THE ORGANIZING MODEL OF UNIONISM

Democratic unions are based on an organizing model. That means they involve as many members as possible in all functions of the union. There can never be too many stewards, too many bargaining committee members, too many organizing campaigns.

The great upsurge of the labor movement in the 1930s when the unions of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), organized the major industries of the United States was based on the organizing model.

Today, organizing unions are building a new labor movement that will reverse union busting, the decrease in real wages and the loss of workplace democracy that has taken place in the last few decades. In spite of their wealth, the corporations can't stand up against an active and committeed union membership.

 

Organizing Model - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Service or Business Model

Defending members is most important.

Attitude

toward employer

Good relationship with management is most important.

Inclusive. Tries to reflect workforce in composition of union leadership.

Attitude

toward members

Exclusive. Little turnover in leadership. Suspicious of newcomers.

Tries to involve all members in the department.

Grievance

handling

Tries to settle without involvement of members.

Make immediate supervisor settle by showing solidarity of workers.

Settling

grievances

Settle at highest level with company or through arbitration.

Election by co-workers.

Selection

of stewards

Appointment by union leadership.

Large bargaining committee, constant flow of information to members.

Bargaining

Small committee, negotiations often kept secret until a settlement is reached.

Encourage initiative and creativity of members.

Strategy and tactics

Reluctant to involve members in bringing pressure on employer.

Union represents all workers - organized and unorganized. In a constant state of organizing.

Organizing

the unorganized

Unwilling and unable to organize. feels threatened by newly organized.

Take personal responsibility for success or failure of the union.

Members view

of the union

An insurance policy or a "third party" to call on when they have a problem.