Speaking as an x-organizer, community organizer, (alinsky style) I
can say that the real barrier to unionization of goldsmiths is a
strategic and tactical one.
It is very true that at this point in time, unions have been
effectively demonized. Many of the benefits enjoyed by American
workers today would not exist were it not for the courage of workers
of the past who risked not only loss of their jobs but injury and
sometimes death to organize and fight for their rights.
Unfortunately many of today’s workers have bought into the union
busting rhetoroic paid for mainly by big business.
Its a sad fact of life in America that anytime any sort of socially
progressive idea is put forward it is immediately condemmed as
"socialism". Witness all the attempts at putting together some sort
of rational health care system. Immediately the shout goes up,
“socialized medicine” I won’t be able to pick my doctor, I’ll have to
stand in line. Fact is, most people can’t afford to pick their doctor
and a lot of people are literally dying to get in line.
Some of the problems have been brought about by the unions
themselves, many of which became fat, corrupt and incompetent. I had
some first hand experience of that working with the carpenters union
in New Bedford, Massachusetts in the late 70s.
The practical problem is that a union requires a common enemy. In the
past that enemy was the big capitalist organization. You could
organize against General Motors because there were thousands of
potential members working for the same management. A good contract
Goldsmiths do not work for large organizations. A city-wide
organization would, in fact, have to deal with multiple employers,
some good, some bad with varying salary and benefit packages. A
contract effecting all of those would require individual negotiations
with a lot of companies.
The National Writers Union has tried it. The sucessfully sued the New
York Times over the issue of internet use of writer’s work without
compensation. They won the battle but lost the war because every
publisher re-wrote their standard contract after the ruling by the
Supreme Court resulting in a much worse contract and no additional
compensation and this effects every writer who works freelance.
The organizational model is dictated, at least in part, by the
structure of your adversary. The Union model worked effectively in
still does against large scale organizations, particularly those
with large numbers of workers employed in a particular geographic
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