Post-Election Union Analysis on the Left

Commentators on the left side of the aisle examined the results of the 2014 election and are now explaining to us what happened and what it all means for the labor movement.

To begin with, we have the provocative “Let Old Labor Die” from the pages of In These Times. It quotes labor lawyer Tom Geoghegan: “In the century to come, new labor has to step back, give up its control over the old labor law remedies and let workers do things for themselves.” His thesis is the political and legal systems that unions helped create are standing in the way of workplace democracy.

Thomas B. Edsall of the New York Times thinks the problem is the Democratic Party for distancing itself from organized labor. “Democrats are happy to get labor’s votes and money, but they have done little to revitalize the besieged movement,” he writes.

The Washington Post spent time with Gregg Johnson, president of AFSCME Local 46 in Illinois. They try on a few answers for size, then settle on the culprits – young members.

“If they were more active over the last 10 years, maybe we wouldn’t be in the situation we are now,” Johnson said. “Our employees have always taken for granted what we’ve got. And I don’t think they realize the lives that have been lost, and I don’t think they show enough respect for what those who went before us did to get us where we are. ”

I’ll have more on that sentiment in Monday’s communiqué because I hear it a lot.

All of this analysis is welcome – mainly because it’s better than pretending that nothing happened – but its effect on those in charge will be very close to zero. Their focus in 2016 and beyond will be on how to do the same things better, not whether they should do something else entirely.

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