Officers and members of several locals from the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) picketed a facility in Arlington on February 13. Outsiders were apparently not invited. That evening, activists assembled for the monthly 2nd Wednesday Jobs with Justice meeting at UAW 848 hall in Grand Prairie to discuss several appeals from different organizations who are very eager to get union people to their events. Most of them probably won't succeed. Why not?
One might ask the same kind of question about church congregations, "mainstream" progressive organizations in civil rights, community rights, women's rights, and human rights groups in general. Why aren't they on the streets with Jobs with Justice and other militant organizations? Some religious leaders in the Dallas area have told me how frustrating it is to try to get their congregations to follow Jesus' example in the streets.
Just to make the problem more complicated, a lot of the top-level officers of international unions are almost begging their members to hit the streets. For example, the International President of the UAW, Bob King, told a leadership conference on January 8, "“I want us to be known as the most active, the most mobilized, the most energized union in America!” He asked if people knew how we won civil rights, women's rights, weekends, and voting rights; then he told them: "It was in the streets!"
When Bob Cash of the Austin-based Texas Trade Watch asked for turnout to oppose the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement (TPP) last year, a number of unions joined with the North Texas militant base in a substantial march. When the "OUR WALMART" organizing committee asked for help, both unions and independent activists responded. When we picketed Dick Cheney last year, about 20 members of the Autoworkers Union joined the crowd. Autoworkers also attended some MoveOn events in 2012. When Occupy first began to draw militants by the hundreds in 2011, several top union leaders asked me how they could get involved. Some of them put forth an effort; however, they didn't solve the problem and soon withdrew their support.
One of the things I noticed in the Februrary 13 Jobs with Justice meeting was that it's hard to understand why divisions exist. All of us have our own dear causes that seem, to us, like the most important thing in the world. We can't imagine why everybody in the world isn't right in the trenches with us. We make a moral issue of it. We are often less ugly and unforgiving to our actual enemies than we are to the people who could be our friends!
But if you look objectively at every street action, you can actually count the numbers who came and why. In my long experience, there are very few union members and church congregations at independent street actions; and there are very few independent militants at union and church actions. Churches and unions barely mix at all. I was really proud of our Jobs with Justice group for digging into this problem with a reality-based, problem solving attitude. That's what we need and what we're moving toward.
Before I heard the February 13 discussion, I thought we might resolve the problem just by calling an "ecumenical" street march with distinct contingents. I reasoned that people might march with other people, whether they completely agreed with them or not, as long as each group stayed in its own contingent. Brother Ryan of the Ironworkers thought that was a bit formalistic. It might look good on paper, but he doubted that it would work in North Texas at this time. We decided to spread the discussion to other group meetings that we're part of, and to continue it within Jobs with Justice meetings. Calling an action would have to wait.
Our Jobs with Justice meeting, as we generally do, endorsed all the street actions. We'll continue, as we have for 23 years now, to try to bring unions, church, community, and civil rights groups together on issues, even if it's only one issue at a time. The future can be very bright!
Feb 17, 2 PM:, the Dallas MoveOn Council will host two important educationals: "Economic Inequality: Its Causes and Consequences and How to Combat It." Presented by Kenneth Williams. AND "Money Out of Politics." Presented by Liz Wally. CWA 6215 hall, 1408 N Washington in East Dallas. I believe that MoveOn has another one Feb 23.
Feb 24: Immigration Reform march in Austin
Mar 5: Austin March supporting Medicare
Mar 6, 4:30 PM: Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)wants to organize an action at 7-Eleven headquarters in Dallas.1722 Routh downtown. It concerns the conditions of tobacco farm workers in North Carolina and the South.
Mar 23, 10 AM: Mayor Rawlings' 10,000 Men Rally Against Violence. Dallas City Hall Plaza
Apr 6: Celebrate Cesar Chavez' Birthday with LCLAA at Ft Worth Parade
Apr 25-27: THE PEOPLE'S RESPONSE against the opening of the George Bush think-tank at SMU.