That is the title of the panel that I will speak on this Saturday at 3 pm at the National Lawyers Guild convention in Philadelphia. We will only be a few blocks from the #OccupyPhilly protest and a few hours (before or after, can’t tell) from the big labor march that will demand economic justice.
The panel that I am on will highlight leaders from some of the most exciting experiments on the edges of the labor movement including Ron Blount, the President of the Taxi Workers Alliance of PA, Estivaliz Caravaca, Coordinator of the Philadelphia Chapter of Domestic Workers United and Daniel Gross the Executive Director of Brandworkers International.
All of these leaders, including me, represent worker organizations that have found ways to win through alternative and often “non-union” strategies.
Each of us in our way has had to use alternative organizing models to win the rights of workers that face high barriers to traditional union organizing and I think that the victories of these worker organizations are a hopeful sign, that even as traditional unions decline, workers can still unite and win.
I have found myself talking about alternative organizing models more and more these days. I obviously don’t have all of the answers, but I do know that the writing is on the wall; business, politics, media and public perception are turned against the labor unions. The enemies of working people have advantaged politics and legal structures to nearly exterminate organized labor as a force. Finally, labor unions have atrophied to a point of weakness that give little hope of recovery. All the signs are bad.
Without organized workers our democracy is dead. We have to try new things and learn from the successful experiments like those on this panel. We have to fight back.
Here are two more recent bits of media in which I discuss alternative forms of organizing.
The first one is from a four part series on KYW radio on the State of Labor. My part is on the last segment (varying quality through out the series, like, what the hell is Mr. Wigglesworth even talking about?).
The next bit, “We Can Win,” is from the online zine, The Activist, by the Young Democratic Socialists.