Build Bridges, Not Fortresses: Bruce Raynor and Andy Stern on Fortress Unionism
Rich Yeselson’s essay “Fortress Unionism” has generated intense debate about the future of the American labor movement. Yeselson argues that an aggressive organizing strategy is futile as long as the working class remains apathetic. He recommends that unions focus on existing areas of strength until the working class is once again ready to organize en masse.
As longtime International Presidents of national unions, we were moved to respond to Yeselson. Our essay, “Build Bridges, Not Fortresses,” appears in the latest issue of Democracy. Labor can’t afford to wait for a golden historical moment. Instead, we propose five things unions can do right now to lift more workers into the middle class:
- Invest union pension funds strategically to create jobs
- Advance pro-worker legislation
- Make alliances with willing employers to create union jobs
- Push for reforms to enable unions to provide staffing and other services to corporations without a collective bargaining agreement
- Consider new forms of membership and participation for workers
Let the discussion continue, it matters.
-Bruce Raynor and Andrew L. Stern
[Photo credit: Sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge, davidyuweb, Creative Commons.]