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People power - the only thing that's working
And a lot of content on how working class solidarity is having a moment.
I write this like I’m talking to my friends at a bar. There are typos and occasional embellishments, but no lies. If you’re a lawyer, do not take this seriously… unless that helps.
Alright y’all. Been a while.
I’m putting out this quick and dirty update to get things back on track. Lots of good things have been happening over my way, but they’ve upset the regular schedule around here.
I hopped the Ohio River to the West Virginia side, bought the place I was renting (time well spent, but lots of time spent), traveled to DC to work on another project, got halfway unpacked, and then broke my undefeated streak on Covid by coming down with it last week.
Things are moving along though, and I’m excited to water the roots that I never really ripped out of the Ohio Valley. It’s a good home base to make media for…. Whatever the hell we’re all marching into as a society.
Alas, the show goes on.
Many of you are new here from the last podcast I went on. Leigh McGowan, The Politics Girl herself, was kind enough to have me on her show a couple of weeks ago. It was a great conversation about how solidarity and the new labor movement are having a moment. And indeed they are. A few weeks after our talk, the UAW ratified the first of three historic agreements with Detroit automakers.
Give it a watch here:
Or a listen here:
About that solidarity and the moment it’s having
Big business answers to almost no one.
The big three automakers represent the world’s most elite financial firepower. Ford is number 19 on the Fortune 500. GM is 21. Stellantis is larger than both, but not on the list because of its foreign acquisition.
Their CEOs are today’s captains of global industry. Each of them pulls down double-digit millions in pay every single year. Their armies of lawyers and lobbyists own our government. We’ve covered a nation nearly the size of the European continent in highways. We pound that pavement with ever larger gas guzzlers. Why? Because the big three automakers say so, and if you don’t like it - tough.
Our country is of, by, and for the bottom line. Nowhere is that more on display than America’s Fortune 500 - a whose who of financial might in the country famous for holding a gun to the world’s head for the sake of…
Democracy financial might.
What I’m saying is, one does not simply march up to the largest global corporations and tell them how to run their business….
Until this dork from Kokomo, Indiana, with exactly 0 college degrees did just that.
Shawn Fain is an autoworker of 29 years and the new leader of the United Auto Workers. He won leadership of the 145,000+ member UAW on a margin of less than 500 votes. Rank and file organizing from thousands of ordinary workers fed up with corrupt leadership and decades of concessionary deals got his faction there.
They wasted no time picking a fight with the most powerful business interests on earth.
The big three automakers booked $250 billion in profits over a ten-year period. As their CEOs each made double-digit millions yearly, their lowest-paid workers were on par with many fast-food franchises.
With Shawn Fain at the helm, members of the UAW stood up, made demands, and won. Contracts at each of the big three automakers were ratified by UAW members this week. In sum, the new deals are worth more than the last four contracts combined.
There’s a lot more to say on this, but check out some of the UAW graphics on their deals:
This is a quick and dirty update so I’ll wrap it here.
Let’s be real. The march of global financial capital has brought us to the brink of being unable to survive on earth anymore. You can count, on one hand, the number of men who own more wealth than half of all Americans combined. And by all accounts, we’re not only staying on this path, we’re stomping on the gas.
To state the obvious, our government serves the interest of the super-rich. Policies that are overwhelmingly popular with the public never come to pass for this reason. Nothing has come close to stopping the march of tycoon-level business interests or changing their course in recent memory. Not elections. Or the President. Or the courts. Or anything within reach of someone reading this.
But for the labor movement.
Where the political arena has failed to deliver wins for working-class Americans, the new labor movement has stepped up. And the best part of all is that the solution currently working where so many others have failed is the simplest and most accessible - working-class solidarity.
The movement that confronted global corporate superpowers and delivered real monetary benefits to ordinary folks was organized and led by people who are no different than you.
And don’t mistake these wins as just being about money. They’re about power. In all of the recent union wins, organized workers built enough power to change the direction of the most powerful companies on earth.
Solving the thorniest problems in front of us demands nothing less than that.
If you’re jazzed about all this and ready to educate yourself, read this.
Unlike most labor how-to material, this guide was written by someone (in their 20s??) who went from knowing nothing about unions, to successfully unionizing their workplace. It’s funny, simple, informative, and straight out of the American tradition of radical pamphlets that could lead to seismic change. Kudos @howtounionize
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