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Links 1 through 10 of 10 by Shaun Green tagged unions

Other political, social and economic changes cited in the extensive literature that has built up since the 1970s on the decline of British unions include the rise of self-employment; the rise of temporary employment; the rise of part-time working and the service industries; the fall of manufacturing; increased competition from less unionised foreign economies; growing individualism; the disappearance of newspaper labour correspondents and informed union coverage; and the increasing extent to which being in a union at all is an aberration. I have been in one for twenty years, but barely 14 per cent of private sector workers are now union members, according to the annual survey of unions conducted by BIS (the document is neutrally written but quite helpful, you might imagine, for those concocting anti-union bills). In the public sector, 54 per cent of employees are union members, but both this percentage and the total number of public sector trade unionists are falling steadily as Conservative spending cuts shrink and casualise the workforce.

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As Wendy Brown has argued in Undoing the Demos, neoliberalism has brought about a ‘stealth revolution’, overthrowing and hollowing out classical notions of politics.​* In neoliberal public life, debate about common values and purposes is reduced to problem-solving and team-building; human selves are reduced to human capital. As Brown observes, ‘when everything is capital, labour disappears as a category, as does its collective form, class, taking with it the analytic basis for alienation, exploitation and association.’ The disappearance of exploitation as a category of analysis accounts for the anodyne references to an abstract ‘inequality’ in contemporary discourse. After 600-plus pages documenting the maldistribution of wealth in Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty still couldn’t bring himself to mention labour organising as an antidote. Anything rather than confront power relations directly.

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Trade union for UK freelancers. Quite large.

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MOST UNION MEMBERS see nothing but hugging and kissing between their leaders and their bosses on a daily basis. It takes a different kind of union to break with this culture, which has become second-nature to U.S. unions and is arguably the main reason for their current weakness. Leonard Riley’s longshore workers union in Charleston, South Carolina is a different kind of union, however, and On the Global Waterfront by Suzan Erem and Paul Durrenberger tells their gripping story.

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Thousands of us marched through Brighton, waving flags and cheering, throwing bricks through grocery store windows, kicking old ladies and punching kittens. Like the ‘we are the 99%’ lot in London, our goals were clear: “Death to the Queen!” we chanted. “Resurrect Stalin! Murder the rich and harvest their wine-pickled internal organs to trade on the Black Market for crack and child-porn! More terrorism now! Cancel Downton Abbey! Nuke Israel!”

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Pachter also attacked the idea of unions within game development, saying that people who earn a lot of money don’t need any protection, apparently because money provides them with a cloak of impenetrable entitlement: “I think unions are in business to protect workers from, I think, dangerous working conditions and unfair labor practices. Sweatshops should have unions but games studios, which tend to pay people a lot of money, shouldn’t. I just don’t think people who make over $100,000 a year need a whole lot of protection cause they might have to work overtime.”

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Britain's largest trade union, Unite, is launching cut-price memberships for students and the unemployed as it attempts to boost its ranks and counter David Cameron's "big society".

Unite will offer students, single parents and the jobless 50p per week "community memberships" as it focuses on neighbourhoods as well as workplaces. Trade unions are battling falling membership numbers and government spending cuts that will put their finances under further threat by eliminating public sector jobs – their most fertile recruiting ground.

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Len McCluskey, the newly elected leader of Unite, says union leaders will be holding a special meeting in January to discuss a "broad strike movement" to stop what he described as the coalition's "explicitly ideological" programme of cuts. Writing in the Guardian, McCluskey praises the "magnificent student movement" that has seen tens of thousands of young people take to the streets to protest at the government's plans for post-16 education, saying it has put trade unions "on the spot".

"Their mass protests against the tuition fees increase have refreshed the political parts a hundred debates, conferences and resolutions could not reach," he said.

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Now it's fair to say that the NUS leadership has probably lost the confidence of the majority of students. Those who are leading the campaign against the fee rises and the dropping of EMA are now also pushing forward a 'no confidence' motion against NUS president Aaron Porter, which seeks to have Porter ousted at an extraordinary conference of the NUS. The motion cites: "His failure to call or even back another National Demonstration, his refusal to back up his promises of support for occupations, his weak stance on police brutality and his collusion with the Government in identifying cuts". It goes on to note that Porter proposed, and the NUS executive accepted, that the union would not back the main march from ULU; that Porter later stated that he was "not at all proud" of the main march; and that the NUS instead organised a separate, poorly attended candlelit vigil away from the main march.

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"The lesson that should be learned is that the slogan 'British jobs for British workers' is not only a miserably divisive slogan, and not only a poor substitute for action to defend all jobs - it is actually a route to accommodation and defeat."

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