Time to Set New Priorities?

Source: José La Luz, New Labor Forum, Vol. 25 no. 3, September 2016
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I strongly disagree with Brother Richman’s assertion that the inadequate resources devoted to external organizing are the result of a conscious choice—strategic or tactical—made by labor leaders because they have opted instead to dedicate all or most of their union’s resources toward “winning better pay, working conditions, and rights for existing union members.”

It is entirely possible that many of these leaders have not even considered these two seemingly opposing priorities in the face of a sustained and escalating attack by corporate interests and their political allies. Many may simply be maneuvering to defend their unions by helping to elect a “friend” to the White House who could work with them to usher in a program of modest labor reforms and provide some needed oxygen to their embattled institutions.

It should be noted that although most unions are not spending enough on organizing, a few—such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—have continued to spend on large-scale external organizing campaigns, such as efforts to organize home and child care workers or independent providers, and plants of foreign automakers in the south.