Labor organizer: American unions lack internal radical, political education

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, September 3, 2012 16:53 EDT
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Labor organizer and author Jane McAlevey said Monday that unions’ experience in Wisconsin last year showed the need for political education.

“I think the top lesson in our view is that there is not enough internal radical, political education taking place inside of America’s unions,” she told Laura Flanders. “If there was one thing we had to do differently, it’s actually trust that our rank and file can handle a lot of the information and that the rank and file will know what to do with real facts, real information, and what’s really happening.”

McAlevey explained that in her 20s she worked for the Highlander Center, which was part of the Congress of Industrial Organization’s official labor education school. The CIO later merged with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955, making the AFL-CIO the largest federation of unions in the United States.

“With that background to my early years of work, by the time I hit the labor movement, I had a very strong philosophy that I trusted the workers,” she continued.

“If you trust the workers, and you actually present a framework for education that helps workers begin to understand that this isn’t just about the boss on the third shift, by the way, it’s the corporation you’re working for, and then … you help workers connect the dots to this larger system of oppression that’s taking place in this country dressed up as free enterprise.”

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube on September 3 by Laura Flanders, below:

Watch the full interview here.

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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