Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

09 January, 2007

Late to the party again

The LN Stern review, gotten to well before I got back, harkened me back to my first days in the labor movement when I helped organize where I was working at the time - a non-profit assisted-living agency for people with developmental disabilities. This was back in 1998. I remember Suzanne, the woman from SEIU who first met with us, jokingly introducing what I would come to know as the organizing model as the "12 steps of relieving worker oppression." As I recall, Suzanne spoke glowingly of Sweeney. For all I knew, everyone in the Sweeney/SEIU (they were one and the same at the time) faction of the labor movement was like Suzanne: ready to kick the bosses' asses, and Suzanne seemed to me to genuinely believe that Sweeney was going to bring SEIU-style social-movement unionism to the AFL-CIO (the extent to which it actually occurred is the subject for another post).

At any rate, the organizers from 503 - Suzanne, Danica, and Lisa - who worked with us to that first year to win our election and secure a first contract are badasses who to this day I'd follow to the ends of the earth. They taught me a lot of what I know and have been able to refine as an organizer over the years.

The whole thing was exciting. It was empowering, a show of what even a small cadre of people could accomplish. Just think what the power of 13 million people making labor an actual social movement could achieve! And these people were telling me that's where Sweeney was pushing. I was inspired, if not wholly-informed.

Stern's agenda doesn't excite or inspire me, and more often than not, he lets slip something in his public pronouncements (the Colbert Report immediately comes to mind) that make me painfully wince ("Labor needs to start being part of the solution..."). That makes my Spidey-sense tingle.

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