021: Steve Early on “Save Our Unions” and US Labor

And…we’re back! My old friend George from Everything Sounds suggested that we organize our episodes by seasons, so after finishing “season one” we took a little break over the winter.

Our first episode coming back is an interview with Steve Early, an excellent labor journalist and activist. Steve’s written three books, “Embedded With Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home”, “The Civil Wars in US Labor: Birth of a New Workers’ Movement or Death Throes of the Old?”, and most recently “Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress”. Steve comes out of the old International Socialist tradition of fighting for union democracy and movements from below, so while his journalism necessarily has to consider top brass politics it is always written to be accessible and with the concerns of rank and file workers in mind. I reviewed “Civil Wars” for Socialism and Democracy a few years ago, talking about how the rivalry in US labor made sense for what happened in Wisconsin in 2011–you can read that here if you’re interested.

In the episode, we talk about some of the recent history of the organized labor movement in the United States and why that matters even for workers who are not members of unions. Steve talks about some of the orientation differences between the New Left’s approach to union work, where democratizing unions and getting them militant was the primary goal, versus today where so much of the discussion focuses on “organizing the unorganized”. We talk about labor’s approach to electoral politics and the resemblance between this moment’s independent initiatives and the 1990′s interest in forming a Labor Party. At one point, we talk to Steve about some of the fallout from Wisconsin, and he mentions his article and mine in the reader Wisconsin Uprising: Labor Fights Back, so I’m linking that if there is further interest.

Hope ya like it,
-A

Right-click here to download this episode.

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3 Responses to 021: Steve Early on “Save Our Unions” and US Labor

  1. Pingback: American Labor in the Global Slump: Interview with Steve Early | Black Sheep: A Socialist Podcast

  2. Pingback: Steve Early discusses Save Our Unions on Black Sheep Podcast

  3. Pingback: American Labor in the Global Slump: Interview with Steve Early

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