Labor Revival

In a Global Labor Strategies (GLS) blog article entitled, “Labor’s Dead: Long Live Labor!”, it is noted that:

“…while capitalism has undergone revolutionary changes in the past few decades, changes we generally refer to as globalization, the labor movement has remained essentially unchanged and nation based.”

Three trends that are contributing to the rapid change in capitalism and the decline of the labor movement are mentioned:

  1. Capital mobility – multi-national corporations, liberated by free-trade agreements (my note), taking advantage of low-labor costs, lax business and environmental regulations, and weak labor unions in the nations of the world to increase their profits. The article says that this “pits workers and communities against each other in a classic race to the bottom to attract and retain jobs.”
  2. “Dis-integrated” corporate structures – corporations performing the core functions of their industry or business but “farming out the rest to complex chains of contractors and subsidiaries.”
  3. Contingent staffing strategies – corporations dividing their work force into two groups: a core group of employees with “standard jobs” and some sense of job security and contingent workers – part-timers, temps, contract workers, and day laborers – with low pay and little or no job security.

The GLS post says that these three trends are hindrances to labor’s ability to organize and bargain effectively.

In order for labor to experience a revival in a globalized world, there will need to be a new kind of labor movement that provides effective representation at the workplace and in the economy as well as help workers represent themselves in relation to the basic questions of society.

“In fact, the issues on which labor’s revival depends … are essentially class issues that relate to the role of working people in shaping the direction of society.”

The post concludes by saying that labor has a great heritage in the United States and great promise for a continuing contribution to the betterment of peoples’ lives, society and our economy.

“A free and open debate about the future of labor” will be a good first step toward a revival in the labor movement.

Read this Global Labor Strategies August 28, 2008 post here.

(Note: A book that I read a year and one-half ago, The Bush Agenda – Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, addresses the issue of “capital mobility” (globalization) and equates free trade with the spread of democracy.)

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