Service Industry Unions

Josh Mason Jmason at
Wed Apr 21 08:57:44 PDT 1999

Richard Gibson:

>SEIU is run by the gangster who is now running the AFL, John Sweeney.

In what sense is he a gangster? Ex officio? or did you have something more specific in mind?

>The declaration that organizing
>health care workers on the west coast is tantamount to the Flint
>victory in 1937 indicates Sweeney's bankruptcy.

The only comparison I've seen to Flint is that this is the largest single organizing victory ince then, which is true. How does this indicate the AFL-CIO's "bankruptcy"?

>The grad students
>organized today could easily become the labor bosses of tomorrow--like
>racist Walter Reuther who is their progenitor.

Would this be the same Walter Reuther who paid for the sound system at the March on Washington?

As for the broader subject of racism in the labor movement, no one is going to deny its reality, historically or today. But it's worth remembering that both union density and the union wage premium are significantly higher among blacks than among whites. I.e. objectively, unions are a racially progressive force, despite their numerous failings.

>The unions still organize
>around their typical ABC program--anything but class. And the
>union hacks are failing, losing membership, growing dumber by the
>because the centripetal [??] role of class is out of their reach.

If by class you mean the basic opposition between worker and boss, there's far more consciousness of it in unions than anywhere else in the country. Of course there's also plenty of talk of labor-management partnering, high-performance workplaces, investments of human capital, etc. Like almost everything under capitalism, the labor movement harbors contradictions. How 'bout that?


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