March 18, 2017
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY - On the next episode of LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz airing Sunday night at 9 p.m. on AM970 The Answer, we’re looking at where union organizing has gone wrong with author Jane McAlevey; the callousness of the Trump agenda with DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido; the union victory at the Sims Municipal Recycling Plant in Brooklyn; and the new effort to introduce high school kids to successful careers in the trades.
Twenty-five years ago, “Always be closing” was arguably the most popular motivational mantra in popular culture, thanks to a little movie called “Glengary Glen Ross.” Today, the most popular mantra in union circles may as well be “Always be organizing.”
Nevertheless, veteran organizer and “No Shortcuts” author Jane McAlevey tells LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz that the Labor Movement has gotten organizing all wrong over the past couple of decades.
“I’m an organizer who picked up a pen and a computer later in life because I was getting frustrated with the sorry-ass excuses most union leaders made for why we were not doing what we should be doing,” McAlevey says.
According to McAlevey, efforts to organize Boeing workers down south epitomized the problem with modern corporate campaigns that have come to rely too much on lazy polling and social media echo chambers.
“To me, the shortcuts have resulted in profound confusion about who’s to blame for the pain,” McAlevey says. “It’s sure as hell not immigrants. And it sure as hell is hedge funds, Wall Street and an economic system that is completely out of control and punishing every single person trying to make it in this country.”
That punishing economic system has grown so terrible under the Trump regime, that DC 37’s Executive Henry Garrido immediately launched the “100 days of resistance” campaign to oppose it.
“If you think back when labor was at its peak in terms of union density, we were arguing things that were beyond the people we represented,” Garrido says. “We were arguing for civil rights…we were arguing for minimum wage across the board…we were arguing for the weekend...and we were arguing for protections regarding Workers’ compensation. And I believe we need to get back to that.”
Workers at the Sims Municipal Recycling Plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn got the message about worker solidarity when they successfully got together to demand that management recognize the Teamsters as their duly-elected representatives in contract negotiations.
“The company is ready to sit down and bargain a contract — but it didn’t come easy.,” IBT organizer James Curbeam says. “The workforce had to stand up and really tell the company, the city and the community, that if their voices weren’t going to be heard — that they were actually going on strike. And it wasn’t a smokescreen and mirrors.”
Sims plant worker John Munoz says the key ingredient was solidarity.
“We stood together,” Munoz says. “We stood our ground. We didn’t let anybody intimidate us. And we were really surprised by the outpouring of support we had.”
Nobody needs more support today than our young people still trying to figure out their path in life. Recently, the UFT and New York City Central Labor Council teamed up to produce a differnt kind of career fair - one that included colleges and unions.
“The idea was, let’s expose these kids early, so that they can start to think about all the options that are available to them” UFT Vice-President Janella Hinds says. “We are thrilled that it was the success as it was.”
All that and more, on the next episode of LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz!
LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airs every Sunday night on AM970 The Answer from 9 to 10 p.m. This week’s episode, as well as every other episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” is also available on demand at www.am970theanswer.com.