Understanding Capitalism Crucial to Union Success

August 10, 2020

New UE publication argues that understanding the fundamental conflict between employers and workers under capitalism is crucial to successful struggles to improve conditions for working people

In a new booklet released today, Them and Us Unionism, the independent union UE argues that it is time for the broader labor movement to return to the sort of class-struggle unionism that established the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and which UE has continued for over eight decades.

“Modern class-struggle unionism won’t look the same as it did in the 1930s, but we believe the same approach to struggle, which recognizes the fundamental difference of interest between workers and employers in the capitalist system, is necessary,” said UE General President Carl Rosen.

Drawing on UE history, Them and Us Unionism identifies five core principles of this kind of unionism: aggressive struggle, rank and file control, political independence, international solidarity, and uniting all workers.

UE was the first union chartered by the CIO, but left that labor federation in 1949 when the CIO abandoned class-struggle unionism. UE now represents 35,000 workers in a wide variety of manufacturing, public sector and private service-sector jobs, and is known for its democratic structure, progressive policies, and militance. In 2008, UE members’ occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago won a multi-million dollar settlement from one of the most powerful banks in the country. In the last two presidential races, UE was one of the few unions to endorse democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders.

For more information, or to interview rank-and-file UE members about the booklet, contact UE Communications Director Jonathan Kissam at jkissam@ueunion.org or (802) 343-1745.

The booklet is available online at www.ueunion.org/ThemAndUs.