Monday, June 21, 2010

A New Direction: Reform Ideas For The Labor Movement

I've given a lot of thought lately to the future of the labor movement, and where we're heading. I had a nice conversation over the weekend with a Political Director from an unnamed union regarding where the labor movement is headed in the next twenty years. It was his prediction that within the next two decades, at least two dozen mainstream unions will cease to exist. Although it is a sad thought, I have to agree with his sentiment.

What can be done to help change our direction?

1. I believe that unions must go back to a rank-and-file style of operation. We operate too much like corporations, and not enough like the people who fight against them. Although it's not anywhere near the level corporate CEO's are paid, we still pay our national officers too much.

2. I know I've said this before, but we need to stop wasting our money on PACs, and start using it on member education programs, organizing, and actual political action. It's time to admit our PAC money has been wasted, and return to actual mobilization that yields actual results.

3. There needs to be some serious consideration given to merging some of the overlapping trade unions. This will have to be done by the members, as leadership will not want to give up their fiefdoms.

4, We need to create a new union specifically for Retail and Food Workers. Specifically, one that is not the UFCW. I have coined the name: FARWA, which is an acronym for Food And Retail Worker Association. This would cover the service industry workers that the labor movement has ignored. They have ignored them because the workers are young and turnover is high, or because the small workforce.

I believe we can be successful in organizing these industries if we go franchise by franchise. I believe the main reason the turnover rate is so high is because of the poor work conditions and low pay. These are the very things that unions are supposed to exist to combat!

These are just a few points to start with. We have to change direction soon, or it will be too late.

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