by Susan Rosenthal
(Updated at: War in the House of Labor)
The volume of words flying between supporters of CNA and SEIU would sink a ship. What have we learned?
First, both unions have legitimate grievances. The line of right and wrong does not divide neatly between the two sides.
Second, the issues being debated are critical and must be resolved if workers are to build strong unions.
Third, the vital matter of union democracy cannot be resolved in a battle between CNA and SEIU. The resulting polarization has undermined democratic forces in both unions who are accused of being "on the other side."
What to do?
Over the past 60 years, the American labor movement has not only lost ground economically, it has forgotten the principles of class solidarity that made it strong. These are:
Union members must control their organizations. That means no union or union leader should be supported uncritically.
Class is more important than where you work, what job you do or what union you’re in.
Defending workers’ rights requires the broadest possible class unity.
To resolve the issues and move forward, we must re-frame this debate in class terms that will benefit workers in all unions (see my previous post).