Reinventing trade unions
08 September 2013
Trade unions are in an existential crisis, with declining membership and frequent defeats in campaigns. Further, the gap between rich and poor is getting wider and wider, and white collar corruption is immense, especially in China.
In Asia, this reflects a massive failure of collective action, as workers often do not enjoy "decent work", satisfactory health and safety conditions, or basic labor rights, like to the right to organize in trade unions and the right to collective bargaining.
As reported in yesterday's New York Times, Richard L. Trumka, the president of the American A.F.L.-C.I.O., has a bold plan to reverse organized labor’s long slide. He wants to let millions of nonunion workers — and perhaps environmental, immigrant and other advocacy groups — join the labor federation.
Mr. Trumka says he believes that unions can at least restore their clout by building a broad coalition to advance a worker-friendly political and economic agenda.
“The crisis for labor has deepened,” Mr. Trumka said in an interview. “It’s at a point where we really must do something differently. We really have to experiment.”
When the labor federation holds its convention in Los Angeles beginning today, he will ask its delegates for a green light to pursue these ambitious reforms.
Watch this space for the outcome. This idea could provide inspiration to similar initiatives in Asia and elsewhere.