Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice

Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice

Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice

Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice

Synopsis

The U.S. trade union movement finds itself today on a global battlefield filled with landmines and littered with the bodies of various social movements and struggles. Candid, incisive, and accessible, Solidarity Divided is a critical examination of labor's current crisis and a plan for a bold new way forward into the twenty-first century. Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapasin, two longtime union insiders whose experiences as activists of color grant them a unique vantage on the problems now facing U.S. labor, offer a remarkable mix of vivid history and probing analysis. They chart changes in U.S. manufacturing, examine the onslaught of globalization, consider the influence of the environment on labor, and provide the first broad analysis of the fallout from the 2000 and 2004 elections on the U.S. labor movement. Ultimately calling for a wide-ranging reexamination of the ideological and structural underpinnings of today's labor movement, this is essential reading for understanding how the battle for social justice can be fought and won.

Excerpt

Johannesburg, South Africa. in a hotel conference room in June 2001, a critical dialogue took place between leaders of the U.S.-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the South African National Education, Health & Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). Also in the room were representatives of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, with which nehawu is affiliated. the discussion, part of a several-day exchange between the two unions examining issues facing their respective movements, focused on political action. After an insightful presentation by nehawu, a free-flowing exchange unfolded. a young progressive seiu local union leader from the West Coast, commenting on the role of the union in political action, noted what must have seemed obvious to him: that the role of a union is to represent the interests of its members. the representatives of nehawu offered a careful and diplomatic reply: “Comrades,” they began, “the role of the union is to represent the interests of the working class. There are times when the interests of the working class conflict with the interests of the members of our respective unions.” Silence descended on the room. the seiu leaders said nothing. Time seemed to have stopped. the discussion proceeded, but no one commented on the statement by the nehawu leaders.

In many respects, this book concerns that exchange, or at least the difference in vision and politics it dramatized. in that room in South Africa, we heard two approaches to trade unionism represented by unions and leaders who could all be defined as progressive. the contradiction that became evident spoke to the difference between the paradigm that has existed in the United States and the one that grew in South Africa over the years of struggle against apartheid. This book examines that paradigm in the context of the explosive developments rocking the U.S. trade union movement over the past decade.

The U.S. trade union movement finds itself on a global battlefield filled with land mines and littered with the remains of various social . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.