Editors’ note: One of the few Left-led unions in the US to survive the McCarthyite onslaught of the late 1940s, 1950s and beyond is the United Electrical Workers (UE). The link below will connect the reader to a new, beautifully illustrated 25-page pamphlet by the union. It is entitled Them and Us Unionism, which explains in simple language what UE’s struggle has been and what the union stands for.
An excerpt from the Conclusion:
Understanding the nature of our economic system and the need to consistently adhere to our core princi- ples has been the basis of UE’s record of struggle. The tremendous problems that face working people in our country, and around the world, call for a labor movement that understands this fundamental difference of interest, and can carry out aggressive struggle against the organized forces of the employers on all fronts. This booklet represents the story of one union, and the conclusions that UE members have drawn from decades of aggressive struggle to improve our conditions, but we believe that our story has valuable lessons for all worker organizations.
The labor movement we need must be a militant movement, built from the bottom up, and it must be based on clear-cut principles: aggressive struggle, rank-and-file control, political independence, international solidarity and uniting all workers — in other words, Them and Us Unionism. UE is dedicated to helping achieve that kind of a labor movement. For the past several decades labor leaders and academics have proposed a wide variety of strategies to rebuild the U.S. labor movement: from better communications work, to giving more money to politicians, to restructuring the labor movement and its federations, to investments in staff-driven organizing efforts. But none of it has worked, because none of those strategies recognize that the core issue facing unions, today and throughout history, is the fundamental difference of interests between workers and employers in the capitalist system….