Global Issues: Bringing Class Back In

The new trade unionism of the 1930s brought dramatic new tactics such as the sit-downs, new strategies that included industry-wide bargaining, and spread new forms of in-plant democracy based on the shop steward system. Today, union structures are again in crisis, but nothing comparable to the labour explosion of the 30s has yet emerged or is even much talked about. When those of us who support labour by silencing ourselves out of sensitivity to the assault labour is facing, we do labour no favour. Nothing is more important to the renewal of the labour movement than to soberly confront the mess it is in and encourage the most open and creative discussion of how it might move on. Bringing social class politics back in to the union movement must stand at the center of such discussions.

Socialist Interventions Pamphlet No. 14 – September 2015.

Sam Gindin was research director of the Canadian Auto Workers from 1974–2000. He is co-author (with Leo Panitch) of The Making of Global Capitalism (Verso), and co-author with Leo Panitch and Steve Maher of The Socialist Challenge Today, the expanded and updated American edition (Haymarket).