Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Debate Renewed

This was not how I hoped we would get this discussion going again.

I have often bemoaned the fact that the debate that began back in 2004 that led to the formation of Change to Win had come to a premature end.

The anti-Change to Win crowd basked in the glow of Andy Stern's pyrhic fall from grace and immediatly began the drumbeat that the experiment of Change to Win had been a disaster at worst and a failure at best. The anti-Stern crowd used Stern as a strawman to declare their victory with their perspective vindicated.
But for many of us inside and outside the AFL-CIO who could not influence the policies or the debate, we were left hanging. For us the question still remained: "How do we reverse the seemingly irreversable decline of labor's power?"  The time remaining to reverse that decline is ticking away every day and a seemingly endless stream of body blows are landed on the body of labor as we move from one battle to the next. The question now for those of us tired of getting our teeth kicked in is, "what is the plan"? How can we regroup to fight back and if we can what form should that fightback take?

The attacks launched against labor after the 2010 election had both the effect of galvanizing labor leaders who rightly mobilized union members to fight back and revealing the limitations of labors ability to beat back the assault. In state after state the results were mixed. When the final shoe dropped in Wisconsin where labor failed to recall Scott Walker but stalled his anti-worker agenda by reclaiming the majority in the Wisconsin Senate, a new debate ensued.

Out of the wordwork came a slew of Monday morning quarter backs railing against labors numerous inadequacies and the bankruptcy of electoral politics. Many of these folks lack any real experience in the labor movement, which prevented them from being privy to the decades long discussion that they thought they were presenting for the first time, or they were the same perennial critics who have been making the same criticisms from the sidelines as part of carrying out a long term ideological agenda.

While the "war on workers " raged across the country, the occupy movement burst onto the stage. The space created to discuss and strategize on how to defeat corporate domination of our society was immense and regularly reached into the discourse on the Sunday morning pundit shows, talk radio, the blogosphere andother forms of social media.

This is the context we find ourselves in. A big mess with everyone explaining to us inside the labor movement what we are doing wrong. A debate raging outside of our movement that lacks the perspective of the ins and outs of actually organizing and mobilizing working people. Maybe it has never occurred to them that some of us understand the problem, but solving it isn't as easy as writing a snarky tweet or blog post.

This blog was created for those of us who want to talk strategy but who lack the shirttail to get a hearing and at the same time aren't necessaritly interested in joining the chorus of perennial critics. I want to hear from the people who really are thinking about strategy on the ground, not the "I told you so" Left. So let's get it on!

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