Sweatshops Alive and Well

sweatshopNew Orleans In the prevailing wisdom and the back pats that we like to sometimes hope are well earned and deserved, in speaking with students on university campuses about organizing chapters to support ACORN International’s organizing in various countries I have occasionally used cited the effectiveness of the anti-sweatshop movement as exhibit one for why all of this makes sense and matters.  A series of recent emails from Jeff Ballinger and several conversations have forced me to step back and swallow that example.

I have a lot of respect for Ballinger that dates to the time the Organizers’ Forum delegation visited Indonesia several years ago and heard the stories of his expulsion for too aggressively doing his job with the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center and insisting on US and other companies paying fair wages in just conditions.  Nothing in subsequent visits every did anything but add to his reputation.

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Hunkering Down for Reform

slide_immigration_family_400x308Washington Being around the DC area gave me an opportunity to ply friends and associates for information on what might be happening to some other critical efforts for reform now that health care is at center stage.  The votes still don’t seem there for labor law reform and there’s no push to have it jump over health care in the queue of course.

More interestingly were the tidbits I gathered from my friends in the immigration reform movement.  There seems to be an emerging consensus that this will be a longer fight than anyone would have wanted and that there needs to be a re-engagement tactically and strategically with the base to rebuild the momentum.

Importantly, there seems to also be two other important recognitions.  One is that the anger and disappointment of the base about increased enforcement (like 287g) can’t be ignored or rationalized, especially in the absence of any positive steps towards reform by the Administration.  The other is a recognition that to get this job done may require some real leveraging of the elections in 2010 and 2012, and in my view a much clearer quid pro quo about votes following reform, rather than hope.

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