Solidarity, unions, and the unemployed

January 28th, 2012 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

This to me is the key section from George Lakey’s piece in the Indypendent’s blog:

The Depression hit bottom in 1931. More people were jobless there than in any other Nordic country. Unlike in the U.S., the Norwegian union movement kept the people thrown out of work as members, even though they couldn’t pay dues. This decision paid off in mass mobilizations. When the employers’ federation locked employees out of the factories to try to force a reduction of wages, the workers fought back with massive demonstrations.

via How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’ | The Indypendent.

It requires – and fosters – a broader class consciousness than a union system built wholly around those who currently retain employment. There may be wrinkles, administratively, in a developing this concept within a craft union model – not least, figuring out what it means to retain these unemployed members as workers? What is asked of them, what do they get out of it, and where do they fit into a system that has been built around a contract model?

Of course, the trade unions, with members who often work by the job, and retain union benefits and seniority between spates of employment, may provide some guidance. What might, for instance, teacher unions learn from this approach?

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