A Changing Labor Movement and the condescending saviours bestir themselves

hariette spierings hariette at easynet.co.uk
Sun Aug 18 08:41:43 MDT 1996

>1. Labor and Clergy Reunite to Help Society's Underdogs
>More than at any other time in decades, religious leaders are making
>common cause with trade unions, lending their moral authority to
>denounce sweatshops, back a higher minimum wage and help organize
>janitors and poultry workers.
>The clergy has not lined up with labor to such an extent since the
>heyday of Cesar Chavez, the charismatic farm workers' leader, in the
>1970's and perhaps the Depression, union and religious leaders say.
>Many in the clergy say they have rallied to labor's banner because the
>newly revived union movement is addressing what they view as the
>key ethical issues of the day, including the growing gulf between the
>have and have-nots.
>"People are becoming poorer and less secure in this era of downsizing,
>and capital has gotten tougher," said Rabbi Arthur Herzberg, former
>national president of the American Jewish Congress. "People in the
>clergy like me who grew up during the New Deal are going back on
>the warpath to defend the weak. Under these circumstances, where else
>would you expect the clergy to be but increasingly on the side of
>(NY Times, 8/18/96)
>2. The Boys and Girls of (Union) Summer
>Twenty-one-year-old Nicola Grunthal is no less than a living 4-foot,
>10-inch trophy for the newly invigorated A.F.L.-C.I.O. It was only two
>summers ago that she was on the fast track to a lifetime of privilege,
>studying to be a diplomat and spending her vacation interning at the
>White House. But now she's changed her plans. She still wants to
>finish Harvard Law School, but "no way I'm going into corporate
>America," she says. "I want to work with labor designing international
>campaigns against multinational corporations. I'm juiced on that idea.
>Really juiced."
>Grunthal had been slowly drifting toward a career in social activism
>since her self-described "disillusionment" with mainstream politics,
>but her new direction jelled only as she was completing her three-week
>stint in the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s first-ever "Union Summer." That program -
>- often compared to the civil rights movement's Freedom Summer of
>1964 -- has thrust more than 1,000 mostly young people onto the front
>lines of the U.S. labor movement. In forty-one separate three-week
>"waves" in twenty-two different cities coast to coast, the new recruits
>are given a place to sleep, a light varnishing of labor history, a stipend
>of $210 a week and are then thrown raw into local organizing drives.
>"Put simply, we want to inject a massive dose of class consciousness
>into youth politics," says Andy Levin, the 36-year-old head of Union
>Summer, himself a grad of Harvard Law. "Yes, we want to recruit new
>blood. But more important, we want to transform the politics of the
>next generation of activists." Since the days of Vietnam, says Levin,
>"most young progressives have been either antilabor or have ignored
>labor," falling into single-issue or strict identity politics. "Our message
>is that labor is where it's at in the fight for social justice in the
>(Mark Cooper in 8-12/19 Nation Magazine)

When the clerical "fire-brigades" multiply their condescending saviour
efforts it is a good sign that the pillars of the establishment are starting
to feel dizzy with the foundations rocking!


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