Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TBOU Education Alert-Friday October 23 " Is Conventional Trade Union Obsolete"

As part of our fall 2009 series of Labor Breakfast Forums, we are pleased to announce a forum entitled “Is Conventional Trade Unionism Obsolete?” The speakers slated for this important discussion have considered these issues from crucial and distinct vantage points: Amy Dean, former Chief Executive Officer, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, and author of A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement; Janice Fine, Assistant Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations, Rutgers University, and author of Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream; Gerry Hudson, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union and co-founder of the Emerald Cities Project, committed to greening urban economies in equitable and democratically accountable ways; and Aijen Poo, Co-founder and Director, Domestic Workers United, an organization of nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers fighting for power, respect, fair labor standards.

The event will be held on Friday, October 23, 2009, 8:30 – 10:15 AM, at the Murphy Institute, 25 West 43rd Street, 18th Floor.

Despite over a decade of renewed national commitment to organizing, the US labor movement has remained unable to significantly increase union membership. A legal framework that makes union recognition an uphill battle and huge job losses in heavily-unionized manufacturing sectors partly accounts for labor’s diminished size. Yet the fact that only a few unions have committed the resources necessary to support large-scale organizing also contributes to the fact that overall union density now hovers at 12.4%, and is a sobering 7.6% in the private sector. On the political front, organized labor helped to elect Barak Obama, but may be unable to secure the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), its top legislative priority.

These conditions require the labor movement to grapple with some tough questions: How can labor adapt its organizing template of long-term stability in a single workplace to meet the contemporary realities of contingent and globalized labor? Can the structures and objectives of industrial unions meet the challenges workers face in a post-industrial economy? How might American labor make common cause with a diverse, international labor force increasingly vulnerable within a corporate-dominated global economy? Did it make sense for organized labor to have set EFCA its top legislative priority, rather than focusing on universal health care or financial reregulation, for example? Should organized labor refashion itself as a social movement, standing in for what has become an eviscerated Left? Or does that role unfairly burden unions and distract them from fighting the workplace battles of its members? Our speakers will engage these and other difficult questions in what promises to be a timely and important conversation.

Please be sure to RSVP to Eloiza Morales at 212-642-2029 or eloiza.morales@mail.cuny.edu by Monday, October 19, 2009. We look forward to seeing you.To stay informed on all labor and worker news always visit www.tbou.org

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