Pittsburgh Again on the Forefront of Labor Innovation to Build the Next Middle Class

WESA in Pittsburgh has a radio feature airing today on union organizing among contingent faculty in higher education. It includes some excerpts from an interview with me. You can listen to it and access a transcript here.

Reporter Josh Raulerson places contingent faculty organizing in the context of innovative union efforts throughout the "non-mobile services" -- services which can't easily relocate because they have to locate near the customer. These non-mobile services -- health care, education, retail including supermarkets, janitorial services, child and elder care, hospitality, eating and drinking including fast food -- account for most jobs and for an even higher proprtion of low-wage jobs. Metro area-wide unions and collective bargaining that establish new wage and benefit norms in these non-mobile sectors could take a giant step towards reversing the growth of inequality.

As we've said before -- and we'll say again (we're not too proud to take a page from the right's "repeat yourself" machine) -- what is exciting about the multiplying examples of area-wide organizing in services (in Pittsburgh, in fast food nationally, among contingent faculty in Philadelphia, etc.) is that they are beginning to chip away at the idea that growing inequality is irreversible.

The theory of change here is to get to a critical mass of successful living examples of area-wide service sector organizing -- enough sectors in enough metro areas that working people see generally that revitalizing the middle class requires only that LOTS of people get on board this new model of unionism. As well as lifting wages and benefits, this model of unionism can and should play a central role in training, job-matching, and careers (similar to building trades unions). As a result, this model of unionism can not only fix inequality but can also help employers compete based on skill, service, and productivity -- along the "high road" or using what we now call the "good jobs strategy."

Anyway, listen to the WESA story here and let us know what you think.


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