Over the past year I have been interviewing union veterans on my Alternative Visions radio show—all of whom have decades of union experience going back to the 1970s and before. These veterans have seen the transformation of union power in the USA, from a time when it existed to its recent rapid decline.
Yours truly is also, to some extent, of their generation and experience. And like the union veterans I’ve been interviewing, I have been thinking intensely the past decade about why the deterioration of union influence in the USA since the 1970s has occurred and what might be done to stop and reverse it.
To sum up their—and my own—views on the subject, I have written a series of extended articles for the new Latin American media outlet, teleSUR, which has just launched an English language edition of its blog. Attached here to this email are the first two of a projected 4-part articles series on the topic ‘Are American Unions at a Strategic Impasse?’
Parts 1 and 2 of the series attached are subtitled ‘Dimensions of the Crisis’ and ‘Three Contemporary Examples’. Part 3 to soon follow on the teleSUR blog is subtitled ‘American Union Veterans Speak Out’. It will summarize verbatim some of the more important comments of union guests I’ve interviewed on my weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, over the past year since last November 2013. (for archives of the interviews, go to http://prn.fm/shows/alternative-visions/ , starting with the September 19, 2013 show with union veterans, Steve Early of the CWA and Carl Finamore of the Machinists, and our discussion of last year’s AFL-CIO union convention. Show archives are also available on http://www.podbean.alternativevisions.com )
In Part 4, the final piece in the series, I will share with you my own views, developing over the past decade, of what changes Union Labor in the USA needs to undertake in order to stem the current tide of declining union membership, effectiveness, and some ideas of what might be needed for US unions to restore their once significant level of economic and political influence in the US.
I certainly don’t have all the answers to the critical issue of the decline in Union power in the USA today. But it is hoped the series and comments by myself and others will start a much needed discussion among unionists AT THE LOCAL UNION LEVEL about what needs to change in union strategies (organizing, bargaining, industrial action, political action), if union labor in America is to avoid a virtual total destruction in the coming decade, which I fear is a not impossible outcome.
The first two parts of this extended essay are now available at the author’s website at: