In These Times’ 28th anniversary issue examines the state of “Work” in the U.S.
The debate over the future of the labor movement will reach its pinnacle this July at the AFL-CIO’s quadrennial convention in Chicago.
“Faced with the possibility of permanent irrelevance, different factions of the AFL-CIO have recently been engaged in a knock-down, drag-out fight over what is to be done,” writes Contributing Editor Christopher Hayes in the latest issue of In These Times.
In “The Fight for Our Future,” Hayes examines the key points of contention among union leadership, starting with the President of the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU), Andy Stern’s threat to leave the AFL-CIO unless the federation undergoes radical structural reforms such as drastically reducing the total number of unions (from the current 58 to 15) and organizing each of these new mega-unions around a single industry or sector. Stern and his supporters contend that this new structure will solve labor’s current inability to leverage industry-wide power to fight today’s massive global corporations.
Stern’s proposal is opposed by other union leaders who argue, Hayes writes, that, “SEIU’s approach, both in its own practices and in what it’s proposing is top-down, technocratic and fundamentally inimical to the values of bottom-up representation that the labor movement should embody. They ridicule Stern for wanting to mirror the structures of the very corporations the movement is fighting.”
Hayes also explores how the decisions that organized labor makes now will impact the future for America’s workers and the progressive movement.
In These Times’ anniversary issue also contains articles on the outsourcing of IT jobs in “High-Tech Hijack,” by Senior Editor David Moberg, the growing national movement against Wal-Mart in “A Healthy Choice,” by Contributing Editor Hans Johnson and a night in the life of a low-wage worker by special contributor Michelle Tea in “Camel Nights.”