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The Problems with Organized Labor

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Bill Moyers, Bill Fletcher, and Stephen Lerner talking about the decline of labor unions [link fixed]–you know this is going to be like 1000% more insightful than your average cable television news show. A very important excerpt:

BILL FLETCHER, JR.: The difficulty in developing and moving in the direction that Stephen is suggesting is that the leaders themselves have to begin by recognizing that this is not 1970. That, that there’s no going back to what we once had.

BILL MOYERS: You’re talkin’ about the leaders of unions?

BILL FLETCHER, JR.: Leaders of unions.

BILL MOYERS: And you’re saying they don’t recognize it?

BILL FLETCHER, JR.: They don’t. They continue, they are fearful, Bill, of fundamentally becoming organizations that are viewed as disreputable. They’re very worried about being in a situation where they’re no longer invited to the White House dinners. And what we have to understand is that unions did not get started based on White House dinners. They got started based on exactly what Stephen is suggesting. That you have to be ready to throw the dice. And most of the leaders of the movement, unfortunately at this point, remain fearful of shaking the table. We need battle stations. A new level of vitality, a new level of tactics, new strategies, new forms of organization that we have not previously used. That’s where we are.

STEPHEN LERNER: I think many of us at least have spent our life sort of waiting for the great leader to come and, you know, come and save us. And I actually am not waiting. I don’t think that there’s going to be somebody in Washington that’s going to emerge and do that. I think instead we have to look at where are the battles that we can have that we can both win but also become symbolic and exciting that inspire and move people. Because the labor movement’s suffering very a version of the Stockholm Syndrome. That we’ve been held captive by capital for so long, we’re so used to losing, that we almost identify with our oppressor. And that part of what has to happen here is brilliant strategies and tactics, but there’s another piece which is that we just have to be willing to say slowly dying is worse than having a really big fight and trying to win.

Yep.

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