In a society where capital gains and consumerism are vanquishing collective well-being and citizenship, unions confront not just the questions of how to survive in a hostile political setting but existential questions about how to be both movement and institution in a socioeconomic maelstrom. Labor organizers confront these challenges, while also grappling with a Digital Revolution that is changing how we relate to work and to each other. Long-time labor organizers Jane McAlevey and David Rolf offer dueling perspectives, one embedded in building relationships, leadership, and power within the base constituency, the other focused on transactions among the leaders of various interest groups and politicians to move policy. Practitioners and academics reflect on how the convergence of neoliberal and libertarian ideology with digital technology is changing not just who owns the means of production but also the means and methods of organizing. The interplay between unions and alt-labor groups, and the intervention of progressive foundations and donors, have helped shape the landscape, and need recalibration to better equip us for the journey ahead. A successful civic society requires multiple avenues: we need to align our collective principles and purpose rather than lock-step our practice.
Labor Organizers ISO Traction and Transformation: Quandaries of Principle and Practice in the Age of Trump and Tech
KIM FELLNER is a longtime progressive organizer and writer. Her union homes have included SEIU, the Screen Actors Guild, the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981), and Working America; in the 1990s, she helped found and lead the National Organizers Alliance. She is the author of Wrestling with Starbucks: Conscience, Capital, Cappuccino (2008) and lives in Washington, DC.
Kim Fellner; Labor Organizers ISO Traction and Transformation: Quandaries of Principle and Practice in the Age of Trump and Tech. Labor 1 December 2018; 15 (4): 77–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-7127274
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