It’s fashionable to claim that the “rise of the robots” or the “disappearance of work” have changed everything about labor in the twenty-first century. But when it comes to extracting profit from workers, today’s era of ruthless capitalism is fundamentally the same as those of the past.
Kim Moody was a founder of Labor Notes in the United States and the author of several books on labor and politics including Tramps & Trade Union Travelers: Internal Migration and Organized Labor in Gilded Age America, 1870-1900 (Haymarket, 2019) and On New Terrain: How Capital is Reshaping the Battleground of Class War</cite< (Haymarket Books, 2017). He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Westminster in London, and a member of the National Union of Journalists and the University and College Union.
Unions are schools of workers’ struggle — that’s why socialists talk so much about them. But they’re also contradictory institutions that often become complacent and bureaucratic. That’s why the rank-and-file strategy is so important.
2018 might have been the year that convinced workers that the strike holds the power needed to move today’s corporate giants and austerity-obsessed governments.
In the logistics industry, from port workers to truckers to delivery drivers, time is of the essence. Their potential control over that time gives workers enormous leverage in the global economy.
Socialists have a key role to play in building the labor movement — if they can avoid the pitfalls of sectarianism and union bureaucracy.
The labor movement is the critical institution for the Left. Socialists should root themselves in it — not as supporters from afar or paid staff, but as rank-and-file workers.
Kim Moody reflects on his time in the New Left, turning to the working class, and opportunities for socialists in the labor movement today.
The numbers don’t show any growth in a gig economy. But that doesn’t mean workers aren’t poorly paid and insecure.
Capitalism is always in flux. What hasn’t changed is the power of the strike.
Leftists looking to take over the Democratic Party will confront even more roadblocks than in the past.
The Democratic Party has been collapsing for years, but no one noticed before Trump came along.
The perils of the “gig economy” have been overblown. Changes in work have the potential to open up new opportunities for labor.
The history of Labor Notes shows that labor’s strength — and socialists’ relevance — depend on a militant and independent rank and file.
Deindustrialization and the “gig economy” can’t explain the weakness of the American working class.
Twenty years ago, the New Voice reformers came to power in the AFL-CIO. Their failure shows a revived labor movement can only come from below.
The American labor movement won’t be able to revive itself without organizing at its grassroots.