Verizon: union win

Chuck0 chuck at
Tue Aug 22 11:06:17 PDT 2000

Jeff Walker wrote:

> So what, specifically, are you saying they should have done? Following your
> logic, what they really should do is just quit, since what's the point of
> having a shitty job. Or maybe they should have thrown up the barricades and
> taken over the Telcos and run them as anarchist collectives. I'm sure the
> ruling class wouldn't do anything to interfere with that.

I'm saying that what they did is perfectly supportable in my view, but that those of us who are interesed in the bigger picture, i.e. a society that is unionized or where people aren't wage slaves, would be *truly* excited by a more radical victory. The Verizon strike is certainly encouraging after many years of "labor being on its back," but if anything has been learned from the big anti-capitalist protests in the past year, it's that the Left has been setting its sight too low for too long.

> The problem I see with your thinking is that it's all or nothing. The
> point, as I see it, of contract fights like this is that they open up an
> opportunity to sharpen the contradictions of capitalist society and open up
> an opportunity to radicalize a group of workers. Most importantly, if it's
> done right, workers can learn through a fight like this that the source of
> their power comes not from the law, etc., but from their own collective
> action. That lesson you can only learn from being in a fight.

I never said it was all or nothing. The Verizon victory is an important reform for those who are Verizon workers. It is also a new victory in a new industry, which should serve as an inspiration for other workers.

I agree with everything else you've written in this paragraph.

> Clearly there needs to be some sort of vision to work towards, but pissing
> on the incredible victory these workers acheived is not helpful toward that
> end. You can cast aspersions on the "business unionism" of the CWA all you
> want, but the fact is 87,000 workers sacrificed and fought for the ability
> to organize non-union workers. It says something about the level of
> awareness these workers have that they did this at all, that they understand
> the only way things are going to improve for them is to expand the struggle
> and make the fight bigger.

I'm not pissing on their victory! Sheesh, can't you guys read what I've written?

It's about time that somebody casts aspersions on business unionism, because it is those business unions that are responsible for that lack of awareness that you are now celebrating. The labor movement will continue to spin its wheels until its friends (and would be leaders) realize that business unions have to be challenged. What truly inspires me about the current uptick in the labor movement is that rank and file union members are challenging the union hierarchy. THAT is an encouraging development.


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