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Reviews |  Will the Amazon union usher in a new era of union activism?


In the Washington Post, Jacob Bogage, Aaron Gregg and Gerrit De Vynck report that the ALU’s deeply personal and grassroots strategy could provide a new playbook for 21st century labor activism. Other recent union victories at six Starbucks coffee shops in Buffalo, they note, were also won by independent worker-led organizations.

According to Steven Greenhouse, labor reporter and former Times reporter, the advantage of this “worker-to-worker” model is that it neutralizes distrust – whether instinctive or actively cultivated by the employer as an anti-union tactic – towards workers. unions as a bureaucrat. , irresponsible third parties. Instead, workers “feel like they’re choosing between their employer and a group of energetic, concerned co-workers and friends eager to build a better workplace,” he writes in The Atlantic. “For many workers, that makes voting for the union a no-brainer.”

Sara Nelson, the head of the flight attendants’ union, also sees promise in this model: the future of American organizing efforts “cannot be about people coming in from outside with an organizing plan that people have to follow,” she said. The temperature. “It has to come from within the workplace.”

Wider dissatisfaction with the economy could make workers even more receptive to the idea of ​​unionising. As Noam Scheiber of The Times reported, many workers resent being considered “essential” during the pandemic, only to be treated as disposable afterwards. And while wages are rising at a faster rate than they have in previous years, thanks to a tighter labor market, they have not kept pace with inflation.

“When workers feel rushed or their household budget is tight when the companies they work for are so profitable, it can create unrest and energy to organize,” said Rebecca Givan , associate professor of social studies at Rutgers University, to the Washington Post.

History shows that workforce mobilization can be a self-reinforcing trend. “Sometimes a single victory can trigger a wave of victories,” writes Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect. “That’s what happened in 1937, when the great UAW sit-down strike, occupying General Motors’ factories in Flint, Michigan, won them a contract with GM and inspired dozens similar campaigns and hundreds of successful organizing campaigns across the country.”

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