Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Working Alone: The Erosion of Solidarity in Today’s Workplace

from-- New Labor Forum, Vol. 17 #3.Fall 2008 issue.

Working Alone: The Erosion of Solidarity in Today’s Workplace

By Charley Richardson
Solidarity forms the bedrock of the labor movement, but there is remarkably little discussion of it—what it really is, where it comes from, and how to build it. A successful labor movement depends on solidarity that is more than just an abstraction printed on plaques and in mission statements and extolled in songs at the end of meetings. Solidarity, in its practicality and concreteness, is at the core of unionism and collective power, and it is critical to any successful struggle for the improvement of working people’s lives.

Solidarity has always faced significant challenges in the form of racism, sexism, and other “isms” of division that penetrate into the workplace. Management initiatives such as two-tier wage and benefit systems, and productivity/safety/merit bonuses—particularly when combined with the ideologies of competition and individualism—serve to further undermine solidarity.

Today, solidarity faces new and largely unacknowledged challenges that are aimed at its very seedbeds—the workplace and the work process. Management is engaged in a concerted (and largely successful) effort to change work processes in ways that undermine the creation of connections and networks in the workplace, rendering those seedbeds incapable of nurturing the bumper crop of solidarity that is necessary to build a thriving movement.
--Read more.

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