July 31st, 2008

Future of the American Labor Movement


ARNE KALLEBERG: Welcome to the 103rd annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, and the first time since 1979 that we have met in Boston. My name is Arne Kalleberg and I am the current
president of the ASA. The theme of the annual meeting is “Worlds of Work”. This is a very timely topic in light of the major changes that are taking place in the economy and society. The role of
unions and labor is central to this theme. Unions have historically played a huge role in giving voice to workers’ needs and the struggle for a just society in the United States. I am delighted that
the four prominent people on the stage have agreed to participate in this opening session. All four are at the cutting edge of thinking, activism, and practice about the ways in which the labor
movement can reverse the decline in union membership in the last several decades by making a comeback that adapts to the new realities of the workplace and the labor market. I would now like to
introduce the presider and moderator of this session, who will introduce the three panelists. Before I do that, let me say that after the panel, you are all invited to an opening reception next door
in Ballroom G. Marshall Gans, to my right, teaches public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He joined Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in 1965. Over the next 16 years, he
gained experience in union, community and political organizing, and became director of organizing. During the 1980s, he worked with grassroots groups to develop effective organizing programs designing
innovative voter mobilization strategies for local, state and national electoral campaigns. He now teaches and writes on leadership, organization, and strategy in social movements, civic associations
and politics at the Kennedy School. Marshall, let me turn it over to you. MARSHALL GANS: Thank you. Can we do anything more about the light? I mean, there is dazzle enough going to come from the panel
that we don’t-- Good evening. Hello? Good evening. All right, thank you. Thanks, Arnie. I want to welcome you all to this panel on The Future of the American Labor Movement. Over the course of the
last 30 years, policy makers, academics, and much of the public have come to see labor unions as a relic of a bygone era, and if anything, part of our problems in education, for example, and not part
of the solution. The consequence to the working people of a weakened labor movement, however, has been catastrophic. Real wage decline, evaporating jobs, longer hours, deteriorating working
conditions. But, union decline is not only a problem for workers. In large measure, the galloping social inequality, dysfunctional electoral system, and persistent weakening of public institutions,
let alone their extension into new domains such as health care, can be traced to the decline of the once-powerful role of labor unions in what John Kenneth Galbraith once described as “a system of
countervailing power.” America’s workers and most of all, those who have never enjoyed union representation, have been our miners’ canaries. When the miners would go down into the mines they
would take a canary because its weak respiratory system meant it would detect the poison in the mines by keeling over, giving the miners time to escape. As the growing crises in health care, home
ownership, the integrity of our public institutions themselves show, there has indeed been poison in the mines for quite awhile, one of the most vulnerable suffered from first, but which is catching
up now to all of us. Tonight’s panel will explore what, if anything, can be done about this. In this election year in which change, hope, and renewal have become abiding campaign themes, what
promise does this hold for labor? Although many expect a Democratic administration to be a great boon for labor, it is also an expectation that has been frequently disappointed in the past. So this is
the question we have to put to our panelists: What do you expect will be the three greatest challenges and the three greatest opportunities for which organized labor must be prepared, as this new
administration comes to office, and given especially the weakened state of labor compared with the past, why should we expect this time to be any different? To respond to this question, we have three
distinguished panelists, and I am going to introduce each of them now and then we will begin. First, to my right, is Steven Greenhouse. Steven has reported on labor and workplace issues for The New
York Times since October 1995, covering everything from the plight of farm workers in Florida and California to transit strike in New York City. He is a native of Massapequa, New York, a 1973 graduate
of Wesleyan University, Connecticut, and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and NYU Law School. He joined the Times in 1983 first as a business reporter, an assignment that located him in Chicago
for two years where he reported on the wave of plant closings across the Midwest at that time. After five years in Europe as the Times’ economic correspondent, a role he continued in Washington, he
is now back in New York, one of the few remaining full-time labor reporters in the country. This past April, Alfred Knopf published his first book, The Big Squeeze, Tough Times for the American
Worker, which we assume is available for sale somewhere here, we hope. His son Jeremy is a student at Tufts here in Boston, and his daughter Emily is a member of Wesleyan’s class of 2008, both of
whom hope to be journalists; he lives with his wife, Miriam Rinehart in Pelham, New York. Please welcome, Steven Greenhouse. Sara Horowitz, our next panelist, founded Working Today in 1995 to
represent the growing workforce of independent workers. With Working Today, she launched the freelancer’s union, an organization now of some 70,000 members seeking to pioneer new forms of unionism
by developing systems so that all working people can access affordable benefits regardless of job arrangements. Sarah grew up in Brooklyn, her father, a labor lawyer, and her grandfather, a vice
president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. We will probably hear more references to that as we go along. Continuing in her family’s tradition, she continued Cornell University’s
School of Industrial Relations, where she was awarded its labor prize, earned a law degree from SUNY Buffalo Law School, and a Master’s Degree from the Kennedy school. Before founding Working Today,
Sara served as a public defender in New York, a labor lawyer, and an organizer for Local 1199, the National Health and Human Service Employees’ Union. In recognition of her creative leadership of
the Freelancer’s Union and Working Today, Sara was an echoing green fellow for four years. The Stern Family Fund named her Public Interest Pioneer, and in 1999, she was awarded the John D. and
Catherine T. MacArthur foundation fellowship. Recently, she was named as one of Esquire magazine’s 50 best and brightest; I guess 50 best and brightest persons or leaders or…okay. She currently
resides with her husband, Peter Dechiara and her daughter, who she told me was born on Samuel Gompers’s birthday, so the tradition goes on. Please welcome, Sara Horowitz. Our third panelist is Bruce
Raynor. Bruce is General President of Unite Here, the union representing nearly half a million workers in the hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile, retail, distribution, food service and laundry
industries in North America. After growing up in New Jersey, Bruce graduated from Cornell’s ILR School as well — certain parallels here — in 1972, and began his career as an organizer with the
Textile Workers Union of America in 1973 where he led numerous southern organizing drives, including the successful J.P. Stevens organizing campaign in the late 1970s. He went on to organize workers
across the south, served as southern director for almost 20 years, and, based on his success combining rank and file organizing with community alliances, he assumed responsibility for the union’s
national organizing program. He was elected Executive Vice President of ACTU, which was the Textile Worker’s Union and became the Amalgamated Clothing Textile Workers Union in 1993, Executive Vice
President of Unite at its founding convention in 1999, Secretary/Treasurer of Unite in 1999, President in 2001, and General President of Unite Here, the amalgam of the clothing workers unions and the
hotel and restaurant employees union, at the union’s founding convention in July 2004. Bruce’s leadership has not been limited to organizing. In addition to negotiating with the various industries
mentioned, he chairs the union’s pension fund, its insurance company, and the amalgamated bank, the only union-owned bank in the United States, with assets of 4.2 billion dollars. As co-chair of the
Counsel of Institutional Investors, an organization of institutional investors that control 3 trillion in pension funds, he is also a leader in corporate governance initiatives. Bruce now serves on
the leadership counsel of the Change to Win Federation that was created by seven unions in 2005 and represents more than 6 million U.S. and Canadian workers. A member of Cornell University’s board
of trustees since 1988. In 1999, he was awarded the ILR award for distinguished alumni. He lives in Nyack, New York with his wife Joan, and they have five children. Please welcome Bruce Raynor. I have
asked each panelist to take 15 to 20 minutes. We will time; we may have further exchanges up here, and then we are going to invite questions and comments from the audience. Steven. STEVEN GREENHOUSE:
Welcome everyone. I am honored to be here. Thanks for that very nice introduction, Marshall. I am honored to be on this panel really, you know, Marshall is one of the great union organizers. He did
amazing things with Cesar Chavez, I think before I was born…but a few years ago…and Sara is really one of the most forward-looking people, smartest people in the nation on labor matters, on work
matters, on how the nation’s workforce needs to adapt to this crazy modern merry-go-round where people are moving from jobs to jobs and employers are decreasingly offering health and pension
benefits, and Bruce is also one of the nation’s best organizers. He is the guy who really probably did as much as anyone to win the JP Stevens organizing drive, and he is one of the most dynamic
labor leaders in the nation nowadays, and also one of the most forward-looking labor leaders. So, I feel, as the labor correspondent for the New York Times, I feel a little like a dinosaur. I guess in
the late 1940s and 1950s, the New York Times used to have 4 or 5 labor reporters at once. Now, we just have one. As far as I can tell, up until last week, nationwide there were just 3 full-time labor
reporters; Steve Franklin of the Chicago Tribune, Chris Mayer of the Wall Street Journal and myself. My good friend Steve Franklin, who is a terrific reporter, called me 2 days ago to say he is taking
the buyout rather than facing more craziness with Sam Zell for the for the Tribune Company. It is a real loss that there are so few labor and workplace reporters in the nation. I welcome more
competition in that field. So, I wrote this little book called The Big Squeeze that really tries to explain what has happened to the nation’s workers over the past 20 years. I try to explain
systematically how globalization and more pressure from Wall Street and immigration, and the decline of unions have made things much tougher for the nation’s workers. I talk about wages stagnating
and benefits getting worse, but one of the main points, and I devote a chapter to this, is that unions are far weaker than they were a generation or two generations ago. In ways, it is hard to
underestimate the degree to which unions have grown weaker. In the private sector, just 7.5% of workers belong to unions; about 1 in 12. That is about one-fifth the level from the 1950s when unions
represented more than 35% of the private sector workforce. As Marshall said, and as Galbraith said, they were a real countervailing power. They pressured employers to be more generous. The pressured
managers to treat workers better. It is sad that unions are so much weaker because that has really given corporate America a greater ability to squeeze workers on wages, to treat them more harshly.
Other indicia of how unions have grown weaker: the great United Auto Workers once had 1.5 million members; now it has just 500,000 members. Six states in the nation now have more than half the
nation’s union members, the other 44 have less than half. California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, they have half the nation’s union members. Once upon a time, Walter
Ruther and John L. Lewis were household names in the nation, just like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are household names now. I don’t think any labor leader for the past 10 or 20 or 30 years,
probably nobody since James R. Hoffa in the fifties, has really been a household name. So unions, unfortunately, are much weaker than they had been. So, Marshall posed the question to us, what are the
3 biggest challenges facing unions and what are the 3 biggest opportunities? I cheated, I have 4 challenges, you’ll excuse me. One, I think undeniably the biggest challenge facing unions, is
vehement corporate opposition to unions. I lift the front section of today’s New York Times. There is a full-page ad in today’s paper by a corporate group with a closed factory gate and saying,
“Do you really want unions? Unions will just be more closed factories, as in the steel industry, and the auto industry and the rubber industry.” So, there is huge corporate opposition to unions.
According to opinion polls, 53% of non-managerial and non-union workers say they would vote to join a union tomorrow if they could, which would seem like a great opportunity for labor unions. Yet,
even though a majority of people say they would want to join a union, the number of people in unions in the United States has remained stuck under 16 million for the last 30 or 40 years. It has really
been pretty stagnant, and the main reason for that is employers fight so hard against unions. Yes, today’s workers are more individualistic, more entrepreneurial than they used to be, and they feel
less in the matter of solidarity than workers did in the 1930s when everyone was singing ‘solidarity forever’. The main thing stopping more workers from going into unions is that employers are
fighting tooth and nail against them. Kate Bronfenbrenner of the great school Cornell did a study a few years ago that found that 75% of companies facing organizing drives hired anti-union
consultants; 92% forced employees to attend meetings to hear anti-union propaganda, while 70% required workers to attend one-on-one meetings in which managers force-fed them the company’s anti-union
message. The study found that 51% of companies threatened to close plants if unions won the organizing drive, yet just 1% actually closed the plants when the unions won the organizing drive. John
Dunlop of Harvard University, the late, great John Dunlop, who headed a presidential commission a decade ago, found that union supporters were retaliated against in 1 in 4 union elections, so one big
reason it is hard for unions to unionize pro-union workers is that a lot of workers are just scared to stick their neck out. Another statistic is that in organizing drives, 1 in 18 union supporters
are somehow victimized by being fired, demoted or moved to a worse shift. The Dunlop commission found that 79% of Americans believe that it is very or somewhat likely that non-union workers will get
fired if they try to organize a union. That is an astounding number, 79%. In my book, I write about a nursing home aide in Florida who is part of an organizing drive with Bruce’s union on the
service employees union. She led an organizing drive at her nursing home in North Miami. Management did crazy things to try to stop the union. It held fake negotiating sessions where it had the pseudo
union leaders/union bargainers agreeing to reduce wages all the way down to the minimum wage to show how stupid union leaders are. This worker I focus on, Marie Sylvan, says to the managers, “If you
think unions are so bad for the workers, if unions are as bad for the workers as you pretend, then why are you even fighting against the union? You should welcome it.” Marie, an immigrant from
Haiti, a very, very passionate woman, led the push for unionization. The day after the unionization vote, she left for a vacation to visit her mother in Haiti. She comes back a week later and she
discovers, to her great chagrin, that the union lost the fight and secondly, she discovered that her name had been taken off the work roster. It turns out she had been fired. The union spent tens of
thousands of dollars and 4½ years before Marie got her job back at the nursing home. Of course, during that 4½ years, the workers had the ‘bejesus’ scared out of them because the woman who was
courageous enough to support a union had been fired. Once she was fired, the other workers were really too scared to support a union. The fact that it took 4½ years for justice to be served, for
Marie to be reinstated, shows how hard it is for unions when corporations are really fighting tooth and nail. I also write about another nurseling home worker, another rank and file leader, who headed
a unionization drive in Florida, Ernst Duval. He was fired and it took 6 years for the courts to find that he had been fired illegally. In Marie’s case, the courts had found that she had been fired
on trumped up charges; management had said that she had not filed the requisite vacation slip before going on vacation and the courts basically concluded that management was lying. For Ernst Duval,
they said he had choked a nurse and the courts again found that was just a fabricated story to get him fired. So, it took 6 years to get him reinstated and the NLRB ordered the nursing home to pay
just $1,757 in back wages for the 6 years of lost pay for Earnst Duval, and Duval told me that is not a real penalty. The law is supposed to discourage people from breaking the law, but when it comes
to companies fighting unionization efforts, the law really just slaps employers on the wrist. A second big challenge that unions face in trying to turn things around is globalization. Globalization
really empowers management in many ways. Management can tell workers if you unionize, that will just increase the chances that we are going to send your job abroad. I think that is one reason why in
manufacturing today, the United Steelworkers, the United Autoworkers, great unions with very smart leaders and very smart organizers, are having a hard time organizing people in manufacturing. Just a
lot of manufacturing workers are scared of supporting a union. They worry that it is going to accelerate the loss of their jobs. Globalization both for white-collar workers and for blue-collar
workers, is a real, in ways, disincentive to unionize. The nation has lost 1 in 5 manufacturing jobs since 2000, 3.7 manufacturing jobs, and estimates are that anywhere from 10 to 42 million
white-collar jobs are vulnerable to off-shoring. I think that a lot of workers, as a result of globalization, are thinking twice about supporting a union because they worry that, as a result of
globalization, off shoring and outsourcing, if they vote for a union then their jobs might go overseas. A third challenge the unions face is the nation’s young workers. There are 47 million workers
in the United States under age 35. That is about one-third of the workforce. In theory, these people should be a great opportunity for unions because a lot of them like to challenge the boss, so to
speak. You know, entry-level wages for young workers are lower now than they were in 2000, so in a way, things are getting worse for young workers. For the first time in history, polls show young
workers saying that they think that their generation will have it worse than their parents’ generation. Only one-third of young people with just high school diplomas get health insurance in their
entry-level jobs, and that is down from two-thirds a generation ago. A study sponsored by the Pew folks found that for males today in their thirties, they earn 12% less than their father’s
generation did when their fathers were in their thirties, so in many ways things are getting worse for young workers. In ways, this should be an opportunity for unions but I say it is a challenge
because unions just really aren’t relating very well to young workers. Most union leaders are white males in their sixties and even their seventies, and they don’t talk in a vocabulary and they
often don’t talk about issues that young workers relate to. I often think that every union should start a youth section, you know, led by people under 35, and have people out there, up front talking
to young workers. Unions need to do more of what Sara’s organization, the Freelancer’s union is doing. Unions have to figure out how to do a better job relating to this very mobile workforce and
how to provide wages, how to provide health and pension benefits to people who are changing jobs more frequently in a labor market where employers are providing health and pension benefits less and
less. Sara will talk about that, I’m sure at length, later. A fourth big challenge for the nation’s labor unions I submit is a lack of energy, a lack of vision and often, a lack of accountability
for the nation’s labor leaders. Unfortunately, a lot of union leaders, they pay lip service to organizing, but for a decade we have found how more and more union leaders are going to do more and
more organizing, but we are really not seeing many leaders doing it. We are seeing Bruce’s union doing it, we are seeing the service employers doing it, we are seeing ASME and the American
Federation of Teachers do a lot more organizing, but when you look closely, a lot of unions say they are stepping up to the plate, and they’re not. One reason is that it’s hard to unionize people.
You face this terrible opposition by companies. You spend a lot of money. You use a lot of your organizers. And then there is a good chance you are going to lose. So, it takes courage, it takes
passion, it takes audacity to try to organize and unfortunately, a lot of union leaders just ‘say don’t even try.’ I have written a lot about Wal-Mart and how, in many ways, Wal-Mart does not
treat its workers very well. I have a whole chapter about that in my book about Wal-Mart locking in its workers at night and Wal-Mart making people work off the clock, and Wal-Mart not letting
cashiers go to the bathroom and having them soil themselves. I criticize Wal-Mart a good bit, but in preparing for tonight’s talk I was thinking that we also should criticize the labor unions that
should have organized the Wal-Marts and the Targets and the Toys-R-Us because unfortunately, the union with exclusive jurisdictions who unionize those workers has done virtually nothing over the past
20 or 30 years to unionize non-supermarket retail workers. It’s sad. It’s tragic. One of the problems is that the AFLCIO when the UFCW was in the AFLCIO wasn’t going to pressure the United Food
and Commercial Workers to step up to the plate there because that’s not how things work. Everything ‘siloed’ and everyone can do what they want. What the labor movement needs, and what workers
need, is more accountability for union leaders. A lot of union leaders are just happy to get elected. I don’t want to sound like Richard Burman of the Center for Union Facts, but a lot of them are
happy to get elected, try to bargain good contracts for the people, and that’s important, that’s what they are elected to do, but they forget that another role of the labor movement is to go out
and help nonunion workers. So, how to create more accountability is a very tough question, and I’ll address that more in a second. You know, a few other problems that the nation’s labor movement
faces is that not enough labor leaders are really good public leaders. They might be fine speaking in a union hall to their audiences, but not enough really have the charisma, have the broad vision to
really speak to broader audiences. I think it is unfortunate that labor leaders by and large are ignored by the nation’s media, and that is partly because the news media is somewhat
corporate-controlled and they don’t care much about labor issues, but it is also partly because there are very few union leaders out there, and I think of Bruce, Randy Weingarten and Terry
O’Sullivan and Andy Stern, and not many others, that anyone would want to put a TV camera in front of to interview. One thing the union movement really needs to do is train people to speak to the
media. I don’t want to overemphasize the role of the media, but hey, we’re very important. If you want to get your message out in this day and age, you’ve got to be able to use us. You have to
be able to speak on Fox. Another problem with labor leaders is that many of them rise through the organization as kind of ‘yes men’ for the union president. To go along, you have to get along.
Once people get to the top, they’re really not great visionaries, great thinkers, they are good bureaucratic people. I think that something needs to be done to shake up the way unions work because
too often, it’s too easy for union leaders just to be half way lazy. Sometimes I think there should be term limits for union leaders, maybe 8 years; 8 years is a long time. Maybe, there would be
exception for term limits if the union leader could show that he/she has expanded the size of the union by 10%, 20%, 30%. I could imagine one of the labor federations the AFLCIO with their Change to
Win creating term requirements with some ‘carrots’ to lift the term limits if you do more organizing. I think another important thing is that both the AFLCIO and Change to Win should have a firm
requirement that any union in either federation has to spend at least 25% of its budget on organizing and if it doesn’t, then it gets expelled from the federation. I think, you know, accountability
is important. Union leaders, unfortunately, and someone was saying like congressional leaders and like business leaders, often think it is about them. It is important for union leaders to really think
about helping workers, and not just their members, but all of the nation’s workers. I am at 15 minutes and I have to start discussing opportunities. So, one of the big opportunities for unions is
the title of my book, The Big Squeeze. Things are really tough for the nation’s workers, and I think that tens of millions of workers are really ripe for labor’s message because they are feeling
so beaten up economically. As I describe in chapter in verse in my book, wages have been absolutely flat for the average worker since the latest economic recovery began in November 2001. Median
household income since 2000 is down $2375 for the typical working age household. That’s a startling figure. We have gone through an economic recovery during which corporate profits have nearly
doubled, during which employee productivity has risen nearly 20%, yet median household income is down during that time. One reason for that is increased economic inequality. The people up top are
doing very well. Many surveys show congressional budget office shows that the top 1% of households earns more than the bottom 40% of households after tax. Another part of the squeeze is that health
benefits are getting worse for many workers. Nine million more Americans are without health insurance now than was the case in 2000, even though we had basically been going through an economic
recovery since 2001; things have gotten worse the past few months. Health premiums for the average worker, health premiums for family coverage for the average worker, are up in the past 7 years,
$1656. Out-of-pocket expenses for family coverage are up nearly $1700, while wages have been flat. I ponder that and what type of strains that creates for workers. One more statistic: Companies with
more than 100 workers: in 1980, 84% of those workers had good traditional pensions that provided you a monthly stipend for life after retirement. Now, only 33% of workers at those companies do. So, we
are seeing this terrible squeeze on wages, on benefits, people are being pushed to work harder and harder. The typical middle-class household, husband and spouse together are working 540 hours more,
13½ more weeks a year than was the case a generation ago. Wages are flat, benefits are getting worse, and people are working harder. In my book, I write about — partly because of the lack of
countervailing power by unions — more and more companies are breaking the law in dealing with workers. Unfortunately, there was a cornucopia of examples to write about in my book, companies that
shave hours from people’s time cards, companies that don’t pay worker’s compensation, companies that fire people when they get injured and file for worker’s comp. The amount of law-breaking by
companies was actually pretty astonishing. When we talk about the sundering of the social contract, I think that’s another way the contract has been sundered. Last thing: I think a lot of companies
are also showing a huge lack of respect to their workers. I write about one example where on “take your daughters to work day” a computer engineer brought in his 8½-year-old daughter and on that
very day, he got a notice saying he was being fired. Northwest airlines gave out a booklet to lay off workers supposedly to help them make ends meet. The booklet was called 101 Ways to Save Money.
But, the booklet added insult to injury by including such tips as borrow a dress for a big night out, shop at auctions or pawn shops for jewelry, and don’t be shy about pulling something you like
out of the trash. So, I think this big squeeze really makes workers very, very ripe for labors message and unions have a good message to sell. Wages and benefits taken together unionized workers
generally earned a total compensation of 28% more than for non-union workers. African American union members earn 35% more than non-union African American workers. Unionized Hispanics earn 51% more
than non-union Hispanics. Unionized women earn 33% more than non-union women. So, I think the opportunity is there. Workers are ready to hear unions message, but the question is, ‘how good a job are
unions doing in getting that message out?’ Yes, it’s true that when workers are feeling scared, when unemployment is rising, many workers are scared of sticking their neck out, so the squeeze cuts
both ways. I think people are frustrated and pissed off. They want unions, but they’re often scared to stick their necks out to support them. Another big opportunity for unions is of course, if
Democrats win in November. I think if Obama wins, there is a real opportunity to spark a broader social justice and economic justice movement, some on akin to the civil rights movement of the fifties
and sixties. If Obama and his supporters really create this social justice/economic justice movement, I think that could really help jumpstart the labor movement and create new enthusiasm for unions.
I suspect if Obama is elected, and if the democrats go up to 57, 58 or 59 seats in the senate, maybe they will be able to enact the employee free choice act, which I’m sure Bruce will talk about
later. In a nutshell, this act would make it much easier for unions to organize workers. Right now, under current law, corporations have the right to insist on an election to determine whether workers
can unionize. The employee free choice act would give unions and workers the right to insist on majority sign up. As soon as the majority of workers sign cards saying they want a union, they have a
union. With elections, it is often very hard for unions to win because management often spends millions of dollars and uses consultants and fires workers, so I believe if the employee free choice act
were enacted it could really lead to enable unions to quickly increase their membership by 1, 2 or 3 million, some people even say 5 million over the next few years. Last point, I think another huge
opportunity for the nation’s labor unions is the huge number of low-wage workers in the United States. There are 33 million workers in the United States making less than $10/hour; 33 million is more
than twice the size of today’s labor movement. I am talking about pharmacy workers, childcare workers, hospital workers, nursing home workers, many truck drivers earn less than $10/hour, retail
clerks, cashiers, stockers, warehouse workers, home health workers, teachers’ aids, janitors, security guards, fast food workers, workers at muffler places and Pep Boys. You know, all these workers
could benefit tremendously if they were unionized. Many of these workers do not have health benefits. Many do not have pension benefits. Many do not have 401Ks. These are the workers who I think would
be most attracted to unions and unions have to really, again, step up and figure out how are they going to unionize these people. Again, Bruce’s union and I here he has done a terrific job
organizing hotel workers and industrial laundry workers, but there are tens of millions of other low-wage workers who I think would be ripe for unionization. All of these job…none of these jobs I
mentioned can really be shipped overseas, so that also makes it easier to unionize them. The workers won’t be so scared that, hey, if I join a union they’ll ship my job overseas. In my chapter on
unionization, I focus on what I think was the best model organizing drive in the nation the past 20 or 30 years, and that was the service employees drive to organize 5,300 janitors in Houston. I think
in ways, that was an amazing organizing drive because when you consider who was organized, these were low-wage workers, virtually all of them were immigrants, hardly any of them spoke English, they
all work part-time just 20 hours per week, and anyone who organizes knows that it is very hard to organize part-time people. They all work for subcontractors and again, it’s very hard to organize
people who work for subcontractors. This was in a state, Texas, that is one of the most anti-union states in the nation. Plus, the service employees did this in a city where they didn’t even have an
office or staff. The service employees’ office in Chicago flew in hundreds of people to help organize. I focused on a person named Urselia Sandoval, (sp) a refugee from El Salvador, who after 10
years of working as a janitor in a luxury office building in Houston was still earning just $5.25/hour. She was at a church service one morning and the service employees had some organizers there, and
they explained how that in an organizing drive in northern New Jersey, they were able to double the wages in a 4-year period. Urselia, she was on, you know, she was involved in the unionization
campaign. The SEIU did a lot of ingenious things to succeed in this organizing drive, and if I had another 10 minutes, I would explain that. Read my book, it explains it. So, the unionization drive
succeeded. You know, they got 5300 janitors to join the union, and as a result of the unionization contract and drive, the workers’ wages increased 60% in a 3-year period, their hours increased from
20 hours to 30 hours per week, so a 50% – 60% raise in wages, 50% raise in hours, and their wages more than doubled over a 3-year period, plus, best of all, they got health insurance. So, I focus on
that example to show that when a union is smart and aggressive and do things right, they can really do wonderful things for the workers who need unions most, i.e. low-wage workers. Thank you very
much. SARA HOROWITZ: OK Todd, you ready? Thank you. One of the major problems is that we are facing an outdated safety net. If you think about the economy that we often think of when we look at the
structures of the New Deal, is one where we assume that there is long-term employment, that people are going to work for one job, they are going to have one employer, one job and be a full-time
employee. The biggest assumption is long-term work, and if you look at the red square, what you see is that we made an assumption that with that job and being an employee, you would have health
insurance, a pension, training, the right to unionize, career ladder, unemployment insurance, workplace protection laws. If I asked you great sociologists what is the thing that makes up that box,
it’s the New Deal, and essentially we created the New Deal in the 1930s but we said there are going to be two conditions for the people who will get it; they must have a job, a full-time job and
they must be full-time employees. But now, think about the way that we work. Think about the 50% of the sociologists who, I assume are adjuncts. We are now in a new economy where there is short-term
employment, a flexible workforce, a completely outdated safety net. When we go from work, it’s not one place, it’s from project to project, assignment to assignment, adjunct gig to adjunct gig.
We’re independent contractors. I would like to say the difference between a freelancer and a consultant is 20 years. Self-employed, or people are employees and they are short-term employees as
part-timers or temps, and that’s where we really are seeing that, especially in the working community, that’s what’s making up the 43 or 46 million Americans without health insurance. It’s now
a third of the workforce; 18% are part-time, 10% are self-employed or independent contractors, and 2+% are temps. What we see is that we can’t just unionize in a traditional sense of being in one
place because we are working in many places. We don’t have one boss, we have many bosses. So, what we need is to think about a mobile membership, something that stays with the worker as the worker
goes from project to project and job to job. The freelancers was founded with that as the context, and the idea is that the membership stays around the individual, and the individual joins together
with other workers to group together for collectively bargained health insurance, pensions, the right to come together and talk about common issues of the kind of work that you do, exchange jobs,
gigs; surprisingly, bartering is huge, events. And just recently we formed our first pack in New York state, and we are in the process of forming a federal pack nationally, and we are starting to
bring together a community of workers who aren’t just coming together to buy health insurance, but to recognize that they are part of this next workforce and that people need to join together to
have power in the market and have power in politics. We actually are just on the verge of having 80,000 members nationally and 19,000 receive benefits from us. We generate our own revenue and so, as I
think Marshall would appreciate, we like to say that the revolution will not be foundation-funded, and the top states for our membership are New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania,
Connecticut, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, so clearly we are everywhere. To get our benefits, we focus on sectors where people — it is very much like the building trades or the
entertainment unions — where we look to build the community of interest of people by the number of hours or the earnings in a particular area. And, we focus on arts, design, entertainment, domestic
childcare, financial services, media advertising, non-profits, skilled computer users, technology, traditional or alternative health care. I just like this hub because it looks like the Jetsons, but
the idea, which is then going to lead me into the three opportunities and three challenges part of this discussion, is to recognize that this is a hub, that people join together in the freelancer’s
union and can decide whether it’s the health insurance, education or events, participating in the advocacy. Surprisingly, because we focus so much on using the internet, people can segment
themselves into the things that they want to work on, and as many people sign up for benefits as do for advocacy. So, what are the opportunities, then? The significant thing and Todd, I’m sorry, I
want to go back to that last slide, is the freelancer’s union operates as a civil society hub. What that means is that we are able to participate in the economy by bringing people together to
provide the things that we need; the community, coming together for the benefits, talking about the changes and the evolution of the laws that were written for a 1930s workforce. So, the opportunity
is that the internet and other kinds of technology enable us to bring people together who are working all over the place, to find ways to come together, not just online but in their cities and in
their communities to talk to their elected officials, to join together and create teams and cooperatives and places that they can work together. The opportunity is to be this kind of civil society hub
where the unions start providing the benefits and other things. The challenge is to think that the only solution is going to be that the government is going to provide it. I think that if we think
about one of the things that I think is a challenge, we have — call us the “do-gooders at large” — I think inadvertently internalized the message of Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan made it clear
that he believed, and those who agree with him, that the role of government is going to be very, very small, and that the smaller, the better. As the advocacy era sort of about 1980 through 2000 and
whatever, people started really thinking that we have to just focus on the people who need it most: low-wage workers, the truly poor, the bottom 20%. And so, what we have started to do is started to
inadvertently agree that there’s a really limited role of government, that we should be focusing on the people who are the most vulnerable. Really, what I think we need to be doing is saying, we
have to be thinking about our whole society. This is the democracy that we’re in. Steven read through so many of the statistics talking about the big squeeze, but really, what is happening? The lack
of health insurance is happening across the board in America. The savings for retirement is getting dismal. Independent contractors aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance, they have no right to
unionize. This is something that is about our society across the board. So, I think when we start talking about what’s the role of government, the role of government has to be to support the
institutions like unions to be able to represent their members in a democracy, and to have tools that they can use to organize this workforce. If we keep thinking that the role for the union movement
is to just be a good placeholder until government can get there, then I think inadvertently that we are buying into Ronald Reagan’s world view. I think we have to start realizing that’s the
challenge is that we’ve really become a society that’s incredibly individualized. So, when we now listen to a lot of the policy debates in Washington on both the right and the left, if you close
your eyes whether you’re listening to the left or the right, what you start hearing is the individual should be relating to the insurance companies. We’re going to have a system where the health
insurance companies will have individual mandates. The individuals will go to a website, call it the “connector,” and that individual has to make decisions about what kind of health insurance,
what kind of pension, what they’re entitled to. If you had a civil society hub, you would then call that a union. Let’s say a person had a problem with their health insurance, that person has to
call 1-800-customer service of the insurance industry and I don’t even need to tell you what happens there. But, when you start having a union and somebody calls up, well now you have many people.
The union is a very large customer of this insurance company. They can call the head of customer service. What if there are 10 Mary Joe’s and it turns out there’s a trend, well then they can see
that there’s a bigger problem than one person. What if they can start talking about this larger trend about what’s happening across the board in the industry? You can start seeing that there’s
some value in having a group. You know, you don’t have to be in love with the trade union movement to know that you do better when you’re in a group, there’s strength in numbers, than when
you’re on your own. What we’re doing by accepting this world view of individualization is inadvertently, we’re saying that’s okay, just let Mary Joe just call 1-800 insurance because that’s
the deal we struck, but I don’t think that’s good enough. But, I think by the same token, we’re doing the same thing on the left where we’re saying we’re gonna just have the government
decide and we’re gonna have the individual relating to government. You only have to ask a person on welfare whether they like that. I think what we could be doing is thinking about the economy as
getting so much more decentralized; there’s no reason to think that the union movement isn’t or shouldn’t be decentralized as well. By that, I mean grassroots oriented, community-based, but
coordinated so that you can have national initiatives. If you have that, then instead of just having the individual to the government, you could go back to the traditions of America, of de
Tocqueville, of looking at the great labor movement before necessarily the New Deal, and looking at ways that we can innovate, and we can create these institutions. You know, Unite Here has created,
and Bruce will tell you about their work in housing, but you know their great leader, Sydney Hillman pioneered the housing movement. The built the hospitals. They built the medical centers. The first
pensions. These were all brought to you by the labor movement. The labor leaders were the great innovators of their day. When you looked at the leaders form World War I to World War II, they towered
over their business counterparts in the things that they created. We should go back to a time where we’re bringing that creativity together to create the institutions that the workers control, and
the workers run so that the unions can build a way for workers to control what’s happening in their democracy. That’s why I think you can look at the problems of the lack of health insurance and
pensions, because when you have a private sector unionized workforce of lower than 8%, the difference between 8% and nothing is really not very much. So, I actually come here being incredibly
optimistic. I think that we’re at a time where our growth has just been extraordinary because we don’t do it the way that we were told you have to do it in the 1930s. By enabling people to come
together and choosing what it is they want to do, to then come together, build power in the market or in politics for the things they want, is a way for people to control their lives and really start
talking about how to make the democracy fair. So let me just say that the last piece is the antidote, I think to this internalization of Ronald Reagan is to recognize that we as human beings have many
identities. We have many ways of saying who we are and what we are, we don’t have to pick the top one and only identify with one. We’re in a time of great choice, but in that choice we have the
tools and the means to come together. People are yearning to find a way to come together and not just to say and talk some big talk about community, but to come together and be interconnected, start
joining together, mobilizing and talking about what will make this a fair country, and to say it’s not okay to have 1% that’s controlling the resources of this country. It’s not just the labor
movement for workers, this is about the environment, this is about the way that we’re relating to workers across the world. This is a time that we really can do something different and we can really
succeed, and that’s very much the spirit that we are building, the freelancers union, and I encourage all you sociologists, especially you adjuncts, to come to our website and join tonight. Thank
you. BRUCE RAYNOR: Good evening. It’s an honor and a privilege for me and the nearly half a million hard working men and women my union represents to be in a panel with such distinguished friends,
Steve and Sara, and our moderator, Marshall Gans who is one of the great organizers of our generation. I would also like to thank the American Sociological Association for putting this subject on the
agenda for the meeting, because this, to me, this is one of the great questions facing the future of our country, not just the future of labor unions but the future of America and American workers. By
the way, if you would like, while you’re here in Boston, to get a sense of our union and some of the things we’re doing, you can stay indoors and do it because we’re in the middle of a fight at
the convention center that you’re meeting in, and you’ll find that you won’t be able to get certain things there, which is good, because we struck them a few weeks ago for the radical notion
that really would shake the foundations of American capitalism, it’s health insurance for the workers who work at the convention center because they had the audacity to walk through these halls that
connect with the hotels. In the hotels, all the workers have health care for them and their families, and it’s arguing its contention that the workers who work in that convention center are going to
have health care for them and their families, and we’re gonna make sure it happens. Now, we are at a unique moment in our history where I think, and believe and hope that we are about to elect an
African-American with a funny name, President of the United States of America and send Bush back to retirement. But the amazing thing about this election, and there are many things that you could
reflect on, and I am not going to, but the amazing thing about this election is that people see it as the issue of change. Electing a new president would be dramatic change in America. Our union is
working very hard for that. I believe it’s extremely important for the future of our country and the lives of American workers and American people. But that alone, in many ways, will not solve the
most fundamental problems facing our society. We have a society that is fraught with income inequality. We have a society that I am going to talk about that has concentrated the wealth in the hands of
a few, and that’s not going to change by the simple event of electing a president. It will help, and it will help dramatically, but much has to be done. One of the fundamental things that a
democratic society needs, I believe, is a strong labor movement. That labor movement will not be made strong by electing Barack Obama President. That will help, but the labor movement will be made
strong by the actions of, as Steve Greenhouse says, union leaders and hundreds of thousands of union members, and people in society and the academic community and policy communities that are going to
make a decision to break from the past and do something about the power of workers in society. From the end of the depression, which really ended in World War II, to 1973, a social contract developed
in America. And America had its period of tremendous economic growth, and the growth of the great American middle class. Unions grew to 35% of the workforce and we created some amazing institutions.
We defined benefit pensions for millions of retired Americans. We solidified a Social Security system. We created health care for the workers and their families as a matter of something you got by
working on the job. We created paid vacations. We created a society where auto workers could actually take vacations and afford to take vacations and send their children to college. We created a
society where garment workers’ sons and daughters are now sociology professors. AUDIENCE MEMBER: THAT’S ME! BRUCE RAYNOR: Well, thank God for ya and your parents who did it. We created a society
where America grew because the middle class grew and the wealthy grew wealthy, but we had tremendous income improvement and the growth of a giant middle class in society. Even anti-unionism was a
different form of anti-unionism. When I graduated college in 1973, the anti-union employers were Kodak and IBM. To be an anti-union employer, you paid high wages, you paid high benefits, and you went
out of your way to treat workers well so that the unions couldn’t organize them. When the youngest of my 5 children will graduate college in 4 years, God willing, she will graduate to a society
where anti-union employers pay poverty-level wages, provide no benefits, fire people at will, and could care less what they think about the company. We went through a period from 1973 to 2008 when
productivity improvements didn’t go to workers. From 1947 to 1973, productivity increased 104% for American workers in that period of time. Wages in that period of time increased 104%. Productivity
has increased since 1973 to 2008 67%, and wages of men in America are flat with what they were in 1973; they have received no wage increases. Only the top 10% of family incomes have grown in America
in the last 30 years. We live in the richest society in the history of mankind and today, and today 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Moms and dads have to make a decision today as too
whether they take their child to the doctor or put gas in their car to go to work or food on their tables; a decision that no American should have to make. We live in a society where 18,000 people
last year died of preventable diseases. With the most modern and advanced medical system in the world, 18,000 people died deaths that could have been prevented because of lack of health insurance in
our society and 8.7 million of the 47 million are children without health insurance, despite the fact that we pass laws in a lot of states to give children health care. We live in a society where the
top 1% has the same wealth as the bottom 90% of society. We live in a society where the richest 300,000 live like pharaohs; the pharaohs would blush at the lifestyles of the rich and famous in
America. The 300,000 richest in America have the same wealth as the bottom 150 million in the richest country in the history of mankind. We live in a society where today, 30 million people went to
work at full-time jobs and will live in poverty working full time; 30 million in our society. In fact, we live in a society, the richest society in the history of mankind, and 37 million people live
in poverty. Since we started this panel tonight, a child was born into poverty every 36 seconds since we started this panel tonight. What does that mean? That means a child has little chance of
winding up in college. That means that child has little chance of winding up in one of your classrooms. That means that child has little chance of enjoying the benefits that the American modern
society, world society has to offer them. We live in a society where the income gap between the rich and the poor gets larger and larger every year. Ironically, when I graduated college that was the
situation in the South. Now, the 4 states with the most unequal income in America, the most unequal income in all 50 states, is New York, followed by the great states of Alabama and Mississippi, and
then followed by Massachusetts, the state we’re meeting in. In 1965, we passed a civil rights act in America and said that we did away with Jim Crow legislation and we created the atmosphere for
racial equality in America, 43 years ago. And today, there are 680,000 young black men in prison and 550,000 young black men in all the nation’s colleges combined. We spend 2 billion dollars to
educate those 550,000 black men and we spend 10 billion dollars to lock up 680,000 of them; something’s God damn wrong in this country. We created…we created a society where the corporations have
achieved all the power. We created a society that is returning to making a retirement a time of uncertainty and potential poverty, and people having to face after a lifetime of work whether they have
a secure retirement to go to. Today, 1 in 5 Americans has a defined benefit pension plan; half of what it was 30 years ago. Today, we have a social security system that some politicians say we can’t
sustain and yet, it gives a person an average of $1,000 a month to live in their retirement. How outrageous that we could think that anyone could live on $1,000 a month. What causes this tremendous
income inequality, it has been the decline of organized labor. We represent 12% of the workforce and 7.5% of the private sector. Why do we represent a minority of those workers? Steve Greenhouse made
some pointed criticisms of labor leaders and unions in this country, and I would agree that some of the fault for the 7½ % and the 12% of workers in unions lies with the leaders, organizers and the
people that make up the labor movement. It would be foolish to believe otherwise. But, much of it lies with the system on which we work. The fact of the matter is that the American workers no longer
have the right to organize. We lost that right in the 1970s. Let me give you an example of a company and a campaign for those of you who think that it’s rhetoric that workers don’t have the right
to organize in this company. The largest Hispanic-owned company in America is this Goya Foods. You can pick up their foods in your local supermarket. Well, in 1998, workers at Goya Foods’ warehouses
and truck facilities in Florida has the audacity to think that they could organize a union. My union had the idealism to believe that if we played by the rules, those workers could get a union. So, we
petitioned the labor relations board and the government came in and held an election. They scared the workers. They had meetings, they threatened them, and they fired 4 of them, and the workers won
their elections anyway, 2 units; the workers won their election. That was 1998. Unfortunately, the law failed those Goya workers. Not only after the company conducted a vicious campaign, did they
threaten, intimidate and then fire workers, but after the union won, they continued to fire workers. We have filed legal cases, and it took us 2 years to win the first case, and then we finally won in
August 2006, that’s 2 years ago, we won before the eleventh circuit court of appeals, which ordered the company to sit down and bargain with the union. That’s 8 years after the election. What’s
happened to those workers? Every worker who was fired is still fired. Not one of them has ever been back to work or collected a day’s back pay. When the eleventh circuit court of appeals ordered the
company to bargain with the union, you’d think that the circuit court order means someone has to do something. They have never sat and bargained one day since 1998. Yesterday, the NLRB issued a
decision giving the union another victory. We have won 11 NLRB and court decisions; 11-0. Those workers still do not have a union. Not only don’t they have a union, they never sat down and
bargained, and the workers who were fired remain fired. That is not an aberration, that is what the American labor law provides for workers to organize unions. So, we have had to figure out how to
organize workers outside of the American labor law. We have done that by running organizing campaigns where we pressure employers to recognize the rights of the workers and the majority of those
workers join a union just like if a majority decide to join the American Sociological Association; they don’t have to have a fight to get in. They can simply sign a card and join. We believe that
American workers ought to have that same right to join unions. In this city of Boston, is a good example. A housekeeper in the hotel that you’re staying in, and let me tell you 2 things about these
hotels, the hardest job in these hotels is the housekeeper, and we have a collective bargaining agreement that I’m proud to say that we negotiated for the city of Boston last year that pays those
housekeepers $15.23 an hour for being housekeepers in those hotels. Now, that’s pretty good, but our contract permits tipping, so I would strongly urge you if you are satisfied with the way those
ladies clean your room up that you add that tip because $15.23 doesn’t make anybody rich but it begins the process of giving that worker a living wage. If you go to the Marriott, which I believe is
the hotel we’re in, here the worker cleaning up rooms makes $15.23 at the Marriott, but go the Marriott in Dallas, a city with no union hotels, and the lady cleaning up that same room with the same
furniture and even the instructions to clean it are identical, she makes $7 an hour. The worker cleaning up your room in the city of Boston is a member of our local 26 and has health care for her and
her family. In last year’s contract they won back, which they had lost, a defined benefit pension plan. So, if she works her life, she will retire with a decent pension. Now, we’re not getting
rich and we’re not satisfied. We also have negotiated from the hotel industry in Boston that a housing program where our members get, if they buy a home, they have to be in the hotel industry in the
union so many years, but if they buy a home they actually get $10,000 from the housing fund that we created to buy down the payments that they have to make when they buy that home. These workers and
the union are struggling to make those workers middle class, but the fact of the matter is that only half of the hotel workers in the city of Boston are in the union. Not because the other half
don’t want to be in the union, but because these hotels can crush workers’ right to organize unless we find ways to push the company and force them to recognize a union. So, the fact of the matter
is that we as a union, what Steve said about what unions have to spend as a matter of policy, spend 20% of their budgets on organizing. I agree with that. In Unite Here, we spend 55% of our budget on
organizing. We spend it on large-scale campaigns such as Hotel Workers Rising to organize hotel workers across the country or in the laundry industry where, in 1998 we started a drive to organize
America’s laundry workers. You can’t export laundry. If you are gonna sleep in Boston, you gotta have a hotel room in Boston and you can’t ship the laundry to China to be washed. If they could,
they would. The fact of the matter is that from 1998 to 2008, we have organized over 50,000 industrial laundry workers in America, about half of the industrial laundry workers in this country. We are
conducting a pitch battle against a miserable corporation called the Cintas company, a $3.5 billion dollar company that has created safety and health conditions that have cost the lives of dozens of
Cintas workers. In 2007, it was more dangerous in America to work in a laundry wash alley, more people died in laundry wash alleys percentage-wise then died in coal mines in this country. Cintas
corporation, the largest uniform laundry in America, has been doing a pitch battle with our union now for 5 years. We will organize that company come hell or high water because we won’t give up as
we didn’t in the JP Stevens fight or the Frontier Casino fight. But, the fact of the matter is what we have done in the laundry industry shows what unions can do in American society. That remains a
fairly low-wage job, but among the 50,000 laundry workers, 90% of them have defined benefit pension plans. All of them have health care for themselves, and our standard for laundry workers, because
it’s a low-wage industry, we don’t even aspire to get health insurance for your spouse. It’s health care for the worker and health care for the children under the age of 18, that’s our
aspiration. Having the audacity to demand safety and health conditions where workers don’t get hurt and in health care laundries, of which we have organized now 75% in America, we fight for workers
to get a free tetanus shot from the employer, something you’d be amazed at how many employers feel is outside of their obligation to provide for them. Our union is continuing to organize, the hard
way, low-wage workers all across America. Not fast enough. We are constantly looking for better ways to do it. And I would close with one thought, well, two thoughts. One is that we will organize with
or without legal change and we will organize, even God forbid, if Barack Obama is not elected President of the United States. We will continue to do our job to organize American workers. We need the
help of the American public, of academics, and of good thinking people because this isn’t a struggle for laundry workers, it’s a struggle for the soul of America. The future of America and the
future of American middle class depends upon the strong labor movement. That’s not just true in our country, it’s true throughout the world. We have begun to build global alliances with our
brothers and sisters of unions throughout the world because the corporations know no patriotism, know no boundaries, and neither do workers. We need to stand together with workers around the world.
While we have a debate within the labor movement on how to do things, all of us understand, if you look in your New York Times today and see the anti-union, anti-union facts dot com, which put up an
ad that say the new union label, and it’s a gate with a closed sign on it. The idea, I guess is that workers that organize will close their workplaces. I have seen this for 30-some years, as long as
I’ve been in the labor movement. I saw it at Cannon Mills in North Carolina where they said if you join a union the gates will be locked and your plants will close, and many of them did,
unfortunately. Not because we joined the union, but because employers take money over people. Well, the fact of the matter is that opponents will continue to be the opponents. The big corporations,
the people that are benefitting from the way that society is now. Those of us that want to see change need to make that change happen, so with or without the Employee Free Choice Act, our union and
many other unions, the unions at Change to Win and the unions of the AFLCIO will continue to struggle with these issues and find ways to organize. But, the fact of the matter is that we could
revolutionize the way that this country distributes its wealth, not by raising the minimum wage for that; I know that we’ve just raised it to this dramatic level of $6.55/hour, and next year it goes
to $7.25/hour which will be tantamount to communism. The one thing that government could do that would redistribute income in America more than any other is give American workers back the right to
organize, and that would be the Employee Free Choice Act. That is something that all of us can work hard to achieve. Thank you very much. ARNE KALLEBERG: Let’s give another round of applause to our
three panelists. We want to open this up to comments and questions. Are there mics out there? I can’t see. Yes, there are supposed to be mics out there. First though, I just wanted to focus in on
one question. I have just been reflecting, sitting here, that my first political campaign was exactly 40 years ago, and it was Bobby Kennedy when I was working for the Farm Workers. We were charged
with a responsibility for the Get Out the Vote operation in East Los Angeles. That was my first experience in electoral politics and of course, we turned out the vote. We went to the hotel to
celebrate that night and of course, that victory was taken from us. It felt a bit like history just slipping through our fingers. And, for 40 years, it seems like that was a turning point. That
election of 1968 seemed to be a point where civil rights and economic justice were going to come together, or not. It seems that turning point, we chose instead to criminalize civil rights and make it
a matter of law and order rather than connecting it to the economic justice dimension of it, which of course was part of it when it was the march on Washington for jobs and freedom. The reason I am
mentioning this is that, well, that was 40 years ago. This election this year is an extraordinary moment, I think, not just for biblical reasons Sara, because 40 years of wondering the desert it is
supposed to be time to cross the river and maybe, yeah, get into the land of promise there. But, Steve mentioned about the sort of, the spirit that’s out there, the mobilization that’s out there,
the motivation that’s out there right now. I’ve never seen so many young people engaged and active in politics in years. More people engaged in organizing. It really does seem a year of
possibility, not simply a year of probability. The probable is not what’s happened, what’s happening is the possible. We’ve heard a lot about the horror show that the consequence of the
weakening of unions has produced. I would like to just fast forward to January 20. Let’s imagine that on January 20 a new democratic President was inaugurated. If we understood that to be not to be
the culmination of a great campaign but rather, only the beginning of a great fight. Because, in my experience, the moments of greatest vulnerability are often the moments of what appear to be the
greatest success. Because, that’s when people sit back and that’s when the opposition mobilizes. I was thinking, too, about the story when Franklin Roosevelt was elected President and John L.
Lewis, the leader of the CIO wanted to organize, and Roosevelt didn’t quite buy that. But, he got him to agree to a clause in the National Industrial Recovery Act that gave the employees the right
to organize but had no legal force behind it. Roosevelt, I mean Lewis then used that to go on a campaign throughout the country called “The President Wants You to Join the Union.” On the basis of
“the president wants you to join the union” Lewis and Dubinsky more than doubled their membership and created the financial and membership base to fund the CIO drives later on in that decade. So,
I am just focusing….there is a moment of opportunity here. I’d like to ask each of you to comment on, ‘how would you seize that opportunity? What would it take to actually transform that
opportunity into results that would move us forward on this?’ Anybody want to start? STEVEN GREENHOUSE: I would seize the opportunity by writing more newspaper stories. I can’t really say what I
personally would do… ARNE KALLEBERG: No, I don’t mean you personally. STEVEN GREENHOUSE: I…but clearly, folks in the labor movement have laid out what their two main goals are if Obama is
elected on January 20. One is to get Bruce’s big hope, the Employee Free Choice Act passed, and unions are strategizing together about how do they push that rock up the hill. Unless the democrats
get a filibuster-proof majority in the senate, that will be tough. The other big thing unions are strategizing on is to enact universal health coverage in first 100 days. And, you know, universal
health coverage is a very important issue for workers because we’re the only industrialized country without universal health coverage. It’s crazy that if you get laid off, not just you but your
spouse and your kids can lose health insurance. Not having universal health insurance makes life much less secure for workers. But, I think it makes sense for unions to make that one of their main
goals. As I said before, if Obama is elected it could really spark/jump start this whole new effort by unions. I think if the Employee Free Choice Act is enacted, you know, some union leaders who
basically sit on their duffs and don’t try to do much organizing, will see that the calculus of winning has changed a lot, so they might think well, it’s not worth doing much spending much money
on organizing now, but with the Employee Free Choice Act legislated, they’ll think it will be much easier to organize so they will really mobilize. STEVEN GREENHOUSE: Sarah, how would you take
advantage of it? SARA HOROWITZ: How many people here are adjuncts? You know, it’s an interesting thing because I wonder for people who are freelancing, the agenda is not one that in the first 100
days tenure-track positions with defined benefits are going to be in the mix. However, I do feel like what people do see in their lives is that they know that they have to come together in order to
get the things like health insurance, retirement, and pension, but that it’s not just those as ‘the things’ but that there’s an opportunity to change things. I notice that when people are
coming together, especially politically now, there’s a sense of it having to do with their own lives as opposed to let’s say 10 years ago when I think when people came together politically it
often was on behalf of other constituencies. So, for freelancers, I think that you could say the economy has gotten so bad, it has gotten so up the food chain through the middle class that people are
now recognizing that this is a battle for their own lives. This is not just about altruism. Because of that, I feel like people feel that the stakes are different, so they are really willing to come
out and talk about what is happening in their own lives. Because of that, it is clear to me that we have a chance to really change things. For instance, where we have most of our members in New York
state, right now, we are talking about creating a new form of unemployment insurance. Talking about certain ownerist taxes that could be used to fund the safety net for independent workers. That we
could start talking about, not the first 100 days, but what is the blueprint going to look like upon which an administration can base their policy and upon which we can build a constituency of voters
who can vote for elected officials who make sure they do it. I think people are tired of altruism and bullshit and are really ready to talk about who is leading them and are they going to deliver the
things that they need for themselves and for democracy. I think that’s the hopeful thing I see. ARNE KALLEBERG: Bruce? BRUCE RAYNOR: Well, first of all what I first admired about Lewis was that he
never asked Roosevelt permission to put out those leaflets to say the President says you should join the union. So, we’ve already printed the leaflets. But, I’ll say two things about Senator
Obama. One is that he did put out a letter and organize a campaign we are running in Puerto Rico for 2500 women who sew uniforms for the military for the federal government and make minimum wage.
Senator Obama wrote a letter not only saying you have a right to join a union but urged them to join a union. I think that would be a major change in this country. Make no mistake about it, if EFCA
passed, and it’s a big if, then we would organize millions of workers; millions, not hundreds of thousands, but millions. All the polls show nonunion workers want unions if given the opportunity.
The thing that would happen with EFCA is that at least for, in our judgment one year, somewhere around there, the employers would be sufficiently confused, upset and disorganized, that they wouldn’t
get their act together to try to shut it down. For that first year, we believe we could organize several million workers. We are making plans within Change to Win to do so. We have met with Senator
Obama and made proposals about how the power of the federal government could be used to enhance workers’ rights with the buying power of billions of dollars of federal money which now is not tied to
any standards for the workers that do the work for that government. So, we’ve got a variety of ways to do it. A federal government that had policies that favored higher wages, and benefits, and the
right to organize would spur unions to organize millions of workers. Then, the final point is this, when the CIO was formed in the 30s, it not only organized millions of workers, it spurred other
unions that were not in the CIO to organize millions of workers. That’s what you would have in this country. You wouldn’t have a chaotic labor movement fighting with each other. You would have a
bunch of unions competing with each other and attempting to grow faster, and you would have some sitting on the sidelines, but so what? There would be plenty, there would be thousands, and tens of
thousands of new union organizers out there, and we would organize millions of workers and make this country better. STEVEN GREENHOUSE: Can I add one thing? As labor reporter for the New York Times, I
know from 2001 when President Bush was elected to when the democrats won back control of congress in November of 2006, there was a period when worker issues were kind of not on the table at all in
Washington. I found it very frustrating as someone who writes about working men and working women that no one in Washington, I’m exaggerating, but the people who controlled Washington didn’t pay
attention, didn’t care. You would write articles about famous companies making hundreds of people work off the clock and you know, they didn’t make a ripple in Washington. You thought, well this
is horrible. You know, the Wal-Marts and other companies were breaking the law engaging in wage theft. One of the reasons I wrote this book was I thought there was a silence and nobody was paying
attention. But, I think if Obama wins, the nation by and large, people ruling the nation will be paying much more attention to what sociologists write about workers, what journalists write about
workers, and what unions say about worker problems. I think there will be much more ferment and much more attention paid to worker issues. ARNE KALLEBERG: Thanks, Steven. Now, we are running low on
time, but we want to hear from folks. We will alternate mics. Please ask your question. Be as brief and focused as you can and try to end your statement with a question mark. And, tell us who you are,
by the way. AUDIENCE MEMBER: I’m Dan Claussen from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bruce Raynor talks about the difference that a union makes, but a union doesn’t make that difference in
some simple and easy way. So, hotel workers here get $15.23 an hour, have health benefits and defined pension plans, but the convention center workers only 4 out of 326 of them get the health care
that is available to them because even though they are in a union, they have much worse conditions. So, the workers in the convention center are fighting over that. The ASA has taken a good stand on
it, but a number of people here have signed petitions supporting the workers. We are going to be meeting tomorrow at 12:30 at the registration desk of the Sheraton hotel and marching, with some
workers, to present the petition to management asking for the convention center management to provide the same conditions for hotel workers at the convention center as in the hotel. So, my question is
not for the panel but for the audience, how many of you will join us there tomorrow at 12:30 at the Sheraton Hotel? We’ll be all through by 1:00. See you at 12:30. ARNE KALLEBERG: This is a little
organizing convention here, this is great…I’m sorry, I cannot hear you. AUDIENCE MEMBER: It says this on, is this working? Is that any better? I’m Greg Squires (sp) from George Washington
University. As chair of my department, I helped our adjuncts form a union, and that union has recently successfully negotiated a contract with the university. My question is for the panel. Assuming
Obama is elected, what are the first 3 things he should tell his labor secretary to do, and what are the first 3 things he should ask the federal reserve to do? ARNE KALLEBERG: Let me just suggest
that we gather a few and then go and respond just in the interest of time, so has everybody got this? The first 3 things for labor secretary and the first 3 things for federal reserve. Yes. AUDIENCE
MEMBER: Tom Jurovich from the labor center at University of Massachusetts. Steve, you spoke of labor leaders and the need to have them more accountable, responsive and so on. I don’t think any of us
are going to defend out-of-touch labor leaders, but in some ways I think that analysis is incomplete. In fact, it is Marshall who has taught many of us about a very different style of leadership than
the Great Man theory that is going to reform the American Labor Movement. So, I think what we have to look back at is not just who’s in charge, but to what degree is the movement a movement? I think
the exciting thing is that we see that Bruce’s union or SCIU are the places that it does dovetail. The reason that our labor leaders are not on the news is that they are not part of a merging
movements. Fundamentally, I think what we did not hear about tonight is probably the most important movement out there, which is the movement of the immigrant workers in this country. That is going to
be one of the places that many of us are going to be working to see this revival of the labor movement. Again, I know that Bruce, your union and many others are already deeply involved in that, but I
think that needs to be underscored in this discussion that it is not just about cleaning house at the top, but it’s engaging with these mass movements that are out there. Marshall, as you have
spoken about tonight, I think there is an incredible energy and activism out there. ARNE KALLEBERG: So, I think the question is, what about immigrant workers? What about the tremendous energy there?
We’ll come back. Thanks. ..Over there. AUDIENCEMEMBER: I’m Ken Root from Minneapolis and I am here to sit on a panel tomorrow regarding job loss. Perhaps something that the moderator and panelists
don’t know is that when we registered we got a tote bag made in China. I am interested in the comments of all the people presenting tonight. ARNE KALLEBERG: Okay, tote bags from China, there will be
comment. AUDIENCEMEMBER: Hi, Jason Stanley, New York University. It’s a question for Bruce Raynor, and I guess the other two panelists as well, I am interested in pushing you a little bit on the
hope that you have expressed in the Employee Free Choice Act. Precisely because, many of the comments you made and the other speakers made, revealed the extent to which employers are willing to break
the law when given the chance to do so, or to use the courts in a way that allows them to delay justice for 8 to 10 years. What gives you so much hope in this Act that this Act is going to allow you
to organize millions of workers in the next few years and that this is not just another false hope, and that really what needs to be done is building the power from the ground up? ARNE KALLEBERG: OK,
we have some more. Shall we give you….Let’s start to answer. BRUCE RAYNOR: I’ll take the last one first. Look, I know employers, I’ve dealt with them my whole life. Of course they are going to
break the law, a lot of them, but what happens is sort of remarkable in that they are not all terrible. So, what will happen is if we pass a law that says workers have the right to organize, some
companies will say, it’s the law I got to do it, and I will let the workers organize, and thousands and thousands of workers will get unions. The Employee Free Choice Act is remarkable. It’s as
good, it’s actually as good or better than the Quebec labor law, which gives majority sign up and arbitration of first contracts. As proposed, it would be a remarkable vehicle and millions of
workers would join the union. Would companies fight? I mean, would Wal-Mart still fire workers? Would Cintas still act like a bunch of imbeciles and vicious people that they are? Of course they would.
But, a lot of companies wouldn’t. The other thing that would happen is workers would have a sense of optimism in the possible. When workers believe it’s possible then people get more courage. When
the Soviet Union let its guard down in democracy, workers rose up. When employers let their guard down, it’s why when employers agree to card checks, the workers join the union. One story where the
Massachusetts-based employer, this is 10 years ago, he agreed to a card check in his big warehouse with 1000 workers in Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. He said to me, “I am going to agree and I am
going to do all this, but there is no way that those workers will ever sign cards. There’s nothing you can do Bruce, and I don’t want you to be disappointed or hurt when it’s over.” I said
look, I’ll try to get over it. In 36 hours, out of 900 workers, 800 had signed union cards. They had been intimidated for years and when we opened the doors, they joined the union overwhelmingly.
That’s my experience with it. As for immigrant workers, I won’t take time to comment on all four of the questions. As far as immigrant workers, our union has always been an immigrant worker’s
union, whether it was the Jewish and Italian garment workers that formed and amalgamated in the ILGWU or now, it’s the Latino and Asian workers that are parts of our union. In our union, a majority
of our 500,000 members are immigrants. Immigrant workers will be the Van Guard of the growth of the American labor movement as they will be the Van Guard of the growth of the American population.
Clearly, the issue of immigrant rights is extremely important. So, to me, the first three things I want to see President Obama deal with, not the Secretary of Labor, so I’ll modify the question, is
I would like to see him deal with the Employee Free Choice Act. I would like to see him deal with reforming these barbaric immigration laws that we have in this country that makes criminals out of
hard-working people, and I would like to see him pass universal health care for every man, woman and child. If he did that, he could retire and stop as far as I’m concerned. SARA HOROWITZ: It’s
funny, I also changed it to President Obama, as well. You know, I think it would be huge for people to hear a president who actually understood the way they worked. I think one very minimal thing
would be to just hear that there is a new workforce, that people aren’t working for one employer, that people aren’t eligible to get any of the protections that were enacted in the 1930s simply
because they’re termed independent contractors. I think number one would be a) recognition of that workforce and b) actually revamping the different cabinet positions to recognize that you have to
represent independent workers as part of the workforce because they aren’t in any of that. And then I think the other thing is that, I think that we have to have a universal system of benefits, and
that is a universal financing. We have to be able to put up the money that is going to pay for this. I think that we have to be committed to that. I think that in that universal financing, we have to
recognize that we have to have a way to get people their benefits and that’s where we can innovate, that’s where we can start building up unions, nonprofits, community-based groups, because they
are the ones in communities that are connected to people, and I think that would be truly innovative to start recognizing that we could do things in a completely different creative way just as FDR
did. You know, he didn’t just set this baby up. You know, there was a lot of iteration. The first unemployment system was actually created by Sydney Homen and the garment workers in New York, and it
was created by forcing a bunch of employers to come together who later liked the idea because they could beat out all the other competition by raising the standards of the workers who worked for them.
So, I think a spirit of experimentation would be great. STEVEN GREENHOUSE: I think the national labor relations act, as structured, essentially gives employers many, many incentives to break the law
when they fight unionization efforts. The penalties are deminutus. There are no fines, all companies have to pay are back wages, and if the fired employee finds another job, his or her wages on that
job are subtracted from the back wages. So, often, as this example of this Haitian immigrant Ernst Duvall I wrote about, he was fired for 6 years, he was reinstated 6 years later, all the company had
to pay was $1757 and by keeping out a union for 6 years, a company can easily save hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, there are huge incentives under current law for companies to break
the law. I think the Employee Free Choice Act would really change that calculus seriously because it would create treble back wages and it would create fines of up to $20,000 per labor law violation.
So that, in addition to what Bruce said, you know, Bruce would say if the laws change, many companies will go along with it, but I think that smart employers will see that it might cost them a lot of
money if they continue to break the law and fighting unionization drives. As to Tom Jurovich’s point about immigrants. Yes Tom, I very much agree that immigrant workers, just like low-wage workers,
many immigrant workers are low-wage workers, are very ripe for unionization. You know, one of the reasons I sited this Janitor’s Organizing drive in Houston was that it was immigrants and immigrants
are very right for unions, partly because those from Mexico and those from Columbia come from countries where a lot of the working class remain very pro-union and conscious of unions. The one snag now
in terms of trying to mobilize immigrants behind unions, are all the raids and roundups of undocumenteds. That has kind of muddied the waters and made it harder, at least temporarily, for unions to
organize immigrant workers. After the SEIU organized many of these Houston janitors, a lot of these janitors are disappearing. Some are being deported and some are fleeing because they are worried
about being arrested. ARNE KALLEBERG: Let’s take our last few questions here. We will then give each panelist an opportunity to wrap up, and then we will be done. AUDIENCEMEMBER: Jed Schwartz,
freelance, dropped out of UMASS Amherst a long time ago. I was just struck by a sort of lingering feeling that although I sympathize with all of the speakers, that somehow the arguments you are using
are from the last war, the tactics from the last war. The decisive arguments that will raise the standard of living for everybody are not simply to reinvigorate unions using the arguments that we used
during the FDR administration. Doesn’t the system need higher wages? Wouldn’t higher wages help the economy itself? Help even corporate profits? I realize that sounds counter-intuitive. ARNE
KALLEBERG: No, not at all. AUDIENCE MEMBER: I am Kim Sypes from Purdue University, North Central. I speak as a current union member and I have been a member of 4 different unions over the last 20
years. I also am a former member of the United States Marine Corp, I was a Sergeant. I have a question for particularly Mr. Raynor. Recognize your situation would change when it’s a little
different, but right now today the United States spends more money every year on the war machine, on the military than all the other countries in the world combined. I want to know when Change to Win,
as well as the AFLCIO is going to take on the US empire and especially the God Damn war in Iraq where our brothers and sisters are getting killed every day while killing millions of Iraqis. When are
you going to stand up? Especially since 2005 at the AFLCIO convention, which you guys bailed on. The union movement itself, our leading convention, voted that the AFLCIO demand that the Bush
Administration get out of Iraq as rapidly as possible, and they have not done a damn thing since that I can see. Thank you. ARNE KALLEBERG: So, the question is, When action on the war, OK? AUDIENCE
MEMBER: Chris Tilly, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UCLA. I actually have a counterpart question to Tom Jurovich’s question. Tom and the panel members have certainly talked about
the opportunity involved in the immigrant workforce. There also is a challenge, which is that most native-born workers who are the bulk of union members and the bulk of voters, have a much more
ambivalent or even negative attitude towards immigrants, and are much more likely to line up with Lou Dobbs. The question is how to deal with that political challenge as well. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barry
Idlan, UC Berkley, I am also a member and head steward for United Auto Workers Local #2865 representing academic student employees at the University of California. My question is mostly directed at
Sara’s comments, but feel free to comment if you want to pitch in. I really appreciated your piece about sort of reproducing the Reagan logic if you will, and arguing for more decentralization, more
sort of empowerment of creating structures where workers can exercise their voice. Because it really strikes me….also tying in with your comment about sort of the giant innovations the labor leaders
of the past have come up with. Because when I look at today and what the giants of the labor movement today are proposing, it seems that we are having a reproduced…..rather than sort of this idea of
sort of empowering workers, we have things like calling up the insurance company in the form of Stewart call centers. Or, we have a trend towards mega locals of hundreds of thousands of members
stretched over vast geographic areas that make it much more difficult for workers to make their voices heard in their own organizations. We also have more drives towards labor management partnerships
that again do a lot more to deprive workers of this voice and deprive workers of the opportunity to develop a sense of what their capabilities are as workers. I was wondering what you would suggest as
ideas to sort of push the labor movement more in the direction of what you’re talking about rather than what I see as these somewhat counterproductive trends? ARNE KALLEBERG: Why don’t we give
each person… SARA HOROWITZ: I just actually want to just grab this, because it seems like there are a range of questions that have been raised. You know, one thing that we’ve done, the result of
which really surprised me, was that we did a partnership with Meet Up. I don’t know if you remember Meet Up from the Dean campaign days where people could come together in their local communities.
So, if you are a freelancer and you are living in some city, you can go and find other freelancers and get together. So, because we are the Freelancer’s union and we are in America, and it seemed to
be like this is the thing, we launched it. The next thing we know, there are people joining all over the world because they can. Isn’t it really interesting that you start realizing this idea of the
nation state is really a construct, and that people in all these cities just want to get together and do the same thing. I think that is the basis upon which we can start looking at global
relationships because you can actually start having relationships with people. There are ways that we can now start coming together and finding one another and that is the basis of innovation because
people will come together, talk about what they need and build their own communities. That, I think, therein lies the hope. It’s early in this movement, in this part of the labor movement, or this
iteration of the labor movement, but already people are really open to it. In coming together, there is this realization that there is a new kind of strategy, and this sort of goes to the ‘What
could Barack Obama or the federal reserve do.’ Another point would be to start recognizing that just as there is range of labor strategy, there is a range of capital strategies. I think part again
of this Ronald Reagan problem is that we believe that all capital is about unfettered free market. Actually, you know there are about a million different kinds of capitalism from Sweden to Argentina,
and that we could be talking about ways that we could be subsidizing, using different kinds through the tax code and other kinds of ways, for institutions that support human beings, that they don’t
have to compete with the for-profit model that will, you know, pull out every last penny. And that again, we do not have to only look at a model that we will ask government to be so kind and help us,
thank you very much, why don’t we think of a model where we can build our institutions, we can have the capital for it, we can then make the decisions because we are adults. I think that is a must
more empowering model than the one that we’ve had for the last 75 years. ARNE KALLEBERG: Steven, do you want to go? STEVEN GREENHOUSE: First, responding to the gentleman who said we are only
thinking inside the union box. All of us support higher wages, but not to sound simplistic, but there is no group in society more than the union movement that pushes for higher wages in congress.
ACORN does, but there are not many organized groups, other than the union movement, that systematically push for higher wages and counter the small business lobby and the chamber business lobby, so if
you want congress to pass higher wages, if you want companies, not union or nonunion to give higher wages, you know, it’s usually the union movement that’s going to be the force to do it. This
woman sitting next to me, Sara Harowitz, I first met 12 years ago. She was in her young 30s. She said “I am going to found this organization to work outside the union box to provide health benefits,
pension benefits, dental benefits to freelancers,” and I wrongly did not take her seriously enough. She started from scratch this wonderful organization with 80,000 members and in 10 years it will
have 2, 3 or 400,000 members that is doing an amazing thing providing benefits for the new economy. She is certainly thinking outside the union box. Secondly, someone asked what I might recommend
President Obama do. Again, I don’t make recommendations. ARNE KALLEBERG: President Obama, knock on wood there. STEVEN GREENHOUSE: In interviewing people, and I write about this extensively in my
book, Americans work far more hours per year than Europeans. Americans work 1,804 hours per year; 135 hours, 3½ weeks more than the typical Brit, and 240 hours, 6 full-time weeks more than the
typical French person, 360 hours, 9 full-time weeks more than the typical German. I think one thing that it would be good to look at for family job balance and good old de-stressing Americans and
American workers is to look at issues like legislating paid vacation. In all 27 countries of the European union, all workers are guaranteed 4 weeks paid vacation. In the United States, there are no
laws guaranteeing paid vacation to anyone. The United States is the only advanced industrialized nation that does not have a law guaranteeing paid sick days to workers. I have interviewed too many
workers who tell me well, my kid’s sick I have to stay home for 3 days to take care of her, but that means I don’t get any money to feed my kids for those 3 days. Some people risk being fired for
taking sick days off. Another thing is that we are one of only four nations in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave when someone gives birth. Talk about American exceptionalism. I
think another thing that is very broken and seriously needs to be looked at is our 401K system. It is really a very messy, unsatisfactory Swiss cheese type of system that is leaving tens of millions
of Americans without enough money to retire on. In 10, 20 or 30 years, there will be a lot written about the retirement crisis in America. It is something we really got to get our arms around. Lastly,
the Lou Dobbs question. There have been many, many debates among economists. George Borjas of Harvard argues that immigrant workers have pulled down wages sort of across the board for American
workers. David Card of Berkley has responded no, immigrant workers by and large have helped increased incomes for all American workers by helping hold down inflation, providing cheaper lawn mowing
services, dishwashing services and nanny services. Giovanni Perry of UC Davis argues that immigrant workers have really only pulled down wages for those without a high school degree; the people who
compete most directly with immigrants. So, the union movement 8 or 9 years ago, I guess Bruce, you know, decided to support legalization for immigrant workers because it saw that when undocumented
workers had to work in the shadows, it made it much easier for employers to exploit them, and encouraged employers to hire more undocumented workers because they saw that you could pay these people
less than minimum wage and you didn’t have to be as careful on safety. I think the union movement saw that it’s important to try to legalize these workers as a way to discourage employers from
exploiting them, and dragging down wages and standards for all workers. Still, it is a tall order to convince many American workers that it is okay to have immigrant workers here. But again, many
economic studies have shown that the presence of immigrant workers has sped growth in the United States, and has helped workers by and large, but I think there is the 10% of American workers,
native-born workers who only have high school degrees or less; they are the ones who are hurt. Again, the economic studies show by and large, the presence of immigrant workers, legal or illegal, helps
the American economy. BRUCE RAYNOR: On the immigration issue, I went to work for the union, I went south in the early 1970s and the issue was race. It was difficult because it divided workers, and
white workers felt like they civil rights act would lower wages because employers could hire all these blacks who would work for less. We got through that by workers understanding that they need to
work together to raise wages. It’s not immigrants that lower wages, it’s greedy employers and the fact that we don’t have laws that lower wages. We have gotten over that in the past, and I
believe that American workers and workers that came to America from around the world recently, will together figure out how to overcome Lou Dobb’s nonsense on that issue. On the question about the
war in Iraq. Our union has been on record and active in opposition to the war in Iraq ever since the war started. I love though, and when we discuss the labor movement the issue always comes up, about
democracy, and then people get upset at us when all the unions don’t agree. Well, it is called democracy. So early on, we had quite a debate within Change to Win about the war in Iraq and we
didn’t all agree. So, some of the unions opposed the war and others didn’t take a position. The fact is, the war in Iraq is a big issue to our members. I believe it is a big issue to this country
and it needs to be ended, and our union has been active in pursuing that. That’s not true of every union in America, because we reflect American workers, and we reflect the different points of view
in this country on issues like that. The issue of democracy call centers, it would be, on its own, a very interesting discussion. The fact of the matter is that unions are trying to adapt to the
changing work environment. Sara talked about for freelancers and independent contractors, increasingly a vehicle used by corporations to lower wages and to take away the responsibility for benefits
for those workers. Unions have had to be creative in fighting back against that process. What really workers look for is results. They want unions powerful enough to deliver results. Like it or not,
that means big unions, big locals, and it means unions working together not only between cities, but between all the cities in a country and between all the countries in the world. We are going to
have to figure out, as we are doing, when we deal with companies like Sodexo, Compass and Aramark in the food service industry. That Sodexo is in 77 countries and Compass is in 84 countries, and lowly
Aramark is only in 17 countries. We cannot beat that company in one work site or one city, or even one country, without creating unions that are bigger and lock their arms together to deal with global
corporations. What workers want is results. They want a better standard of living, they want to be treated with respect and dignity, they want to be able to take care of their families, and they want
to be able to live in peace. It’s our job to try to deliver that to them. If it takes big strong unions to do it which is what I believe then that is what we will fight for. MARSHALL GANS: On that
note I want to ask you to join me in thanking our panelist for terrific discussion. Remember you heard about the revitalization of the American Labor Movement first here at ASA and thanks to Arne and
to ASA for hosting this event and getting us started in this way. Thanks very much and thanks to everyone.