John Sweeney, who won the AFL-CIO presidency in 1995 as part of a progressive reform leadership slate called New Voice, died earlier this month at the age of eighty-six. He failed in his quest to revive the US labor movement — but he succeeded in pushing the main body of trade unionism firmly to the left.
Nelson Lichtenstein teaches history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His most recent book is Beyond the New Deal Order: American Politics from the Great Depression to the Great Recession, edited with Gary Gerstle and Alice O’Connor.
The United Auto Workers has fallen far from its postwar glory as the most important union in America. Flagrant leadership corruption has made things worse. But a recent settlement with the Justice Department opens up the possibility of democratizing the union, writes labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein.
We’re in the midst of a twenty-first-century Gilded Age. To end it, we can turn to some of the radical policies designed to democratize the world of work, empower a multiracial working class, and reel in the worst excesses of robber barons nearly a century ago.
Labor Notes is one of the most successful socialist projects in the labor movement in US history. It has trained and connected tens of thousands of union militants throughout the world.
What was the mass strike and what would a successful one look like today?
The brilliance of strikes and stoppages like the Day Without Immigrants and the Women’s Strike lies in organizers’ willingness to halt business as usual.