In an In These Times piece last week, Alan Hanson, organizing director for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, explained a new development. “The checklist that staff organizers have — get a list, identify leaders… workers are coming to us and they have already done all of that,” he says. “I haven’t had four successful worker-generated organizing campaigns in my entire career and we just had four in four months.”
What’s behind recent labor breakthroughs? The organizing in Amazon warehouses and Starbucks cafes shows that it’s the unleashed energy, creativity, and wisdom of rank-and-file workers. ALU and SBWU organizers won by coming together to fight for each other, relying on their smarts and their instincts. They sometimes broke from traditional organizing conventions when they did not suit their campaigns. They built camaraderie while deftly harnessing momentum. They demonstrated how powerful the ideas of labor militancy and democracy are in action.
They’re showing the path forward, toward the labor movement we want. This movement stretches far beyond those two corporations, and of course, the fight does not end with winning a union, or even a fair contract: building workplace power is a continuous project demanding ongoing vigilance. Right now, the workers who have achieved what recently seemed impossible at Starbucks and Amazon are still fighting– for a contract, for better wages and conditions, for an end to union-busting, for a voice. To win the next battles and the next demands, they will need us, and we will need them. Solidarity never ends.
Image: Amazon and Starbucks worker organizers at the White House