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Working In These Times

Friday, Dec 18, 2009, 12:16 pm

Fletcher Jr. and Lichtenstein on ‘SEIU’s Civil War’

BY Jeremy Gantz

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If you care about the U.S. labor movement, you've probably heard of and care about the ongoing inter/intra-union struggle out in California between the Service Employees International Union and the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which rose from the ashes of a giant local SEIU leaders "trusteed" early this year.

I won't bother detailing why this increasingly bitter and polarizing acronym soup (SEIU/UHW/NUHW) matters so much, because two veteran writers and activists—Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Nelson Lichtenstein—have done so brilliantly at this week. Their article, "SEIU's Civil War," is as comprehensive and perceptive of an account of the complex conflict as I've found.

Fletcher and Lichtenstein delve into the fundamental questions raised by the conflict, detailing what's at stake for the future of an embattled movement:

What sacrifices should newly organized workers be asked to order to be unionized?... What is the relationship between high standards in collective bargaining and the ability of unions to organize and recruit workers?

Again, their article is here. Don't miss it.

Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America's War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012.

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