I was reading a piece from Labor Notes on Friedrichs this week while on vacation and a couple of parts really hit home concerning unions. The public sector unions received an unexpected reprieve this week with the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia which will likely mean they will survive to collect agency fees from non-members.
Will the unions see this as a wake-up call and start really organizing? My guess is the answer is no but Labor Notes' Editor Alexandra Bradbury offers up some fundamental advice on what is necessary.
What’s required is no mystery. Unionists have known the fundamentals of good organizing for a century or more: listen more than you talk; find on-the-job problems your co-workers care about; take action to solve them; map out natural leaders and groups; act together instead of alone.
Is anyone in the UFT doing any of this work outside of a small group of people in certain schools?
On union power:
A union’s strength, after all, is its members—not just how many are paying dues, but how many have caught the spirit of solidarity, how many will stand together on the job, how many are training their co-workers to see through the boss’s agenda, how many will go to the mat for the union because it’s their organization, fighting for what matters to them.
Based on this very realistic definition of what makes a union strong, the UFT is one of the weakest unions out there. We can probably count the number of people who would go to the mat for the UFT one one hand and have a couple of fingers left over. Such is the sorry state of our bureaucratic top-down union in 2016, featuring out of touch leadership that does little except go through the motions many times for the members and has encouraged the rank and file to do next to nothing as a union and therefore become almost completely apathetic.