We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, May 31, 2010

Business unionism vs workplace democracy

by Wanda Pasz from New Unionism. 

The author provides an excellent historical overview of the struggle for workplace democracy in North America. She provides the broad outlines of how the "owners" of our economy have fought the inherent desire by people to assume control over the productive activities of their lives. It is clear that the "owners" have largely won the battle, but there is an increasing awareness among working people that things must change before any kind of sustainable environment can be achieved. So it's not only social justice at stake, but survivability of the human race. 
 If we want sustainability, we must abandon the corporatist notions of maximum profitability, limitless consumption, ever increasing production of all kinds of stuff. If these old priorities are abandoned then there is no further need or use for Mr. Taylor’s scientific management, or the hierarchies of authority or management methods designed to keep reluctant workers tethered to their machines. If enterprises are expected to be mindful of their impact on people and communities, then people and communities must play a part in deciding how those enterprises operate, what they do, how they do it… and all of this means that we will need ways of working together that no longer involve imposed decisions. The situation seems to cry out for workplace democracy – the real kind.”