Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Reflections

I am third generation union:
·         Grandfather: United Brushworkers, AFL
·         Grandmother: Amalgamated Clothing Workers
·         Mother: CWA
·         Father: NTEU
·         Brother: AFT
·         Me: NEA
I am the first in the family to assume a leadership position.  I value the relationships I have with the local leaders in other unions.  It is not enough that Dennis Van Roekel talks with Weingarten or Hoffa.  Local leaders need to know each other and understand each other’s organizing cultures in order to build the solidarity that will rebuild the middle class.  I call this collateral circulation.
I started out in the Vermont Worker’s Center, then realized I needed to be an activist in my own local to have street cred.  Since my activism originated outside NEA I have always been curious about other unions and value what they have to teach me.  Among things I have learned:
·         AFL-CIO has ways of reconciling the interests of employees and employers in the same union.
·         So-called collective bargaining “rights” are actually a means of controlling our behavior.
·         Labor solidarity is a multiplier for our efforts.
·         You are a worker if you cannot survive more than a few weeks without a paycheck.
Happy Labor Day!  Solidarity!

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