The Sound and the Fury: Did the Split in the Labor Movement Signify Anything?

Source: New Labor Forum, Fall 2007
By Jake Metzger

Not a whole lot has changed since seven unions established the Change to Win (CtW) labor federation in the summer of 2005 to rival the AFL-CIO. As one who had more fears than hopes for the split, I take some comfort in that. I expected much worse… That the worst hasn’t happened is a testament, I think, to the good sense and commitment of local leaders and staff who seem to have successfully ignored the rivalries of top leaders and gone about their business, for good or for ill, as if “all that” didn’t matter. … Could child care workers be the equivalent in our time of the 1930s auto workers (or rubber workers)? I haven’t heard anybody m ake that claim, probably because it isn’t clear how much of a difference unions can actually make in these workers’ wages and conditions or in their form of organization. But they’re off to a good start in making a real difference, according to a 2007 study by the National Women’s law Center. And if there is to be one spark that sets off a fire of organizing, ti could be this low-wage, overwhelmingly female, multicolored workforce that requires a combination fo political, community, and labor organizing of a thoroughly nontraditional kind.

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