CIW Campaign continues...
For those not familiar with the CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) and their inspiring campaign around Taco Bell over the past few years which finally culminated in an important victory this past spring check out David Solnit's article: "The New Face of The Global Justice Movement" which was our feature article in Left Turn #17 over the summer.
CIW has outlined its next steps in several recent calls to action, including a campaign they are initiating against McDonald’s. The CIW and the Student Farmworker Alliance campaigns have been primarily effective because of the specific models of organizing they have employed, breaking out of the traditional union organizing model by forming strategic alliances between the farmworkers themselves, their immediate allies, campus groups across the country and a long list of faith based, community based, and peace and justice groupings from around the country.
Looking at the current climate of organized labor organizing today, specifically the complete funk that the AFL-CIO is in (and has been in) for the past several years (decades?), its important that we are seeing a revivial of grass-roots labor activism around the country outside of the national union bureacracy. Obviously this is only a small part of a much larger picture in terms of talking about building strong working class movements in this country, unfortunately the AFL-CIO is still kind of 'the only game in town'.
I remember after September 11th 2001, there was a great shift within many student and youth activist communities from labor solidarity organizing to anti-war activism. This has meant that over the past few years many young activists have not engaged with the labor movement as much as previous generations and more or less feel alienated by the AFL-CIO (unless they need a job out of college which works them 70 hours a week for minimal pay). Campaigns like the ones that CIW has run i think are important just even in the sense that they keep these ideas and tactics alive in young peoples minds when we are talking about real movements that will eventually be able to create broader levels of change.
For those interested in a good article on the debates within the AFL-CIO around the whole split over the summer check out a piece written by Marc Rodrigues called "Urgency for Change: Labor Troubles and the New Unity Partnership" which also tries to address kind of the relationships of new layers of activists toward the larger labor movement.