Organizer, UE (California)
to Speak ... Assemble ... Organize
I’m not a lawyer and I’m not a historian,
so some of the details in this paper are new to me. But it
makes sense in terms of my own organizing work.
We’re doing organizing of ancillary staff in
hospitals. On one hand, it’s a workplace that’s often more
low-key and physically accessible than a manufacturing
facility. And yet the employers have still created an
atmosphere where people feel that not only can’t they talk
about a union, but if they dare to ask somebody what their
wage is, they’re going to be fired.
'GRABBING OUR BASIC
People are very aware of the limits on their
free speech, on their ability to get together with their
co-workers, the way that they’re told they can’t post
something on a public bulletin board or hand out literature in
a public place. People can’t go to a cafeteria without
feeling that they’re under surveillance. People step past
the time clock and are aware that suddenly they’re not free.
And they resent it.
Very early in any organizing campaign, we
always have to get across to people that the labor law is
usually not going to protect us as workers. Our real strength
and power comes in our numbers and in grabbing our basic
rights. There’s no reason for us to accept a denial of our
rights in the workplace any more than there is in our
neighborhoods or anywhere else.
So I find the approach put forward in this
paper is exciting, and also very connected to what workers
experience. I’ve passed it on to other trade unionists, and
they seem intrigued. It’s kind of thinking outside the box.
And I think there’s an interest in sitting down and talking
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