|SA4FE members include AFT,NEA,IAFF,SEIU, Police |
and first responders, teachers and service workers.
|West Virginia Teachers United|
|North Carolina Red for Ed Marchers being observed.|
|Badass Teachers Marching to the US Department of Education|
This morning millions of workers across the US are waking up to a new normal. The Janus shoe so long awaited finally dropped, and the question of Are Unions finished? is being relished in many a gilded mirror.
As someone from a state that is home to the national RTW(LP) office and a place that has been RTWLP since 1947, (That’s Right to Work for Less Pay. I won’t ever call them just RTW): I-We are here to say-- Surviving, even Thriving, can be achieved by workers, both in the public sector and in private enterprise.
Will workers organizations look different? Yes, there will be adaptation, and growth. Wait, Growth? Yes, absolutely, growth. Standing together can we deliver better working and living conditions and healthier economies? Yes! And we will.
Take a look at recent actions by teachers in West Virginia, North Carolina and Arizona; All RTWLP states, where public sector unions are basically illegal, and keep in mind virtually every labor strike since Spartacus has been illegal. There are ways to push back that are more creative and more effective than anything we’ve seen in the last 35 years.
But workers' solidarity is not just about strikes; it is also about a kind of neighborliness and common good that predatory capitalism has been attacking at least since the 1980's. It is about the kind of world we want to live in, one of fairness and equity for all.
Predatory Capitalism that has driven Janus and the plans to deconstruct workers organizations is based on a hyper-competitive win-lose model that holds only one can win and all others must lose. And we all know that everyone-else-must-lose model quickly becomes an impoverished and lonely paradigm for all.
Labor unions are based on the opposite polarity that All Can Win. In the long run win-lose cannot stand, as it seeks to stand alone. Our interdependence mandates that companies and communities need workers and consumers. You cannot annihilate your workers and consumer base and survive, and when you destroy unions, you destroy both your workers and your consumers.
So what might the future of labor look like? We do have glimpses, small starts compared to the tsunami of worker activism that is to come, but we already know:
∙ It will be grassroots
∙ It will be coalitions
∙ It will be dynamic- It will be powerful
The Wear Red for Ed movements are an example. Badass Teachers Association acts as a pro-workers and pro-students activism group, and in Fairfax Virginia, the home base of RTWLP, all the public unions are part of a coalition called SA4FE (Standing Altogether for Fairfax Employees). SA4FE is not a union, but is a collection of workers groups that defend and protect county workers. These are only a few of the budding groups that are taking on fairness and social justice for all working people as their battle cry. There are others. There will be more.
In the SA4FE photo there are representatives of both AFT and NEA teachers, firefighters, police, EMTs and first responders, service workers, and retirees. They are fighting retirement changes for new employees, not current retirees. These types of coalitions can and are breathing new life into worker activism. BATs work with both AFT and NEA and non union members. The Red for Ed groups include non-union workers and union members from teaching, support, and parent groups.
We are in this together. We will prevail.