Friday, November 5, 2010

Secondary Strikes are Primary to Labor's Revival

Originally published in Labor Notes

Secondary Strikes Are Primary to Labor’s Revival

Joe Burns
|  November 4, 2010

Solidarity is the heart and soul of unionism—the only force capable of confronting power and privilege in society. To revive unionism, we must recover labor’s long-lost tools of workplace-based solidarity.
Today, union activists join each other’s picket lines and hold fundraisers for striking workers. While important, these acts of solidarity are largely conducted away from the workplace.
In contrast, labor’s traditional forms of workplace-based solidarity allowed workers to join across employers and even industries to confront bosses. Such tactics included secondary strikes and industry-wide strikes.

How to Restore the Power of Unions?

Originally published in Working In These Times
Joe Burns
 In the early 1990s, trade unionists in the United States abandoned the strike as a central component of trade union strategy. In its place, unionists and academic supporters focused on organizing the unorganized, one-day strikes and community campaigns. Yet on the main concern of the traditional labor movement—how to extract concessions from employers through collective bargaining—there has been virtual silence. 

University of Texas Law Professor Julius Getman stands out as a rare exception to this trend. For several decades, Getman has urged the labor movement to focus on the fundamentals of trade union power.  Getman’s 1998 book, The Betrayal of Local 14, chronicled the heartbreaking International Paper strike of the early 1990s, making a strong plea for banning the permanent replacement of striking workers.