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We Are the UnionDemocratic Unionism and Dissent at Boeing$
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Dana L. Cloud

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036378

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036378.001.0001

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The Beginnings and Ends of Union Democracy

The Beginnings and Ends of Union Democracy

(p.183) Conclusion The Beginnings and Ends of Union Democracy
We Are the Union

Dana L. Cloud

University of Illinois Press

This chapter assesses the situation of the dissident Machinist movement at Boeing today. There are a number of important and poignant lessons from this struggle for democratic reformers inside unions. These lessons speak to how reformers can push their official leadership while staying focused on the company; prioritize long-term organizing and contract cycle agitation above electoral bids and legal strategies; and recognize that unions—and dissident movements inside of unions—are only democratic and vital to the extent that they involve large numbers of their members and represent their demands. The chapter considers the question of whether one can speak legitimately for the rank and file without their active involvement in the movement from a dissident position any more than one should do so from a business union position. The credentials and, more important, the power of a dissident union movement depend upon taking advantage of critical rank-and-file consciousness to build an organization that restores a balance of power between union leadership and the rank and file in the longer term. Only then can the rank and file become ready, when the time comes, to make their own history.

Keywords:   labor unions, union activists, Machinist movement, Boeing, union reform, union dissidents, dissident union movement, union leadership

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