reclaiming American democracy gets a lot of kindred types, I think…
Notes on “Why Labor Moved Left”
Such changes have left radicals inside the unions with little room for critical distance between themselves and union leaders who are struggling for survival. With strikes practically nonexistent and the GOP eager to make labor as impotent as possible, it is hard to generate an oppositional movement within any individual union—something that was commonplace between the late 1960s and the 1980s. What’s more, as leading unions adopt the program of the left—immigration reform, defense of gay rights, a critique of a militarized foreign policy, and a rejection of the racism still inherent in many police departments—the space for the kind of criticism once put forward by the drafters of the Port Huron Statement has shrunk. Indeed, the most sophisticated defense of collective bargaining and industrial militancy is now found inLabor Notes, the periodical that has been an influential voice of the left within many unions for thirty-five years.
So is radicalism still possible within the unions? Of course. But now, as in Gilded-Age America, the union cause itself is increasingly that of a radical democracy struggling to be born. American trade unionists may have become reluctant radicals, but they are radicals nonetheless.