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1/06/2005

LABOR NEEDS A RADICAL VISION

For forty years, AFL-CIO leaders George Meany and Lane Kirkland saw unorganized workers as a threat when they saw them at all. They drove leftwing activists out of unions, and threw the message of solidarity on the scrapheap. Labor's dinosaurs treated unions as a business, representing members in exchange for dues, while ignoring the needs of workers as a whole.

A decade ago new leaders were thrust into office in the AFL-CIO - a product of the crisis of falling union density, weakened political power, and a generation of angry labor activists demanding a change in direction. Those ten years have yielded important gains for unions. Big efforts were made to organize - strawberry workers in Watsonville, asbestos workers in New York and New Jersey, poultry and meatpacking workers in the south, and healthcare workers throughout the country. Yet in only one year was the pace of organizing fast enough to keep union density from falling. (MORE >>>)

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