I’d like to go refreshingly off-topic for a moment and point you all to an excellent column by political strategist Dan Carol, “Rebuilding Labor.” Written as an open letter to national SEIU President Andy Stern, Dan shows once again why he is one of the most creative strategic minds in progressive politics.
Dan isn’t just talking about rebuilding labor. He wants to re-brand it.
No, I am not weighing in with any thoughts on the internal “future of the labor movement” debate roiling on in Vegas next week. You think I am crazy? That’s not my gig.
But I did want to flag some emerging, massive opportunities that SEIU, and all unions, can capture in areas that aren’t traditionally the province of labor.
I’m talking about building the union halls, community centers and even the malls of the 21st century.
Because right now, as you well know, Wal-Mart is winning.
Dan delivers the bad news (at least to unions) that with a growing “freelance economy” of some 10 million independent workers and 25 million part-timers, the workplace is no longer a central gathering place. He warns that unions will continue to shrink in size and influence, unless they stretch beyond their traditional vision of workplace organizing and better benefits.
Dan argues that labor needs to reach out to “non-traditional” audiences and start talking about more than just the need for workers to organize, but about education and child care and other pressing issues. How?
I’m talking about the appeal of Apple’s iPod stores.
I’m talking about creating places for mixing together