Thursday November 27th, 2014, 5:37 am (EST)

Bill Fletcher Jr.

Never Forget the Class—or the Racial—Struggle

Peter Cole, Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive-Era Philadelphia (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 256 pages, hardcover, $40.00.

Peter Cole has offered an excellent historical examination of a poorly explored moment in labor history. His book, Wobblies on the Waterfront, explores the period (1913–22) when Local 8 of the National Industrial Union of Marine Transport Workers (of the Industrial Workers of the World [IWW]) was the preeminent force on the Philadelphia waterfronts.… | more |

Debate Over the Future of the AFL-CIO

More Heat than Light

A debate over the future of the AFL-CIO, the federation of most unions in the USA, has been underway for some months and, for the life of me, while the debate becomes more intense, the differences seem to blur. Yet, the feeling that one gets is that we are headed for a train wreck … | more |

The Future of Organized Labor in the U.S.

Reinventing Trade Unionism for the 21st Century

An important debate has commenced within the ranks of organized labor regarding the future of the movement. From our experience we know that the ‘top-to-bottom’ approach to revitalizing workers’ organizations will not foster meaningful membership participation and support. The debate must be joined by rank-and-file union members and leaders, other labor activists, scholars and the broad array of supporters of trade unionism. It must be open, frank and constructive, recognizing that we all have a stake in the outcome of these discussions … | more |

NAFTA’s Knife: Class Warfare Across the U.S.-Mexico Border

David Bacon, The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 348 pages, cloth $27.50.

I once heard a discussion about the first sentences of books and those sentences that were among the most famous and most powerful. The opening of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude was among the most popular. David Bacon’s first sentence in chapter one of his book must now rank among the most gripping: “NAFTA repeatedly plunged a knife into José Castillo’s heart.” … | more |

Remembering W.E.B. Du Bois

While we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, we should as well be commemorating another event. On the eve of the 1963 March on Washington, the life of one of the 20th century’s most brilliant individuals came to an end. W.E.B. Du Bois, scholar, Pan Africanist, political leader, champion of the struggle against white supremacy in the United States, died in Ghana, August 27, 1963 … | more |

Can U.S. Workers Embrace Anti-Imperialism?

The period between September 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq raised many questions about the psyche of the U.S. public in general and the U.S. working class in particular. The ability of the Bush Administration to utilize fear and patriotism to refocus attention away from pressing domestic issues has been astounding. The Republican Congressional victories in November 2002 were nearly unprecedented and most likely would not have happened had the focus on Iraq not emerged during the prior summer… | more |

Dispatches from Durban

Eric Mann, Dispatches from Durban: Firsthand Commentaries on the World Conference Against Racism and Post-September 11 Movement Strategies (Los Angeles: Frontline Press, 2002) 245 pages, $14.95, paper.

It was as if someone pushed a giant delete button. The United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), held August–September 2001, was one of the most important conferences and social mobilizations to take place in years. Voices from the global South decried the continued presence of racism and xenophobia. Thousands of people assembled in Durban, South Africa with great symbolic importance after the successful anti-apartheid struggle… | more |

Everything Has Not Changed Since 9/11

Good evening, and thank you very much for inviting me to speak with you this evening. I am honored to be here this evening, and view this as a means of beginning a much needed dialogue between the NAACP and TransAfrica Forum … | more |

Sweatshop Labor, Sweatshop Movement

Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Economy (Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2001), 306 pages, $18.00 paper.

The reemergence of sweatshops in the United States has taken many people by surprise. It was commonly assumed that sweatshops disappeared years ago and that their presence would no longer be accepted. This proved to be fatally wrong… | more |

Radicals Known and Unknown

Jeffrey B. Perry, editor, A Hubert Harrison Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 505 pages, $70 cloth, $24.95 paper.

Somewhere on the road to becoming a Marxist during the 1970s, I heard about Hubert Harrison. A black radical from the early part of the century, his name was mentioned as an almost mythical character. Little was said about him, except that he was important and had been on the Harlem political stage. And then, almost like a ship disappearing into a fog bank, any further references vanished from view… | more |

Will We Awaken and Find That No One Is Left

I spoke with a South African friend of mine a few months ago while she was in Namibia. She commented on the beauty of the land and the people. She mentioned to me that she made a similar comment to a Namibian friend of hers and noted how slim so many of the people are. Her Namibian friend responded with great sadness that so much of the “slim figure” she had seen was the result of people infected with HIV/AIDS … | more |

A Tale of Two Conferences

Two weeks ago I attended a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was an unusual meeting. Several leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU, one of the fast growing unions in the USA) went to South Africa to meet with their counterparts in the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), and several other affiliates of the Congress of South African Trade Unions to discuss 21st century trade unionism. This gathering was remarkable because it differed, in its fundamentals, from so many international union gatherings.… | more |

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