14:28Report this post to the editors

This article is really sloppy, and comes off as so many issues of the Industrial Worker washed together.

Not every worker is a anarchist communist militant. Standing in the way of organizing with your coworkers are fears of failure, of firing, of demotion, of being ratted out, of losing your house or your stability, of putting your family in jeopardy, of being singled out by your coworkers as someone not to associate with. Not every worker is a anarchist communist militant. Not everyone has to chutzpah to turn their workplace into the center of a minor revolution. Dividing workplaces and workers are racial tensions, homophobia, bad gender relations, and everything a boss can throw at a them.

The 1930s were a long time ago. A time where many workplaces only had men there, or white men, or black men, where there weren't as many internal divisions as there are now. Back then workplaces maybe a boss or his management could get around to a few workers and plant seeds of fear and doubt- many workplaces then were mainly factories, or other places where the workers vastly outnumbered bosses, and where many of the workers came from the same neighborhoods. Solidarity was almost instinct, second nature. I'm leaving out vast changes in mass communication and entertainment, global shifts in blue collar jobs, neoliberalism, and a whole host of other things that change the rules of the game for workers- this is only a comment.

To bring it back around, the world of work for americans is very different now, and old strategies just aren't relevant. The way these strategies are discussed- mainly on the internet like this, or in anarchist collectives, or in trite agitational articles in anarchist newspapers- is also part of the problem. To bring workers to the level of consciousness and militancy that was widespread in the 30s is going to take a whole lot more than talking shit on the existing labor movement and then offering only vague calls to "self-organize" as the alternative. Talking about how horrible and awful the labor movement is does not organize workers (I'd even venture to guess that it makes it more difficult, gasp!) Even if that were enough, there's not enough anarchists, let alone militant anarchist communists, to carry this message to enough people to make it relevant.

Personally, I think its high time that anarchists in the labor movement- workers, members, organizers- get together (perhaps a solid forum online?) and really begin to flesh out strategies that are relevant for working within and without the existing labor movement (many fronts) to push for real radical alternatives, for workplace and rank-n-file democracy, for union leadership accountability, and for development of working class CULTURE in the US. Because all of this shouting from positions of irrelevancy is only so much hot air, or unread newsprint.

There's a lot more where this came from, but I've got work tomorrow.
Comradely,
Remy,
Anarchist and Organizer, SEIU Local 504,
Pittsburgh.

PS: Until anarchists are bringing forth organizations that offer workers the kind of power, resources, support, and REAL EVERYDAY GAINS that big labor does, big labor's going to be more attractive.

author by lucas - NAFpublication date Fri Aug 19, 2005 05:52Report this post to the editors

so whats your solution to moving labor forward and taking back mainstream unions? and which unions do we have the potential to take back? SEIU, as it is splitting away from AFL seems like a good target. i've noticed that there are a lot of UNITE-HERE organizers who are anarchists, and that seems to be one of the more militant unions as well..

also, im just curious, but as an SEIU organizer, whats your take on the IWW's recent organizing activities?

author by author - Firebrand-NAFpublication date Fri Aug 19, 2005 08:23Report this post to the editors

There are still alot of good people within the labor movement that are completly caught up with the split. Hence, this article was written to try to critique the split and point people back at militant organizing. And yes, there is already alot of militant organizing going on within the labor movement, and it is coming from the rank and file (start researching voluntary organizing committees and see what they are doing...)
Is the article going to not be read? Well, no. To my knowlege it will be printed in the next issue of labor notes, which is read by a hell of a lot of people.

Yeah, its a little sloppy in terms of a providing a solution and all. But that wasnt the objective of the article. Point the spear up. We discussed this within NAF and decided that within our writing we would make our critiques pointed and not to ramble on about organizing we dont really have years and years of experince in frankly.

In terms of discussing how we can intervien in the U.S. (and canadian, they experince simular things that we do, as well as there are international unions that are in both canada and the US), yeah, an internet form would be ok. But frankly, i think continuing to write articles about our experinces within the labor movement and how we are working to implement radical tactics, ideas, etc, is going to work better in the long run. I think we have some momentum going with submitting articles to the northeastern anarchist and i think that magazine is perhaps the best discussion form avaliable at present.

author by just another organizer - SEIU 1199Ppublication date Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:23Report this post to the editors

I'm sorry but this article is way off. Your claim of the lack of democratic process is ludicrous, this I can say from personal experience. I have been involved in this debate from the start and I've watched as every step of the way, the membership made the decisions, not the leadership. The whole point of leaving the AFL-CIO is because of it's continued push towards reactionary, paternal business-unionism, the idea that workers sign a card to give authority to big tough guys to solve all their problems. The point of all this is to bring the focus back to empowering workers to make their own decisions, that is what organizing is. You should actually try reading the original proposals, and learn what their goals are, before jumping on the boss's bandwagon. www.changetowin.org

author by Kdog - NorthStar Anarchist Collectivepublication date Fri Aug 19, 2005 13:58Report this post to the editors

First let me say thanks to Patrick for what I think is a well argued and much needed article. My only aside would be that it should have aimed more fire at the Sweeny side as well.

There are many sincere militants who have been enticed by the status of being part of BIG LABOR, not by becoming a rank & file militants within a unionized, or non union work situation, but becoming a professional organizer under the direction of the bureaucracy for one of the big unions. SEIU in particular has done a good job of attracting folks like this.

This is, I think a difficult position to be in for a revolutionary. You are there in the union, not because you work & sweat alongside union co-workers, but because you have been hired for a specific purpose by the union bureaucracy. You are not able to criticize or oppose the union leadership, and if you do, you can be easily fired, and because most Organizers have no organic links to the union's dues-paying membership and so have no base from which to fight and defend against the bureacracy.

But what about the value of the organizing? This might make it worthwhile except that the Corpratist ideology behind much of these "drives" that Patrick described so well means that folks are often NOT actually organizing workers but pressuring institutions from above to sign-off on union contracts, or give contracts to union firms. (and that's when its not Election year, cuz we KNOW what y'all get to do then . . .)

Comrades, I have watched many militants recently hired into the position of Organizer - a phenomana really - , adopt a certain arrogance in their arguments especially toward rank & file militants (like Patrick) who dare to criticize the union establishment. I hope the two SEIU organizers will consider the possible class implications of this development.

In my opinion Patrick is absolutely right to point to the 30's,( though I think the Teens & the Sixties are equally important guides). Mass direct action is what built the unions, not deals with Politicians and lobbying on behalf of 'friendlier' corporations.

Anarchists need to be in the mix, in the working classes, unionized and not, developing arguments and models of effective revolutionary anarchist politics- including effective & democratic organizing drives. But not by blindly pledging allegiance to the Labor Lords of the moment. There's enough liberals for that.

author by peter - SEIU organizerpublication date Fri Aug 19, 2005 19:54Report this post to the editors

Full Disclosure: I'm an organizer with SEIU, so I guess I've "taken the purple pill".

Just a couple of points.

First, the proposal to grant "the AFL-CIO the authority to require coordinated bargaining and to merge or revoke union charters, transfer responsibilities to unions for whom that industry or craft is their primary area of strength, and prevent any merger that would further divide workers strength." would have the additional effect of preventing unions from undercutting standards won by workers in the same industry - which any casual observer of the labor movement can tell you happens way too often (even between locals of the same international). This strikes me as being pretty positive.

In my experience anyone with things they want to improve about their jobs is primarily concerned with winning. If a small union is ineffectual and serves more as a fiefdom for some bureaucrat than as a vehicle for workers' power, than aren't we better off without it? Don't take this to mean that small unions are inherently ineffectual, far from it. But I'd hope most folks would agree that there's something to the arguement that employers are bigger and that our organizations need to unite workers across employers in a particular industry, not divide them.

Secondly, this author is fundamentally right that unions' power comes - not surprisingly - from the workers. Disappointingly absent from any of the proposals in unite to win is any plan to increase worker involvement in their union. I'd say it's inaccurate however to make the generalization that SEIU doesn't get this and "is fond of organizing bosses not workers". I wonder what the 10,000 private home care workers who went on strike in NY would say about this, or the 4500 hospital workers organizing for a strike at 7 Sutter health hospitals in California, or the janitors who just won the right to organizer without interference from their bosses in Houston (by the way the employer there was ABM - a union company in California. If it was all about organizing bosses, then you'd think more than 2 years of organizing WORKERS wouldn't be necessary).

Clearly, SEIU doesn't have all the answers and has a long way to go to being a truly democratic, worker-driven union, but to dismiss the victories that workers have made as members of SEIU is not only misinformed, it's insulting to the women and men who have taken huge risks and embarked on protracted struggles to make a better life for themselves.

author by remypublication date Fri Aug 19, 2005 21:56Report this post to the editors

I'm going to respond Kdog's comment first here, since I'm hearing subtle calls of "class collaborator".

First of all, SEIU is doing a good job of attracting sincere militants, not because they're enticed by the status of being part of big labor (hahaha, seriously?), but because THEY'RE EFFECTIVE. SEIU has a winning organizing strategy in important industries (I'm sure the Northstar's wouldn't disagree with me on the importance of healthcare and human services). If the IWW or our anarchist movement or hell, even the janky socialist parties were as effective as SEIU or HERE-UNITE, they would begin to attract new people based on effectiveness, not on political or moral inclination.

I didn't become an organizer for status or bonus points within anarchist circles. In fact I was fully aware of what other anarchists would think, because at one point I thought the same of organizers. But after living with, meeting, and becoming really close friends with a good handful of organizers from different parts of the country, I pulled my head out of the sand.

But this really isn't about me. I wasn't hired to be a tool of the bureaucrats, nor was I hired to make big labor seem prettier to anarchists. I was hired because workers in one shop know they're stronger when the shop down the street, and across the stateline, and across the continent, are organized as well. In my earlier comment I was pointing at the vague calls for "self-organization" as being hot air because there's a lot standing in the way of the kind of self-activity that creates worker-run organizing and a worker-run revolution. The project of my union, and a whole lot of the other unions, big and small, mainstream and radical, is to find ways to break through these barriers to organizing. At least in my local, we don't organize workers that don't want a union, that won't fight to build a union in their workplace, that won't take ownership and control of that union. Its not worth it- they simply won't win if its not theirs.

As anarchists, we should be taking every opportunity to teach folks how to take hold of their lives, and the social space around them, and become leaders and organizers themselves. We should help our coworkers, friends, family, the whole of the working class develop into engaged and empowered people. And we should do this activity anywhere we have the chance. All of the radicals that I've met that find their way into the (big) labor movement are thinking this same thing. So are the anarchists that get involved with OCAP in ontario, or the student union on their campus, or the union in their workplace.

The big labor unions sure as hell aren't perfect, and blind obedience is backward thinking. "just another organizer"s comment paints a prettier picture of it than I would, but I think peter's comment hits the nail on the head. Its about effectiveness. And the kind of blind critism that's coming from the anarchist movement is backward as well- and insulting to the millions of people who've organized with big unions and improved their lives, become engaged, and given themselves a voice. Yes, point the spear upward, but also make eye contact and show some damn respect to your own class.

The more I read article's like this and read comment's like Kdog's the more I see the gulf between our anarchist movement and reality.

author by Kdog - NorthStarpublication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 03:33Report this post to the editors

Comrades,

There is no accusation of being a scab or a class traitor in my post. There is however a fair question for folks in your situation about your relationship to the rank & file, given that:

a) you are not OF the rank & file (at least in this particular situation)

b) you are hired by and responsible to the bureaucracy, not the rank-and-file.

c) this position makes it harder to develop a base, than as a rank & filer. Thus it also makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to have any independent public positions or organize for those positions if they run contrary to the union officials positions

d) While I agree, to a point, that it is good that SEIU is increasing it's "market share", this is not AUTOMATICALLY the same thing as empowering workers.

e) the leadership of SEIU is pro-capitalist, reformist for sure, but not against capitalism. Do no problems flow from this in your estimate?

f) Unions like SEIU conciously recruit middleclass youth from College or the Social Justice movements for 2 major reasons, in my opinion : Their idealism, willingness to work very hard; and their lack of a base within the union so that they are by default agents of the bureaucracy. Cold Truth: You were hired in part because of your perceived Loyalty

g) despite the fact that our situation is different than in the 30's . . . mass direct action, direct democracy, antistatism and anti-capitalist politics are still (!) what is needed, and in my view the job of anarchists to promote by word and example within the labor movement

h) Does this mean never become an Organizer? Not neccesarily, but a much more critical eye is needed than what is see so far

Some Questions for you:

Anarchists should be in the unions but why not go to work in a union shop (UPS is hiring) or a shop where you could be part of a drive from below (Wal-Mart's hiring too!)?

Do you see no differences between the interests of the Bureaucracy and the rank & file?

Do you agree that overall the AFLCIO & the CtW Coalition leadership are not anticapitalist?

What are the "new tactics" that should be used instead of rank & file democracy and mass direct action?

How is your program in practice, different than Andy Stern's?

Instead of dismissing my connection to reality, comrade, try dealing with the politics of what Im saying. The conversation will be more constructive, I feel.

However, if it is neccesary, for me to provide credentials of my relationship to reality, and more specificly rank & file organizing, in order to move this dialog along, than I can. I assume you all can too?

author by lucas - NAFpublication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 06:17Report this post to the editors

while i think that kdog may be making some generalizations of the organizers here, namely that they are all of middle class origin, i would have to agree with the questions he's presented.

and then again, i would like to ask those of you who are SEIU organizers what your particular strategy is to build rank and file democracy within SEIU and remove it from bureaucratic control. More than that, what kind of organizations do you feel anarchists need to be building in this respect, and what do you feel our respective organizations can do to help you with this?

final question, what are your goals?

the author that wrote this isn't disconnected from the labor movement. And he has also had previous experience organizing with SEIU, though not as a paid organizer, as an employee at a shop that SEIU was trying to organize. so to say that he is completely disconnected from reality is a bit of a stretch.

author by lucas - NAFpublication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 06:20author email brb4891 at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

i wanted to open the invitation for you both to write an article or letter in response to the above questions or the article. We would more than likely be open to publishing it in the next issue of 'unfinished business'

regards
lucas

author by SEIU-less - ..publication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 07:28Report this post to the editors

"STERN: Well, our labor movement was built around an industrial economy back in the 1930s. It was sort of a class struggle kind of unionism, but workers in today’s economy are not looking for unions to cause problems; they’re looking for them to solve them, and this means just like Ireland where business and labor and government all began to work together, we need team America to really work together if we’re going to reward American workers’ work, and to make sure that they still can live the American dream."

Street Signs CNBC-TV, August 1, 2005, 2:30 PM: Union Split

author by author - Firebrand/NAFpublication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 08:41Report this post to the editors

So, to clear a couple of things up. I was involved with an organizing drive with SEIU (worked over 60 hours a week to build an organizing committee) and my OC found ourselves being pushed way too hard and in the wrong direction by our SEIU appointed organizers. Granted, we were in a work situation where there were 10 isolated shops within the bargaining unit, so i can see why SEIU organizers were pushing us so hard, but still, they ran our OC, not us.

Secondly,
I am friends with both SEIU members and organizers. I have walked the picket line with both (although i've walked the picket line with a hell of alot more rank and file SEIU members than organizers). I know SEIU members who are pissed off at the union, i know SEIU members who are really down with the union...do you see a pattern here? The union has crafted a plan on how to organize workers, not workers. So, organizers are the implementors of strategies concocted by some really sketch people in terms of experince in on the job organizing.

Does Firebrand support the organizing done by SEIU, well hell yeah. We know alot of those people who are organizing, people who are in shops, and know that their lives have been improved by it. Are we completly uncritical, hell no. I criticized the hell out of my union, which is why i used a psudoname, cause i could get in some serious shit for what i said.

What about the vauge references to worker self-organizing? I already mentioned voluntary organizing committees, i work with my unions VOC. We are presently the ones who are salting on jobs, the ones who are working on building cross trade's solidarity, etc. We are doing this, and we are rank and file. In seattle, a women in my union who was a 3rd term apprentice salted for like six months and the company she salted is probably going to go union. Once again, this is workers self-organizing.

I think anarchist can be effective as both union organizers and union workers, although i think the potential for real revolutionary organizing is going to come from workers, not organizers, cause your gunna be at the unemployment office when you try to do any revolutionary organizing in your position, union workers on the other hand, well, we may be at the unemployment office too, but at least we know we can get another job and keep at what we were doing. We are in direct conflict with the capitalists, hence we can use all of the tactics of class warfare, its alot harder to do that as an organizer.

author by mitchpublication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 09:53author email wsany at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

I would say that I agree with the spirit of this article and agree with much of the criticisms.

I would also say that there are pockets of alternatives out there, mainly among low wage and immigrant workers. Concretely: the many workers centers that exist; alternative workers movements such as the Coalition of Imokalee Workers (Taco Bell campaign), Make The Road By Walking and so forth; efforts to build indpendent unionswithin the unions are various rank-&-file campaigns; efforts by some very dedicated young IWW folks

I am generally against "mainstreaming" anarchist workplace activities. By this I mean a newer tendency among US anarchists to become union organizers, rather than being militants in the workplace.

I'm not against a mixed approach, but to move away from the in-shop activities of building militant and, hopefelly, anarchist workers can be problematic.

Often times the thrill (and I say this in a positive way) of winning an organizing drive is great. The win of of first collective agreemnt is equally as thrilling. Then what? Paid staffer moves on to the next campaign.

The workplace activist is posed with the harder(and perhaps more important) challenge of fighting it out in the day-to-day with the boss. S/hein the position to build "shopfloor" structure that is libertarian and helps educates co-workers in anarchist tactics and ideas.

While it is certainly true that more workers in unions is better in the immeidtae snse, a question becomes what kind of unionim is being built? No, I'm surely not naive to believe that it wopuld be anarchist unionism (well, not if you're working for the AFL-CIO, CLC,CTWC), but those working as trade union organizer should at least be aware of what the track record is of the union they're working for when it comes to "deliering the goods" for the workers. What type of agrreements do they tend to negotiate & what form of structure is put in place after an organizing campaign is over.

Sure, we all want to be where the action is and where we can do "the most good". But I would suggest that there are different levels to this question. The question of building an anarchist precence on the shop-floor is key to advancing the ideal among workers.

As a side comment on the CTWC, I can only cringe when I read the following statement by UFCW Prez. Hansen. For all the US midwest readers of this list, if you're old enough, you'll remember him in this 20th year of the valient struggle by the P-9/Hormel struggle.

From the CTWC website I quote:

"Leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) announced that the 1.4-million-member union has disaffiliated from the national AFL-CIO.

"The dynamics of the new economy demand industry-wide organizing and coordinated bargaining to improve living standards, ensure affordable health care and renew respect for work and workers," said UFCW President Joe Hansen in a letter delivered to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.
"Solidarity means workers in an industry standing together in their union, and supporting all other workers in their industry," Hansen said. "On this core issue- redirecting resources to organize industry-wide for worker power- there is a fundamental difference between the Change Coalition and the AFL-CIO."

This is the same Joe Hansen who acted as the UFCW's hatchet-man during the Local P-9 strike against Hormel. The same Joe Hansen who helped to over-see the diminution of pattern bargaining and industry-wide standards in meatpacking; the same Joe Hansen who served as the UFCW's "Trustee" in taking over Local P-9 along with discredited and unelected former P-9 local officers; the same Joe Hansen who "wrote all Local P-ers that the new contract (with Hormel) prohbits boycott activity, and under its terms, they can be striken from the recall list for continuing to prmote the boycott of Hormel products"*

This is not the type of unionism that anarchists in their right mind should support.

--mitch


*From "Hard-Pressed in the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future of the Labor Movement" by Peter Rachleff:

author by Edmonton Wobbly - Workers Power Reading Grouppublication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 12:28author email spacequixote at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

I think the real question that needs to be asked is what side a union organizer will take if wildcat activity occurs outside the contract?

Will the anarchist organizers from the mainstream labour movement support the rank and files decision to break the contract? Or will they side with the benevolent leadership that 'knows best'?

author by Dukepublication date Sat Aug 20, 2005 13:38Report this post to the editors

Before I comment on the article and discussion, I'd like to say that its heartening that anarchists in the U.S. and Canada are beginning to think about the labor movement critically rather than with our traditional knee-jerk pomposity. There is a poverty of analysis of mainstream mass movements and organizations and almost zero content produced on how anarchists should relate to these movements and organizations. NAF, NEFAC and the now defunct FRAC have started a dialogue within anarchism that is sorely needed, regardless of where the conversation leads. I also look towards the Furious Five Capital Terminus collectives for their out-of-box analysis and ideas. These are all bright lights in a general morass (with emphasis on ass) of anarchist thought and activity in the U.S. and to a lesser degree Canada.

I would also like to make clear where I stand. I've been an anarchist for 20 years. A member of countless ephemeral collectives that accomplished little and I'm currently a supporter of NEFAC. I'm a former member of two locals of the United Auto Workers where I worked not in the auto industry, or even manufacturing, but instead as a psych counselor and a journalist. So industrial focus for mainstream unions is a very passionate issue for me. For a number of years now I have been a union organizer, first with the UAW, then with AFSCME and currently with SEIU (I'm not sure if my one-time job as a janitor at the Harvard Medical School Library makes me an ivy league aristocrat or not). I apologize in advance if this is irrelevant information. Anyway...

I disagree with most of the assumptions and analysis within this article. To begin, the "two main points" of the CTW (formerly NUP) are not those identified within this article. While, Granting the AFL-CIO the authority to require coordinated bargaining and to merge or revoke union charters, transfer responsibilities to unions for whom that industry or craft is their primary area of strength, and prevent any merger that would further divide workers strength and Rebat[ing] 50 percent of the dues unions pay to the AFL-CIO if unions put 10 percent of their budget towards organizing new workers were certainly two proposals, identifying these as the two main points of the CTW is inadequate at best. The article is far more correct in stating that main focus of the CTW proposals are "centered on industry wide organizing, union density, and more money put towards organizing." The sad fact is that the critique is centered on an attempt to paint these ideas as faux-radical which places the conversation squarely under the constraints the liberal left labor media has spent untold efforts to channel it. This is a fundamental problem with any start to the now developing anarchist critique of mainstream labor's current situation.

These ideas are not faux-radical. They are not radical, faux or not, at all. They are simply common sense structural considerations combined with the outrageous notion that more workers should be in workers' organizations. They are also not an attempt to centralize, further bureaucratize, or sieze power as the leftist (soft-trot driven) press has declared. If anyone actually thinks that unions should not organize industrially and not organize more workers I'd like to hear why, as the concept baffles me. It is not rank and file democracy for a janitor to choose joining the pipe-fitters union over the janitors union. It is rank and file democracy for janitors to control the janitors union. The CTW proposals were centered on long held successful ideas in building power against bosses. If a majority of workers in a particular industry organize together then they are able to sieze control of their working conditions. This should not be a point for debate. I don't know why it is.

As for allegations of utilizing these ideas as a justification for one union to "raid" another, this misses the point altogether. There are two forms of "raiding" currently happening in the labor movement. One is that as union industrial density began to decline in the 1950's unions began to organize workers in other industries. While this initially swelled their membership ranks with the hope that numbers meant power, it turned out that unions actually lost power, as they gained these new members, due to degenerating industrial power. So one form of "raiding" is by unions organizing workers outside of an industrial focus to the detriment of their members and the newly organized workers. The second form of "raiding" is really not. Its a serious fight over industrial organizing. The best example of which, is delightfully mischaracterized in this article. SEIU and AFSCME are in conflict over which union should sensibly be organizing certain workers. Mostly over workers in the public sector and more predominantly in public and privatized home health and home care fields. As an aside the trotskyist controlled Labor Notes has disgustingly published articles questioning whether these people are even workers at all. So the conflict between SEIU and AFSCME should be easily solved if they were members of an organization that actually had mechanisms in place that pushed its member unions to organize industrially rather than for membership. The AFL-CIO was not such an organization, so it is a legitimate question as to whether AFSCME or SEIU is the appropriate union to actually build power in these industries.

One important critique in the article is on the subject of how organizing should be happening. The few unions that have been successful at organizing workers have been successful by utilizing top-down methods that at their best teach workers how to fight for themselves and at worse infantilize workers and sell unionization as a service. SEIU, AFSCME, and UNITE-HERE in the service sector and the Carpenters, Laborers, and to a lesser degree the Operating Engineers in the building trades have all been successful using top-down organizing methods. No other unions have been substantially successful at organizing. No employment sectors outside of the service industry (public and private) and construction have grown at all. All of these unions that have had some success using top-down organizing have done so with both emphases; teaching workers to fight for themselves and infantilizing them. None of them hold any high-ground on the subject. The CTW vs AFL-CIO split is not about rank and file democracy. It is about structure, focus and resource allocation. It is necessary for there to be an anarchist critique of the lack of worker control in all of these unions. However, that critique should begin from recognizing that CTW is on the correct side in the limited consideration of structure, focus and resource allocation. All mainstream unions lack authentic democracy. The second important critique is the quickness of all of these unions to settle for labor peace. Although a deeper analysis is needed.

I would like to make some small points on subjects touched on casually in the article. 1. SEIU's withdrawal was voted on by the local unions, not by the executive board. The Teamsters and the UFCW decision was made by executive board. There was no general membership vote held in any of them. 2. Workers' in the 1930's did not spontaneously organize themselves and their unions. There was many decades of hard work done preceding that beginning in the 1880's. The notion that the massive organizing done in the 30's was spontaneous is an incorrect and ahistorical analysis promoted by the liberal left and increasingly the hard right. Ignoring the decades of work done beforehand and the material conditions of the time is a mistake. 3. Labor Aristocracy is a term used to describe craft unionism not union bureaucrats. This may seem a petty observation, but understanding the fight between craft unionism and industrial unionism in the early part of the 20th century is the only way to develop a solid analysis of the current state of U.S. trade unions. 4. Rank and file complacency in the achievement of middle-classism and lack of ownership of the unions are inter-related. seperating those out as two themes is probably a mistake.

While I realize I just disagreed with a lot of the substance of this article, I really want to thank the author and NAF for writing and publishing it. Honestly, y'all give me some hope that there are anarchists in the U.S. and Canada that are serious, smart and looking forward.

Duke Aaron

author by remypublication date Mon Aug 22, 2005 14:49Report this post to the editors

quick response to lucas:

i'm going to try and write a response to this article, and some of the questions/issues posed in the comments, and i'll post them here when i'm though. feel free to print them in unfinished business.

very quickly though- i still think the article is sloppy and jilted. i don't discount the author or his experiences though, and through the discussion that followed, Patrick brought up a lot that would've given the article a lot more breadth and context. more useful than this article would be some insight into the VOCs, and a lot more writing about base organizing by the folks who've been involved. perhaps if there were more resources of that nature, you'd see less young anarchists like myself taking organizing positions for SEIU and the like. we can't be fed purely on history and theory.

also, i apologize for my comments about folks being out of touch with reality. i know that's not the case, and i have a hell of a lot of respect for the folks on this site.

remy.

author by lucas - NAFpublication date Tue Aug 23, 2005 01:11Report this post to the editors

excellent. thanks comrade, i'm looking forward to your article.

author by mitchpublication date Tue Aug 23, 2005 13:54author email wsany at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

Hi and briefly.

One form of alternative organizing has been workers centers. These ceneters vary quite a bit. But in they main they combine a bit of everything, including grass roots liberatrian methods of work and organization.

In Bushwick, Brooklyn,New York, Make The Road By Walking/Workers in Action have done some grat things in the community and workplace, mainly among immigrant workers. They operate in a generally libertarian manner and anarchists, amongst others, work freely and well with the center and WIA.

There are quite a few other examples like the Garment Workers Center in Los Angeles, Vermont Workers Center, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops,Chinese Staff Workers Association, Korean Immigrant Workers Association and many others.

The Coalition of Immokale Workers (the folks who beat Taco Bell) organizaed from the ground up and operates in a very libertarian manner.

I would suggest that these centers and associations are making important contributions in helping to shape consciousness, build alternative movements and carry out concrete and meaning work.

More later.

author by blackgadflypublication date Tue Aug 23, 2005 13:55Report this post to the editors

Participants of the discussion board:

I am relatively new to the US labor movement, and I have been active(picketing, CD, etc.) with SEIU Local 3 Justice for Janitors campaign over the last few months at best.

My initial involvement with SEIU sprung from my developing interests in the service sector of organized labor here in the US as well as abroad. Moreover, my interests led me to develop first-hand knowledge of how struggling migrant workers deal with the complexities of organized labor. Therefore, my intent of the future is to focus entirely on how skilled and unskilled workers can successfully meet their needs without losing their dignity and self-respect in the process.

My question for the discussion panel is, What do we plan to do (as anarcho-syndicalists) about organizing the organizers within rigid bureaucratic structures? If organizers have little chance to express the clout of the working membership in organizer meetings then how do we plan to establish solidarity/unity on both fronts?

More or less, what I have been reading from the previous posts is that there is a deep divide among union-members and union-organizers. Remember, the people who become union organizers due so to benefit the struggles of the working-class-not to be the handmaidens of bureaucratic/elitists interests.

In solidarity,
blackgadfly

author by lucas - NAFpublication date Tue Aug 23, 2005 22:51Report this post to the editors

i don't know. thats a hard question, and exactly the reason why i never became a paid organizer for a professional union. i didn't want to be the kind of organizer that is organizing solely for the benefit of corrupt unionism and not for the ideals or gains of working folk.

i would probably reconsider that if i knew that there were an anarchist organization with a strong program on how to democratize or take back the labor movement. And also, if there were the resources available to carry out that program.

but for the meantime i think my best role is to develop voluntary organizing in the IWW. voluntary organizing (salting in a coordinated manner) i think bridges the gap between 'professional organizer' and 'worker'. The best example i have seen of that is Daniel Gross and the Starbucks Workers Union.

author by Natepublication date Fri Aug 26, 2005 03:55author email nateholdren at gmail dot conReport this post to the editors

hey comrades,
Interesting article and discussion. I have no idea what I think about the AFL split, this is all very helpful in my getting clear on it. I'd just like to comment on the issue of being a paid organizer.

I worked in a number of nonprofit organizations and have been exploited there as much and worse as in any other jobs I've had. What those organizations (and the labor of workers employed in them) produce is contradictory - some gains for working people, some legitimacy for certain political agendas, etc. I worked as union organizer for a while as well. In that job, it was much more contradictory. Organizers do help working people become involved in class struggle, peoples lives changes and their ideologies often follow from there.

At the same time, a lot of fucked up stuff happens too (I remember one high level bureaucrat commenting that a campaign I was on needed to have a worker get fired, to galvanize the rest of the shop). In the end, the requirements of that job got to be too much for many of my co-workers and I. We decided to form our own union to have more power in dealing with our employer , the union. The union bosses fought us really hard, some people were fired and others forced out and I'm still pretty bitter about it. (A friend of mine at a local of another union is going through this exact same experience as I type this, he's an organizer who wants to be in a union, his bosses, union execs, just fired several peopl for this). All that said, I think it's really important to recognize that no one has a complete set of answers, and that organizations and labor is always contradictory, and even more so for 'big labor' (what I like to call the Business Unions). Still, being a union staffer is a decent way to make a living if the rest of your life can take the hits it gives, and it does make some kind of impact. It's certainly not the only way to do so (I'm part of the IWW now, and am proud of some things that wobs today are doing). It seems to me, though, that ultimately the most important work to be done, regardless of who does it, reaching out to and organizing unorganized workers. I am of course biased toward the IWW and models like ours, but even shitty unions can have important effects on people when they go through unionization drives, and its only at that level that our class will build its power.

take care,
Nate

author by Flint - NEFAC (personal capacity)publication date Fri Aug 26, 2005 05:03author email flint at nefac dot netReport this post to the editors

"Will the anarchist organizers from the mainstream labour movement support the rank and files decision to break the contract? Or will they side with the benevolent leadership that 'knows best'?"

Most organziers who are also employees of the union, will not be anywhere near a shop that is currently under contract. Most unions keep their organizers in shops that have not yet had the union recognized, have not gotten a collective bargaining agreement yet, or at a shop whose contract is close to expiration.

Related Link: http://www.nefac.net
author by blackgadfly - ANARCHIST FOR LIFEpublication date Fri Aug 26, 2005 23:09Report this post to the editors

I do not think that we, as anarcho-syndicalists, should concentrate so much on the friction and/or conflict that arises from the sides of union organizers and union workers. Our entire culture, vis a vis western civilization, thrives on contradictions between winners and losers, rights and wrongs, us against them, etc. such that it is devastating to imply that individuals interested in upholding working-class struggles should declare which side they are on. That should be evident.

We all live in the same oppressive and illegitimate political economy. Everyone of us, including union organizers, have to make a living. The question is whether or not you would rather organizers be paid as organizers or paid as white collar leeches in some industry that does not even have the inclination to build a union-based workforce.

Whose side am I on? I will always retain the side I was born into, the working-class. As for standing in solidarity with workers, show me where TRUE solidarity in the workforce exists and I will stand in solidarity with it.

In solidarity,
blackgadfly

author by andrewpublication date Sat Aug 27, 2005 03:46Report this post to the editors

quite a few SEIU-employed radicals have our own discussion line of sorts, which isn't used as much as it should be - in part because it's not anarchist-specific, i think.

anyway, to remy, peter, and other SEIU folks - please email me, we'd really like to connect SEIU anarchists in some meaningful way.

willisa -at- gmail -dot- com

-andrew
SEIU Intl

author by mitchpublication date Sat Aug 27, 2005 21:52author email wsany at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

I have found this thread interesting.

For my comrades who work for trade unions, I'm curious to learn why they choose to go that route, how they feel they are making change and what they feel they are getting out of their experiance. I ask these questions in a comradely way.

As I recently wrote to another comrade:

"The "big fight" of my anarchist generation was is it ok for an anarchist to become a shop steward or local union officer. Almost never did someone become a staff person. It was always the point of view that "workers power" was on the "shop-floor". That was our shove-off point. So the terrain has changed dramatically.

I remember an instance in the 1980s when were very involved with our needle trades work. The question came about whether we should allow a Fur & Leather Workers Union(you know, the "red" Furriers) staff person be part of the Needle Trades Action Committee. Marty was a good comrade but we felt that as a staff person he was removed from the shopfloor and could be a friend but not a member. It was a big deal then. Now, not so big.As I said, things have changed.

My observation is that younger anarchists have tended to become trade union organizers at a greater rate then my generation has less to do with "ideology" and more to do with feeing that they are doing something concrete. I also think, and I would agree with many of your observations/experiances, that the trade union movement has changed. I would also say that the trade union movement of the early 21st century is probably a bit more complex then 20 years ago. So I would agree with you that "cookie-cutter" generalizations don't always hold water. But, of course, there are bench marks.

I share with my younger comrades the frustration that anarchism has not been recognized as a potent revolutionary idea amongst many workers. I share with the frustration that most anarchists care little in building a fighting workers movement (pardon all the rethoric). hey, we all want "action now" and we all want to see concrete results. Jobs With Justice, Anti-Sweatshop groups and some forefront organizing unions with certain progressive views have provided an outlet for activists. Ok, cool. But then again "progressive unions" have always been that "entry".

Look, the late anarchist International Ladies Garment Workers Union Vice President and Organizer Rose Pesotta organized thousands of workers in the ladies garment trades. A fantasic organizer by all accounts (check out her book "Bread Upon the Waters", a must read for unionists). Active as hell in the Anarchist Red Cross, a confidant of Emma Goldman and Jewish anarchist circles (mainly). But she was not able to translate her fantastic trade union organizing into anything more than that. So herein lies the rub."

But what comes after an organizer "flys in and flys out" again. I would think anarchists need to give some consideration to what comes next. Is the "empowerment" of a campaign translated into the permanent nature of the shop and/or local organization?
Or is this sense of empowerment only rolled out every few years when a collective agreement expires and so forth?

"Having been a shopfloor worker and a union field staff person I would say that it all comes back to the local workplace. I think field staff play good roles if they are good and have the freedom to be good and rank-&-file centric. I think if they are good but are compromised by local and national politics and constraints (which they inevitablly are) there's a problem. But i aso understand the experiance and skills gained by folks starting out (backwardsly i think) as a staffer.

So.... where does rank-&-file control and power lie? Simply put (and I say that purposefully) at the base and in the workplace and local. It is at this point where I think anarchists have a better chance of having their voices heard and winning a following. It's as grassroots as it comes.

author by mitchpublication date Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:25author email wsany at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

Did this conversation die?

Maybe US folks are away on holiday.

author by bobo - Unite Unionpublication date Fri Sep 09, 2005 19:31author email bobo at enzyme dot org dot nzauthor phone +64274555789Report this post to the editors

I have been trying to get in contact with Anarchist Union organisers. I've tried to join various anarcho-syndicalist email loops etc, and I just can't seem to get anyway. If there are Anarchist Union Organisers out there - please email me. There aren't many of us in Aotearoa New Zealand. I am new to this, and I am politically unprepared for the mass of socialist worker types who organise in my union!

Yours,
Simon

author by mitchpublication date Mon Oct 17, 2005 11:27author email wsany at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

I was pleasntly surpirsed to read the following paragraph which appears in the October 2005 issue of the indpendent socialist on-line magazine "Monthly Review".

"Immokalee Workers Take Down Taco Bell"
Elly Leary

http://www.monthlyreview.org/1005leary.htm

"Until just recently most of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’s closest labor allies were anarchist/syndicalist-influenced organizations like the United Workers Association, which organizes day laborers in Baltimore, and the Worker Solidarity Alliance in New York. These alliances seemed to be based upon a combination of several factors: (1) the anarchist organizations are small, easy to reach, and eager to build alliances; (2) CIW staff have little direct experience with U.S. trade unions; and, (3) the CIW’s ideological roots are in Zapatismo (many CIW workers come from southern Mexico)."

While I do not agree with the down-playing by the socialist writer of our ideas or organizational size (true, we are small), I found it interesting that this writer would, at all, feel the need to mention an anarcho-syndicalist organization.I would briefly like to say that in this day and age it is still possible to share ideas, build alliances, work with and, hopefully, influence in a positive manner grassroots workers' organization. Even our critics recognize why our ideas can reach some workers.

author by Moniquepublication date Tue Dec 13, 2005 04:30author email mdavisk1 at yahoo dot coauthor phone 614-291-5498Report this post to the editors

As a former union organizer with SEIU, I really have to agree with the gent who spoke about organizers having a hard time speaking out against union beauacracy. I loved my job, but we had an internal conflict amongst the "brainwashed" and the "rational" organizers. It seems that unions are great for workers all over the world, but not so for organizers. Our union bosses actually ran an anti-union campaign and fired organizers who supported forming a union. I never quite understood how we are supposed to tell non-union workers about the benefits of a union, when our bosses act like corporate managers and we have no legal recourse against them. It is common for SEIU to hire people fresh out of college, idealist types, give them minimal training and expect them to take on the corporate world.

Honestly, the best thing for ANY union to do is to thoroughly train their organizers and make this cause a career and life long position. Many people, including myself, would appreciate being able to organize workers based on fact and not smokescreeens promises. The movement will not benefit from increased organizing unless emphasis is placed on services existing members and providing a real place of collective power among unionized workers. SEIU is failing in that respect and should not be the model for change in this matter.

author by Nilpublication date Tue Dec 13, 2005 07:20Report this post to the editors

Wow, that article is GREAT. Thanks for the pointer Mitch.

I suspect the autI'm just prejudicted to think anyone who's that smart politically must be some kind of anarchist. (Not that this applies to all or most anarchists of course, alas.)

The article also mentions "extremely sophisticated left anarchists."

I hadn't been aware of that publication before (Monthly Review), what's their deal?

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