A Fighting Chance

Posted on March 11, 2011 by

This is the chance of a lifetime for moderates, liberals and radicals to rally around the labor movement.

To do what the democratic left has failed at in the past:

Which is to cross class divisions.

This won’t be easy for some progressive activists who will have trouble with the complicated and eclectic nature of American unions.

Not just the wide range of political values among union members on gays, guns, etc., but the conservative impulse within the labor movement itself…

…to protect the status quo.

I can imagine big blowouts in which politically progressive thinkers, writers and activists implore and demand union leaders to take militant action.

When they refuse, they’re charged by the left with “selling out.”

Or hard-bitten union leaders who find their allies naïve and overly ideological.

What saves us, I think, is the “take no prisoners” approach of our opponents.  

I agree with recent remarks by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka that Madison has given progressives the opportunity to “transform the outrage and make the moment a movement.”

The unions which comprise the American Labor Movement – locally, regionally and nationally – are flawed and fragile.  But these membership-based and funded organizations have political power and – as we’ve seen – the capacity to influence public debate.

The way unions operate isn’t always pretty.  But if you need inspiration, just watch ordinary members who work full-time at their jobs and then do hours of union work off the clock.

Combine these rank and file leaders with the thousands of trained and skilled union officers, reps and organizers around the country.  Add to the mix a dedicated group of political agitators and then – for the first time in decades – a sympathetic public.

And we might just have a fighting chance.

Comments (3)


  1. John Perez says:

    Its about time someone decided to stand up for the working class.

    Retired teacher union president

  2. Joan Pirkle Smith says:

    It’s organized labor that funds campaigns for the progressive causes that the Democratic left holds dear. We must be supportive of each other if are to have any hope of not being completely overrun by the right and corporate interests.

  3. Lou,
    Gov. Walker and the Koch brothers have created the perfect storm. Union and non union families, teachers and students, cops, firemen, paramedics, farmers, clerks, building trades, doctors, nurses, city workers, republicans, democrats and independents, all standing together, will a combine steady voice, all saying, “No, this is not our wish, this is not our way!”
    In Solidarity,
    Charles Showalter
    Host of The Union Edge Talk Radio

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