Issue #215

Only aggressive action will save the American labor movement

Teachers in Chicago staged a recent strike that not only succeeded, but gained widespread community support.

Teachers in Chicago staged a recent strike that not only succeeded, but gained widespread community support.

Law is being used to defeat unions. Strikes are banned, boycotts are illegal, and organizing is made difficult. Public and private employers simply refuse to negotiate with workers and their organizations. Traditionally labor union leadership, faced with decertification, costly fines, and imprisonment, has been hesitant to break anti-union laws. They fear unions will be destroyed. But the unions are already being destroyed. Aggressive, illegal, actions may be the only way to save the labor movement in the United States. As Martin Luther King Jr. advised social activists in a “Letter from Birmingham Jail”: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Only aggressive action is going to save the American labor movement. When laws are made by the rich and powerful to serve their interests, organized workers need to stop obeying the laws. Unions need to have muscle, they need to be willing to strike, they need to be willing to defy unjust laws, they need to welcome new members and not just represent those who hold onto relatively privileged better-paying jobs, and to they need to be more responsive to their members and potential members. Alan Singer, Huffington Post, 2-24-14.