I had the honor and opportunity to do a book signing at the AFL-CIO this past Monday.
It was interesting when you realize that 20 years ago a book signing by someone who is a self-identified leftist at the AFL-CIO headquarters would simply have not happened.
So, there have been some major changes and these have been the result of internal and external struggles as well as the courage of some key leaders.
But it is not enough. As i tried to convey in my talk, as well as in both of my books, while it is absolutely true that we have some formidable opponents out there in corporate America, the US labor union movement must re-conceptualize itself and its mission.
One of the points that i raised the other day is that for many regular working people, there is a disconnect between, on the one hand, the need for economic justice and, on the other hand, the role of unions. In other words, too many people, whether they like or dislike unions, do not see them as vehicles for the broader struggle for economic and social justice. Unions are viewed as lobbies. Until we turn that around we are ‘toast.’
Many of us have invested a lot in trying to turn this around. I hope that you are part of that mission. And it is not an easy mission because there are many people in the union movement, including some very good people, who cannot get their heads around the extent of the change that we must undertake to build a new workers movement.
The struggle certainly continues.