Amazon maims its workers and drives wages down, yet the company still attracts job applicants and claims to provide “good jobs.” Those claims were strong enough to play a role in the defeat of a union effort in Bessemer, Alabama — but that says less about Amazon than it does about the miserable state of the labor market.
Barry Eidlin is an assistant professor of sociology at McGill University and the author of Labor and the Class Idea in the United States and Canada.
All eyes are on Alabama as we await the results of the Amazon union election. The election is a historic one, but it shouldn’t be: workers shouldn’t have to work this hard to exercise their basic rights to unionize, and bosses at companies like Amazon should have zero say about whether they unionize or not.
The American left has been transformed over the past four years under President Donald Trump. But the Left will have to organize and fight just as hard under President Joe Biden.
The Republican Party is frozen in place, unable to move beyond Donald Trump but unsure of what to do even if it could. The Democratic establishment is firmly in charge of their party. We’re stuck in a bankrupt interregnum — with little chance of breaking free one way or the other anytime soon.
Joe Biden and the Democrats have steadfastly refused to articulate a compelling alternative political vision to Donald Trump’s reactionary right-wing politics. Trump looks likely to have lost, but without creating an alternative to defeat it, Trumpism could return with a vengeance four years from now.
As Secretary of Labor, Bernie Sanders could do a lot to empower American workers. But the working class might be better served with Bernie pushing for pro-labor legislation outside the Biden administration rather than inside it.
Professional athletes have an enormous amount of power that they put to good use this past week in a series of unprecedented strikes. But workers of all types have similar kinds of power — and could, just like athletes, use it to shut society down to fight injustice.
For socialists, unions are paradoxical organizations. On the one hand, unions are essential for creating a workers’ organization that can oppose capital and challenge it for power. But they are also an insufficient vehicle for mobilizing those workers to transform the world.
At a time of historic working-class weakness, it’s tempting to watch the portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and long for similar labor leadership today. But while Hoffa negotiated contracts that improved the lives of millions, his corruption and autocratic leadership also paved the way for the Teamsters’ decline.
Bernie Sanders’s Workplace Democracy Plan, unveiled yesterday, is the best plan for promoting workers’ rights ever proposed by a major US presidential candidate. Whether they support or oppose it, all the other Democratic candidates will have to respond to it.
I believe in democracy, freedom, and humans’ ability to create a better world than the one we have now. That’s why I’m a socialist.
We can’t win socialism without workers fighting back. The rank-and-file strategy gives us the tools to do that.
Erik Olin Wright understood the necessity of clearly articulating what’s wrong with society, what a better society could look like, and how we could get there.
At its best, the labor movement hasn’t just fought for better wages. It’s fought to bring democracy to workplaces marked by despotism.
Unions are under unprecedented attack under Trump. But labor can rebuild itself — if it chooses to.
Why Democrats were wrong to think that shifting demographics alone would hand them victory.
Why it matters that the United States has no labor party.
Why are US unions less powerful than their Canadian counterparts?
Walter Reuther’s careful management of shop-floor politics shapes the UAW’s relationship to student workers today.