To mark the Labor Day holiday, I wrote a piece for the Washington Post taking stock of the current state of the US labor movement, and thinking of what its past can tell us about the road ahead.
While unions have taken a beating over the past several decades, this Labor Day is somewhat different in that there are some hopeful signs amidst the deep, ongoing crisis. While US unions have suffered major defeats this year, particularly the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, we have seen inspiring mass mobilizations of teachers in several “deep red” states, and voters in Missouri recently voted to repeal their state’s “right-to-work” law by a 2-to-1 margin.
As I point out in the piece, “[t]here is a pattern to these losses and wins — one with broader lessons for labor. When judges and legislators determine labor’s fate, labor loses. When labor takes matters into its own hands, bringing the battle into the workplace and the public sphere, it at least stands a fighting chance.”