Friday, January 12, 2007

Another Labor Notes Article

Also in Labor Notes this month is an article by Tiffany Ten Eyck about the affiliation of Worker's Centers with National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).

This affiliation brings up an interesting point that refers to something that I have been thinking about since Dave posted this entry. In his question, "Can a strike be won, if the work is done?" he brings up an interesting point which is how workers must we rely on outside agitators and not solely on the militancy of an organized workforce.

What I have been thinking is the extent to which it may be possible to couple community organizing with labor organizing to develop a really powerful and relatively permanent coalition of organized people working on their own behalf. Taking on workplace issues when many service-sector workers also face issues regarging healthcare, tenant's rights violations, child care and schooling issues doesn't necessarily speak to all of the situation of workers in their daily lives.

Then, the less preferable option Dave mentions -- relying on outside agitators to win labor campaigns -- can really become the more preferable option: workers can be militantly organized around all issues that affect them in their lives. Then, one does not have to rely on "outside" agitators because those agitators become the families, friends and neighbors of the workers. It seems, then, like developing the link between worker's centers and traditional labor organizing is a way to strengthen both the labor movement and the progressive movement in this country.

I am interested in what others think...


dave3544 said...

If "outside agitators" means family, friends, community members, then yes this is the labor situation we all dream of.

What I am leery about is the SEIU model of bringing in 50-100 agitators from around the country (I am guessing union staff/organizers) to basically "lead" rallies, get arrested, and cause headlines.

SEIU seems to be saying that we cannot shut down a company economically, so we will try to embarrass them into giving into our demands. Now there are a variety of reasons the actual workers of a company cannot go to "extremes" to bring notice and shame (fear of deportation, fear of being subsequently fired, dignity), but there are always 50-100 people from the outside perfectly willing to be, essentially, professional agitators.

This seemed to be the model in Houston and it seemed to work, but it is so far from the model you suggest, i wonder about its viability in the long run.

But, then again, why not have a cadre of professional agitators ready and willing to bring public notice to a labor campaign through demonstrations, agitation, pickets, what-have-you? Maybe it works. Seems hollow, but then does losing a strike.

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