« The Weeds

Unions!

2022-01-28

Dara Lind talks with professor Gabriel Winant of the University of Chicago about the new Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed a topline decline in union membership despite increasing labor-oriented momentum. And later, journalist Rachel Cohen (@rmc031) joins to talk about the importance of teachers’ unions in the labor movement and in Democratic politics. 

References:

The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America, Gabriel Winant 

Rachel Cohen’s recent article about school closures and Democrats 

The recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on union membership numbers

Hosts:

Dara Lind (@dlind), immigration reporter, ProPublica

Credits:

Sofi LaLonde, producer and engineer

Libby Nelson, editorial adviser

Amber Hall, deputy editorial director of talk podcasts

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is advertiser content. Facebook leads the industry in stopping bad actors online. That's because they have invested thirteen billion dollars and teams and technology to enhance safety over the last five years. It's working in just the past few months they ve taken down one point: seven billion fake accounts to stop an actors from doing but working to reduce, harmful and illicit content on their platforms is never done. More about how their helping people connect in sheer safely and about the F b dot com? Slow? sixty below and welcome to another episode of the week. I'm your host derelict,
in February a union vote is set to reopen at the Amazon Warehouse in Bessemer Alabama, which bordered national attention during its first union vote, both for the tactics that Amazon Vanishment used to try to suppress union is certain, which is what resulted in the revolt now set to take place and for the idea that Amazon was part of a new frontier of workplaces and industries that were beginning to see new growth in unionization from fast food, franchises and Starbucks to the Columbia graduate student to finally signed a contract with the university after several years. Creations, but while the headlines might suggest new momentum and growth in the Labour movement, the top line numbers Joe something different. The Bureau of Labour statistics published its annual update to labour membership numbers last week and showed that, after a brief uptake in twenty twenty in the percentage of the workforce, that was unionized unionization declined back to the twenty two.
teen level of ten point. Three percent of the workforce in twenty twenty one. Furthermore, the number of workers who were in a union decreased by over two hundred thousand over the last year to tried it square these. The anecdotes jesting new momentum in the labour movement and the top line numbers suggesting that union decline continues. We spoke to historian Gabriel Wine and who talks us through how we got here and what this moment might mean for worker power. More generally, then, in the second half of today's episode, we're talking to journalist, Rachel Cone about teachers, unions, the role that they played in the ongoing debate over covered in school reopening and the role that they have played and might again play in the Democratic Party, Gabriel Wine. It is an assistant professor of history, at the University of Chicago he's. Also, the author of the next shift, the fall of industry in the rise of health care and rest belt. America gave welcome to the weeds thanks for having
How have the last two years, if at all to you change the calculus of of worker power and of labour power? Do you think the tour distinct so thing? That is always really key. in shaping how much either those is in fact your how much employers have power in negotiation at the employment relationship is how much there is. What we call a tight were slack labour market, and that means how easy is it for employers to reply? workers I bought on the terms that employers wish to replace workers. easy or heart is it for workers to find other jobs or not. So if unemployment is high It was what's a right after the two thousand and eight recession which had a very protracted labor market recovery. It took a decade to get back to near full employment, in no condition to unemployment is high employers now that they don't have to it with other employers on on wages and working visions that there are five people like that for each job they have to offer?
our egos position that they have lost. You could replace them, and workers know that too right. They know that if a law this job, it's Leslie is also likely that they would be able to find something good and that exaggerates until toward the employer. In that, balance of power, of course, to some degree, the tilted the employer is always there in some form, because if your employer, lose you! You know they? They may be inconvenient since then, but if you lose your job, how do you put food on the table right of his fundamental structural tilted? The employer but low levels of workers, power and labour market exaggerates on the other hand, of unemployment is low. I have what called the tight labour market as we do now, and as we did in twenty eighteen and twenty nineteen in the run up to the pandemic, then Gary's become more assertive individually right. They just having that's just a simple calculation that their livelihood rather than say, I could probably bedded and we can measure that pretty clearly in something called the quit rate, which right now his
to a very high level. That's just the rate at which workers are quitting their jobs that the empirical support fur way. The has lake kind of memory, We ve been called the great resignation exactly it just a very good Kiev thermometer of how much worker sense that they meet. I could find something better most likely another job, although maybe they ve also there's some other means of support, which is an important part of the cover they should run covert. Also, however, the exercise of leverage may also be collective, particularly of workers are organised so in a tight labour market groups of workers who are already organised into unions at our already prepared to act collectively, roving quit, they might say, let's hold ever better contractor I just expired. You know, maybe we should maybe it's worth going on strike and village during our strength, because it we know Blair. Is it vulnerable situation compared to our power There would have been in a previous moment and ass. The phenomenon has been set up nicknamed strike Toby the uptake in a strike
activity which again, we saw start actually twenty. Eighty three. Ninety, when unemployment fell down quite love, Billy recovery from the great recession then pandemic. Three things asked. But I think that we should have back there for various reasons, so to get justice and even more granular. When we talk about kind of in optic in organised labour activity like what industries sectors are raising em cause. The way that this tends to bubble up into public attention is particularly individual workplace organizing battles right. So can you talk a little bit more about where you see the real trends happening and some potential changes and in just the way that a given industry or sector is going to be? working because of this activity, yet very good, but a difficult question that had she has to do with a kind of something about long, history and process of development of the Labour movement unions workers, don't decide where there are jobs, right people who
have money to invest, and you know, work workplaces to create form of their capital, decide where there are jobs and then you know that gathers workers together and then workers may or may not organise themselves, but if they do so successfully, that means that it, there they established in a particular industry and then the structure of the labour market, Changes under their feet, write it That's why we associate unions with things like ATO and steel, call? These are the issues that we successfully organised in the great wave of unionization in the nineteen thirty seventeen forties, which is the kind of high point of the American Labour Movement and obviously Labour market has changed under our feet, said said, and so we still have you. he again said, our organizations that are kind of handed down to us from that that moment everything but you know workers, which was the kind of vanguard that moment based in Detroit. You know that still have audible. Remember, is particularly in Michigan and around the great lakes region, but
A growing proportion of their membership is found outside that industry, as they have had to figure out how to organise other kinds of people in order to stay alive and that's replicated would meet with other unions. From that moment and generally there's gotta be incurred. The pattern of chaos across which union represent which kinds of people as they try to adapt to structural change of the dust real economy to its basically service economy. So to stick with the autoworkers example, one of the big changes that they made is it they have begun to invest serious effort and resources over the past couple decades had especially the past five or six years. in organizing in the head of world of academia, down profits, museums, these kinds of things, so what big strikes this year, as was the strike of graduate students at Columbia, pretty big strike you as a few thousand people, it lasted for biting eight weeks or so they represent about. You know not workers and, moreover,
graduate students who are in United on workers were made your pretty abandoning campaign within that union too. Establish more direct democracy inside that you get that's a key part of this moment as well. Is that, as you know there having to adapt to this moment. Their internal govern structures are. kind of up up very debate and challenge But can't finish answering your question to think about what sectors we may want to pay attention to it There are these kind of legacy manufacturing firms in sectors which are really important and said. There's this John Dear Strike, which is also united Autoworkers. That was one of the big strikes. It in general there that those firms, like John dear remain kind of whole doubts of unionization, in particular in the north and the industry Midwest way, there are still pockets legacy union strength from a previous moment ads. to turn this moment of labour market leverage into collective resistance is more straightforward and in places like that, because again people
already organised and then sectors like academia, journalism nonprofits, had been a really kind of major areas of new organizing, where private we can non union labour markets are seeing Indians get built, the first time, health care and public aid have been too. Huge questions for the labour movement over the last years, teachers our very heavily unionized, because it public employees, but the reach, which their unions exercise, credit, militancy and fight over working conditions, is a huge political question, as we seen around school openings, your uncovered, among other things, and obviously healthcare working conditions are undergoing a very severe test right now and the question of the power of healthcare wages are really have become everything that really politically important question. finally does the kind of bottom of the labour market as to say things like fast food, which has traditionally been thought. And organise a ball, and they. The ongoing campaigns, organised Starbucks, I think, is a real
key experiment to look out and see whether a breakthrough there is possible, there's a tie there that I want to get into bed. Let's start at the end with the idea of the unorganised wool industry. What does that mean- and is this now being like disproven by current labour activity, or do It's just a wall that its eventually going to run into. Well, I hope, is being disproven. so we have to wait to see, but what it means is that at the bottom, level of the labour market, where workers at the most replaceable, because they're seem to have understood to have no skills that require any preparation and skill is a complicated question. We could talk more about. If you want, but that's that's how employers understand them aware. You know their way, these are, essentially, you know, adder below replacement, so to speak. Those workers are unjust. to be, are traditionally been understood to be at organise a ball because their lead It simply can never rise high enough for them to either have the confidence to collectively
ACT together in the way that you have to feel to be able to organise union or the big show to actually really any power to compel their employer to treat them with any seriousness. and that's encoded. Also in the legal structure of a lot of industries like fast food, so you have to think about a franchise Mcdonald's, for example, the franchise YE who runs the actual store. Their costs are largely fixed by a franchise contract with Mcdonald, central and so what that means is that if workers it very worthy unionized store and say, oh no, actually weena. We want a five percent raise this year. As explained you raise the hereafter and yet changes working conditions in a way that would require the increase, the workforce by fifteen percent or whatever they would resist. very very intensely because they really have any room to adjust their costs. There are squeezing not like the three big fat cat capitalists, but the kind of gosh I a cannibal if I'm the person who was about to say Lake Marxist Class, now
Here, but the petty bourgeoisie- rape, yes, and what that means. Is that that a player will do everything in their power, which turns out to be quite a lie, but that I will do everything in their power to resist that union now that both a car, The lack of leverage of those workers in a reflection of the lack of leverage of those workers so without that, while there have been campaigns like essay use fight for fifteen campaign in the last decade to college attention to conditions at the bottom of the labour market and to try to you, you know it in public policy around things like minimum wage ordinances, there has never been a sustained investment by a major union and actually building unions, and that at that level of the labor market, at least in that industry and the Starbucks case is really a test of whether that you might actually be possible to do under the conditions that were now, and I think that there is another kind of high profile and urgently upcoming
indian battle? That also plays into this, which is the reopening of the vote at the Amazon Warehouse in Bessemer Alabama. Do you see that as something similar to the Starbucks the kind of unorganized industry, or is it a return to more classic blue holler organizing because of the kind of nature, of the job where it is a little bit easier for workers to, Inter to ban together into a collective action. That's interesting Ask it that way if you had asked without knowing anything about our kind of specific moment in time and in history, which of these would be door guys. You would, you would say Bessemer, then, a Starbucks shop, for the reason that you get a ready. It resembles a kind of industrial workplace in ways. It would seem to empower workers to give them leverage by dead. There is a tremendous amount of economic value that flows through the hands of the workers in that warehouse, and so that that should mean right that there, quite unlike you know, workers given Starbucks store
air resistance to the working conditions under which they are working in the possibility they may refuse to do that could cost their employer or something that should give them some leverage. Now, what we see is that so far Amazon and has been very effective, resisting those efforts at organization- and there are few- can a key elements to that. I think one is that Amazon Warehouse jobs are located in places can have on the outer periphery of metro areas. Typically, where although the jobs are brutal in terms of their working conditions and wages and benefits, and so on. They are often still better than the jobs immediately around them in the end that Kiev area Labour market, and so that gives them an advantage. And allows Amazon to kind of you who is enormous market power to warp local labour markets around itself and
in a context of low unemployment to create an effect like you would have seen. You know after chestnut recession, where workers understand how replaceable they are however, even that I think, is not enough to explain its own. What we see Far Bessemer at ended in its feet of the eighty drive there and I think Finally, the long odds at that the revolt probably faces and You stated that you also have to understand how union avoidance campaigns work, so I It also talk about another thing. You mentioned and kind of surveying the landscape, which is the rise in some white collar sectors, nonprofit, academia, organizing it helpful to understand those is also being part of a larger, traditionally blue collar labour federations for sure but lake. You know, and Firstly, there's no like quantifiable answer to this, but on the margin, how does it change the labour movement when it say the
graduate students of Colombia Union icing version is the warehouse workers at Amazon and Bessemer Ivy. I think this has been a big subjective debate and will continue to be for a while, because, has been to the extent that there is real, organizing energy and enthusiasm anywhere in the economy. It's been in that kind of professional or white collar zone You know the anxiety is that, though kinds of workers have fundamentally different interests from the by traditional constituency of a union like EU aid. the EU, and certainly there baby can a possible divergences. We could think about it. You know, or prevent university campuses in particular, may have kind of more ideological things that they want, campaign on that's very common, but I think it understand. This, actually, is that workers of all kinds to some degree have divergent interests with each other somewhat under all circumstances, A good example of that I study had the healthcare industry, Edward Healthcare Workers organise hospitals, are in nursing homes
the employers typically say well, this is gonna drive up healthcare costs for everyone else, and you know that Has it has a grain of truth to like they're, always kind of possible divergences and possible point of convergence and do the important thing about understanding the academy filiation of white collar professionals with the labour movement as a way of solving their economic problems, which is to say deterioration of career tracks and industries, like academia journalism Is a decision that they have more in common with other other kinds of workers that than it is at odds with them, and I think it trusting to know that? I should mention that campaign inside the Eu A w and what I was about was the direct election of national officers of the union, which were not directly elected prior to, a moment and the national leadership of Eu Aid W is kept buffet by scandals of various kinds for years now and that that's what prompted this campaign opponents of that reform set out this just obvious graduate students it related to the union, and certainly
graduate student locals in the union are enthusiastic about the reform but the form. Also one among the audit work locals made me- and I think I understand that kind of possible convergence. Is it's a project right and there are reasons to think it may work in their reason to think it may not work and we can see it can a writ large as well, not just in particular locals or particularly unions, but as a kind of question about the changing shape of work and work, the working class in the? U S, and yet at that kind of national scale or even be hugely global scale. We can say that these different sort of fragment, the working people that are trying to coalesce with each other, and there are things that make the heart, but there also he'll moments that we can look at its eight book. It worth their work. There There is even an argument which I we really have: the evidence: either way away that the disappointed the Starbucks campaign net some significant number of Starbucks Maurice does might have college degrees
Are you know doing this while they do not pursue their career in art or writing, or something like that right, and this is a kind of stereotypes about about coffee house workers. I I think we have added dodo evidence of this in maybe an element of this in the service campaign that we know for sure yet. But they wouldn't shocked me if it were partly true. So we ve talked a little bit about the kind of obstacles and the factors that protect the status quo on union station, but like at the top top line level. It's not just story: you know it's not just that. You can't see increasing momentum in some sectors in the top line numbers it's that like there is actually a story of continued decline right the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the we
before we're taking. This episode put out its annual update to union membership, and it shows not just like a return to the twenty nineteen percentage of workers who are in a union down to back down to ten point three, which is where it wasn't: twenty nineteen after it takes up to ten point, eight percent and twenty twenty, but also like an absolute decline in the number of workers who are members of a union by You know over two hundred thousand from twenty twenty two twenty twenty one. So how do we square this with the idea that there is no new in the labour movement. Is it just the product of the kind of continued trends of the last several decades or is the the case that has some sectors are growing and labour strength. Others are eroding, and that's being a little bit hidden wealth probably is some kind of composition. All effect like that. I don't think
know for sure. Yet I mean we had a lot of economic turbulence and less costly. And given that generally a new job is unlikely to be a union job, because you have the union I set for it being a job they destruction. numbers of jobs and in the creation of large numbers of jobs, which is something that's happened since the beginning of the pandemic is probably likely to balance, produce more nonunion jobs on that. I think that's probably some of what happened, but I think the kind of of course, the answer? The question is really about the different times gales of organizing new unions compared to other ways that we measure things like, but a union density? In a given moment, or even things like strikes and so on. So you know
All these are proceeding on different pace, so strikes typically happens when contracts expire or for first contracts- and you know contracts. The length is part of that. What's negotiated with contract, but typical collective bargaining agreements blast, maybe three four years and so strike toper. Last year you have the kind of tickets activity was driven purchased by whoever contract happened to be open then, and uniting though had a role in question? Is more contracts come open over the course of you know coming months, whether in fact a very short episode or how long that lasts, and that in turn has to do with how up how long the current conditions of workers power in the labour market last, which is up to many things, most of all, probably the federal serve, and if we see the Federal Reserve raise interest rates to control inflation, then it will throw many people into unemployment on purpose right, that's how the vet controls inflation. This is what levels the industrial workers.
Yet in the early eighties. So you know the kind of conditions for it back. our whole other timescale. We can, then they could. it's for organizing I mean a typical. Depends on the size of the workplace, but it can very easily take years and years to go from workers beginning to talk to each other. forming a union too. Signing a contract and therefore coming to count in those be a less statistics, I'm so that you brought up the feds decision on interest rates and because its we haven't really been talking bout policy as an aspect of this, and obviously that has huge role, both like labour, a specific policy and broader economic policy. shaping the conditions in which with businesses and unions are operating. So do you see, any other big Paul, see changes our fights on the horizon it like either
data federal level that you think could really move the needle one way or the other on union density. So I've been labour has now been engaged in a campaign for labour law reform. First spur radically or the beginning of the Obama administration, not sporadically, but briefly that say There are now, so it more intensely fear for peace of labour law reform called the Pro act, which has been passed by the House of Representatives and last couple of congresses, pieces of which made it into the bill back better bill. what the pro act does is essentially tighten the lot of the rules that control what employers are able to do it in Asia, campaign and give unions and groups of workers expanded and strengthened protections in that context, so right now, it's extremely common for an employer to not just go to view
of the law and doing things like holding captive audience meetings and tacitly threatening workers that they might lose their jobs for that explicitly, threatening them right, which did not legally lads do baby, that's very standard. Very you, ll find it in every area campaign, but you will also find in many many anti union campaigns, possibly in the majority of that is a lot of social science on this, that Where is well, go right, past the limit of the law and begin to do things like identify which were great. I really key in that kind of network of solidarity. That's holding people together and fire them it on some pretext and that's against the law, but to enforce that right. You have to file an unfair labor practice in which charging, but you show. You're fired into retaliatory way, as opposed to something about your work. Performance can be hard to show that Even if you show that well, the employer then get lab with a very bitter punk penalty. Typically, it s a fine to any large company is going be, nothing add, is infinitely worth it compared to
the risk of having a union from their perspective. I may Moreover months and months to actually, even when that I had a friend who is organ seeing in a hospitality workplace and was fired way. Management found out there that their organizing and was kind of paraded through. You had to get the data or fire their head of escape. it by security and cut a circuitous path to everyone would see a negative more pushed out the door and they fight The unfair labour practice charge, and they won and remembering story correctly in their national Labour Relations Board, which forces this body of law say if to reinstate this person and pay them back paper? You know from when you fight until now, and the employer said make us and eventually that they were made to do so, but it took, I think, like a year. So the proactive really tighten the rules around. That kind of thing, even short, of the pro act, there are elements that the National Labour Relations Board and able to pursue administratively
although there are very vulnerable to administration change. Obviously, so the gin council. The analogue has been kind of looking for opportunities to expand workers rights through the rule making process. Basically, and yet are one example of this is to be a very ambitious one. That is more likely to say, but it used to be the case that the National Labour Relations Board did not necessarily always force workers too have an election if they seem so the way you t you indicate you want, do you get? Isn't you submit Union cards evil signs to the board ad. used to be a standard under which the employer actually had to show that they had read to doubt that those cars resented the real majority opinion of the workers to force them to then have an election. It used to be that there was a kind of tacit what we would call card check. I just They if the union can show beyond reasonable doubt that a majority of the work we did you want this. They can proceed directly to union reckon
should they dont have had this week period where the employer is allowed to terrorize. conceived. This solidarity falls apart. So the bored. His kind have been alluding to various possibilities like that. It's reinstated rule from the Obama administration around things like the what's called joint employment standard, which is at Mcdonald's case it we're talking about right, might might it be possible for workers too. argue that actually, Mcdonald Central is their job, employer, along with the kind of local store owner or management and Therefore they can bargain with them. These questions about how what are called bargaining units to say the kind of drawing of the boundaries of who within a particular workplace is part of a union. How that might be adjusted to kind of. give union some more leverage, and so there's too Adjustments are the margin which democratic administrations oftener able to make it and get rolled back into public administrations and that that it matters, but it's the statutory change,
That is necessary for actual significant adjustment. To union density overall and without that we're not gonna, see it. I dont think one of the factors in whether the statutory change happens, as you alluded to is the power or that you know labour has within the Democratic Party. Do you think that the current try and in terms of you know what color organizing in terms of the an organ, simple industry is used, those affecting the role that labour plays within democratic party politics. And how do you see that changing over the next at Saint two years I mean this is hard and important question you know it's. The democratic party is: has the centre split personality around labour again, because it's not a labour party, as we That is the beginning and a kind of has to stand in for the role of Labour Party, while also being the representative of many other interests, including labors enemies. In many cases
it really clear. He went by first got the presidential race added. If you remember this, first fundraiser was posted I eighty union offer in the same week, he watches campaign at a union hall, and so split personality is like really deep in the structure of the party, and we would normally say that what effects the kind of? hey around that tension is the strength of labour and that Frank is fundamentally economic question: right are our workers. creating problems for employers in ways that demo That's are going to want to solve by managing economy awaited, gives more concessions to labour. Like that's what Roosevelt was dead in the thirties, It's not like. He was a socialist. He was someone who was a very benevolent elite, basically right who thought that the way to deal with the kind of labour problem the head Marriage in the thirties was for the government,
driving to try to broker a better deal for workers so that that problem would get quiet now. So we thought Additionally, that you, you have to be able to make a lot of noise to get democratic Party to act. That way where you have to generate a lot of disruption. Anything probably true part of the strange it seems to be happening now. Is that as removing his kind of been ground down into dust over the last generation, the role that it plays in curing our democracy. More broadly have become more evident to people who used to not know about that are used, not care. Think about that right. There labour move at one of the things that it does in a capitalist democracy. I mean they each in franchises working class people at a different kind of way obviously have the right to vote formally but the union membership? It is again a hundred evidence on this. Union membership gives people assent of empowerment
it gives them a sense of collective agency, and it therefore turn them into typically more informed and engage civic participants. It's basically the ass thing for negating anti black racism in the in classic beefing that is likely to produce so rich liberalism among working class white people is union membership because they have had often had an excuse. into being union a union brothers and sisters alongside African Americans or alongside emigrants, similar mechanism may work there or does work there, and so the destruction of you and especially, you know in the case of more traditional blue constituencies out of the former Labour movement has severed. All of these ties that bound those constituencies to Vienna party and to democracy more broadly and obviously has something central to do with the rise of trump? and third way in which he could have feeling that market now, but doing it differently our feeling parts
market anyway, and I think Democrats, a fish. Mainstreaming Democratic Party leadership has observed, some of that lesson. And on two till slightly left word on some of these labour market regulation. Questions in a bind statement about the Amazon election, for example. Today is a good instance you re a president weighing in on a union election more than we would expect from a democratic president, at least in recent history, and probably ever. However, I do think we yet no you know that kind of. Understanding of the treaty, no ideological role of labour in their party and in democracy, more generally is enough to really forced them to take on the fights that would split the party in certain ways that they would have to take on. In order to actually adjust have labour market is covered. one thing to say: nice, stuff about unions. It's another, two, really pissed off other of your constituencies,
I think it's an open question. Well, look I do that. That brings us right up to the door staff of art. Second, second, which is going to be about a particularly troublesome, Democratic Union constituency so you so much professor both reminded for coming on the weeds and talking through this thanks for have me we'll be right back. This is advertiser content Facebook safety teams protect billions of people each month, believe me, industry and stopping bad actors online. That's because they ve invested more than thirteen billion dollars in the last five years, quadrupling their safety and security teams. To forty thousand people and invest
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home is a journalist focus on social policy in politics and Rachel's. Recent writing about the chaos and the politics surrounding covered school policy explores whether or not teachers unions are really in albatross. For Democrats, ahead of the twenty twenty two midterms Rachel welcome to the weeds. Thank you. So, let's talk through and they came leave were now I'm not asking you to talk for a two year, long saga that let's talk through the covered school closure, school reopening debate, kind of from the perspective of the roll teachers, unions have played how influential have they been and what kind of the coalition's you know with them and against them? Look like yes, this is this is a story that has been having ups and downs. Sense are spending twenty. I think that people have drawn
different narratives about the role of teachers. Unions are, some of them were a little more understandable in the beginning, and we had less information. Some of them, I think, are less understandable. Now, especially in Denmark, chronic lower areas. Schools took longer to reopen full time in person. So there were many people who especially beginning or injured at the peak of the boy time last winter. Satellite. The reason lies because a teacher aliens they, but there is a barrier to bring back and said, an there were sort of all these stories: parents, fighting teachers, parents versus teacher unions. I was like the major conflict port. We have this sort of following a lot of pulling around both voters and parents throughout the pandemic and they never really match the sort of pitted these that we hear about parents,
voters have consistently high, really high views of both their teachers and their local teachers unions. What is possible This is there is a much more negative view of like teetering internationally in their head than their own teacher young, and there is the question of whether to it raises a proxy for political ideology in an one thinks that I've been trying to sort of point out about a lot of coverage is area. Is that herons, by and large, were not as eager to send their kids back for false time in person learning last year, as it is often expressed, this idea that it was just the teacher is, it could ever have made sense? Is parents were sort of, as does have risen, clamouring to send their kids back? The thing about pulling in this regard is like, because this hasn't been a fight. That's been wage in terms of, like Congress needs to order teachers back to school or even state legislatures, it's real
been a district by district conflict. So you know you could maybe make the argument that even F top line, pull numbers show strong support for teachers that there really are hot spots, where there is particularly high parent teacher conflict. Is that what you're reporting has showed? Or is it just in argument that exists on line and there aren't really school board meetings where parents are demanding reopening at all? I think they're, we'll other more localised. Eighty one thing you can look a lot of school districts and charter, supposing they circulated surveys to their parents as sex workers. Out of what what do you feel comfortable under its back and unquestioned, private scimatines there'll be questions like do you support, say your kid back before our teachers are vaccinated before senior citizens are vaccine earth setting
that unity of a different periods of time about that question. By of a lot of families, especially low income families, but including majority families to they said they would be more comfortable after vulnerable seniors and teachers. Relaxing that's why you didn't have sixty percent of parents supporting sending their kids back to school until April two thousand April, twenty twenty one and so I didn't see you personally are re missing something local happening. I for mass unfavourable crushes teachers, like guess, there's lots of things happening, but I would say there was a big effort to sort of make the kind of conflict you see in Chicago public schools, and particularly their national thou, does that there was frustration and stress happening all over but there are a lot of questions- asked the fairies Buckley. Even with your frustration. Would you want this other learning module if you had the chance leave right now at this moment, and the answers were always majority. Now so can we talk
little bit about. You know what exactly went down in Chicago if it isn't as like illustrative as it is. If it's been Miss Character, as to the national level like what is going on there s, my on the ground they had, I think there's a four day we were stockings were the union and the mayor was fighting and I think there was a lot of fear at that time. I, including did the news alerts. I was getting on my phone from now on these very reasons I guess for might be next, you know, but actually, as education importers like new, like there's a lot of political conditions about, pretty early union in that particular matter, and in the face that they have gone back for years. That always made the eyes of that happening. Also very very on migration. It didn't happen. Austria was a unique thing, this particular month with only one last year. I do think some of the kind of. sites that they were having, and I heard about this last month, I think, are instructed to understanding of their labour things, which is the Chicago teacher. You want it
commitments in writing for a lot of the things that the school districts and they were going to do and because they wanted to have that sort of ability to seek legal recourse is. Are we don't trust our employer about all these safety mitigation measures are saying that we do in the press releases. We want commitments on like X Y see and the school district was really loves to commit to a lot of that. They said we need flexibility. This is a pin down. If we don't want to lake, commit to some press all and then the situation changed a month later and we can adjust and that those sorts of labour and fire fights under a lot of the vision. Parents were very understandably sort of trying to fall on like. Why can't you just reach an agreement, and the unions were like this is a matter of health and safety. We are not going to compromise on which we see in our employer make promises they don't
for those sorts of workplace issues and freely, I think that really lost in a lot of the iraqi people, rightly really put the children first. First thinking of the children and that's a very important question to be asking it just sort of understanding exactly what they were fighting about is also for this sort of understand. Why took as long as it did for them to come to an agreement. So I wanted, Superman in addition to like variation from area to area there's also like, and I think this is really one of the signs that teachers unions are that they weather The last the second half of the twentieth century. A lot better than a lot of other unions did their two different like national federations, their national education, the situation in the American Federation of teachers. What role of the national unions played in all of this, and you know what is this done for national local relations? Yes, I think enlightened useful to reiterate has none of her nose. The national legislations and seizing the India is the largest labour union,
over three hundred million freedom. Numbers really wow and That's more than any other union parents and the empty. The american batteries of teachers, which has one point. Seven million members, is the largest The eight elsie I other more members and ask me they were members, then you'll see W S yet you so you don't want when people are I feel that crushing the labour movement, if you wanna procedure, if you get a big chunk of the way there- and I think like that- is useful to remember when we have still to this day the stereotypes billions being like manufacturing met in Ohio working in a factory when a large part of the labour movement in the United States, our public school teachers? Certainly, they have like play
a different role, that any aid for a long time was like sort of much more of a professional association. Didn't really fight for collective bargaining rights and sing way. Empty was concentrated in urban centres. They were majority activists central just to see that they represent. The EU, must analyse teacher unions and end to cargo in DC and so on and two things. I guess I would think he saw the mentioned there are definitely people who- and I think this is wrong, but there are some people who sailing teacher unions like they're so powerful. They the reason schools in open, because our democratic just so beholding they do not have them in their lacking claw, which, if you re going to freely,
Second, then, why are a public school so under funded under staff, kids? Don't have resources or good school facilities if doing is, were so politically powerful naked me, scoreboard mayors and presents an ever invented there will. I think we would have a much better public education system. Then we have right now in terms of just like all the things we want for our kids. That's just like me. one thing I Betty. I think the power and influence of the union's, even as they are a very important part of the labour costs and gets really exaggerated all the time. But then there is the question. I think it is also true, though, that I didn't like it should be acknowledged that, especially after twenty sixteen, I sit beside the National Democratic Party please sort of as their taking stock of Trump winning and are all that happened? They rose we're not gonna win without labour. We need to Then the labour movement we need to bolster labour longing to stand with unions means of rebuild that if we're gonna be able to counter the right
just do differently and politically to ignore these attacks on labour. So there is a strong political reason for Democrats: do not throw a lot of their foot soldiers under the person with special cargo went on strike this month. I saw a lot of prominent people being tightened once at any credibility in this presidency. He's gonna he should use a stand up to the Chicago teacher was a sort of like a fire can't join thing for the teacher using Allison. In that, but also a list that political advice like? Oh you think it's a good idea for violently throw the teacher unions on the bus and that's gonna, like you know, of a second and get all the suburban parents were fresh, just think those through the theory of the case, but it wasn't that very so I just think teetering is are an important part of the coalition, but recent overstate their power. You ve, walked us right,
to like what I think is the is. Is this the pre existing dynamic, that's kind of been reinflame? by the role of of kind of suburban parents and certainly like the common your class and in this debate, which is that while teachers are an important part of the labour movement, their role within democratic politics has been much worse, ambivalent over them couple of decades. Then the role of the democratic politicians are much more likely to express support for unions in general then decide with teachers, unions in particular on matters of both labour and education policy. So can you kind of like talk through how that relationship has played out and I mean fundamentally, do you think that it's a? U know, cognitive dissonance, that, like the fact that teachers unions are in such a large part of the labor,
Movement is getting a lighted here, or do you think that there is something else going on and that there really is kind of deeper divide on, say the substance of policy when it comes to teachers, unions than when it comes to a standard wage and our practices. There has been a lot of deep thinking. I gave a lot of this two of that sort of attention, for you have had power centres The democratic Party in the union has organised labour, but then, in an increasingly of the last few decades, much more been with sort of suburban liberals who have different sort, professional bodies as needed. They are liberal, but they're not didn't see themselves as part of the working class so much day, they may not how many family, members and unions they are more of the professional lawyer, doktor technology I said that a sort of also under earn a lot of the Danube.
tat we ve seen in the Democratic Party with education policy, anti geraniums, so in others really clear and new bobbing assertion about. I was elected into power. The backing of the Democrats verdict Asian Forum, which was the protesters school group that was founded. I wall Street, Guys Cassandra said quite directly founded with the volume and the two stranglehold on the Democratic Party and in our under his administering and you saw a lot of policies. Posts were not supported by two dreariness. There was a lot of difficulty between Obama and organise labour over these things.
most popular? So did you guys are really want to fight him so much to stay in the fighting his agitation secretary? It became much easier when Frank was elected to fight both trump and that each of us they search really shift with Trump, but also even before tramp in the years. You know in the two thousand and fourteen fifteen. Sixteen time then start to become a much more sort of sharp critique, inequality and Wall Street Democrats to have a much more into union perspective after twenty. Sixteen, when there were sort of this broad recognition amongst liberals Democrats that we need to stand with unions even more so that an aversion to you the entire union rudder that had brought them. Pretty common in the Obama administration and end in the two. Thousands There are still in this transition,
in twenty seven ten, twenty two, you saw the red thread. Movement wish was sort of teacher protests across the country for higher pay. That also sort of increase a lot of good will people felt towards teachers a lot of positive feeling, naturally I sentiment or Jane has been going up? Even is membership is going down? So now in this light. We are than covert happened, but rather like point where part dynamics and sentiments and policies around education unions are shifting by the Democratic Party is still very. Hundred electoral early on a lot of these professionals type who live in suburbs. Moderates haggling republic in some way in a kind of me, intellectually feel they get why he means matter in the big picture, but there's still really connected to a union themselves or haven't you that experience. I think those tensions under a lot of some of what we see
this kind of comes back to something. I wanted you to talk about a little more from that you mentioned earlier, which is this disconnect between how people see their local teachers unions and have you will see teachers, unions as a whole? I mean it seems that educated, suburban, it's become more reliably democratic voters that, like the people you're talking about who are likely to be ambivalent, about the idea of teachers, unions, are as much a part of the coalition as the union's themselves. Does that mean that democratic politicians are gonna be a little bit cross pressured because they have people on both sides of this debate? I think I need. I think they are greatly. As I will say, in addition to the teacher to stay for years. People always have higher the use of their local public school than they do have public schooling nationally, and that this is like a dynamic that exists
Probably we, like always think other run ever analysis is, is worse than your own, since we rightly everybody approves. Everybody's approval of their members of Congress is higher than their people of ponderous. Every eye thinks the crime is going up nationally, but that it's not going up in their neighbourhood is agriculture, the peace. I wrote this referred the new public on whether school closures will doom Democrat. I mean, I think, there's a lot of other, more compelling reasons by democratically Dindymum, midterms, We don't think democratic should be or another thirty to the stress that parents have anything continue to feel because it is frustrating, but I think there's there's a lot of incentives to continue to say that parents and teachers and parents and teachers venues are fighting a war and an open to being persuaded, but the Thames Majority of evidence out there. So that is not the case in apparent sort of theirs. or their own teacher working resume during the pandemic than they ever could in. The normal finally like they know that their teachers,
working really hard, I'm terribly long. These undoing do. There is like a lot of empathy than I think, lastly, when we're like dramatizing exciting and let us not to say, there's no frustrations, but I do think that lake it doesn't matter what people say that other feeling we should listen to that end. We have some pretty good data points from I wouldn't like from like pretty rightwing sources funding. One of things I think a sort of interesting is there's a club, for growth, which is the Basle conservative tax policy girl, they did some pulling up several categories. Theory and having message around me got beaten. Certainty for Lithuania is so entered. on this strongly encourage people not to attack teacher unions for this, because they know detergents are a popular and so the gonna like succeeding critical race theory, Macedonia ginning enough as a political issue, lake don't go after the union's because that's not gonna be successful. Attack that I think, like that's a sort of it
why we are widely popular in the end, I think they remain binding popular. Do you think that kind of coming out of this that teachers unions are going to do you know how? How do you? What role do you think they play within the labour movement, and do you think that that's going to change over the next four years is kind of these sites get resolved there s a lot of both labour, but also obviously liberal, face like liberal Democratic Party, I very they're back very badly in the face of a lot of these. Like coalition all face, we read about that Elsie Coleridge, changing to the union's role in the labour movement. Much I mean, I guess I'll see you haven't seen any mimics anything that would happen. thank you so much Rachel fur fur coming on the show you that's all for us today, thanks to make Professor Gabriel, whining and Rachel Code for joining the show our producer. sophie. Locked living
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Transcript generated on 2022-02-04.