[Marxism] assessing forty years of labor notes

John Reimann 1999wildcat at gmail.com
Mon Apr 8 16:18:13 MDT 2019

Lichtenstein writes, “And this is why *Labor Notes* emphasized the mobilization
of workers <https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/04/reviving-labor-from-below> —
not to seek the ouster of existing union officials (although when reform
movements emerged or grew in the Teamsters, the UAW, and other unions, *Labor
Notes* supported them), but rather to participate in organizing drives,
contract campaigns, work stoppages, and strikes, sanctioned or otherwise.”

That about summarizes it and neatly shows the balancing act that Labor
Notes performs. The problem is that from organizing the unorganized to
fighting for better contracts (including striking), the strategy to which
the union leadership is committed has proven to be a disastrous failure.
This is so by any measure, whether we consider the number of union workers,
the quality of the contracts, or - of great importance - the morale of the
membership. Yes, it’s true that a few contracts have been a little better
recently, but I think that’s mainly a product of low unemployment.

It’s not a question of crudely “seeking the ouster of the existing
leadership”, but how can we be serious about fighting to make the unions
stronger if we don’t link up the mobilizing of the rank and file wit the
struggle to transform the unions?
*“In politics, abstract terms conceal treachery.” *from "The Black
Jacobins" by C. L. R. James
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