UE General President Carl Rosen was the featured guest on the May 23 episode of the America’s Work Force podcast — the only daily labor podcast in the U.S.
Rosen told host Ed “Flash” Ferenc that there are “two great themes that the labor movement has to understand right now.
“One is that workers must self-organize. We don’t have enough union organizers in this country to organize on the kind of scale we need to to restore labor’s power in this country. We’ve dropped from a third of the workforce in the private sector having unions to around six percent now. We just don’t have the leverage we need to have.
“We aren’t going to be able to do it one workplace at a time by union staff going in and doing it. Workers need to self-organize and workers can self-organize when motivated and when given inspiration and examples. This is how the labor movement was organized in the 1930s.
“And the other great theme right now is that workers are ready to do it, especially the younger generation. People who have come into the workforce in this century, they have just seen disappointment after disappointment out of this economic system that we have here … and they’re ready to make a change. They are not expecting that this economy is going to take care of them on its own.
“The only way workers are going to get a fair shake ... is through unionizing.”
Rosen also discussed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers and how that led UE to team up with the Democratic Socialists of America to launch the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee. He talked about the recent union victory of thousands of graduate workers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and why those workers chose UE’s brand of democratic, rank-and-file unionism. And he discussed how the 2008 Republic Windows and Doors factory occupation exemplified the principles outlined in UE’s 2020 booklet Them and Us Unionism — aggressive struggle, rank and file control, political independence, international solidarity and uniting all workers.
“I’m very optimistic,” Rosen concluded, when asked about how he felt about the future of the labor movement. “The working class is ready for it, this younger generation isn’t going to let it go, and people are organizing from the bottom up, which is key. That’s how the industrial labor movement was built in the 1930s, that’s how we’re going to rebuild it now.”
Listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or on the web — or search your favorite podcast app for “America’s Work Force” (look for Season 3, Episode 99). Rosen’s interview begins around 14:50.