I just wanted to briefly mention that I am looking for full-time employment in the labor movement in any capacity. I am located in the Washington, DC metro area, but would consider West Virginia or Eastern PA as well. For more information, check out my bio, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you my resume.
I'm still hard at work at the Dept of Veterans Affairs, but I am looking for a better opportunity to do what I love for a living.
As I'm sure most of you from the states are aware, the One Nation, Working Together March on Washington is coming to town on October 10th. Here is AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka with his official invite:
I think this has the potential to be a good thing, as long as it doesn't turn into a rah-rah, let's get out the vote for Democrats rally. The labor movement needs to galvanize around more than just an election cycle. In fact, I have a novel idea(this means you shouldn't hold your breath) that could really build some solidarity, as well as some major press at a time when the labor movement could definitely use some.
Visualize for a second the National Mall in Washington, full of working-class folks from every conceivable labor organization. Then, to the roar of the crowd, the leaders of the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, and the independents(well, probably minus the Carpenters) all come on stage together, and announce that they are going to bury the hatchet and put forward a united front to move the struggle forward into the 21st century. Can you imagine the solidarity(and let's not forget the press) that would create?
If only it were that easy. I guess there's always hope.
p.s. - I am actually looking to catch a ride so I can document this event. if anyone is around the Brunswick, MD area(Frederick County), shoot me a message.
Let me begin with a quick caveat: I do not follow the traditional book review format. I was forced to use it one too many times in college, and have sworn off of it forever. I have always found it more interesting, and frankly, more useful to just talk about the book, and what I liked or didn't like, and then give my rating and recommendation.
In and Out of the Working Class
by Michael Yates
I must begin by saying I hate economics. I mean, I really dislike conversing and studying economics. I know that a labor activists who hates economic discussion sounds ridiculous, but it is true. The fact that I burned through Yates' book in two days speaks volumes about Yates' abilities as a writer as well as his ability to explain economics to a wide audience. In and Out of the Working Class is a fascinating read that weaves between fiction and non-fiction(mostly non-fiction) through various stories and experiences ranging from a creative non-fiction retelling of an encounter with Cesar Chavez, to my favorite chapter of the book, which tells us what Lenin and a Catholic priest from Yates' past have in common.
The chapters that cover Yates' experiences on campus are in my opinion, the highlight of the book. I must admit I am a bit biased, as I related quite a bit to the frustration the author had with lazy students in my generation who, with a regrettable sense of entitlement, rob themselves of a more thorough education.
The most important revelation I had while reading this book is that if there were a few more Economics professors out there like Yates, perhaps fewer people would view economics like I did before I read In and Out of the Working Class. This in of itself would be a major accomplishment. The ability of the author to explain economics through real life stories, rather than through statistics and numbers is something more authors and university professors should try to emulate.
I highly recommend this book, whether or not you fancy yourself a fan of economics. It will not disappoint.
You can purchase In and Out of the Working Class here:
I apologize for the lack of posts, I've been hunkered down this past week on a deadline for an article. I should return to normal on Monday with some book reviews and a lot of new topics to discuss, including Organizing Office Staff, the October 2 Labor March in Washington, DC, Organizing the American Red Cross, a series on reform groups in various labor unions, and a series on independent unions.
In the meantime, I'd like to plug a couple of excellent new labor books I've been reading over the last few weeks(check back for some reviews):
I have already read through a good portion of each of these books, and love them both.
Early's book is chock full of reviews of past labor works, as well as the kind of insight you could only acquire with multiple decades inside the labor movement.
I have found Yates' work to be captivating, as he weaves back and forth from non-fiction to the occasional fiction story. Want to know what Lenin and a Catholic priest have in common? Read Yates' book and you'll find out.
I just thought I'd give UnionBook a little shout out here. Eric Lee, of LabourStart fame, has created this awesome social networking site for labor activists to cennect. If you haven't checked it out yet, I recommend it!
Some time ago, I began to ponder this question. I can't remember exactly when. Perhaps it was when Congress passed a healthcare bill that did not include single-payer or a public option. Maybe it was after I campaigned in over a dozen states for a progressive candidate who, once in office, appointed robber barons to fix the economic crisis. It might have had something to do with the Employee Free Choice Act being on life support, with a less than stellar prognosis.
Come to think of it, it was probably a little bit of everything. The question remains: Is it time for a new labor party? I am beginning to think so. Even with the system so heavily tilted in favor of having two parties(Thank you Martin Van Buren), I could see it happening, and here is a brief explanation how I think it could be accomplished. Given the fact that the South Carolina Labor Party never got past the fish or cut bait moment, the field seems to be open for a new entity.
I believe that a growing amount of Americans do not identify with either major party. This is not news, but important nonetheless. I believe that any successful attempt to organize a new political party based around economic issues would do well to incorporate the following ideas:
1. Avoid making party-wide stances on volatile wedge issues that individual candidates can handle.
For example, despite the fact that many Democrats happen to be pro-life, they have allowed themselves as a party to be boxed inby the GOP on this issue. This also goes for gun rights, etc. Let the individual candidates make that call, and let the party focus on galvanizing the working class.
2. Appeal to the economic anger of the tea party crowd.
I know it may be hard for some of my inside the beltway friends to believe, but there are a fair amount of rank-and-file union members in the Tea Party Movement(for those of you who missed my post devoted to this subject, you can read it here). As I stated in the aforementioned entry, I believe the reason for this is that the Labor Movement missed a major opportunity to unite working-class Americans against the capitalist system that got us into this financial mess. Instead, the Tea Party Movement has hijacked the message to push their fringe, right-wing agenda. We have to get to work on fighting this nonsense. If we can do this effectively, we could build a movement built on the economic interests of the working-class.
3. Solicit support from existing Socialist groups.
I know Socialist is a bad word to many people, but that's because they don't know what the hell a socialist is. Any attempt to organize a legitimate labor party is going to need the help of groups like the Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Party USA, The International Socialist Organization, and other groups like this who are dedicated to the cause of labor.
Will this ever happen? I don't know, but what I do know is that we'll be hard-pressed to find another economic situation like this in the near future where a large portion of the population is tired of the two-party nonsense and is listening if someone else offers a better solution.