Since the 1970s organized labor in the United States has seen a steep decline in its membership and political influence due to capital flight, “right to work” laws in southern states, automation and technological innovation. But recently, millions of US workers have rallied behind organized labor campaigns demanding fairer working conditions and higher wages — often based in union membership — for employees. Radical Labor profiles a local chapter of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 105 to understand how the labor movement can collaborate with allied community activists, build a multi-racial coalition of working people for social justice, and realize more equitable workplaces and communities.
SEIU Local 105’s organizing is grounded in what President Ron Ruggiero called “whole person unionism,” which is a fundamental understanding that workers “don’t just exist at work.” This recognition is crucial if the labor movement wishes to be part of a broader progressive social and political movement.
This film confronts labor’s problematic history with immigration and racial justice by highlighting how labor struggles, although rooted in class, are interconnected with race, gender, sexual orientation, and immigrant rights. To challenge media discourses and political rhetoric that divides working people along identity issues, Radical Labor highlights the intersectional oppressions of working people and reveals the long-term relationship building efforts needed to organize and center workers in the fight against economic, racial, gendered, and social inequalities.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/films/radical-labor-aligning-unions-streets/