Has the meaning of "organizing" been forgotten?
What's Left Editorshttp://cpress.org/leftnews/news-item-1490649992.85
Date Written: 27/03/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20550
Rising inequality, US anti-union laws crushing organized labour south of the boarder, and the slow unrelenting decline of union density here in Canada has renewed the focus on labour union organizing. The response from the leadership of the movement has been focused -- rightly -- on changes to law regulating labour unions that make it harder to organize. However, changing labour laws will not undo the slow decline in union density alone. Unions will also have to actually go out and talk to workers, sign them up, establish a local, bargain a first agreement, and enforce those terms.
It is true that labour laws have become more regressive over the previous four decades. Aggressive anti-worker laws is easily seen in US "right-to-work" legislation that starves unions of resources. However, the primary obstacle to organizing workers are employers operating under an aggressive, anti-worker form of international capitalism, not just regressive labour laws. While we should obviously be working to promote a progressive labour legislative agenda, the labour movement especially public sector unions should always assume that the government is not only not independent, but that it can and will act against workers' interests.
There is nothing underhanded happening here, but it does mean the fundamentals of class conflict is only experienced when there is real possibility of strike or lockout. But, even as bureaucratic and legalistic union day-to-day processes can get, unionists understand that their union is the mainly the structure that facilitates workers' ability to strike (or withstand a lockout). This is baked into union policies and actions. So, why is this fundamental class division expressed when it comes to bargaining, but not when talking about organizing?