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Clear it with SidneyHow our blog got its name >

 
Notes on journalism for the common good
by Lindsay Beyerstein

How our blog got its name

Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”

Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.

It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.

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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.]

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