By: Bobby Gallagher, Red Phoenix Correspondent Ohio
Bobby Gallagher is a union organizer and member from Youngstown, Ohio, and member of the American Party of Labor’s Labor Commission.
Though the October strikes that garnered national and international media attention were not the largest strikes the country has seen even in recent years, and despite 2020 national union membership accounting for only 10.8% of the work force, #striketober showed that labor still stands on its feet to fight here in the belly of the beast. Across all industries, workers are standing up together to fight for living wages, fair benefits, and better conditions. Organization efforts at workplaces across the country continue to struggle against resistance from employers and capitalists. Multiple large companies have faced strikes after extending unacceptable contracts to workers. Historically, organized labor has been one of the greatest sources of power for workers, and today the U.S. labor movement is once again becoming militant in their tactics and taking a leading role. As capitalism rots, organized labor will have to continue its struggle and wield its power for gains in more than just the workplace.
One of the foremost challenges to organized labor is the simple lack of access to it. Without a union to represent the collective interest of the workers, a disorganized workplace can not effectively wield its power. But there must be efforts to rebuild the collective hammer of organized labor. From small business owners to the ultra-rich, capitalists are conscious of the threat unions pose to their ability to exploit the working class for profit. At Starbucks in Buffalo, NY, corporate stooges were sent in when organization efforts took off. Though the executives claim that they were sent to supervise a hastily announced remodel, meetings filled with anti-union propaganda are held during shop closures. However, the NLRB has ruled in favor of the workers, and 3 Buffalo Starbucks stores will vote to unionize. The votes will be counted December 9th. Whether efforts are successful or not, they stand as examples for workers to follow. The workers involved at Starbucks have faced such intense harassment from corporate union-busters that some workers left meetings shaking. But despite that, these amazing organizers and workers continue the struggle, toe to toe against the capitalists.
As workers have struggled to be represented by unions, organized labor has flexed its muscle across multiple industries. Unions are aided by nationwide and local support and are enabled to strike for better conditions. Strikes have continued to go on, with another Kaiser Permanente location authorizing a strike, and teachers in Coshocton, Ohio are threatening a strike. With the current strikes, there is an air of solidarity among working class people across the country. Many strike funds are healthy, and many workers have been holding the line for weeks through bitter weather and resistance from employers. They give a great example, one which will hopefully be followed and built upon as we continue. The actions mentioned are just a small portion of those currently being waged, with action also taking place at John Deere and Kellogg’s plants as well.
Electoral politics has failed to represent workers interests nationwide. Still, workers must realize the power that withholding their labor has. Not only can it win gains in the workplace, but it can pressure the state for political change. All over the world, workers are standing up and must continue to stand up. Organization efforts and direct action can usher in a new era of American workers’ power. All American workers can unite in this struggle and include many more in the future. All workers have a part to play, as we struggle for a better world. Too often the US left has balked to engage or enter into labor struggles, because of the notion that they are moderate or impotent. It falls to us, radical working class people, to change that. Organized labor holds one of the keys to that better world—support organized labor in their struggle! Their struggle is ours!
Categories: U.S. News