Is Working Alone Undermining Solidarity in Your Workplace?

Source: Charly Richardson, Labor Notes, #426, September 2014
(A version of this article appeared in Labor Notes #382, January 2011)

Solidarity is at the core of union power and depends on personal connections among workers, created in the course of interaction in the workplace. But management is changing work in ways that isolate people and eliminate opportunities for interaction. People are increasingly “working alone,” and the potential for collective voice is suffering.

To build solidarity and a tendency toward collective action, we need shared experiences. The collective experience of oppression at work leads to collective reaction. And social interaction builds commitment among co-workers and helps us create and enforce norms of behavior. Even in non-union workplaces, rate-busters are “disciplined” through informal pressures to conform.

Management’s Plan:
Eight interconnected trends are working to destroy our connections in the workplace:
• Downsizing through automation, speed-up, and spreading work around ….
• Restructuring/intensification/standardization ….
• Combining jobs ….
• Monitoring ….
• Computerization ….
• Changing schedules …..
• Contractors and temps ….
• Reduction of networking jobs ….