Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

17 February, 2007

Sisters and brothers

I just got back from a leadership development training put on by our friends at the UO Labor Education and Research Center, where I had the pleasure (and I'm not being snarky here) of spending ten quality hours with some outstanding labor leaders from around the state.

We (justifiably) give SEIU a lot of shit around these parts: from Stern stabbing us in the back in any number of ways to the authoritarian manner in which they run their union, they've earned it. However, they do deserve credit for doing what they do well, which is empowering some of the most marginalized members of our society. In my class this weekend were three homecare workers, housewives who took (poorly-paid, emotionally and physically intensive) jobs later in life, with relatively little in the way of education and job skills. These women were among the most able to articulate why they were union activists, what they were fighting for, and how they were going to get what they deserved. They understood the political-economy of their profession, the politics of their union, and were unafraid of confronting their bosses. So for all the faults SEIU has, I doff my cap (at least to local 503) for really giving working people at the bottom of the totem pole the dignity and tools to advocate for themselves.

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