Time to Work on Labor

With little-to-no expertise in labor issues, and no memory of a time when unions were strong, it's hard for me to enter the debate between Nathan Newman and Chris Bowers. So I won't. Suffice to say that Chris castigates elected Democrats for abandoning labor and Newman replies that our politicians are quite favorable to labor, it's the liberal opinion-makers and base that can't be bothered on the issue.

What I will say is that labor suffers from a massive PR problem, one partly their fault and partly the Party's. The intransigence of a few bad apples in the broader movement led labor to consistently enter the media in moments of weakness, with this or that public official trying to get the Teacher's Union to support school reform and one or another corporation blaming them for outsourcing. At which point, the "moderate" elements of the Democratic Party took the ball and ran with it, quickly scoring a touchdown for the wrong team. They began using Labor as a prime example of the interest groups the party had to free itself from, thus joining the circle of demonization and kicking an already wounded movement in the gut.

But the DLC's day, at least in its From-based incarnation, is over. And the good news is that Labor is still viewed favorably in the country. The bad, with most poll respondents expecting unions to continue to weaken and hoping they play a smaller role in the future, is that they seem a thing of the past. Unions were part of the old economy and they grew too entrenched, too corrupt. A nice idea, sure, but not really suited for the Real World.

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