The days when the civil rights and peace movement could blame the labor movement for idleness are well over. Unions are throwing themselves into contract battles (Verizon), political battles (overcoming the threat of the Super Congress), organizing (Walmart), and outright survival (postal workers). Those are some of the most obvious ones in North Texas, but a list of union activities today would be too long to type.
Moveon.org and Jobs with Justice helped promote a rally at Dallas City hall on SEptember 21, for example. The Steelworkers organizing the North Texas Association of Professional Employees (city workers) and the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union came together to make public statements against layoffs and cuts. Turnout during the noontime rally was much better than earlier efforts. The enthusiasm and understanding of the issues showed vast improvement. More and more, people are coming together to stand against America's own austerity program.
Standing above almost all of the many issues today is the fight for jobs. America needs 25 million more jobs, yet the naysayers in Congress won't stand up for any of the excellent bills that have been put forward. President Obama called for an immediate vote on his jobs bill almost a month ago, and is still fighting hard for it, but has met with an intransigent bunch who claim, falsely, that their recent realization of the national debt is the biggest problem the nation faces. Their cuts to government programs have already taken over as the main cause of continuing unemployment, and it will get far worse if the cuts continue.
For our part, North Texas Jobs with Justice intends to continue the "First Friday" jobs vigils at the Bureau of Labor Statistics office, 525 Griffin in downtown Dallas,at 11:30 AM on October 7. There will be no solution to the jobs crisis until the government begins creating jobs as they did during the last crisis!
In many other areas, America's unions are moving forward. The Texas AFL-CIO office, 1106 LaVaca in Austin, is being described accurately as the progressive center of the state.
On September 23-25, they carried out an organizing seminar for about 40 union volunteers that was dramatically different from the days of tired old lecture meetings. Top organizers from the Teachers, Bakery & Confection, Nurses, Government Employees, Ironworkers, and national AFL-CIO led the activists into groups of 3-4 people who tried out every technique and situation under discussion. Their main emphasis was on the bread and butter technique of organizing -- home visits.
They also went into aspects of planning drives and,. most important and most modern, how to build a climate of organizing in communities irrespective of any particular labor union or union drive. These were very serious and very enthusiastic people who realize labor's problems and see the solutions.
AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller organized the meeting and made sure that it was carried out in every detail. As it ended, she complimented the high degree of motivation she had witnessed.