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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Labor Day Reading

As we head into Labor Day, it’s an appropriate to time to think a bit about the future of the American labor movement. DR strongly recommends Harold Meyerson’s article in the new American Prospect as an aid to such thinking. Meyerson’s article, “Organize or Die”, is about the three union presidents–Andrew Stern of SEIU, John Wilhelm of HERE and Bruce Raynor of UNITE–who have formed an alliance to push the AFL-CIO and its member unions to put more effort and money into organizing. The title of the article crisply expresses the viewpoint of the three presidents: without success on the organizing front, the labor movement will die as an effective force in American society.
Probably true. And so far, John Sweeney’s regime, despite success in reviving labor’s political clout, has essentially made no progress on the organizing front. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data peg union density at an anemic 13.2 percent and headed, if anything, slightly downward. Given the centrality of the labor movement to a strong Democratic politics, that should be a matter of concern to every Democrat.
Can Stern, Wilhelm and Raynor do it? DR’s crystal ball’s a bit fogged up on this one, but he sure as hell hopes they can. And you should too.