Militants or Partisans: Labor Unions and Democratic Politics in Korea and Taiwan
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New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. In the years before , many of those who would later found Labor Notes were members of the Trotskyist group International Socialists, later merged into Solidarity. But it soon became apparent that union consciousness could hardly be taken for granted. A publication was needed that, while critical of contemporary union leadership, saw its main task as educating, connecting, and animating a layer of labor activists whose main task was to build effective rank-and-file unions capable of fighting the boss on a sustained basis.
And this is why Labor Notes emphasized the mobilization of workers — not to seek the ouster of existing union officials although when reform movements emerged or grew in the Teamsters, the UAW, and other unions, Labor Notes supported them , but rather to participate in organizing drives, contract campaigns, work stoppages, and strikes, sanctioned or otherwise.
Such a strategy proved essential in an era when conservative forces were ascendant and when, to put it charitably, the leadership of most big unions proved inadequate to the challenges that were steadily shrinking both the power and membership of the organizations over which they presided.
To take a seemingly prosaic example: grievance handling stands at the heart of shop-floor unionism, but for too many workers it had become a highly bureaucratized and legalistic procedure drained of any sense of self-empowerment. But that tradition faded, leaving Labor Notes to pick up the flag.
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In the s and early s, Labor Notes waged two campaigns that resonated throughout the labor movement and beyond. In almost every issue, it fought the concessions bargaining foisted upon the unions by corporations large and small. The publication was an instant hit, used by trade unionists well beyond the Labor Notes orbit. For the unions, there were still more defeats than victories, but concessions were now recognized for what they were: not some inevitable function of economic globalism, but the raw exercise of corporate power to defeat workers.
A new level of the crisis
An equally important fight, and one even more difficult to wage, came when Labor Notes offered a sharp critique of the corporate-sponsored Quality Circles and Team Production initiatives that even some top unionists and many academic experts thought central to a new and cooperative industrial relations regime. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article navigation.
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