The Seeds of a New Labor Movement

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Anita Wilcox, Solidarity Forever

By Harold Meyerson

Consideration of the status and the changing structures and organizing strategies of the U.S. labor movement is an important element in developing a new strategy for rebuilding the democratic left.

DSA Honorary Chair Harold Meyerson has written an important long-form piece on current developments in the U.S. Labor movement for The American Prospect. Below are excerpts and a link to the full article. -- Editors

A growing share of the organizing in labor today is already taking place outside the structures of collective bargaining. Unions are organizing domestic workers, who have no common employer. They are organizing taxi drivers, who are self-employed. The AFL-CIO’s major organizing effort, Working America, is a community-based campaign that until recently hadn’t dealt with its members’ workplace concerns or had a presence in those workplaces. And in the fight to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15, even though few if any of the beneficiaries were or would become union members, Rolf ended up bargaining with employers on behalf of the city’s entire working class. 

But the triumph in SeaTac was only the second most important victory that Rolf’s union won last Election Day. In Seattle proper, State Senator Ed Murray was elected mayor, chiefly on the strength of his pledge to raise Seattle’s minimum to $15 as well. While SEIU’s “Fight for 15” campaign to unionize fast-food workers has highlighted the plight of low-wage workers in dozens of cities, only in Seattle did the issue come to dominate the municipal elections. That was Rolf’s and his fast-food organizers’ doing. They timed the workers’ demonstrations to coincide with key events during the campaign. Their coup de théâtre was to arrange a televised debate among the major mayoral candidates at which the questioners were all low-wage workers (including a Burger King employee active in the fast-food campaign)—who, of course, asked the aspirants if they supported a $15 minimum for Seattle. It was there that Murray, more than any of the other candidates, first spoke favorably of the idea.

As the campaign progressed, as the demonstrations continued to draw widespread coverage, and as the $15 question came up at every candidates forum, the fight for 15 became Murray’s signature issue. On Election Day, his victory, the victory at SeaTac, and the upset Seattle city council victory of Kshama Sawant, a Trotskyist champion of the $15 standard, combined to create a perfect storm for a pay raise. 

Read the entire article here. Reprinted with permission from The American Prospect.

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Harold Meyerson is editor-at-large of The American Propect and a Washington Post columnist. He is a vice-chair of DSA.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

 

Feminist Working Group

December 14, 2016
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People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the election.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Turning Members into Leaders

December 28, 2016
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Are you starting a new group? Or have you been doing most of the work for your longtime group? Has it been hard to keep new people involved or get them to take responsibility? But suddenly everybody wants to jump in at the same time! Learn how to mentor new leaders and make sure they have all the information and tools they need to succeed.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

NOTE: This training is at 9:00pm Eastern (8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific). Please RSVP.

Instructor:

  • Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy.

In Leadership Development you will learn:

The proven steps to developing the leadership skills and commitment of more members:

  • identifying potential leaders
  • recognizing what each one brings to the group
  • asking people to volunteer
  • giving them specific tasks
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  • creating opportunities for new leadership
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Training Details

  • This workshop is for local leaders who will lead campaigns in their chapters.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt talt@igc.org 607-280-7649.
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DSA New Member Orientation Call

January 19, 2017
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You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8:30 PM ET; 7:30 PM CT; 6:30 PM MT; 5:30 PM PT.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
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The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.