New Labor Forum Highlights: Dec 11th, 2017

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

As the Supreme Court appears poised to rule this spring against public sector unions in the  Janus v. AFSCME case, public sector workers nation-wide will be incentivized to opt out of paying union dues, even as unions in their workplaces will remain obliged to bargain on their behalf. For decades now, an array of right-wing foundations with deep pockets have brought about legislation and litigation to eviscerate unions, with a particular focus on weakening public sector unions’ political advocacy on behalf of workers and working-class communities. In the post-Janus environment, these foundations are now prepared to take extreme measures to ensure a depletion of dues paying members in public sector unions. At a recent conference, entitled “Janus and Beyond: the Future of Public Sector Unions”, held on November 17th at the Murphy Institute and co-sponsored with the Cornell Worker Institute, speakers described the high stakes and the imperative for bold organizing.

Among the strategic approaches that have already begun to show great promise for strengthening unions in public and private sectors alike is something called “Bargaining for the Common Good.” Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns, described by Marilyn Sneiderman and Secky Fascione in the forthcoming January 2018 issue of New Labor Forum, get union and community groups to work together to leverage contract negotiations for broader, shared gains. Their article highlights a number of innovative and successful campaigns around the country in which unions have worked with community members, racial justice organizations and others to dramatically expand the range of demands included in contract negotiations. If ever there was, in embryo at least, the prospect of conventional trade unionism morphing into a social movement “bargaining for the common good” harbors that promise.

Table of Contents

  1. Who is Behind This & What to Expect from Anti-Union Forces/ Kim Cook, Cornell Worker Institute
  2. Bargaining for the Common Goods/ Marilyn Sneiderman & Secky Fascione, New Labor Forum

Photo by rochelle hartman via flickr (CC-BY)