Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who is Organizing the Unemployed?

Does anyone know if there is any organizing going on among the unemployed anywhere? I admittedly don't see all the news, but I haven't heard of anything. My hunch is that the Tea Party is grabbing most of them. Time for us progressives to wake up and start offering an alternative to Tancredo and Palin!

A couple of options off the top of my head:

(1) Check out your local Jobs with Justice chapter. If it seems like they have it on the ball, join up and encourage them to start organizing among the unemployed, if they aren't already.

(2) Check out your local MoveOn chapter. The MoveOn health care rally I attended a couple weeks ago was impressive in terms of its demographic diversity. I was out of town for the local organizing meeting this past weekend, but I've heard good things about it so far.

Any other ideas?

4 comments:

Jake Miller said...

Another way to look at it:

Who are the unemployed?

Are they already organized, somehow?

My guess is that there are local churches, community centers and ethnic clubs--not to mention labor unions like the UAW and the construction trade unions--that have members who are looking for work, looking for solutions, looking for leadership on the jobs issue.

Finding a way to bring these already-organized groups together on this common ground could be a huge step toward building deeper democracy and real change.

Jake Miller said...

This also brings to mind the thread on your FB page a couple weeks back when you asked what folks could do to help the country in these tough economic times and one of your uncles (IIRC) said, "get a job."

One important question for progressives is how we can use our institutions and the power we do have to help put people back to work in a way that will also help build more progressive power.

Could progressive churches spend some of their endowments (is that what churches call their assets?) to build mixed-income housing and thereby put construction workers back to work?

There are examples of this kind of thing being done in the past, with the teacher's union in NYC building co-op apartment buildings and the bricklayer's union in Boston building housing on Mission Hill.

Instead of leaving their money in the virtual vaults at CitiBank, they could spend it to put working people back to work and to give their members affordable housing (or whatever it is they value).

Lord John Whorfin said...

Well, I've been out of town for a while but I hear some WWI veterans are upset that they can't cash their bonuses early, and they're fixing to do something about it.

Also, there's a rumor that a bunch of guys generally unhappy with things are headed over to Daniel Shays's farm.

Good luck!

Chris Hartman said...

It does make sense, Jake, to figure out how and where the unemployed may already be part of a group, and the ones you mention are good. I remember way back when in 1996, during an earlier wave of downsizing, more concentrated in the white collar ranks than this mass unemployment is, UFE did workshops at the various job clubs and networking shindigs that various employment centers were sponsoring. Not sure how they went over, though, since what most jobless people want most of all is a job, ASAP.

I don't know what it would take to get to the point where we were seeing a Bonus Army or a Shay's Rebellion like Whorfin describes. I guess I figure it would have to get a lot worse, for a lot longer, before we saw that level of self-organization. But in the meantime, we might as well work on the margin to see if any progress can be made on the mutual aid / leveraging of existing community assets ideas that you describe.

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