This interview transcript has been slightly modified from its source to improve readability.
Hello everyone welcome to Midwestern Marx my name is Eddie Smith here with Carlos Guerrido again doing another video interview, this time we're with our friend Alex who's a trade unionist. He's going to talk about the history of the labor movement in the US, and some of the challenges the labor movement has faced. Alex you want tell us a little bit about yourself, and we'll go from there?
I'm Alex, I've been a friend of Carlos and Eddie's for quite a while, I was in the labor club at Loris with them, and after I left Loris I decided to work in the blue collar industry, I started working on the railroad six months ago. I'm a member of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division-International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) I know that's a mouthful of a union but it's my union nonetheless.
I work on the track itself I don't work on the trains, we build and maintain the track that the trains run on so we have a pretty important role within the within the American economy. So important that we have special regulations that govern our industry versus other industries on the federal level, I guess that's my introduction if if you guys have anything else to ask.
No that's that's it for the interview. (laughter)
We want to start by asking: Part of our project is to emphasize something that we feel like the left has sort of abandoned which is: looking at the the revolutionary agent in the struggle for socialism as as the working masses and specifically, the one that works in the industrial and agricultural productive sector overall.
In order to get a truthful insight into what's going on in this sphere is not enough to just look at it from outside (as Eddie and I are able to look at it, because of our class position in society) so I think it'd be interesting if you can share what your experience is as someone within the labor industry:
what are some of the challenges that you see the working class facing that are preventing it from building a militant movement?
I think a lot of the challenges that present themselves to us is that there really is little contact between what we know of as "the left" in the United States and the industrial working class, particularly in the midwest, but in certain parts of the country that that link has been closer together.
Usually the more militant and more politically active members of the industrial working class or within the labor movement have been aligned with the Democratic Party and continue to do so and do push the Democratic Party on specific topics and specific issues on behalf of workers.
It's usually not framed as like a left or right wing position it's usually just like a well "we're looking out for workers we want to do what's best for our workers and we want you to support legislation that does that for our workers"
A huge difficulty though is there's sort of a rift between a lot of rank and file union members and the unions on the national or international level.
We read the the little article "fortress unionism" that was really influential within the labor movement in the past few years, but one of the things that really kind of sucked away most of the energy from the labor movement was the it was Taft-Hartley sort of bureaucratizing unions and so unions had less to spend on organizing efforts they'd less spend on education efforts with the rank and file.
And so unions weren't necessarily doing much more with their rank and file other than just existing as what many workers would see as an insurance agency that they pay into, off their paychecks. If I hadn't actively reached out to my union representatives, my interaction with the union in my workplace would strictly be: I had a letter saying that I had to sign up and that I had to start paying dues and then my I once I signed up my dues get paid directly from my paycheck once a month and that would have been my only interaction
I wouldn't have had any other interaction had I not been active. So a lot of the guys who started around the same time I did their only interaction with the union has been through that; has been dues deductions.
There's a whole host of reasons why that is: COVID-19 being one of those, we can't have the union guys on on property often to talk with us or we can't meet often to to talk with us. But also the nature of our workplace since we moved quite often, our representatives oftentimes live hundreds of miles away and so they're not always directly there when when we need them.
So, challenge-wise I think the big challenges there's not a whole lot of individuals on the national level within the United States that have national recognition that are voicing the concerns of the industrial working class, the left may claim that they are but it's very true that they are not.
[The left has] continuously failed to win in post-industrial heartlands, they've lost areas that have been blue-collar dominated for years
So if it isn't what is currently considered the left someone else is going to be organizing them and within my workplace Donald Trump spoke the language and he's kind of enthralled a lot of my coworkers. I see that more as a failure of the left within the United States than I do [as] a good thing done by the Trump campaign.
You have one of the most anti-blue-collar guys of all time in Donald Trump but yet he's speaking the language of so many workers within this country.
Then you're going to have a lot of liberals and stuff say that "all these workers are fascists and racists deplorables" and but if you're a socialist the workers aren't workers because of some divine right it's because of their position within the economy and regardless of what of individual workers view might be on specific issues that position in the economy is what makes them a worker and if it's what defines their role within within the revolutionary process. You can't overlook that by just saying "they're deplorable, they're voting against their interest"
What is their interest? I think most workers kind of know what their interests are all my coworkers would be extremely anti-company any of if you ask any of them they understand the workplace they know we're getting screwed they know the company's making huge profits and we're getting cut
Yet a lot of them on the political end would still vote or voted for Donald Trump didn't vote or there was only two or three guys I worked with that voted democrat
But yeah the challenges I'd say are not a whole lot of interaction between the the union and the rank and file the the unions and the vast majority of workers within the United States the right wing has done a really good job with anti-union language within the past 40 years, and on top of that there's no organized left speaking for workers or that are workers themselves.
Yeah it's interesting that you mentioned that, one of the points that's kind of our sort of "Rome" that that all our our thought-roads lead to when me and Eddie have a video is is the fact that the left and and the working class are divorced, and that you have this this this sort of event where if workers vote against their own interest [by] supporting Trump [...] the initial reaction of the left is oh they're, like you said, a "basket of deplorables" they're they're this they're that we we won't organize in those circles we're going to turn away and focus our energies on on on somewhere else and as Eddie and I have discussed that that does a few things:
- first of all you're sort of neglecting what as a socialist you should consider to be the central revolutionary agent in industrial society
- and you're not doing anything about those beliefs that you dislike if you're just letting them run around with other people that that have those same beliefs that you that you might dislike
so the question I wanted to ask you is besides this what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see the left today doing to alienate workers?
There's all sorts of reasons, and my opinion on it is just going to be another opinion on it. But I find that many of the problems that arise is that most of what constitutes the left within the United States aren't workers and yet they attempt or at least they state that they are the voice of the working class.
That's a harmful, it's extremely alienating for most workers. Most of people I work with their concept of "the left" would just be a bunch of elitists, people who who kind of look down upon them because they they don't use all these fancy words and weren't educated in a university.
The other the other thing I think that's harmfully alienating is I think the left within the United States does it in incredibly awful job at materially analyzing the world around them and what what makes people make the decisions that they make. And because of the lack of a material understanding of society and the economy then they they jump on the campaigns that, to them, appear as popular campaigns but it's only their echo chamber of individuals that support those campaigns and so they read into them as as they please, I think that that's a huge mistake.
I think that we need to be critical of the positions that that we take on all sorts of topics and what topics are the most important
It should be a very simple question that we ask ourselves like "will this help us unify the working class or not?" and my definition of the working class is very similar to what Marx would have had as a definition of the working class, which is "those who work in productive industry those that produce the producers within society."
Then you take all sorts of different jobs and you look at production you look at the economy itself, the sort of the pressure points within the economy, and with there is going to be a hierarchy of workers here which workers have more power than others that is going to exist. Sorry anarchists and decentralists and whatnot, but there are going to be workers that have more power within the economy than others yes, all work is dignified I totally agree with that there is though a difference within our economy and so we have to look at those powerful sectors of the economy and if those workers aren't on our side that means they can command the economy for the will of the other it's very simple like
If we don't organize [the workers] someone else [will] and for their purposes. so I I think that that's a a huge mistake of the left to overlook all of that if that makes sense
Yeah, I think when you said the left is horrible at materially analyzing the world around them that's what I was thinking when you're talking about anytime the left is criticized (you see it on twitter or whatever and I've had to get off of twitter because it's so horrible I feel like it's making me dumber) but anytime anyone criticizes them like "you guys aren't speaking to the working class" this "cancel culture" whatever you want to call it is harmful to what you're doing, they're like "no we do speak for the working class" like we they'll say something like "we support Medicare for All" and that's good for the working class like it's it's them imposing their ideology on or they're imposing what they want to see on the world right like I I know single-payer health care is better so i'm gonna say that alone makes me the voice of the working class.
Rather than than going to the working class like you said asking them "hey what do you need at your workplace?", "how is the system failing to meet your needs?", "how are you getting screwed over by the company?" and then going from there you know. It's starting from your own beliefs, your own ideology, and trying to impose that on the world around you and and that's completely allowed (as you've said) the Republicans and Trump to win over the productive working class in America and then as you said the left writes them off as as racist.
And I think Carlos made a good point too: even if you think all these people are racist and have all these reactionary social views, how are you ever gonna change that if you just cancel them?
if you're like "all right we're not gonna talk to anybody who says anything we disagree with socially" well okay, then they're gonna say "Fuck you i'm gonna go hang out with the other Trump supporters" so I think it's a failure of the left for sure.
We have a left that's truly an idealist left.
Its conception of a worker doesn't really exist. It's just their class of petty bourgeois, sort of fetishizing themselves as as workers and that's the that's the thing about the Marxist lens, by analyzing things from a class perspective, you can see how these downfalls happen.
If that's what most of the left consists of and lumpen elements that are sort of excluded from being exploited in in the system that have a lot of times even tougher conditions than than the working class but they're not the working class themselves, if this is the sort of point of view that you're taking of the world there's no way you're gonna be able to place yourself in the shoes of that sector of society that you need to be basing as your foundation if you're striving towards socialism.
That's not to say that you can't be outside of the working class and be an ally, that's all we're trying to do here. But you have to realize it, you have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is in the engagement with working class folks and and keeping up with what's happening in working class circles and most of what we get in and left twitter and left news, maybe one tenth of it has something to do with labor. Most of it is other things that they might be very good but it bears no relationship to labor.
It really seems to be mostly the US left that takes this approach, I know i'm not in America, these sort of progressive movements and this academic left has been able to work within the circles of militant workers better in the in Britain it seems like they're doing also a better job of emphasizing sort of "worker epistemic" in their leftist analysis.
But yeah, there's something uniquely bad about the American left.
So in connection to something you mentioned in one of the first points that you were you were talking about and that that was the Taft-Hartley Act: what role has that act played historically in in the sort of demise of the worker movement and and unionization? so if you can go through a short history of it for those that don't know what the Taft-Hartley Act is and then get into some of the effects that it's had in our worker movement
yeah so the Taft-Hartley Act is a big piece of shit as we know like it's it's not it's not anything that we should praise by any means especially if we call them ourselves on the left in the United States and in my opinion it is one of the number one things that we should focus on if you are a leftist within the United States this should be your number one issue.
If you truly want to see worker-ownership of anything or worker power of any sort like this should be your focus.
But anyways the Taft-Hartley was an act that was passed in 1947 on a overriding a presidential veto by harry truman to establish limits on the National Labor Relations Act or the Wagner Act as what we call it that was passed in the 30s that established most of our modern labor law within the United States
It basically made it possible for unions to do trade unionism; to organize effectively without major threats from the bosses and employers to host mass organizing to have closed shops. That act in the 30s the Wagner Act bursted trade unionism by something along the lines of like 300 percent within just a few years within the United States and after we had already had quite a militant trade union movement within the early part of the 20th century this ballooned it so the 1930s was kind of like a golden age for trade unionists in the United States and that's when we have the New Deal Era start to arise, you have public works for unemployed, so on. A lot of this was then bolstered or even further supported by the labor movement the newly strengthened labor movements and so in the 1940s during the war effort you basically have full employment and it wasn't until late 40s men started returning that they had a very militant labor movement already existing within the United States and so this was utilized.
The year of the most strikes in the United States was 1945. over a million workers at one time were on strike within the United States and people talk about very specific labor battles here and there within the United States all the time they have we have these like glory shots of history that leftists love to zoom in on but like they never talk about 1945 and they never talk about like the dynamic of having that many workers on strike within the United States at one time like that's why why don't we talk why don't we discuss these periods of American history where yeah there might not be a big socialist at the helm of these strikes, but who cares this is worker militancy happening we should be following workers not just big-name socialists.
So this happens, and this scares powerful interests within the United States. Those powerful interests start drafting the Taft-Hartley Act which I believe was originally Hartley's plan but then Taft kind of joined along in a good-cop bad-cop type deal.
It basically made trade unionism illegal.
This is when you have the establishment of "right to work" laws in which still 20 some states within the u.s still have right-to-work laws iowa included.
This is what made it illegal for like foremen and managers to be dues paying members of the unions and be on union side rather than company side.
The anti-communist affidavit was famously in that [act].
The employer right to free speech: Employers then have the ability to go into the workplace and basically educate [sic.] their workers on anti-union propaganda so I mean we're famous now with amazon and Walmart and companies like them that have well-watched anti-union campaigns you can find on youtube or just a couple years back in 2017 in the Nissan plant in Mississippi famously they were they were playing like road to destruction on the on the loudspeakers like 24 hours a day to try and just demoralize the workers on the factory floor.
No secondary boycotts: if there was a sort of if there was one strike going on you couldn't basically sympathy strike, your grievances have to be just with your employer only for the most part.
There's a whole host of things within that Hartley that make it harder for trade unionists within the United States to operate and because it became national legislation, labor unions had to spend a lot more money on hiring lawyers and educating their own individuals within offices to handle sort of the legalistic language that was going to occur because of this.
No longer was the mediation going to be just you and your buddies versus your boss, you weren't going to take direct wildcat action like you would in a days prior to it.
There's stories in the 1930s within Iowa of meat packing plants firing a single worker and all the guys just walking home for the day and they'd come back tomorrow if the worker was reinstated, but just walking off right there. Your your grievance was with the employer and then you handled it at that moment, you didn't have to go through the steps of the national labor relations board to have a strike and to have a proper strike vote you just did it.
It made all of that basically illegal in that in that sense, it made everything legalistic.
Many people hate trade unions today because that's how they view them. They view trade unions as very legalistic it's guys in suits handling a lot of money that us members never get to see but there's a reason for that and the reason isn't because the unions wanted that to be the case, the reason is because people in positions of power made it so that unions had to be that way, to be able to operate within the United States.
That's my brief overview of Taft-Hartley, hopefully hopefully you guys can make some sense of it
It kind of feels like it it even defeats the purpose of of of any sort of protest if you're told how you can protest when you can protest you have to go through all these sort of legalistic mumbo jumbo to do anything.
One of the things you mentioned is the secondary protest, that seems to completely strike at the heart of of what any working class movement needs which is solidarity and unity if you can't stand in solidarity with a strike going on in another workplace you're done. You're removing the legs out of the the body of the working class.
That's a typical example of the state being used as an apparatus to crush labor.
What's your solution then to solve that problem? Do you just think we need to fight the political battle? start getting politicians in who are pushing to repeal Taft-Hartley and strengthen the unions or where do we start?
I think it's a pretty simple answer – my [own] life is that answer in many cases – I don't mean to be like tooting my horn or anything but I believe that i'm doing what I need to do in order to get those things solved and to change those things and that is: if we want to have a political movement that is an independent voice for the working class, the political movement is only an echo of the economic movement and political organization only flows from the economic organization.
Everybody talks politics all the time, and yes it's important but without any sort of economic organization it's useless.
People follow politics online like it's a sport. People follow certain individuals online and cheer for them like a team. They do it just because they like it. They don't do it because they have any conviction.
There's a difference between saying that you're a socialist or a Marxist or whatever, and then actually like devoting your time to the conviction of it. If you truly believe that in socialism, you cannot avoid the industrial working class.
The repeal of Taft-Hartley is an essential thing for the labor movement moving forward it might not be the first thing that the labor movement does but it's definitely has to be a goal and I think it is a goal.
Labor hasn't been able to repeal a comma of it since it was instated and labor was quite powerful within the 70s and 90s but still hasn't been able to repeal any of it.
I know that the Biden campaign has said that they support the PRO Act which would effectively repeal some parts of of Taft-Hartley, the right to work especially, which would be a massive boost for industrial labor within the United States.
Most people on the left are still poo-poo-ing and Biden all the time and okay, I understand, I probably wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire, but if he's gonna pass the PRO Act i'm gonna i'm gonna be pretty happy if I i mean that's a huge point for workers like that's probably the biggest win for workers in a long time within the United States and so if that happens that's great.
But I wouldn't bank on it at this point because I think the economic organization of the workers is very very fragile currently like I said, the difference between most rank and file members and their unions that represent them is quite vast, I think most of the union population is just voting like the rest of the population: depending on where they live is what's basically going to decide who they vote for there's very loose unity amongst the rank and file even if there is unity amongst the national of the of specific unions
My union is a perfect example, in my workplace everybody's basically a Trump supporter or a non-voter. But our national union in 2014 passed a resolution saying that we support a single-payer healthcare system, so our national union has said that but our rank and file would would say that that's an awful idea.
so there's a weakness there within the labor movement and if we want to if we want to strengthen that like we got to have people in our labor movement that are going to push for those things and it's going to be a long process.
We want to win power, it's it's not about being the most perfect clean and having the most principled of socialist or whatever views you want to have it's about power, and so it's a chess match any exposure might make part of you vulnerable and so always view it in that way always view it as a power move I always view it as "what can I do in this moment to advance things further down the line?"
that reminded me of two points: first the structure that you lay out of economic organization proceeding political involvement that that's straight out of perhaps one of the greatest industrial organizers in our history big bill haywood it's he says it's first of all a shop fight is a fight that starts where exploitation happens and only that can it take form in the in the political arena.
One of the other things that you said earlier, when you're talking about '45 and the strikes, and how the left does not look at those strikes enough and and despite the fact that it was massive where a million people were on strike it's not focused on it because there weren't it wasn't necessarily guided by big socialists or leftist figures and that's one of the things that I think that that left and then those who call themselves socialists and communists need to understand that the advancement of the interests of the working class is the advancement of the interests of socialism.
So if you see a movement that is advancing the interest of the working class even if it's not led by socialists, that is an advancement of the socialist movement. That is something you must support as a socialist.
Being principled is not saying "if it's not led by socialists if it's not led by the party then I won't join" right "if it doesn't have the perfect ideas I won't join" being principled is realizing and being pragmatic about what are the best steps to take right now to advance the cause of socialism which is indivisible with the cause of the advancement of of labor and the power of labor.
One of the the last things I wanted to ask is one of the bigger focuses that Eddie and I have for our project is the anti-imperialist approach which again two things that we see completely lacking in the left today is their their appeal to workers and their analysis of geopolitical situations
and I guess I want to see what these two different circles which the left is doing a really bad job in what their relations are to each other
so what would you say is the relationship between the worker movement in the u.s and the international movement for socialism? is there any relationship there?
I think it's an extremely difficult question I mean you're gonna have people that say like oh well it's one in the same and the interests are the same, but then again there's there's the ideal aspect of it and then there's the tactical aspect of it now i'm not going to get many of my if any of my co-workers to read anything regarding what's going on in Venezuela or what's going on in China or what's going on with the general strike in India, currently.
I think that the the way forward for socialism within the United States is going to be within within the American working class like we have to understand that, again politics for most people that follow politics in the United States is like a it's a sport it's like a hobby for them they read the things that they that align with that are kind of within the realm of their political ideology socialists are just as guilty as anyone else and so they have this this sort of canon of things that they read and of places where they read them from and then like that's that's just like what constitutes you being within that sphere of politics
The vast majority of people within the United States are not going to really care about the specifics of what's going on halfway across the globe or even next door to us, I think it's gonna be a very difficult thing to connect the two. I don't think it's impossible or that it's not a noble task, but I think that if we if we want to win workers to like our side, basically I I tried to trying to say thing like I I don't think that we should be like isolationist in that we don't interact with international movements or whatnot richard trumka head of the afl-cio met with lula while he was in prison still like that's that's a huge thing
i'm not saying that that can't happen just saying that like the level of education that we have for workers where we're currently are to where they might need to be, to have those sort of connections be very fruitful like you're not gonna see any any of my co-workers being like did you see like Trumpco met with lula while he was in prison like that's that's great for international solidarity like that makes our labor movement so strong" no because first of all no one that I work with knows who trumka is no one that I work with knows who lula is and they don't give a [ __ ] to learn about either but do my co-workers care about their paycheck and how the company treats us? of course.
Of course we should care about specific issues but we shouldn't expect all these people to like and learn about all the things that we like and learn about and I think that that's a huge mistake we talked about mistakes of the left earlier but I think that that's a huge mistake of the left is that not only do does the left try and take ideas and then like give them to the workers or like push them on workers but they also try to do that with like all of these other campaigns and and issues
We lack very basic worker organizations; our unions are very hollowed out. How do we expect workers within the United States to have a very robust view of anti-imperialism without even a very basic like level in their own workplace? of worker organization?
We have to start very we have to start very local and then move out from t
To answer the question I think that's the very basic thing I could say is like we have to start very local.
People wouldn't believe how backwards or how weak our labor movement is. I mean to see how weak it is you have the afl-cio like supporting the most recent international trade legislation that Trump passed because they don't have another option like they're not strong enough to say "oh we're going to take 14 million workers on strike because you won't pass legislation that we want" like no, none of the workers are going to follow so we lack such basic worker organization within the United States and then the left like I see the left talk about all sorts of other issues.
Eddie you mentioned twitter earlier and like if I go on twitter I just get so upset because I see so many of my like friends that I met within the left wing movement and like they're just talking absolute nonsense most of the time
If i'm off twitter for a day I don't know what they're talking about like it's all this echo chamber of people and no real work being done, it's unfortunate really.
It's just people reacting to what's in the news cycle I remember before the election we knew there was going to be this red mirage scenario where the the mailing votes were going to come in later and they were going to be democratic and still if you went on twitter during election day it was the rose whatever it is the dsa twitter is freaking out oh the democrats blew it again Trump won they just lost their minds because Trump went up in the polls because they're just hyper focused on the news cycle and just reacting to whatever is in in mainstream media at the current time
I did want to add one thing though because we were talking about the connection of anti-imperialism to workers I think the connection that can be made right now that I've seen in my own experience is from we're also sending people from the us to die in these ridiculous wars and connecting that with with workers I think is a way to get them get them invested and get them organized
that's been my experience with basically a hundred percent of the people I've known who have gone into the military
you were talking about we can't really get workers to care about china or Venezuela which which makes sense but if if a worker is going to be sent to iraq or his son is going to be sent to Iraq then we can get him to care
that but that that's also part of the simple messaging of like "Peace, Land, and Bread" or whatever you got to make it simple for people rather than expecting them to have the most nuanced views on all on all these social issues or on the issues of anti-imperialism you got to realize that but as you say a lot most people's only interaction with politics is once every four years during the election so yeah I don't know I just want to add that
it's definitely a hard situation because the movement towards socialism is as a purely humanistic thing, it it has principled foundations, right? And it's hard because there's a there's a dynamic there's a dialectic between having to work with what you have and having these ideals as well, and sometimes there's clashes like you were mentioning we have we have a working class that if it's not in their direct interest they're not going to give a damn.
And people might think that that's a huge like like downfall of the American working class but it also can be a huge strength I mean like there are things that are specific to the American working class like blue collar industrial workers like there's a specific mentality that exists there like it like a basically like like "Fuck you, we know who we are and like you look down upon us but yet like like what we do we take pride in" and very there's very much a pride within the immediacy of what surrounds workers and like like I say like i'm very proud of like what I do every day I actually enjoy the work itself like it's it's good it's good work like yeah it's dangerous in some ways and and but it's like it's something to be proud of and like I get to wake up every day and like in 30 years if i'm taking my kids driving and like I can point that section of rail and say like I help build that with my co-workers, that's cool and how many like millions of dollars passed over that in tonnage like in those 30 years
It's just something that's really neat, and workers are proud of what they do, but those are like strengths of the American working class
I mean I would see it as as both a strength and a weakness in some sense that I feel like there needs to be this sort of at least basic level of care for other people but even if you don't have it and you're having to work with this working class that's proud like you said of of what it is and has this "Fuck you" attitude (and it hasn't been pushed into this sort of attitude that's another thing that at one point it wasn't like that it's it's been all of these attacks that has sort of it's played a massive influence in it being like that) but that's the thing about socialism that even if you have someone who has a purely individualistic approach in the working class you can still appeal to them and in that appeal manifest sort of a collective interest right and show them how their individual interest is also tied to to the collective so I i think that people could become scared of the fact that like you said they they hear well workers don't give a damn about what's going on here there or around the world and it's like but they give a damn about what's going on in their situation, and from their situation you can build on on onto a future where they can actually give a damn about what's going on with the empire right
but it all stems from what is the condition of of the labor movement now, in a weak labor movement you have to you have to think about yourself before others. if the plane's crashing the first thing they tell you is even before you take care of your kids you have to put your own mask on and that's that's the situation of the labor movement it's so weak where it it's it needs to be that us mentality at least while it grows until and at some point then it could sort of stem out and start expressing solidarity with with the rest of the world
if it can't express solidarity with its own working movement in another state how how can we expect it to do so with with with movements around the world?
I've been talking about this week labor movement for most of the conversation and and I think like it's just worth giving more sort of examples of how it is weak. If we look at the sectors and like the things that people are currently unionizing, and there are great unionizing efforts going on across the country that we should that we should point out and are that that we should note, however a lot of what's getting news are like like newsrooms and like coffee shops and stuff that are organizing which great for those workers like don't get me wrong but if a bunch of journalists go on strike like my day is probably going to be made better than than been worse and that's not a good thing like if you go on strike you want to cripple the economy like you don't just want to cripple the company.
I mean the company's got most companies are involved with other companies in certain ways and especially major companies but like if autoworkers or railroad workers which can't technically strike but if there is any sort of strike within very key heavy industries like the ripples of that haven't even been you can't even calculate just how many industries and just how many areas would be affected by any sort of industrial action
And so just the the strength of that and the fact that most people on the left today yeah would are are praising these organizing efforts at at newsrooms and whatnot but okay that that is great like that's really good for those workers that they now have a collective say within their workplace but like if you call yourself a socialist or leftist today like you should devote your time to helping to organize key industries within the economy or or all like strengthening already existing worker organizations within those areas because if you don't do it who else is going to do it?
For example my dad works in a in a chemical plant and their union is almost entirely powerless currently because of nobody that's of our around our generation age going in and wanting to work strongly within the union, or take up the reins from the older guys within the union. Most [workers] got in because they got a huge pay raise or most got in they got hired right before a new contract and in the new contract the company waved a huge pay raise in front of them and so all the new guys voted yes now that's a common tactic of companies they'll do a massive hiring of young guys right before a major contract negotiation give a higher wage but take away a lot of benefits that had previously been won to get those passed and that happens and that weakens the union young guys don't want to show up to meetings.
if I had any advice it's: have to have people that show up and go to [union] meetings and vote for those things and vote for proper worker policies and then also want to work within the organizations, that's key
Do you have any more questions Carlos or we can wrap it up here we've been going for about an hour
No I think it's been a very productive chat interview, we have a lot of young people and working class people that watch our videos and and follow us and probably more specifically Eddie and I think this is going to be a very important talk for for them to to listen to analyze and marinate on some of the things that we've been talking about because I think that in this talk lies the the pith of of what the struggle for socialism has to look like if it's going to be a serious struggle that that doesn't take two steps back every time it takes one step forward it's gonna have to listen to some of the things that we've talked about here so as far as us that are not in the industrial sector and they're not able to organize from inside.
We will do our best to continue these chats on bringing the perspective from from the inside and urging people that if they share our ideas and and and the struggle for socialism to join trade union to join the fight in industrial labor and and to recognize that unlike what the general sort of capitalistic mentality tells you about the the working life that the working life is something that's quite digness it's quite dignified and fruitful like you said it's one of the few professions where you can look and say well I i helped make that and that's extremely influential in people's everyday life.
It's it's been an honor to to talk with you I want to thank you and and thank you Eddie
Thank you guys for having me on it's always a pleasure talking with some old friends.
- ↑ Joel Kotkin (2016-06-01). "Trump's Industrial Belt Appeal" RealClear Politics.
- ↑ "Read Hillary Clinton's 'Basket of Deplorables' Remarks About Donald Trump Supporters" (2016-09-10).
- ↑ Joe Allen (2018-02-28). "LABOR’S DUTY TO CONFRONT THE FAR RIGHT" Socialist Worker.