Friday, 09 November 2012 18:51
This article is a shortened adaptation of an on-going discussion within the 99% Power/99% Spring group, known for mobilizing the largest number of shareholder actions in recent history in the spring of 2012.
Organizing around the transformation of the economy means organizing around the transformation of work. And that necessarily means organizing workers into new forms of collective bargaining. Worker organizing updated to the 21st century means winning rights, respect, and a contract from the 1%.
Corporations, the vehicles of wealth generation in this country, are just that: vehicles. It’s the people who run them we need to contend with to shift power in this country. Fewer people than ever before are controlling the lives of more workers than ever before. Our slogan should be “we are the 99.9%”—it’s the 0.1% that control workers’ lives and the economy.
Published in Labor
Friday, 31 August 2012 20:34
This piece is reposted with permission from New Poltiics, Summer 2012.
There isn't a working person alive today who hasn’t idly fantasized about taking control of their lives at work. For many, this is probably just a fantasy about tossing their boss out a window or poisoning their coffee, but others have a more expansive vision of challenging the system of control that gives you an arrogant, unqualified stooge to squeeze the life out of you in the first place.
Militants and radicals in the unions are the ones who take it upon themselves to find the path between those idle dreams and reality. Not so much on the murder front (I hope) but more how to edge forward in the battle for self-control over the course of our work and our lives. The path is rough. It dead-ends, and goes over cliffs. It goes through unexpected terrain where the tools you brought are useless and improvisation is a survival skill. Sometimes the way goes pitch-black and you muddle forward by sense of smell.
Published in Leftist at Work
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:42
In this piece, reposted from Alternet, Stephen Lerner learns from Brazil to show how we can grow stronger, more creative, and help people trapped in unhealthy relationships free themselves from those who have power over them.
I was raised in a country where tradition, custom, and economics often define who is on top, who is in charge and who is powerless. My world was turned upside down in a recent trip to Brazil. Maybe it was the all-night plane flight, and the late nights driven by that powerful Brazilian drink Cachaca. Maybe it was the heat and the passionate people from CONTRAF and the Sindicato dos Bancários de São Paulo (more on who they are later) who taught me so much.
They shared something with me that could alter the lives of Americans who aren't afraid to have their system and world rocked. I witnessed and experienced role reversals, energy and passion that would shock most people in the United States. Through their experiences and vision they convinced me a better world is possible.
Published in Labor
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Leftist at Work Column
The Leftist at Work column is a space for leftists to talk about the ways in which they organize in their workplace – whether it is how they talk with coworkers about political issues, how they are trying to build or revitalize a union, or how they orient their political perspectives to sync with their daily jobs. Some leftists find themselves confronting issues they didn’t expect would come up in their work. Other people find that they work for a non-profit or union that constrains their range of political activities. We’ll hear from organizers that struggle to balance their radical politics with the realities of working for an organization with more of a reform orientation. We’ll also hear from people who may work in an unionized workplace but try to bring their broader politics into the workplace – such as anti-racism, anti-war, or pro-immigrant rights.
Introduction: Leftist at Work
Written by Labor Editors
Union members & Occupy Wall Street: Two interviews
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Feminism at Work
Written by Lynne Williams
Zuccotti at Work: Daydreams of a Rank and Filer
Written by Amy Muldoon
Serving the people while we’re in the weeds: A union waitress and her organizing practice
Written by Dina Yarmus