Posted by: Doug Henwood | February 24, 2011

Andy Stern: I ran out of “Andy Stern ideas”

But he still thinks that it’s time to drop the class struggle unionism (where’s that, anyway?) and enter into partnerships with employers—employers who want to see unions disappear. What a sad and silly man.

Ezra Klein – Andy Stern: ‘It may not end beautifully in Wisconsin.’

In the ’30s, people didn’t want us to exist. We had to do sit-down strikes and various other things. We had socialist and communist tendencies. We grew up, to speak in Marxist terms, in a world with a lot more class struggle. And there still obviously are differences between people, but it’s not viewed through that light anymore. There’s a difference between saying corporations can be greedy and Citizens United is a bad decision and real class struggle. We have this anti-employer, they’re going to kill us we need to kill them first, mentality. We’ve done a very bad job, for instance, making alliances with small businesses.

We need an ideology based around working with employers to build skills in our workers, to train them for success. That message and approach can attract different people than the “we need to stand up for the working class!” approach. That approach is about conflict, and a lot of people don’t want more conflict. I remember that the first contract I ever negotiated with the state of Pennsylvania, I said, “no contract, no work.” That’s what I thought you did. And now I wonder, what was that about? I was just copying an older culture.

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Responses

  1. Of course – if we overly ideological Marxists stop using the term “class struggle” then the class struggle will go away!
    (Dances around maypole with enlightened business owners.)

  2. German Work Councils are basically a part of management structure. They are extra costs, but ultimately they’re worth it for bosses and the state. No wonder they are so successful by Andy’s standard.

  3. http://insurgentnotes.com/2010/10/andy-stern/

  4. Who pays for Andy Stern’s health insurance? Is he even vaguely aware that the entire union movement is under threat. What happens when your union gets decertified? Have you had a recent stay in your local community hospital? Ask any mid-level hospital manager or nursing manager and the mantra from senior management is: no union at any cost! Wake the hell up Andy! The s*** has hit the fan and we have entered an “open season” on the social contract.

  5. If only one side is fighting it is better defined as a slaughter, not a conflict.

  6. He’s following the end-logic associated with bureaucracy and mass organization when it has no radical counterweight: conservative policy choices designed to defend the existence of the staff superstructure. There is an internal logic to this described long ago by Robert Michels in his masterwork “Political Parties” (which was a contribution to a larger debate within radical and liberal circles over the new logic of mass organization and bureaucracy 100 years ago). The lack of any kind of radical counterweight to the bureaucracy has created the path of degeneration which, at this point, means pathetic leaders like Stern are less worried about the long-term prospects for their organizations than saving their own skins. Our only hope, really, is that Rosa Luxemburg was correct in her estimation that mass strikes and protests by the rank-and-file, and especially unorganized workers, can sweep away the old party oligarchy and create a new power center of radical action; of course then we have to worry they will fall prey to the same institutional logic over the long run to mitigate their radical demands.


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