UE Honored as "Most Valuable Union" by The Nation Magazine

January 5, 2009

In an article posted on its website on New Year’s Eve, The Nation, highly-respected weekly magazine on the political left, named the “Most Valuable Progressives of 2008." In this year-end round-up of exemplary activism, The Nation’s Washington correspondent John Nichols placed UE at the top of an impressive list of agents for positive change.

The Republic Windows and Doors plant occupation by the members of Local 1110 was the recent event that earned UE this tribute. Nichols writes of those workers, “Their sit-down strike earned headlines, solidarity support from bigger unions, an endorsement from President-elect Barack Obama and, finally, commitments by the bank and the company to pay the displaced workers what they were owed. The Rev. Jesse Jackson compared the UE members to Rosa Parks and described their bold response to the shutdown as ‘the beginning of a larger movement for mass action to resist economic violence.’” Nichols adds, “Let’s hope he is right.”

Among progressives in Congress, The Nation chose Bernie Sanders of Vermont as Most Valuable Senator, and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) as the Most Valuable House Member. What made both of these legislators so valuable, the magazine says, was their ability to keep their heads screwed on, and their priorities straight, in the face of last fall’s financial and political panic that followed the banking collapse. Both of them stood firmly against the bipartisan stampede to pass some version of the Bush-Paulson Wall Street bailout.

Of Rep. Kaptur, Nichols writes: “Throughout the fight, the Toledo Democrat’s speeches on the House floor were as visionary as they were populist – making the longest-serving woman in the House something of a YouTube phenomenon. For this, she will get no credit from Democratic party leaders. That’s too bad, as her record on economic issues – especially trade and agricultural policy – is one of consistently being right when just about everyone else was wrong. … (S)he is one of the few Democrats who actually understands that the only economic ‘fix’ for America will be the one that begins on Main Street.”

Sanders earns The Nation’s praise for his opposition to making “working people bail out Wall Street,” and for never forgetting “the human side of the equation.” Nichols adds a plug for Sen. Sanders’ website, “the best website maintained by any member of Congress,” where he “highlights the real-life struggles of working Americans.”

Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) gets the prize for Most Valuable Cabinet Pick. Nichols writes, “She is the right person for this job, and her selection serves as the best signal from Obama that he intends to serve as a pro-worker president.”

Several political and activist organizations also make the MVP list, including Progressive Democrats of America, TransAfrica Forum, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Policy Matters Ohio.

Chosen as Most Valuable Book (Economics) is The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, by economist James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas. Most Valuable Book (Constitutional Renewal) is The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All, by Peter Linebaugh, professor of history at the University of Toledo who has written for the UE NEWS. The Great Charter of Liberties remains relevant today, and just as despised by modern-day tyrants like Bush and Cheney as it was by England’s Bad King John when he was forced to sign it in 1215. Nichols calls this book “a pleasure to read.” Most Valuable Book in International Policy is Mike Marqusee’s If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew, which became even more relevant with the start of current carnage in Gaza.

Most Valuable National Media Personalities, in The Nation’s view, are Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, and Ron Reagan (liberal son of the conservative president), who took Maddow’s old radio slot on Air America when she moved up to her cable TV gig a few months ago. And the Most Valuable Local Media Personality is Anchorage radio host Camile Conte (“CC”) who did much to make the rest of the country aware of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s abuses of power in Troopergate. “No one else contributed as much to 2008’s Palintological studies,” writes Nichols.

One musician makes the list, singer, songwriter and guitarist Dave Alvin, who earns the designation “Most Valuable Heir to Woody Guthrie.” Alvin is praised for telling in his songs “the stories of those on the losing end of the class war with a power and a poignancy rarely evidenced by contemporary musicians.”

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