Well, the election results were just announced in the PSI Congress. Rosa Pavanelli, the challenger for the position of General Secretary, won an overwhelming victory over the incumbent, Peter Waldorff. In one of oddest concession speeches i have ever heard, Waldoff essentially dumped on his opponents on the Executive Board and also praised the region–by name (the Nordics)–that had supported his candidacy. It was the most inappropriate concession speech i could have believed to have been offered, and potentially one of the most divisive.
So, the immediate drama is over but what still feels odd is that the manner in which the Congress is unfolding does not address the extent of the crisis that public sector workers and their unions face. Let me clarify this point. It is not what we are discussing. The resolutions all speak to the nature of the attack on the public sector. But there is actually very little debate. We need to be discussing much more what needs to be done and how PSI (and its affiliates!) will retool to address this crisis. This applies just as much to my own union as anyone else. There are serious challenges that public sector workers and their unions face and the manner in which most of our unions have organized themselves and thought about fighting back does not correspond to the times in which we exist. An example of this was something that i experienced about a year ago in discussing the need, in the USA, to build alliances among public sector unions to resist the right-wing attacks. There were those who argued that our union, of federal sector workers, needed to look out for its own interests. I was stunned, to be honest. The interests of federal sector workers are not so unique as to protect us when state, county and municipal workers are under assault!
This same problem is global, i.e., that public sector unions are often at war with one another or trying to cut this or that deal to protect THEIR members while the members of an alleged rival union are being hammered. Such idiocy simply cannot continue.
So, today, with a new General Secretary at the helm, it will be interesting to see how we move. She will need a lot of help, not because of any deficiencies on her part, but rather because the nature of the challenges that we face are very mighty.