We Won’t Be Fooled Again
Joe Burns insists strikes will succeed where other tactics have failed for union officials. His book is reviewed on jacobinmag.com by Eric Blanc. So it seems union officials will muster their forces to force their members to strike. The recent rash of teacher strikes has yielded mixed result for unions, however.
Will the public be fooled again, and give in to the demands of radical union officials? Probably not. West Virginia is currently considering legislation that would call for making strikes illegal, and striking public employees could be fired for participating in any work stoppage. If union members are striking for more pay, what sense would it make to lose your job completely? The bill also provides that schools will be open during strikes no matter what. One big mistake many West Virginia superintends made was to close schools during the strikes, providing the public with a reason to campaign for a quick solution. Get schools open again at any cost so our children can be educated.
This West Virginia bill will prove an example to legislators in other states that they, too can take back the control of schools from weak-spined education administrators and radical teacher union officials. How many teacher union officials will be fired for striking? There are only so many jobs they can take up in their unions before all of the slots are filled, and then where do they turn for a job? There are private schools and charter schools they have made a career of fighting against.
And now, the reasons strikes will “succeed” where other tactics have failed. The question is, “what will they succeed at?”
When it comes to political strategy, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The core contention of Strike Back is that the largely overlooked public sector worker upsurge of the 1960s and 1970s shows what it will take to reverse the fortunes of working people and unions today. Above all, this means reviving the strike.
Labor-management “cooperation” has led to concession after concession by unions across the country. The much-heralded organizing model associated with SEIU and the “New Voice” leadership that swept the AFL-CIO in the 1990s has not significantly increased union density. Nor has the prevailing form of “social justice unionism” reversed organized labor’s decline. Even progressive unions today often remain more focused on electing and lobbying Democrats than in building workplace fight-backs.