The United Auto Workers is one of America’s most important unions. It has long been hobbled by an autocratic internal culture and widespread corruption. The members’ vote in favor of a direct voting system to elect leadership could change that.
Jonah Furman is a staff writer and organizer for Labor Notes.
In ongoing contract negotiations, health care giant Kaiser wants to impose a two-tier wage structure — meaning a giant pay cut for new hires. Union locals representing 35,000 Kaiser workers have voted to authorize a strike in response.
John Deere is in the midst of its most profitable year ever. Yet workers say the company is stiffing them at the bargaining table — which is why 90 percent of voting members rejected the most recent contract proposal and are poised to strike tomorrow.
Tonight’s election returns might seem dispiriting, but that’s exactly what the Right wants — for us to preemptively concede. Our demand should be simple: just count the damn votes.
Unions are absolutely essential for building working-class power. But they’re also often undemocratic. Building a strongly democratic labor movement is a key task for the Left and the labor movement as a whole.
The United Federation of Teachers, New York City’s teachers union, is a massive local that could wield enormous power through striking. But the union hasn’t struck in nearly half a century — even in the face of a deadly pandemic and unsafe schools reopening. Why does the UFT refuse to use its most powerful tactic?