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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 18 (1991)

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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 18 (1991)

Let's Get Moving! Organizing for the '90's


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    Labor Bookshelf
    Oppenheim, Lisa (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] If there were one book I'd recommend to individuals who are excited by this issue of LRR, it would be Myles Horton's autobiography, The Long Haul. Horton founded the Highlander Folk School in Appalachia in 1932 to provide education for people in his region committed to democratic social change. He is probably best known for his work in the civil rights movement, but actually his work began in the early days of the CIO.
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    The MCLR Reporter
    LeRoy, Greg (1991-09-01)
    Contains "Salute to Jack Metzgar," "Conference Puts Forth New Vision," "MCLR Research Dept. News".
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    Committed to Organizing: An Interview with Richard Bensinger, Director, AFL-CIO Organizing Institute
    Metzgar, Jack (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] The Institute's materials emphasize that organizing is difficult, frustrating work. But it's also the best job in America because it is personally rewarding to help workers organize and fight against injustice. Richard Bensinger, a former ACTWU organizer, has been the OI's Executive Director since its inception in 1989. Labor Research Review's Jack Metzgar asked Bensinger to assess the OI's first two years in operation.
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    Time For an Organizers Association: An Overhaul for the Long Haul
    Fellner, Kim (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] We all know that charity alone will not solve the problems we face. Racism and sexism. Economic exploitation. Homelessness. Hunger. Illiteracy. Environmental destruction. These are not misfortunes but injustices. Which is why — in unions, in community organizations large and small, in the environmental movement, and in the ongoing battles for human and civil rights — organizers still struggle to fulfill their vocation.
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    Come Join Us! Volunteer Organizing From a Local-Union Base
    Babson, Steve (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Four months later, May 3, 1991, Delta workers elected to join the UAW by a vote of 68 to 58. The small numbers belie the real significance of this achievement, for Delta is the largest Japanese-owned supplier yet organized by the UAW. Equally important, this victory highlights the potency of two overlapping strategies: the use of volunteer organizers, and the reliance on a local-union base for launching and sustaining a drive.
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    Women's Ways of Organizing: A Conversation with AFSCME Organizers Kris Rondeau and Gladys McKenzie
    Oppenheim, Lisa (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Their signs declare: "We believe in ourselves." They speak about values: we cut our apples in half and share them; those who are strong carry those who are weaker until they can become stronger They talk about emotional connections; commitment from both the head and heart. They talk about constantly learning. They talk about telling stories; listening; forming relationships. If you think those words have nothing to do with union organizing, think again. Over 6600 clerical and technical workers—at one of the nation's most prestigious private universities and one of the largest public universities in the country—have organized guided by this kind of talking union. Those 6600 workers are now members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
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    Using People Power
    Eckstein, Enid (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Local unions across the country are tapping into an important and underutilized resource as they seek to organize new members and reverse the disastrous decline in union membership. Rank-andfile union members are hard at work in many organizing campaigns across the country. Union members in SEIU, ACTWU, CWA, and many other unions have given endless hours to the struggle to organize new members. There is nothing new in using rank-and-file members to organize new members. During the 1930's newly organized members of the CIO unions worked hard to spread the gospel of unionism. Workers fresh from one victory understood that their strength and bargaining power rested in organizing an entire industry not just one shop. Veterans of the General Motors Flint sit-down strike joined in numerous campaigns to bring justice and dignity to the auto industry.
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    The Power and Promise of Community Unionism
    Banks, Andy (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Shaffer's statement portrays an emerging vision of union organizing that represents a dramatic departure from the way most unions have been organizing workers for the past 40 years. Borrowing from the city wide structures of the Knights of Labor in the 19th century, a new breed of union organizers is experimenting with a brand of unionism that may ultimately recast labor as a community-wide movement which tackles workplace issues. Unlike the now defunct Knights, these modern-day champions of community-based union organizing maintain close ties with unions across the country through their affiliation with resourcerich national unions. Many believe that this mixture of community organizing with national union support will spawn a new wave of union growth.
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    The Pressure is On: Organizing Without the NLRB
    Crump, Joe (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Ask the typical union organizer to define success and he or she will probably say, "Winning elections." Many labor organizations, including ours, have found out that winning a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election does not mean that the workers involved are going to receive the benefits of a union contract. One third of representation elections won by unions do not result in a collective bargaining agreement. In fact, just winning an NLRB election is a tough proposition. In 1990 the union win rate was only 47.6%. Even more alarming is the drop in the number of elections held in 1990 — 3,423, the lowest since 1984. In the 1960s and '70s, there were twice this number of elections each year. This trend is truly alarming when you consider that at the end of 1990 unions represented only 16.1% of the nation's workforce — quite a drop from 35% of workers with a union contract in the mid-1950s. What can the labor movement do to reverse the trend of fewer and fewer workers being represented by unions?
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    Let's Get Moving: Labor's survival depends on organizing industry-wide for justice and power
    Lerner, Stephen (1991-09-01)
    [Excerpt] Despite our almost universal lack of significant organizing victories, we continue to organize in basically the same way we have for the last 37 years. Labor's model for organizing remains a site-by-site NLRB approach. We continue to fine-tune a model that most organizers know hasn't worked in years. Depending on how you define success, it can be argued that our current method of organizing hasn't worked in 37 years.